Categories Other Cancers

What to Expect from a Colon Cancer Screening Test

If there is a history of colon cancer in your family then it is advisable to get a test, or even if suffering some sort of discomfort; it is always better to be sure. For the average person, there will be a certain amount of uncertainty because they do not know what is involved with a colon cancer screening test; but this is understandable.

It is always advisable to take the advice of a doctor, although a person must be comfortable with a test they are about to undergo. With this in mind a doctor must be advised of any fears or reservations before action is taken. If there is a history of colon cancer in your family, a doctor might suggest a colonoscopy.

Regardless of what is preferred by the patient, the doctor will advise of what to expect from a colon cancer screening test. If it is a colonoscopy, then the procedure will be explained in depth, as this is one of the most advanced types of test for this complaint. Although not pleasant, because it involves the insertion of a flexible tube being inserted into the rectum with a tiny video camera at the tip of it; the final result will be peace of mind.

Due to this being a most advanced type of screening if any abnormal tissues are found they can be removed through the scope. This procedure will also enable samples to be taken. The entire examination will take from twenty minutes to one hour.

Medication before colonoscopy might need to be adjusted and solid foods must not be eaten the day before the examination. A sedative may be used during the course of the examination, which could cause some side effects, and could take up to a day to completely wear off.

If tissue samples are taken, the patient may experience some bleeding, but knowing what to expect from a colon cancer screening test will help a person decide to proceed with the examination, to eliminate any fears that may be harbored. For the sake of an hour, and a little discomfort, any uncertainty and fears can be removed.

This is usually what a colon cancer screening test comprises of, and the slight discomfort that will be experienced is far better than the treatment that could be the result if it is left untreated.

Categories Other Cancers

The Mystery Breast Cancer

Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death for women, and though public awareness has helped catch developing cancers in time to treat them, the mortality rates remain tragically high. Part of the reason is that most women don’t know that there is more than one kind of breast cancer.

When this other breast cancer strikes, you might not find a lump. A mammogram might not see it. But it is the most aggressive form of breast cancer, capable of spreading through the body rapidly, and killing just as fast. Most women who get it reach Stage 4 (terminal) before they even learn what it is.

It’s called IBC, or Inflammatory Breast Cancer, and 91% of women don’t even know it exists.

IBC is different from the more well-known kind of breast cancer in that it does not form in tumors, but develops in ‘nests’ or sheets of unbound tissue. It permeates the fibrous pathways throughout the breast, and is capable of being transported to other organs through the blood and lymphatic system. It grows like an infection, burrowing through healthy tissue.

Because a mammogram often don’t detect it, and its symptoms are so unspecific, it is incredibly dangerous. Because it spreads so rapidly, it is incredibly lethal.

All women should know that this other kind of breast cancer exists. Its symptoms include:

– Rapid increase in breast size

– Redness or bruising

– Skin feels hot to the touch

– Persistent Itching

– Thickening or swelling of breast tissue

Other clues may be discolorations, like a reaction to a bug bite, or a nipple that becomes inverted due to the rapid swelling. These indications are by no means a matter of certainty; all, some, or none of them may appear.

Women who suspect they may have IBC should be tested immediately. Because it spreads so fast, hoping ‘it may go away’, or feeling embarrassed could get someone killed.

The only ways to be sure are to have an MRI or a biopsy, because only be examining the tissue in-depth can this cancer be detected. If there is a chance of IBC, it should be looked into. As our mothers often say, better safe than sorry.

You can get more information about IBC, or find resources for testing and treatment, by calling the national breast cancer hotline at 1-800-221-2141.

Spread the word – someone’s life may depend on it.

Categories Other Cancers

Lung Cancer: Signs and Symptoms

Lung Cancer is a disease causing uncontrolled cell growth in lung tissue, which the World Health Organisation estimates to be responsible for 1.3 million deaths worldwide every year. The five year survival rate of sufferers with treatment stands at only 15%, but this can be increased drastically with early diagnosis.

What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?

  1.  Persistent Cough

Victims have a cough most of the time. When another affliction is causing a constant cough, lung cancer will cause it to become worse as the disease’s invasion of lung tissue progresses.

  1.  Blood in Phlegm

One of the most noticeable symptoms of the cancer is hemoptysis, which is the appearance of blood in the phlegm (sputum) you cough.

  1.  Pains when Breathing or Coughing

A common symptom of lung cancer is pain in the chest when breathing or coughing. This is typically first noticed when taking deep breaths, when sneezing or yawning for example.

  1.  Non-specific Symptoms

Many cancers have common symptoms that effect many forms, including cancers of the lung. These include lose of appetite, weight loss, muscle weakness or fatigue. Psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression often appear.

Less Common Symptoms

These symptoms are also frequently observed in lung cancer sufferers, but are generally less frequent, or associated with a more advanced stage

  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing or swelling of the neck (caused by enlarged lymph nodes)
  • Finger Clubbing (changes in the shape and color of your fingers and nails)
  • General discomfort or pain in the chest, in particular under your right side ribs

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

As always, should you have any doubt you should consult your doctor. Diagnosis of Lung Cancer is painless and non evasive. The most common method used is a simple chest X-Ray, followed by a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan. Where these methods are insufficient to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy (collecting a sample of the cancer using a needle) is conducted under anaesthetic.

How is Lung Cancer Treated?

As with most cancers, treatment is generally conducted by chemotherapy, radiography or surgery, and most frequently a combination. A decision on which treatment to use is decided on a case by case basis, dependent upon the specific manifestation of the disease, the extent to which it has spread and the overall general health of the sufferer. Palliative treatment is also conducted in conjunction with these methods, which minimises the pain and suffering of victims throughout the process.

Categories Other Cancers

Pancreatic Cancer: What Are the Causes?

It’s at the top of the list of cancers you don’t want to get, with survival rates in the single digits.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer for men and the fifth most common found in women in the United States. It’s a killer but rarely develops before the patient reaches age 50. According to the Penn State College of Medicine, the disease is two to three times more prevalent in heavy smokers than it is in non-smokers. It’s not contagious.

Researchers cannot pinpoint a single reason why some people get pancreatic cancer. Little is actually known about the cause or causes of the disease. It appears to arise both in individuals with certain health patterns as well as those with no predisposition. Among the latter group is “Last Lecture” Prof. Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University, who succumbed to complications of the disease at age 47 less than 2 years after his 2006 diagnosis.

Individuals with chronic pancreatitis are at an elevated risk of developing this type of malignancy. Statistics show that males are at higher risk than females. They also suggest that individuals exposed to cancer-causing agents such as tobacco and those who eat a high fat but low fiber diet are at increased risk. Consuming foods with additives and having diabetes also increase a patient’s chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Penn State suggests that while no link has been proven, individuals who work with petroleum and some of the chemicals used in the dry cleaning industry should be careful to follow the respective safety guidelines.

Information from the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins University details potential heredity links to contracting this type of cancer. Pancreatic cancer is considered a genetic disease, one caused by mutations in DNA. Some of the changes are inherited. Others develop after birth.

Inherited changes explain why pancreatic cancer occurs often in some families. Researchers attribute acquired changes to bad luck while cells are replicating or to exposure to carcinogens such as cigarette smoke.

The National Familial Pancreas Cancer Registry (NFPTR) currently lists more than 250 families with two or more members who are pancreatic cancer patients. Scientists have also identified a familial breast cancer gene known at BRCA2. Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that as many as 10 percent of cases of pancreatic cancer are caused by inherited defects in this gene. It’s found in about one percent of individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. This might explain the higher rate of the disease noted in Jewish individuals versus those of the Catholic or Protestant faiths. Testing is currently available for BRCA2 mutations.

Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a rare heredity condition in which family members develop polyps in their small intestines that protrude from the normal intestinal surface plus pigmented spots on their lips. These individuals are at higher risk than normal for developing pancreatic cancer.

Increased risk has also been assigned to individuals with Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome. This is a rare hereditary condition in which the afflicted family members develop skin moles and melanomas.

Johns Hopkins reports that the Heredity Non-polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) syndrome affects perhaps 1 in 200 individuals. Marked by an inherited disposition to develop cancer of the colon, endometrium, stomach and ovaries, it puts patients at increased risk for pancreatic cancer.

Although heredity pancreatitis is rare, it usually causes chronic inflammation of the organ beginning at an early age. The gene for this condition, which also results in elevated risk for pancreatic malignancy, has been named the trypsinogen gene.

Categories Other Cancers

Best Breast Cancer Charities to Donate To

If you are going to donate for breast cancer and need help in deciding which breast cancer charity to donate your money to, you may become a bit overwhelmed by all the information on the internet. This article will showcase the top five breast cancer charities to donate to.

One of my favorite breast cancer charities is the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. They have a pie chart on the website that shows clearly where every dollar they receive in donation goes to. 35% of the donations go to education and 33% goes to Research and awards. They also give a percentage to both treatment and to screening.

Another popular breast cancer charity is Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The founder, Evelyn Lauder is a breast cancer survivor and founded the Foundation 15 years ago to help fund research. They expected to give $345 million dollars in 2008 for breast cancer research. They give over 90% of the money you donate for breast cancer to research and awareness. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is considered one of the best breast cancer charities for people to donate to.

Living Beyond Cancer was started in 1991 and is for breast cancer survivors during and after treatment. They use over 80% of all monies you donate for breast cancer to help people diagnosed with breast cancer, from diagnosis all the way through to recovery and survival.

The best breast cancer charity for awareness is National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. Started 17 years ago their mission is save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer by means of education and providing mammograms to those who can not afford to pay for them. They use over 80% of the money you donate for breast cancer to fund programs such as free mammograms, patient education and awareness campaigns as well as research.

One of the most up and coming breast cancer charities today is Breast Cancer Network of Strength. They are one of the best breast cancer charity for support. They recently joined with Bumblebee foods to start the program BeeWellMiles. You get to join up, log in any miles you walk each day and for every mile people log into their website they will donate a certain amount of money. Support is very important in the fight against breast cancer and the Breast Cancer Network of Strength is one of the best places to get this support. They would be a superb organization to donate not only your money but your time as well. All the breast cancer charities mentioned here are wonderful organizations that do a great amount of good, I sincerely hope you will consider them when you are thinking about donating to breast cancer charities.

Categories Other Cancers

Christina Applegate Has Breast Cancer

Christina Applegate is the newest Hollywood Celebrity to be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. According to her agent, the 36 year-old-actress ( best known for her role of Kelly Bundy on Married with Children) is undergoing medical treatment at this time. Her cancer was caught early, thanks in large part to a doctor recommended MRI and her cancer is not expected to be life threatening. So how can you reduce your risk of Breast Cancer? How can you distinguish between breast cancer facts and fiction?

Top Breast Cancer Myths:

Only women get breast cancer:

Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, according to Breastcancer.org. But women aren’t the only ones getting breast cancer. Every year almost 2000 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer. While the risk of getting breast cancer is markedly increased if you are a woman, men aren’t completely safe. Men should be aware of any suspicious lumps in their breast tissue and notify their physician if they suspect they may have breast cancer.

It doesn’t run in my family!

While having a first degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) in your family with breast cancer does double your risk of contracting breast cancer, about 70%-80% of all breast cancers were contracted by women with no family history of the disease. This is an unsettling statistic for many of us who have blissfully believed we were safe from breast cancer because no one in our family had it. All of us, regardless of family history and gender, need to take the necessary precautions to reduce our risk of breast cancer.

What Can You Do to Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer?

If you are considering having children, you might want to start before you are 30. Having multiple children, having your first child before you are 30, and breastfeeding all reduce the risk of breast cancer. Learn how to perform monthly breast exams and notify your doctor of any changes in your breast tissue. Visit your OBGYN yearly to have her perform a breast exam as well and begin having yearly mammograms when you are over the age of 35 if you have a family history of breast cancer.

In addition to performing regular breast exams, you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Women who consume more than 1 drink a day have a significant increase in their risk of contracting breast, liver, mouth and esophageal cancers.

Loose the extra weight: Obesity is quickly becoming a national epidemic in this country. Being obese increases your risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. In addition to increasing breast cancer, being obese is also associated with an increase in heart disease, and various other diseases and cancers.

Exercise regularly: Researchers are finding more and more connections between breast cancer and exercise. As little as 2 hours of brisk walking a week can decrease your risk by up to 18%. For good health, the American Cancer Society still recommends 45-60 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.

There are several risks to breast cancer that have not been proven yet and while studies have not shown a link, more research is being done in these areas.

Link between antiperspirants and breast cancer

Wearing Bras causing breast cancer

High Fat diets causing breast cancer

Smoking causing breast cancer

Breast Implants causing breast cancer

Induced Abortions causing breast cancer

Night Shift Work causing breast cancer

The jury is still out as to whether these are actually risks or merely myths and more research is needed before scientists come to a complete conclusion about them. If you or someone you love suspects they may have breast cancer, do not wait and head to your doctor immediately. Early intervention and detection is the #1 key to beating this disease and becoming a cancer survivor!!

Categories Other Cancers

Methods to Cure Breast Cancer in That Are Less Radical Than Mastectomy

Words cannot explain how harrowing the experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer can be. Methods of treatment prevail all around us, but finding the right solution when the time comes becomes difficult. Also, treatment for breast cancer needs to be a continuous process. However, there are methods to treat breast cancer today using alternative techniques. These methods can be called as more humane and considerate to the woman who is already suffering from the affliction.

The most common treatment for breast cancer in women until a few years ago was mastectomy, i.e. surgical removal of the breast. Today, the treatment does not need to be so aggressive. There are methods in which just the lump and the nearby tissues can be removed from the breast in a method known as lumpectomy. But if the woman has a large tumor and not just a small lump in her breast, then she will need to first use some method like chemotherapy to lessen the size of the breast and then the lump removal operation can be conducted.

Some women opt to go for removal of just the portion of the breast that has been diagnosed with the cancerous growth. This saves her entire breast from being removed. However, some portion of the thoracic muscle will need to be removed along with the tissue and some of the tissue surrounding it. This process, known as partial mastectomy, is fortified with radiotherapy treatments.

If the doctor strongly recommends complete mastectomy, you could at least go for this method that saves the entire breast from being amputated. Here, portions of the breast such as the nipple, the fatty tissues, the lobules, the ducts and the skin of the breast are removed. Many women who have no other option go for this kind of mastectomy, which needs to be followed up with hormone supplementation or chemotherapy.

Of course, the best way out is to get diagnosed as early as you can because all cancers can be nipped in the bud if detected early. A simple breast examination can indicate the presence of cancer in it. To confirm it, methods such as sentinel lymph biopsies are conducted. This includes a diagnosis of the lymph nodes in the armpits. A diagnosis at this stage can stop the problem from aggravating in dimension. Diagnosing breast cancer in its benign stages ensures complete treatment in an easier manner, and your breasts will be safe. You can also consider speaking with your treatment provider for a second option if their recommended method is not quite agreeable to you.

Categories Other Cancers

Five Steps to Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. Although the cause is unknown, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. A few simple lifestyle changes could make a big difference later in life.

  1. Family History. One of the risk factors you cannot change are genetics. 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are said to be hereditary. Genetic testing is available, but can be very expensive. Abnormal results could also reduce your chances of obtaining life insurance. About 30% of women that get breast cancer have a family history of it. Knowing your risk factors can go along way.
  2. Breastfeeding. Studies show that women who breastfed for a total of two years or more reduced their risk of breast cancer by 50%. Researchers believe that shedding of the breast tissue during lactation may play a part in prevention. It is also believed that a hormone shift during lactation may be effective. If you choose to breastfeed, you and your baby will benefit greatly.
  3. Weight Control and Exercise. It is said that women who exercise regularly are less likely to develop breast cancer. Exercise lowers a woman’s exposure to estrogen, which contributes to cancer growth. A study done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, stated that women who exercise regularly decrease their chance of getting cancer by 22%. We know exercise is important for staying healthy, but it needs to be combined with a healthy diet. Women who gain excessive weight later in life, greatly increase their risk of developing breast cancer. Limiting your fat intake to less than 35% of your daily calories can make a big difference.
  4. Regular Screening. Regular screening may not help prevent breast cancer, but it can help you detect it in it’s early stages. It is much easier to treat when caught early. Starting at age 40, women are advised to get a yearly mammogram. A mammogram is an ex-ray exam of the breast. It can detect any abnormalities. Women in their 20’s are encourage to do a monthly breast exam. If you ever see or feel any changes, report it to your doctor right away.
  5. Limit Estrogen Exposure. A lifetime of high exposure could greatly increase your chances of developing breast cancer. Lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the levels of estrogen in your body. Therefore, it is important to know what these factors are. Things such as body weight, high fat diets, alcohol, birth control pills, and postmenopausal hormone treatments have all been shown to increase a woman’s level of estrogen. Understanding how estrogen works in the body will help you make better decisions about your body and environment.

Making a few healthy changes to your lifestyle now could make a big difference later.

Sources:
cancer.org
mayoclinic.com

Categories Other Cancers

Why Pancreatic Cancer Patients Should Consider Alternative Medicine

Like so many patients diagnosed with her type of cancer, Sue was shocked by the survival rates. Information available from the American Cancer Society showed only around one in five patients alive a year after their diagnosis. This led her consider alternative treatments for pancreatic cancer.

Overview of pancreatic cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, the role of the pancreas is to produce enzymes that assist in digestion and hormones that help regulate how the body metabolizes sugar. The organ lies horizontally in the abdomen, behind the lower part of the stomach. It’s around six inches long and resembles a pear on its side.

Because it’s usually not detected in an early stage and spreads quickly, pancreatic cancer is often linked to a poor prognosis.

Conventional treatment

One of the most important parts of diagnosing pancreatic cancer is determining its staging. This is because the treatment options available in conventional Western medicine are linked to the stage of the malignancy. In Stage 1, cancer appears only in the patient’s pancreas. However, by Stage IV, it has typically spread to outlying sites like the lungs, liver and abdominal lining.

Traditional treatments include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Targeted therapy and clinic trials are available to some patients.

Alternative medicine

Many patients intend to review every treatment available to try to cure the cancer. This includes considering alternative – or complementary – therapies once traditional treatments offer little hope. It’s essential to discuss all options with the doctor in charge of treatment.

The National Pancreas Foundation indicates that alternative therapies are those patients can utilize along with medical treatment in order to feel better.

Massage therapy. It could treat just one area or might be a full body massage. It involves touch and a variety of techniques to stroke or knead muscles. Massage targets muscle and bone discomfort, circulation problems, swelling, difficulty relaxing and pain. It also reduces stress. Patients should make sure to hire only a licensed massage therapist.

Therapeutic touch. This is a process of energy exchange. The practitioner uses his or her hands to focus on the healing process. The premise is that a human being is a form of energy. Practitioners believe disease causes a disturbance in the balance of energy and seek to correct it. Research has revealed this alternative treatment can reduce anxiety and change the patient’s perception of pain.

Physical exercise. When a pancreatic cancer patient is physically able, exercise improves the quality of life. It can decrease stress, pain, fatigue, nausea and depression. When performed regularly, it affects the balance of hormones in the body and the heart rate positively. With a doctor’s permission, walking twice a day for short intervals at least three times a week is ideal. Other types of exercise like stretching and isometrics are also helpful.

Meditation. This type of alternative medicine can reduce anxiety, tension and distress. Focused breathing, progressive muscle relation, affirmations, prayer, yoga and guided and visual imagery are all part of it. Regular medication can help a pancreatic cancer patient’s sleep, concentration and ability to handle stress associated with pain, nausea and anxiety.

Laughter. Researchers are currently studying the benefits of laughter. Evidence suggests it can boost a patient’s immune system.

Acupuncture. This alternative therapy involves Chinese practices thousands of years old. Using very thin needles, the practitioner stimulates specific points on the body. The needles might be manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation.

One of the most important aspects of any type of alternative treatment for pancreatic cancer is assembling and relying on a support system, according to the Mayo Clinic. Connecting with cancer survivors can also prove comforting for many patients.

Sources:

American Cancer Society site

Mayo Clinic site

National Pancreas Foundation site

Categories Other Cancers

Bladder Cancer and Its Symptoms

With cancer, one of the cells gets it in his head to reproduce and starts doing so for no apparent reason. This is cancer, and it can be devastating when it settles in the bladder.

My in-laws had come to visit as they always did every two or three months, and on one particular visit, my father-in-law wasn’t feeling too well. He said he felt as if he had been kicked in the stomach by a horse, and he felt bruised. We weren’t able to go anywhere, or do much because he was always having to use the bathroom. We spent most of their visit just enjoying each others company.

Before leaving to go home my husband made his step-dad promise to make a doctor’s appointment as soon as he got home; which he did. By this time he was having pain when he urinated, and sometimes there was blood present in the urine.

The doctor ran a series of tests; a blood work-up, and another one which was a cystoscopy, and these combined confirmed that he had cancer in his bladder.

The doctor started him on chemotherapy, and even though it helped in that the cancer didn’t spread; he ended up having to have a urostomy. In other words; his bladder had to be removed, and his urine went in a bag. My father-in-law had a terrible adjustment period, but he eventually became okay with it. We were all happy to have him around for a few more years.

Though there are some cancers that you can do a home test on, such as breast cancer, or a home-test kit can be purchased to detect whether there is blood in the stool for colon cancer, there is no way to detect bladder cancer unless you go to see the doctor.

These are some of the symptoms one should be watchful for, if there is a concern about bladder cancer.

  1. A bruised feeling in the bladder area; or a heavy feeling
  2. Dark, or reduced urine
  3. Blood in the urine
  4. Pain upon urination
  5. Frequency of urination
  6. The urge to urinate even though none comes out
  7. There can be weight loss, but that would come later on in the disease

You will notice that the symptoms of bladder cancer closely resemble the symptoms of kidney or bladder infection. This is one reason why my father-in-law didn’t see the need to see his doctor right away. He figured it was a bladder infection, and it could wait until he finished his vacation, and he got home. Seeking medical attention is the only safe way that it can be determined whether it is a kidney or bladder infection, or if it is bladder cancer.