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Cancer - Bladder, Bone, Brain, Breast, Cervical, Colorectal, Lung, prostate, Skin, Stomach, Testicular

Bladder, Bone, Brain, Breast, Cervical, Colorectal, Lung, prostate, Skin, Stomach, Testicular

Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer is the most common malignancy of the urinary tract. An early symptom may be a small amount of blood in the urine (microhematuria), although this is more often associated with conditions of the kidneys. A more common sign of bladder cancer is gross hematuria, where the urine becomes red.

About 70 percent of those who get bladder cancer are men, many of whom are between the ages of 50 and 70. If the malignancy has developed in the bladder wall itself, it spreads rapidly to underlying muscles and is very difficult to treat. However, if the cancer has not spread before treatment is initiated, the recovery rate is about 70 percent. Recurrence of bladder cancer is relatively common.

papillary cancer of the bladder is a very common form of the disease. It does not grow into the bladder wall itself; rather, it is attached to it by a kind of stem. As such, it is easily removed by a surgical procedure.

Bone Cancer

Bone Cancer is relatively rare and usually affects persons under the age of 20. The most common symptom is pain, especially at night. Because children often experience pain due to falls and rough play, it is easy to dismiss this early symptom. Any child whose pain persists for more than a week should be taken to a doctor. Other danger signals to look for include prominent veins, unusually warm skin over the bone, and swelling. An X ray can often detect the presence of bone cancer, and a biopsy will confirm any suspicious findings.

Chemotherapy is usually used to treat bone cancer, sometimes in combination with surgery and radiation. In some cases the diseased portion of the bone can be removed surgically and replaced with a metal prosthesis. This is then followed by chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms are recognized, the cancer is usually well advanced and the fatality rate is therefore high.

Brain cancer

Brain cancer. Most tumors of the brain have metastasized to the brain from elsewhere in the body, most commonly from the lung. primary tumors of the brain, whether benign or malignant, can result in the death of the patient. primary tumors of the brain which are malignant vary greatly as to growth rate and location. A slow-growing tumor that can be completely excised can occasionally be cured. The term brain cancer is confusing when applied to primary tumors of the brain. Cancer is malignant not only because it is invasive, but because it has an uncontrolled growth rate and metastasizes to distant areas of the body. The primary malignant tumors of the brain are invasive, and although the growth rate is uncontrolled, it is variable and they do not metastasize.

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among women, afflicting about 180,000 women in 1992. Factors that increase the risk of acquiring breast cancer include a family history of the disease, a high-fat diet, early menstruation, late menopause, and a first childbirth after the age of 40. Women who have had cystic breast disease or malignancies in other parts of the body also run a somewhat higher risk of getting the disease. In rare instances, men also develop breast cancer.

As with other types of cancer, the most important factor in successful treatment is early detection. All women should examine their breasts monthly. Women under the age of 40 should see a doctor about every two years for breast examination. According to the American Cancer Society, women should have a screening mammogram at age 35 and then annual mammograms after age 40. In addition, they should see their physician for a breast examination annually.

possible indications of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, a change in its shape or contour, swelling, thickening, pore enlargement, retraction or scaliness of the nipple, nipple discharge, pain, or tenderness.

Any suspicions of breast cancer should be confirmed by a mammogram. It will not only detect lumps, but help determine whether a lump is cancerous. For accuracy in certain diagnoses, however, a biopsy must be performed. Options for performing the biopsy include a "surgical biopsy," in which case the lump and some of the tissue surrounding it are removed and examined for cancer. Alternatively, it may be possible to perform a needle biopsy, in which a hollow needle is inserted into the lump, in order to withdraw some cells or even a sliver of tissue for analysis.

Treatment of a cancerous breast will vary according to the nature and extent of the cancer, the opinion of the doctor or doctors, and the wishes of the patient. In some cases the breast is removed completely along with surrounding tissues. This is called a modified radical mastectomy, and for many years it was the only treatment available. Now, in some cases in which the cancer is fairly small and localized, it is possible to remove only the lump and some of the surrounding tissue. This procedure is sometimes called a "lumpectomy." It is followed then by radiation to the breast. Sometimes chemotherapy may also be administered. For both mastectomy and lumpectomy procedures, regional lymph nodes are generally removed as well.

Nearly 70 percent of all female breast cancer patients recover and remain free of the disease 5 years or longer after treatment.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer involves the cervix, the opening of the uterus. While there are generally no symptoms in the earliest stages, cancer can be detected by a pap smear, a diagnostic test in which scrapings from the surface of the cervix are analyzed for cancer. Visible symptoms of the disease can include vaginal discharge, irregular bleeding, and spotting after intercourse or douching.

Factors often identified as increasing the risk of cervical cancer include obesity, early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, and a history of viral genital infections. All women who are sexually active or over the age of 18 should have a pelvic examination once a year, especially if any of the risk factors are applicable.

If the cervical cancer has not spread, the cancerous area can be removed surgically and followed up with radiation or chemotherapy. Cancers that involve a large part of the cervix or that have spread into the uterus may require a hysterectomy.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon). In the Western world this is one of the more common types of cancer. Its incidence rises with age, beginning around 40 and reaching a peak between 60 and 75. Men and women are affected about equally.

Adenocarcinoma may affect any part of the colon or rectum. Symptoms vary with the location. Right colon cancer causes anemia and vague discomfort. Rectal cancer causes bleeding, mucus in the stool, and urgency to defecate. Left colon cancer causes cramps, pain, and change in stool caliber. The best prospect for an early diagnosis lies in regular physical examinations that include stool testing for blood and a proctoscopic examination.

Like most cancers, a specific cause cannot be demonstrated. However, worldwide studies have shown that populations with a high incidence of colorectal cancer eat less fiber and more animal protein, fats, and refined carbohydrates than less susceptible populations. The exact role a refined diet plays in allowing cancer to grow has not yet been established.

Treatment usually involves a wide surgical removal of the colon (colectomy) and if possible the rejoining of the cut ends. If the growth is near the end of the colon or rectum, a colostomy may be necessary. The regional lymph nodes are always removed. Radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy may be used during certain stages of the cancer.

The survival rate 5 years after surgery for patients with colorectal cancer is about 50 percent, the chances increasing the earlier the detection is made.

Leukemia

Leukemia, sometimes called blood cancer, is a disease of the bone marrow, where blood cells are produced. It is characterized by an increase in abnormal, immature leukocytes (white blood cells), which then interfere with the production and function of normal white blood cells, needed by the body to fight infections.

Leukemia is the most prevalent type of cancer in children, though the incidence of the disease in adults is far higher, roughly 8 to 1. Males are twice as likely to get the disease. The mortality rate is about 30 percent.

Symptoms include fatigue, blood in the stool, bleeding gums, frequent infections and bruises, enlarged spleen and lymph nodes, pain in the bones or joints, and weight loss.

Leukemia may be diagnosed by examining blood smears under a microscope, but confirmation requires an examination of the bone marrow. The marrow sample is obtained by inserting a needle into the hip bone or sternum of the patient, while using a local anesthetic.

people who suffer from certain kinds of chronic leukemia are able to live for years with little or no therapy. Acute leukemia, on the other hand, requires aggressive chemotherapy. With the development of several new and highly effective anticancer drugs, the recovery rate among acute leukemia patients has greatly improved in recent years. This is particularly true of children suffering from lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood cancer affecting primarily lymphocytes, cells vital to the functioning of the body's immune system.

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is the leading form of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States. In 1992 there were about 168,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed in the United States and approximately 146,000 deaths attributed to it.

Those at greatest risk are smokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Among men who smoke more than two packs of cigarettes a day, the death rate from cancer of the lung is roughly 15 to 20 times higher than among men who do not smoke. Other factors influencing risk include the number of years of smoking, the age at which smoking commenced, and how deeply the smoker inhales.

One of the most common symptoms of lung cancer is a persistent cough. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and blood coughed up from the lungs (hemoptysis).

Surgery is the usual treatment for lung cancer, but only half the cases are operable at the time of diagnosis. This may involve the removal of a cancerous tumor or an entire lobe of the lung. Because many cases of lung cancer are not diagnosed until they are fairly well advanced, radiation and chemotherapy are also often necessary.

prostate Cancer

prostate Cancer involves the large gland surrounding the male urethra just below the bladder, affecting about 132,000 men annually. The typical patient is about 73 years of age at the time of diagnosis. However, because the disease progresses very slowly, a significant percentage of men have it without knowing it. For this reason all men over 40 should have a digital rectal examination once a year. A prostatic specific antigen (pSA) blood test has been used for screening. Its effectiveness on outcomes is controversial.

Only when the disease is well advanced do symptoms occur. One of the main symptoms is difficulty in urination, resulting from an enlarged prostate, normally about the size of a chestnut, which then obstructs the flow of urine. There may be a need to urinate frequently, particularly at night. Urination may be accompanied by a painful or burning sensation. Blood may appear in the urine, and urination may be difficult to start and stop.

These symptoms occur more frequently with a benign enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BpH).

Advances in prostatic surgery and radiotherapy have greatly reduced the incidence of impotence in the treatment of this disease. A form of hormone therapy called LH-RH has none of the side effects of conventional estrogen therapy.

The survival rate for prostate gland cancer patients is under 70 percent.

Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer, excepting melanomas, is the most common cancer in the United States and the most treatable, having less than a 2 percent mortality rate. About 600,000 cases are reported annually, frequently occurring in patients with other forms of cancer. For these reasons it is not included in tabulating new cases of cancer, which amount to over 1,130,000 annually.

The most common cause of skin cancer is excessive exposure to the sun, the most frequent victims being people with fair skin. Many of them live in the southern and southwestern states, where the sun is strong and the skin is frequently exposed to it.

Symptoms of skin cancer may include any change in the appearance of the skin, such as the appearance of a new growth, a wound that does not heal, or any sudden change in a birthmark, mole, or wart. Any mole that bleeds, enlarges, itches, shows up after age 30, or becomes tender should be examined by a doctor immediately. Special precautions with moles are extremely important because they are often starting points for malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

Most forms of skin cancer can be cured with surgery or with radiation therapy. About 95 percent of those treated recover completely.

Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer, on a steady decline in North America and western Europe, occurs in about 2 to 3 percent of all cancer cases, accounting for about 24,600 new cases each year. Stomach cancer is more likely to affect men than women; incidence peaks between the ages of 50 and 59.

While a direct cause has yet to be found, stomach cancer is often associated with gastric ulcers, exposure to asbestos, and various dietary factors, including the excessive consumption of nitrates and smoked or salted fish and meats.

Symptoms include vague stomach discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and anemia. Diagnosis is accomplished by means of X-ray films, biopsy, endoscopy, and gastric analysis.

Usually radiotherapy and chemotherapy are not effective. Excision of the tumor is usually recommended, with a survival rate of about 40 percent.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular Cancer is cancer of the male testes, often involving an undescended testicle. Usually affecting men between the ages of 20 and 35, tumors develop more often in the right than in the left testicle. Testicular cancer accounts for less than .005 percent of all cancer cases annually.

Early symptoms are almost nonexistent, the disease revealing itself only in later stages. These later symptoms include lung problems, obstruction of the passage of urine between the kidneys and the bladder, or a lump in the abdominal area.

Accurate diagnosis includes internal examination of the scrotum by means of a light instrument and urine tests. Depending on how advanced the cancer is at the time of diagnosis, treatment may include any combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgical excision. prognosis is often very good.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine Cancer is known medically as endometrial cancer, a disease of the membrane lining the uterus. Occurring most often in women between the ages of 40 and 60, it may be associated with ovary malfunction, a history of infertility, estrogen therapy, and a combination of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

The main sign of uterine cancer is abnormal bleeding from the vagina; back pain is a secondary symptom. A dilatation and curettage test usually provides the most accurate diagnosis. This involves the scraping of the inside of the uterus with an instrument in order to obtain pieces of tissue for laboratory analysis.

Because of the rapid spread of the disease, a hysterectomy is the usual treatment; 70 percent is the normal survival rate. Radiotherapy is often administered before and after the operation.

Questions & Answers

Q:What causes cancer

A:There is no one cause of cancer. Most experts agree that people develop cancer mainly through repeated or prolonged contact with one or more cancer-causing agents, known as carcinogens. In addition, scientists suspect that some people may inherit a tendency toward some forms of cancer, such as breast and colon cancer.

Carcinogens increase the probability of cancer because they damage body cells, eventually causing at least one cell to become cancerous. The most common chemical carcinogen is the tar found in tobacco smoke. Industrial chemicals, such as arsenic, asbestos, and some oil and coal products, can increase the risk of cancer. Chemical carcinogens polluting air and drinking water can raise the risk of cancer for entire communities. In microscopic concentrations they are also used in some food and agricultural processes.

Some natural substances, such as the molds that grow on corn and peanut crops, are also suspected carcinogens. Diets that are high in fat may play a role in colon cancer. Overexposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight can cause skin cancer, particularly in people with fair, sensitive skin. Large doses of X rays are also a cancer hazard, as are radioactive substances.

Q:How does cancer develop

A:Although definite causes of cancer remain hard to identify, the behavior of cancer cells is easily recognized. Unlike normal cells in the human body, cancer cells grow at an unrestrained rate. They do not grow larger than normal cells, as is commonly believed, but they last longer and divide more frequently. In the process of their uncontrolled growth, cancer cells compete with healthy cells for space and nourishment. In so doing, they may take over, replace, or kill normal cells. The rate at which this process takes place varies greatly from one form of cancer to another.

The cancer cells, dividing at an uncontrolled rate, form a cluster of cells called a tumor. Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body; malignant (cancerous) tumors do.

The spread of cancer (metastasis) occurs when some cancer cells break away from the tumor and travel through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. These cancer cells may then lodge in other organs or tissues and cause new tumors to form. Cancer can also spread by invading tissues that surround the tumor. Once cancer has metastasized, it is more difficult to cure.

Q:What are the symptoms of cancer

A:Cancer has no symptoms in its earliest stages, though they may appear before the cancer begins to spread. The American Cancer Society lists seven warning signals; any one of which may indicate that the disease is developing:

  1. Any changes in bowel or bladder habits. These might indicate cancer of the colon, bladder, or prostate.
  2. A sore that does not heal. This could be a warning that mouth or skin cancer is developing.
  3. Unusual bleeding or discharge. Blood in the urine may be a symptom of bladder or kidney cancer. Blood or mucus in the stool may indicate bowel cancer. Any unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding might be a sign of cancer of the female reproductive organs.
  4. A thickening or a lump in the breast or elsewhere in the body.
  5. persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing. These may be signs of stomach cancer or cancer of the esophagus or throat.
  6. Obvious change in a wart or a mole. Any sudden change in their size, shape, or color could signal skin cancer.
  7. Nagging cough or chronic hoarseness. A persistent cough may be a sign of lung cancer, especially if accompanied by spitting of blood and loss of weight.

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms for two or more weeks should promptly consult a physician. Though not definite indications of cancer, any one of these symptoms should be considered a possible warning sign of cancer. Authorities agree that early detection of cancer is the most important ingredient in successful treatment. Certain types of cancer can be detected in the early stages of development through self-examination. Breast cancer and testicular cancer are common examples.

Q:How is cancer treated

A:physicians have three main methods of treating cancer: (1) surgery, (2) radiation therapy or radiotherapy, and (3) drug therapy or chemotherapy. In many cases, treatment consists of two, or possibly all three, methods, a procedure called combination therapy.

Surgery is the main method of treating cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, cervix, and uterus. Some brain tumors can also be removed surgically.

Surgery involves removal of the tumor and repair of the affected organ. In addition to the tumor itself, certain types of apparently healthy tissue may also have to be removed to help prevent the further spread of the disease. For example, a mastectomy (breast cancer operation) involves a partial or full removal of the cancerous breast and certain neighboring lymph nodes. This is done because cancer cells may have infected these glands and could spread from there to other parts of the body.

Some forms of cancer, such as those involving the skin and areas of the head and neck, can be treated with radiotherapy alone. The diseased body part is exposed to radiation from X rays or radioactive substances, such as cobalt 60. Radiation kills normal cells as well as cancerous ones, so care must be taken to administer radiation doses that do not endanger life.

Improvements are constantly being made in radiation equipment to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy. For example, the supervoltage X-ray machine and the cobalt bomb produce radiation that has greater penetrating power and is less damaging to normal tissue than ordinary radiation. Two other modern engineering devices, the linear accelerator and the cyclotron, are even more efficient in this respect. Beams of high-energy electrons produced by linear accelerators are increasingly used to treat deep-seated tumors. High-energy neutron beams produced by cyclotrons are being used experimentally to treat advanced cancers of the head, neck, breast, esophagus, lung, and rectum.

Chemotherapy is particularly effective against leukemia and lymphoma, but is also used against other forms of cancer. These anticancer drugs function like radiation in that they kill normal cells and have side effects ranging from nausea and hair loss to high blood pressure.

Researchers are continually looking for drugs that will be less harmful to healthy body cells. They are also investigating a natural, protective body substance called interferon that cells produce themselves to defend against invading viruses.

Q:What are the body's natural defenses against cancer

A:The immune system that protects against invading bacteria and viruses also fights cancer cells. A strong immune system might be the reason why many people will never develop cancer. Some people may have a weak immune response to cancer cells, thus enabling the disease to develop.

Q:Can cancer be prevented

A:Avoiding known cancer-causing agents, such as tobacco smoke and asbestos, can certainly reduce the risk. Many physicians and researchers now believe that certain foods contain substances that may help to prevent cancer. Such foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrots, whole-grain breads, cereals, and some seafoods. A reduced intake of fats may also help prevent some cancers from forming.

Large doses of vitamins A, C, and E have been proven effective in treating some cancers in laboratory animals. However, it is not advisable to take megadoses of these vitamins, as toxic effects may result.

Alertness to the seven warning signs mentioned here and regular medical checkups are certainly good defenses against cancer.

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