Categories Other Cancers

Statistics on Ovarian Cancer

I was troubled to read that actor Pierce Brosnan’s 41 year old daughter Charlotte Harris, died from ovarian cancer. His first wife Cassie, Charlotte’s mother died 11 years ago, from the very same disease. Cassie Harris, was 43. How sad that Mr Brosnan had to re-live his pain, all over again.

A former co-worker of mine died from ovarian cancer. It seemed as if one day she was diagnosed, and within a few months she was gone. Radiation and chemotherapy did nothing except turn her skin black, cause her to vomit and lose her hair. The alleged cure, seemed to do more harm than the disease.

Cancer does not discriminate based on income. Pierce Brosnan no doubt had the funds to help his wife and daughter get any treatment necessary, yet they died, just like less fortunate individuals who were not able to afford treatment. Actress Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. She probably had access to the best doctors, yet she too was a victim of this dreaded disease.

Statistics do bear out, that white women experience the highest rate of ovarian cancer, followed by Latinio’s, African Americans, Pacific Islander/Asians, and Alaska Native American Indian women.

Ovarian cancer symptoms, mimic other common, non life threatening, illnesses. This is why many women are not diagnosed, until it is too late. Symptoms may include frequent gas, bloating, pelvic pain, fullness and loss of appetite,or indigestion.

One woman dies from ovarian cancer every 12 days. 43% of those who are diagnosed, live at least 5 years. I have not heard that any other females in my co-worker’s family were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And it is not known whether or not Charlotte Harris and her mother had the gene marker indicating they were at high risk for the disease.

Although billions of dollars have been raised for cancer research, very little of it goes towards ovarian cancer. There are preventative measures, which offer modest protection against ovarian cancer. They are hysterectomy, oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation. They are only recommended however, if there is an actual medical need.

Categories Other Cancers

Breast Cancer Misconceptions

Those working toward ending breast cancer have been plagued for years about the connection between abortions and miscarriages and breast cancer. Many have speculated that an induced abortion (or spontaneous abortion, as miscarriages are known as) have led to higher developments of breast cancer because of hormonal levels that lead to changes in the breasts (“Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk”). The National Cancer Institute consulted 100 experts on pregnancy and breast cancer and came to the definitive conclusion that there is no correlation between abortion and miscarriage and the risk of breast cancer (“Abortion, Miscarriage…”)

A more devastating myth is the notion that mammograms detect 100% of all breast cancers. In reality, mammograms falsely misdiagnose 35 to 70 out of 1,000 women as not having breast cancer when they do (“Mammography”). Human error is to account in most cases although there are still limitations in technology. However, it is important to realize that mammograms remain the only screening method available to find early onset breast cancer, so discounting them as unhelpful or unnecessary could lead many women to live with untreated cancer for an extended time. Mammograms should be utilized as cautionary tools. If a suspicious lump is visible and mammograms do not detect it, patients should request another mammogram or biopsy of the lump.

The road to requesting a mammogram often begins with monthly breast self-examination. Many look to this procedure as a fail-safe method toward determining if their lump is cancerous or not. A startling report has been released in recent months that highlight the ineffectiveness of self-exams. While many grassroots advocacy groups have persevered with their conviction that breast self examinations (BSE) are unhelpful and often stressful for women, it is only in recent months that groups such as the Canadian and American Cancer Societies have shied away from advocating BSE in their prevention tip brochures. Doctors and researchers reason that most lumps discovered from BSE’s are typically benign and cause undue worry and fear in patients. They maintain that the best screening method remains regularly scheduled yearly mammograms for women over 40.

While mammograms are known to dispense false prognosis in some cases, they still remain the best pre-diagnostic tool available. The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 to 49 should have a screening performed every two years, and once a year for women age 50 and older (“Breast Cancer and Care”). More than 90% of breast cancers are detected from a mammogram (“Breast Cancer…”). A mammogram is an x-ray imaging of the breast, designed to detect suspicious lumps through low dose x-rays. While discovered some years earlier in Europe, the method was not used widely in the United States until the 1950’s. New developments in film imaging has reduced the amount of radiation needed to produce a picture and thus lessened the controversy surrounding the practice of mammography (“Mammography”).

Categories Other Cancers

How a Seemingly Cursed Breast-Cancer Diagnosis Proved a Blessing

Twelves days after my 20th birthday, my mother died with a cancerous brain tumor after only a short illness. So even though it was 24 years later when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was devastated.

My sister, 9 years older than I, had filled my mother’s shoes as best she could. She held our family of 4 boys and 3 girls together. She hosted holidays at her home and kept in touch with us all even when we didn’t keep in touch with each other. You know the way a mom does. She was there for me when I got married, when I had my two children and when I went through the divorce. My sister was always taking care of me.

Immediately I starting questioning God. I am a Christian and believe that God does everything for a reason. So I wanted to know right away what in the world He was up to. Why would he allow my sister to have cancer after losing my mother to this horrible disease. And immediately my sister started in on me to get a mammogram. Being a single parent of two college aged children, doctor visits where a luxury that I could not afford even with insurance. I was never sick so I didn’t even have a doctor, so my sister encouraged me to contact her doctor for a physical and a mammogram.

At age 45, and my first mammogram ever, I had breast cancer. When I got the call from the doctor to come in to his office I already knew what he was going to say. My children insisted on going with me and I insisted that they stay in the waiting room while I met with the doctor. He assured me that all would be well because it was small and it had been found early.

After a few tears, I collected myself and when out to face my children in the waiting room, I wasn’t even sure I could tell them without crying, but I needed to be strong for them or so I thought. I did it, I told them it was cancer and I didn’t cry and then we rushed on to church just like we did every other Wednesday night.

The next few weeks were filled with doctor appointments, surgeon and oncologist. At the follow up visit after my surgery, the doctor informed me of the type of cancer and told me that even though it was small and I had no lymph node involvement, that this cancer was fast growing and that in 2 to 3 years he would have not been able to help me with surgery. This was it! The answer to my prayer. I had asked God why and this was it. My sister had cancer to save my life.

She was talking care of me still. We went through chemo and radiation together. I helped her pick out her wig and she helped me pick out mine. During the summer of 2001 we helped each other survive. Together we learned first had what it meant to have the support of someone else who knew what you were going through and with the love of a sister.

Today, we are cancer-free, and with the help of some other cancer survivors, we started a cancer support group for women. The name of our group is SIS, Sisters In Survival. We do volunteer work through the local American Cancer Society, Reach to Recovery and Relay for Life. God not only answered my question that day, but showed me a new ministry for my life. If you had asked me back when I was going through the treatments I would have no doubt told you that having cancer was a curse, but now? What can I say , I am blessed!

Categories Blog

Cancer Fighting Vegetables

It is estimated by the National Cancer Institute that approximately one third of cancer deaths are diet related. So what you eat is extremely important, especially if your family has a history of cancer. This article will highlight some vegetables that prevent cancer.

Among all the foods that combat cancer, there are numerous cancer fighting vegetables. These vegetables that prevent cancer do so by means of their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants neutralize the damage done by free radicals to your body. Some also protect the body by means of preventing the absorption of cancer causing agents. While no one vegetable, consumed en masse, will prevent cancer, cancer fighting vegetables, when taken in moderation, will significantly reduce the chances of cancer.

Avocados

While an avocado is actually a fruit, it is a main component in many vegetable and salad dishes. They have a high concentration of a powerful antioxidant called gluthaione and a good supply of potassium and beta-carotene. It is also a scientific opinion that the benefits of eating avocados as a cancer fighting vegetable extend to preventing liver cancer.

Carrots

Apart from containing good amounts of beta-carotene, carrots also have a good concentration of falcarinol. It was found by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences that isolated cancer cells grew more slowly in the presence of falcarinol. However, don’t consume excessive amounts of carrots as an excess of beta-carotene, which carrots are extremely rich in, may actually cause cancer instead of fighting it.

Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussle Sprouts

Cruciferous vegetables comprise of a large group of cancer fighting vegetables. These release an antioxidant called sulforaphane when chewed or cut. This strong antioxidant has shown to be effective in combating colon and prostate cancers.

Spinach and Romaine

Another cancer fighting vitamin found in some vegetables that prevent cancer is folate, a B-complex vitamin. It was found that lower levels of folate results in more likely DNA mutations. Both spinach and romaine are great salad vegetables that have good quantities of folate.

Seaweed

Popular in Japanese cuisine, Seaweeds are rich in chlorophylones and chlorophyll. These fatty acids have been proven to help prevent breast cancer.

Chili Peppers and Jalapenos

While these don’t contain significant amounts of antioxidants, chili peppers and jalapenos both contain capsaicin. Capsaicin is know to neutralize nitrosamines which are the suspected cause of stomach cancer.

Sources

Acrylamide in Food and Cancer Risk, National Institute of Cancer
Home, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences

Categories Other Cancers

Breast Cancer and My Friend Cindy

Cindy (not her real name) is a mom I met almost three years ago at my child’s elementary school. Our girls are in the same scouting troop. Cindy has Stomach Cancer. She has a wonderful husband and three lovely young children.Oh, and she also has an amazing mother-in-law. I will get to that later on.

I feel a strong bond with her children because my mom had Breast cancer when I was young. My sister was away at college and I felt all alone. My dad did not like to talk about my mom. My mom hid in her room for almost two years. Finally, when her chemotherapy treatments were finished, she came back to the living. And living she did. She lived for another 20 years and then got sick again. She died in 1995. My heart was, and still is broken. My mom was my best friend.

So, I do know what those kids are going through. The only difference is that their mom has not come back to life. I am not sure she ever will. It has been almost three years and she is still in either her bed or a hospital bed. She now has tumors in her Liver. Although her cancer is considered “stable”, Cindy is almost always in pain. Her dear mother-in-law has basically taken over. Cindy’s own mother and father have not helped at all. They live far away and are in denial. Cindy has written them off.

How do you live when you know you are dying? How does one go on? Cindy’s children want their mom back but will she ever return? Can their father replace a mother’s hugs and kisses? How do I tell my friend to live for the moment for the sake of her children when she carries such a heavy burden? Who am I to get angry when I see those kids looking so sad? I wish I had all the answers.

My friends and I share our feelings about Cindy. We feel that she is not trying hard enough to put on a “happy” face. This will be the third Christmas that the kids have to watch their mom in pain. The baby is only four. It is so unfair. I play out so many scenarios in my mind about this family’s future. I know which future I wish would come true. You all know it. The happily ever after future. This is the future where mom is not wearing a nightgown.

She is not lying in a hospital bed. She is not dying. She is attending school functions and concerts. She is decorating the Christmas Tree. She is taking the turkey out of the oven and wearing that apron that says “Mom’s the Best”. Most of all, she is living.

Categories Other Cancers

Triple Negative Breast Cancer at a Glance

Gender, age, genetics, family history, personal history and race are just some of the risk factors associated with breast cancer. For instance, inheriting a mutated form of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which under normal conditions are protective against breast cancer, increases ones risk. Breast cancer has many factors that contribute to its development. What oncologists are finding out is that breast cancer is not one cancer but many subtypes of cancer. The breast cancer subtypes are based on three receptors:

  1. Estrogen receptors
    2. Progesterone receptors
    3. Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)

Commonly used treatments for breast cancer mainly target these receptors. Breast cancers that are estrogen receptor positive (meaning the breast tumor grows when the hormone attaches itself to the receptor site) will respond to anti-estrogen drugs like Tamoxifen. So treating breast cancers that are estrogen, progesterone or HER2 positive means that drug therapy blocking these receptor sites can help treat breast cancer in those patients.

But, what happens when the tumors don’t have any of these receptors. This is exactly the case with triple negative breast cancer. The triple negative form of breast cancer gets its name because it lacks all three receptors and treating it with hormone therapy is ineffective. In the US, approximately 180,000 women are diagnosed with some form of invasive breast cancer and 15% of them have triple negative breast cancer. This type of breast cancer is rare, aggressive and difficult to treat. The only form of treatment for women with triple negative breast cancer is chemotherapy.

According to Dr. Funmi Olopade, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, patients responding well to chemotherapy have a better chance at survival. Unfortunately, the challenge for doctors and their patients is dealing with triple negative breast cancer when it reoccurs. There isn’t an effective way to treat this form of cancer when it returns because the chance of survival is not good. While more research is needed to understand triple negative breast cancer, screening is the best measure to allow for early detection. Early detection means, “Many of the women are surviving. They are beating the odds of dying because they know they can do preventive approaches to reduce their risk of dying,” Dr. Olopade said.

For more information on triple negative breast cancer check out the TNBC Foundation for news, updates and the latest on clinical trials.

Categories Other Cancers

Risk Factors and Causes of Lung Cancer

Everyone learns early in science class just how important the lungs are. They are necessary to receive oxygen from the air and exchange it with carbon dioxide in the lungs. Without the lungs, there would be a smaller amount of oxygen available for the blood, causing your body to work harder.

There are several diseases that involve the lungs, including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or cancer. Any of these illnesses can wreak havoc on the lungs and interfere with the lung’s functions. We are going to focus on lung cancer.

Cancer can be a debilitating or life-threatening disease anywhere it is located in the body. Cancer of the lungs is one of the most serious diagnoses, as it can spread rapidly to other parts of the body, or to the rest of the lungs. Usually found in the bronchi, it can also begin in the pleura, which is the lining of the sac. As the lungs are exposed to foreign objects, the new cells proliferate and mutate into cancerous tumors. These tumors can be benign or malignant, which spreads throughout the body.

There are several causes of lung cancer. These causes are also called risk factors. Some risk factors can be changed, some can be modified, and some cannot be changed.

Risk factors that can be changed:

Smoking – Cigarettes, pipes, and cigars cause over 90% of lung cancer cases.

Second hand smoke – Breathing in smoke exhaled by smokers or air tainted by cigarette smoke can be enough to cause cancer.

Respiratory irritants such as asbestos – Fibers can settle in the lungs, and develop into cancer. Smoking increases the risk by up to 90 times.

Radon gas – This gas is sometimes found seeping through rocks and into homes. The gas, once inhaled, causes cancer at a rate second only to cigarette smoke.

Risk factors that can be modified:

Other lung diseases – The presence of illnesses such as COPD can increase the chance of developing lung cancer. Modification involved taking prescribed medications, a diet high in protein, and avoiding respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu.

Risk factors that cannot be changed:

Prior history – If lung cancer develops once, it can come back again, usually in a more aggressive form.

Family history – Genetic factors play a role in who develops lung cancer and who does not. It is common that smoking and nonsmoking family members of a cancer patient can develop the illness themselves even if they avoid common risk factors.

Lung cancer can be aggressive, and can cause death. However, it is possible to seek treatment and eradicate the illness. Know the risk factors, learn the symptoms, and seek medical attention when necessary.

Categories Blog

Liver Cancer: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

The liver, the largest organ inside the body, is the multipurpose factory of the body. It breaks down and stores nutrients from the intestines, manufactures agents that clots blood on wounds, secretes bile that absorbs nutrients, and removes toxins and waste from the body. Tumors develop from abnormal cell growth in liver tissues. These tumors can be malignant or benign. When cancer cells become malignant, they can spread to other organs in the body.

The National Cancer Institute says that, in 2020, an estimated 22,620 are expected and they expect an estimated 18,160 deaths. Multiple liver cancer symptoms occur to let individuals they have cancer. Like many forms of cancer, various risk factors make people more susceptible to liver cancer. Some of these risk factors include genetic conditions, hepatitis, low birth weight, and cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol, medications, and other toxins.

Liver Cancer Symptoms

Liver cancer signs and symptom vary from one person to another; however, people recognize general symptoms of liver cancer. Many of the common symptoms of liver cancer occur in upper abdominal regions. Abdominal pain indicates that a person has developed a large tumor in the liver. Other liver cancer symptoms that affect the stomach include sudden abdominal swelling and bloating known as ascites, nausea, and vomiting.

Another sign that a person has liver cancer is jaundice, a condition that causes yellowing of the skin and the white of the eyes. People who consume large amounts of alcohol experience muscle wasting. Other physical signs and symptoms of liver cancer include unexplained weight loss and fever, itchy skin, swollen veins, and an enlarged spleen. Once doctors run various tests and diagnose these symptoms, they administer various liver cancer treatments, depending on the stage of the cancer.

Liver Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy is a traditional liver cancer treatment in which a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs is injected into the body. This drug combination shrinks large cancer tumors. Doctors sometimes combine chemotherapy with other medical treatments in order to increase success rates. Chemotherapy treatments lead to unpleasant side effects like vomiting and nausea, lethargy and hair loss.

Radiation Therapy is used by doctors to treat dividing cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation therapy attacks only cancer cells and those surrounding it. New advances in radiation therapy have helped reduce the damage done to healthy liver cells.

Surgical Resection is an invasive liver treatment in which cancerous sections of the liver and surrounding tissue are removed. This treatment is only suggested when patients have small localized tumors and have no signs of liver cirrhosis. One drawback to this form of treatment is that, if the person has inadequate amounts of liver, they could experience liver failure.

Liver Transplantation occurs when damage caused by liver cancer becomes so advanced that the organ cannot be saved. This liver cancer treatment becomes a viable option for people who are showing signs of liver failure, but the cancer has not yet spread to other areas of the body. However, in the United States, approximately 18,000 people are waiting for livers, and medical professionals have to determine which patients deserve available livers.

Early detection is the best defense for fighting liver cancer. People, though, must recognize the signs and symptoms of liver cancer. Many of them are hard to detect because they mimic common medical conditions. However, many people have access to a number of liver cancer treatment options that may stave off the spread of this deadly form of cancer.

Categories Blog

Vitamin B6 and Cancer

A recent study in the medical journal, JAMA, found that low levels of Vitamin B6 could indicate and increased risk for developing lung cancer. The finding was true for current smokers, past smokers, and people who have never smoked. But what is Vitamin B6 and how could it help to prevent cancer?

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is part of the B complex of vitamins which include eight other B vitamins which are important for many body functions such as regulation of metabolism and immune function. Adequate nutrition with B vitamins obtained from the food, but not in tablet form, is important for the prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Deficiency of Vitamin B6 can lead to anemia, depression, skin disorders (dermatitis), high blood pressure, swelling (water retention), neurologic disorders such as seizures, and high levels of a chemical called homocysteine which increases a person’s risk of heart disease.

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6 can be obtained from vitamin tablets or fortified foods, and varies based on age and sex. Vitamin B6 is present in a variety of foods including fortified cereals, bananas, garbanzos beans, pork, avocados, milk, cheese and salmon, spinach, oatmeal and chicken breast. However, many people eating a western diet may be deficient in B vitamins, and mild Vitamin B6 deficiency is common.

On the flip side, taking too much Vitamin B6 from vitamin supplements can cause serious medical conditions as well including poor coordination, numbness, and fatigue.

But how could Vitamin B6 be able to prevent lung cancer? A lot of factors may lead to the development of lung cancer, and certainly being malnourished puts a strain on the body which could increase a person’s chances of developing lung cancer. Specifically, the immune system appears to play a critical role in the body’s ability to locate and destroy cancerous cells before they become large tumors. A deficiency of Vitamin B6 might be enough to suppress the immune system’s “immune surveillance” which is thought to be involved in locating and destroying cancerous cells. In addition, Vitamin B6 is also involved in the process of building DNA insides cells, and a defect in this process could lead a person to develop cancer.

However, doctors warn that while Vitamin B6 may decrease the risk of lung cancer in smokers, they still have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. In addition, while lower levels of Vitamin B6 in lung cancer patients may indicate deficiency of another vitamin or other factor which predisposes a patient to lung cancer.

Nonetheless, Vitamin B6 has been thought to help prevent colon cancer, especially in women who drink alcohol. Thus in the future doctors may be paying more attention to Vitamin B6 levels, especially in those who are exposed to smoke or at higher risk of developing colon cancer.

Categories Other Cancers

Best Breast Cancer Products

Numerous companies provide consumers with products that sponsor breast cancer awareness. These breast cancer products fund numerous charities that raise money for research projects around the world. Donating to charity from proceed is an innovative idea because people help a cause without spending extra money and purchasing items that they use anyway. It alleviates the need to spend extra money to donate to different organizations. Many of these products display pink ribbon, so consumers know that they are purchasing breast cancer products.

Yoplait Yogurt

Many Yoplait Yogurt containers sport pink lids. The only thing yogurt lovers have to do is purchase this product at their local grocery store. For every pink lid, Yoplait donates 10 cents to breast cancer awareness causes around the country, this includes research and treatment centers. Their campaign has raised as much 1.5 million for breast cancer. In addition, Yoplait is the National Present Sponsor of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

People can work as teams or individuals to collect lids. On the Yoplait website, they provide starter kits and other incentives for lid collectors. The site also provides instructions on mailing lids.

Breast Cancer Crusade Tennis Bracelet

This tennis bracelet features rose crystals and pink ribbons on a silver chain. Consumers who purchase this breast cancer product donate 100 percent of the profits, which is $3.46, to the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade, an organization that has raised more than $585 million since its establishment in 1992. This organization has raised breast cancer awareness and donated to research programs in more than 50 countries. In addition to this bracelet, Avon has more than 40 other breast cancer products.

Pink M & M’s

M & M’s gives consumers a sweet way to purchase products for breast cancer awareness. People who buy Promise Blend M & M Chocolate candies are, in essence, donating 7 to10 percent of their purchase to Komen for the Cure. This bag of M & Ms is a mixture of white and pink varieties of this chocolate-covered candy. People who buy this breast cancer product at their online store not only fund research; they can even get personalized messages inscribed on their M & Ms. The large bag costs about $11 and the smaller one costs about $4.

General Mills Products

General Mills launched their General Mills’ Pink Together program in 2007. During the month of October, General Mills will turn the boxed of some of its well-known brands pink in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Komen for the Cure. Some of these products include Cheerios cereals, Progresso soups, and other well-known brands. General Mills has contributed more than $2 million in the past two years. In addition to the month of October, consumers can join their Pink Together program by visiting their page. They will find out about research, hear from breast cancer survivors and people who’ve lost loved ones, and learn about other donating opportunities.

KitchenAid

The purchase of products from the KitchenAid pink collection supports “Cook for the Cure.” This program, created in 2001, has raised more than $6 million for Komen for the Cure. Every time a customer uses KitchenAid breast cancer products to feed their loved ones, they know that they’ve supported breast cancer awareness and research. These products can be purchased at retail stores and on the KitchenAid website.

These breast cancer products appeal to consumers because they can support awareness while using items they would on a daily basis. They allow people to support this cause without having to give more money than they would normally pay for these products. Every time they eat one of these products or use them during the day, they know that they promote breast cancer awareness, even if not directly.