The Dangers of Being Overweight

April 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Education

Obesity and being overweight are now approaching epidemic proportions in much of the developing world. Some researchers point to the modern diet whereas others blame technology for diverting time away from physical exercise. This is especially salient in the current generation of children. No matter what the actual cause, being overweight entails significant risks and dangers.

One is considered to be overweight if they weigh more than their ideal body weight for their height and frame. Obesity is defined as being more than 20% over the ideal recommended body weight. It is well understood that obesity can lead to a plethora of adverse health effects, however, recent studies have shown that some of these risks are also applicable to people who are overweight but fall short of the official definition of being obese.

Being overweight is caused by a mixture of genes and behavior. Obviously, overeating is a prime cause of being overweight. If one does not burn as many calories as they consume, then the inevitable result is weight gain. Some people inherit a slow metabolism which triggers weight gain no matter how hard they try to keep the pounds off. Some medical conditions, including those related to the thyroid gland, also tend to cause weight gain. Proper diet and regular exercise become even more imperative for those who have this type of weight gain predisposition.

Obese People

Obese People

One of the most common maladies associated with being overweight is type two diabetes. Obesity is actually the leading cause of this disease which can lead to amputations and even death. Studies have shown that being overweight, even if not obese, increases the odds of being diagnosed with type two diabetes. High blood pressure is another condition tied to being overweight. Having can lead to and strokes. Overweight people have also been shown to suffer a higher incidence of . These conditions obviously are quite serious and steps should be taken to avoid them.

Being overweight also entails disadvantages within both your professional and personal life. Studies have shown that overweight employees are less likely to get hired and have less chances of getting promoted during the course of their careers. Many companies are loathe to employ overweight people in the sales arena along with other positions which represent the face of the company. It might seem unfair, but society often does judge a book by its cover.

Obviously, members of the opposite sex tend to be turned off by an overweight appearance. Most people who lose significant weight notice an immediate and marked difference when it comes to romance. Additionally, many overweight people lose out on many of life’s enjoyments, such as a day at the beach, because they are insecure about their appearance.

Being overweight entails many dangers and inconveniences. It is never too late to vow to lose weight, and there are many cutting edge products and techniques which can assist you in this often difficult endeavor. Take the first step today by exploring what is out there to help you achieve better health by losing weight.

Tags: Obesity, high blood pressure, Diabetes, cancer, strokes, obese, fat, overweight

How to quit smoking!

December 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

is the single most preventable cause of disease in the United States today. Smoking is related to the development and complication of many major diseases, including lung , emphysema, and strokes. Stopping smoking now will greatly improve your health – regardless of how much you currently smoke or how long you have been smoking!

Remember that all forms of tobacco are dangerous; there is no safe use of tobacco. So, the term “smoking” refers to the use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and even smokeless tobacco, often called chewing tobacco or snuff.

The National Cancer Institute, in its pamphlet called “Clearing the Air”, has outlined the following comprehensive strategies for quitting smoking. You can get a copy of this pamphlet by calling NCI at 1-800-4-cancer. The National Cancer Institute recommends that you begin by preparing to stop. You must decide positively that you want to stop more than you want to remain a smoker. List all the reasons you want to quit and reread them often. Begin to prepare yourself physically as well as mentally for your quit day: start a modest exercise program, drink more water and juice, get lots of rest and avoid fatigue. As you prepare to quit, remember that smoking cessation isn’t easy, but it is something that you can do! More than 3 million people quit smoking each year in the United States!!! Also remember that withdrawal symptoms will occur but will subside after the first few weeks. If you need help, there are Connecticut withdrawal centers and other US facilities that can provide you what you need. You can make it!!

This time of preparation may be a good time for you to involve someone else in your quit efforts. Maybe you can invite your spouse or friend to quit with you or enlist their positive support as you make this important step toward a healthier future!

Just before you stop, practice going without cigarettes as much as possible. If you want to smoke go to one designated area of your house that you can smoke in, such as a garage, porch or basement. Ceremoniously eliminate all smoking materials- cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. No longer carry cigarettes around with you. If you need to smoke, stop whatever it is that you are doing and go to the designated area to smoke. Also, try buying cigarettes one pack at a time.

These tips make it very inconvenient to smoke, will force you to slow down your smoking, and hopefully eliminate some of the more unnecessary cigarettes in your habit. Keep your mind focused on the immediate challenge at hand: to go for one day without smoking. Don’t shoot for a whole smoke-free lifetime at this stage!

Set a quit date when you will finally quit smoking. Set this date for no more than 7 days from now, so you don’t lose your initial enthusiasm! Set yourself up for success and pick a good day when you are ready to tackle such a monumental challenge. The day when you have a big presentation to deliver at work, the kid’s carpool to drive, and a dinner party to make is probably not a good quit date!! Ask yourself, is there anything in my life that is going to prohibit me from giving this my best effort?

On the day that you quit, keep yourself very busy!! Go to the movies, take a walk, exercise – and fill your time with activities that would make it very hard to smoke, such as washing dishes, gardening, shopping, or taking a shower.

Celebrate your first smoke-free day with a smoke-free activity with some non-smoking friends! (Don’t worry! You don’t have to give up your friends who are smokers!) You may want to temporarily avoid spending a lot of time with them during your first few smoke-free days. If you see them smoking, your resolve may be weakened. You may also want to avoid alcohol during these critical first days; it tends to weaken your willpower!

When you have the urge to smoke, remember that the urge will go away, whether or not you have a cigarette!!!! Remind yourself that you are now a nonsmoker and remind yourself of all the reasons you listed for wanting to stop. Find some substitute activities to occupy your hands, mouth, and mind when craving cigarettes. Try doodling, writing letters, or organizing your sock drawer to keep your hands busy. Fill your mouth with non-fattening goodies, such as vegetable sticks, pretzels, rice cakes, or sugarless gum and candies. Occupy your mind with positive thoughts of a future smoke-free vacation, home and life!

Try wearing a rubber band around your wrist, and when you really feel like you want a cigarette, snap the rubber band a few times and say stop to yourself. While you are snapping, picture a red stop sign. You will slowly be teaching yourself to stop craving cigarettes!!!

Figure out right now what you are going to do during future high risk situations, such as at a party where many people are smoking of maybe on your drive to work when you used to always have a cigarette. Plan now for future success!!!

It may help you to change your daily routine, especially your morning routine. After meals, get up from the table and brush and floss your teeth or start washing the dishes, rather than sit there and linger over a deadly cigarette. Eat your lunch in a different location or try taking a different route to work. You’re starting a new smoke-free life. Why not try some new smoke-free routines?

During your entire quit effort, keep a positive attitude! If negative thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself that you are a non-smoker and that you are in control of your life and health. You do not want to start smoking again!! It will get easier with every craving that you refuse to give in to. Try some relaxation techniques to help you stay relaxed and better able to handle the challenges of quitting. There are numerous relaxation techniques you could try.

After you have made it through those initial days and weeks after quitting, don’t let your guard down! You must act like a non-smoker everyday! If, however, you do have a slip, don’t worry! Many people make several quit attempts before they are ultimately successful. Begin your quit strategy again. Remember what it was that got you into trouble the last time and plan to be better prepared to stay quit. How will you handle that urge if it should come up again? Always have one trustworthy coping skill that works for you when the cravings get tough.

You can quit smoking!! There are more than 40 million Americans alive today who have quit – you can join them!! Remember, quitting smoking now will greatly improve your health! Try it!

Tags: Smoking cessation, Tobacco smoking, cancer, heart disease, relaxation techniques, Tobacco, Cigar, Lung cancer

BRCA- The Breast Cancer Susceptibility Genes

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

What are Genes?

Genes, which are in each of our body cells, help guide the growth and development of our bodies. We are all born with two copies of each gene – one we inherit from our mother and the other one from our father. When functioning normally, certain genes actually help to prevent .

What are the “ susceptibility genes”?

In rare cases, a family carries genes that have been altered or changed and do not work as well. This may lead to a much higher chance, or susceptibility, for getting breast or ovarian cancer. These genes are called the breast cancer susceptibility genes (BRCA).Men in some of these families may have a chance of getting breast cancer too. You can inherit these changed genes from either your mother???s or father???s side of the family. So far, only two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1and BRCA2, have been found. As research continues, new BRCA genes may be found in the future. While these changed genes result in an increased chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer, they do not cause cancer. Not everyone who inherits changed BRCA genes will develop breast or ovarian cancer.

If I have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, does it mean that I may have changed BRCA genes?

Not necessarily. Most breast or ovarian cancer that occurs within families is not due to having inherited changed BRCA genes, but is instead caused by other factors. In fact, less than 10% of breast cancer is thought to be due by these changed BRCA genes.

How do I know if I might carry changed BRCA genes?

Answer “yes” or “no” to the questions below. You may have a higher chance of carrying changed BRCA genes if you answer “yes” to one or more of the following:

  • You have a close relative with a positive test for changed BRCA genes.
  • You have had both breast and ovarian cancer.
  • You have breast or ovarian cancer, and
  • You have one or more close relatives with breast cancer (especially before age 50) and/or ovarian cancer.
  • You have a strong family history of breast cancer (especially before age 50) and/or ovarian cancer in many relatives across two or more generations.
  • You had breast cancer before you were 30.
  • You are of Ashkenazi (Central or Eastern European) Jewish heritage and
  • You have had either breast cancer before you were 40, or ovarian cancer.
  • You have had breast cancer that appeared in both breasts or in many places in the same breast.

After answering “yes” to one of the preceding questions, I know I have a higher chance of carrying changed BRCA genes. What should I do?

First, talk with your provider about your concerns. After confirming your risk by looking at your family history and your personal health history, your provider may refer you toa genetic counselor. Genetic counseling is the first step in determining if changed BRCA genes are in your family, and the chance that you may have inherited these genes. During counseling, the genetic counselor will review your medical records, your health history, and your family history of cancer.

Is there a test to find out if I have changed BRCA genes?

If it seems like there may be an inherited susceptibility to cancer in your family, a blood test for the BRCA genes may be available. However, the test is not for everyone, but rather it is sometimes useful for individuals thought to be at high risk. The genetic counselor will go over the pros and cons of testing with you. With this information, you can decide, with your genetic counselor, whether this test is right for you.

If I don???t have a higher chance of carrying changed BRCA genes (I did not answer “yes” to any of the questions), should I go to genetic counseling and consider testing?

Not at this time. The only genetic test available is for women who are at very high risk. If your family history of breast cancer doesn???t fall into the high-risk pattern but continues to bother you, talk with your practitioner.

What can I do to take care of myself?

Since all women are at risk for breast cancer, screening to find breast cancer early when it is most treatable and curable is a very important step you can take for yourself.

There are 3 important screening steps you can take to find breast cancer in the early stages:

  1. Monthly breast self-exam
  2. Breast exams (done by your practitioner) in the medical office
  3. Regular mammograms. Mammography is strongly recommended for all women who are between the ages of 50-74. If you are age 40-49, talk with your health care practitioner about the age to begin having regular mammograms.

A healthy, low fat diet, regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking are other very important ways of taking care of yourself that may reduce your chances of getting breast cancer.

Testing for Breast Cancer Susceptibility Genes

The decision about taking this blood test is a very personal one and can have complex and sometimes unexpected emotional effects. An important part of genetic counseling is to help you explore what testing might mean for you and your family. Here are some simple answers to common questions and concerns. The genetic counselor will discuss the pros and cons in more detail. Results of the test will remain confidential.

What are some of the benefits of BRCA testing?

Some people who get a negative test result are relieved. Some who test positive use the results to help plan their medical care or to make personal decisions about their lives. Although we are not certain, it is likely that starting to have mammograms and breast exams at a younger age and having them more often is generally recommended and may help find breast cancer early.

Although these are drastic measures, some women who test positive for BRCA decide to have surgery to remove their breasts or ovaries to prevent cancer. At this time, we do not know how effective these surgeries will be to prevent breast or ovarian cancer.

What are some of the drawbacks to BRCA testing?

Having a negative test may give some women a false sense of security, so they may not come in for regular mammograms and breast exams like they should. Testing positive can create stress in a woman???s life, especially if she has no clear plan of action to take.

What does it mean if the BRCA test is positive?

A positive BRCA test means that the person???s chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime may be as high as 85%, but this means that there is still at least a 15% chance that she won???t get it. It also means that their risk of getting ovarian cancer goes up but is not as high as for breast cancer. We do not know yet why some people with changed genes get cancer, and others do not.

If I decide to have BRCA testing, how will I be told my test result?

Because it is a very complex test, it may take several months to get your test result back. Once the result is available, your genetic counselor will meet with you to talk about the results and to help you decide what to do next.

Tags: Mammography, genetic counselor, Surgery, Oncology, cancer, Breast cancer screening

What is Breast Cancer

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Breast , a common cancer in women, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the breast. Each breast has 15 – 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. The lobes and lobules are connected by thin tubes called ducts. The most common type of is ductal cancer. It is found in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma is more often found in both breasts than other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer. In this disease, the breast is warm, red, and swollen.

The genes in your cells carry the hereditary information that you got from your parents. Sometimes, a test can be done to look for a gene that may be associated with a certain hereditary trait. Recently, a gene was found to be defective in 5% of breast cancer patients. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5%-10% of all breast cancer cases. Relatives of breast cancer patients who carry this defective gene may be more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer. Tests are being developed to determine who has the genetic defect long before any cancer appears.

You should see your doctor if you notice changes in your breast. Women older than 50 years of age should also have a special x-ray called a mammogram, which may find tumors that are too small to feel. Check with your doctor on how often you should have this x-ray.

If you have a lump in your breast, your doctor may need to cut out a small piece and look at it under the microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. This procedure is called a biopsy. Sometimes the biopsy is done by inserting a needle into the breast and drawing out some of the tissue. If the biopsy shows that there is cancer, it is important that certain tests (called estrogen and progesterone receptor tests) be done on the cancer cells.

Estrogen and progesterone receptor tests may tell whether hormones affect the way the cancer grows. They may also give information about the chances of the tumor coming back (recurring). The results help your doctor decide whether to use hormone therapy to stop the cancer from growing. Tissue from the tumor needs to be taken to the laboratory for estrogen and progesterone tests at the time of biopsy because it may be hard to get enough cancer cells later, although newer techniques can be used on tissue that is not fresh.

About 15%-20% of breast cancers are sometimes called carcinoma in situ (found only in the duct area). They may be either ductal carcinoma in situ (sometimes called intraductal carcinoma) or lobular carcinoma in situ. Sometimes lobular carcinoma in situ is found when a biopsy is done for another lump or when an abnormality is found on the mammogram. Even though it is referred to as a cancer, it is not actually cancer. However, patients with this condition have a 25% chance of developing breast cancer in either breast in the next 25 years.

Your chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the stage of your cancer (whether it is just in the breast or has spread to other places in the body), the type of breast cancer, certain characteristics of the cancer cells, and whether the cancer is found in your other breast. Your age, weight, menopausal status (whether or not you still have menstrual periods), and general health can also affect your prognosis and choice of treatment.

Stages Of Breast Cancer

Once breast cancer has been found, more tests will be done to find out if the cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body. This is called staging. To plan treatment, your doctor needs to know the stage of your disease. The following stages are used for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer In SituAbout 15%-20% of breast cancers are very early cancers. They are sometimes called carcinoma in situ (found only in the duct area). There are two types of breast cancer in situ. One type is ductal carcinoma in situ (also known as intraductal carcinoma); the other type is lobular carcinoma in situ. Lobular carcinoma in situ is not cancer, but for the purpose of classifying the disease, it is called breast cancer in situ, carcinoma in situ, or stage 0 breast cancer. Sometimes lobular carcinoma in situ is found when a biopsy is done for another lump or abnormality found on the mammogram. Patients with this condition have a 25% chance of developing breast cancer in either breast in the next 25 years.

Stage IThe cancer is no larger than 2 centimeters (about 1 inch) and has not spread outside the breast.

Stage IIAny of the following may be true:

The cancer is no larger than 2 centimeters but has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (the axillary lymph nodes).

The cancer is between 2 and 5 centimeters (from 1 to 2 inches). The cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.

The cancer is larger than 5 centimeters (larger than 2 inches) but has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.

Stage III

Stage III is divided into stages IIIA and IIIB.

Stage IIIA is defined by either of the following:

The cancer is smaller than 5 centimeters and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lymph nodes are attached to each other or to other structures.

The cancer is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.

Stage IIIB is defined by either of the following:

The cancer has spread to tissues near the breast (skin or chest wall, including the ribs and the muscles in the chest).

The cancer has spread to lymph nodes inside the chest wall along the breast bone.

Stage IVThe cancer has spread to other organs of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver, or brain. Or, tumor has spread locally to the skin and lymph nodes inside the neck, near the collarbone.

Inflammatory breast cancerInflammatory breast cancer is a special class of breast cancer that is rare. The breast looks as if it is inflamed because of its red appearance and warmth. The skin may show signs of ridges and wheals or it may have a pitted appearance. Inflammatory breast cancer tends to spread quickly.

RecurrentRecurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the breast, in the soft tissues of the chest (the chest wall), or in another part of the body.

How Breast Cancer Is Treated

There are treatments for all patients with breast cancer. Four types of treatment are used:

  • surgery (taking out the cancer in an operation)
  • Radiation therapy (using high-dose x-rays to kill cancer cells)
  • Chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells)
  • Hormone therapy (using hormones to stop the cells from growing).
  • Biological therapy (using your body’s immune system to fight cancer) and
  • Bone Marrow transplantation are being tested in clinical trials.

Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast. Usually, some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out and looked at under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. Different types of surgery are used:

Surgery To Conserve The Breast:Lumpectomy (sometimes called excisional biopsy or wide excision) is the removal of the lump in the breast and some of the tissue around it. It is usually followed by radiation therapy to the part of the breast that remains. Most doctors also take out some of the lymph nodes under the arm.

Partial or segmental mastectomy is the removal of the cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor and the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor. Usually some of the lymph nodes under the arm are taken out. In most cases, radiation therapy follows.

Other Types Of Surgery:

Total or simple mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast. Sometimes lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out.

Modified radical mastectomy is the removal of the breast, some of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and sometimes part of the chest wall muscles. This is the most common operation for breast cancer.

Radical mastectomy (also called the Halsted radical mastectomy) is the removal of the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm. For many years, this was the operation most used, but it is used now only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles.

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by mouth or it may be put into the body by inserting a needle into a vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body, and can kill cancer cells outside the breast area.

If tests show that the breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors, you may be given hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is used to change the way hormones in the body help cancers grow. This may be done by using drugs that change the way hormones work or by surgery to take out organs that make hormones, such as the ovaries. Hormone therapy with tamoxifen is given for 5 years in patients with early stages of breast cancer (no lymph nodes involved). Hormone therapy with tamoxifen or estrogens can act on cells all over the body and may increase your chance of getting cancer of the uterus. You should go to your doctor for a pelvic examination every year, and you should report any vaginal bleeding other than your menstrual period to your doctor as soon as possible.

If your doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the operation, you may be given radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that may be left. Therapy given after an operation when there are no cancer cells that can be seen is called adjuvant therapy.

Biological therapy tries to get your body to fight cancer. It uses materials made by your body or made in a laboratory to boost, direct, or restore your body’s natural defenses against disease. Biological therapy is sometimes called biological response modifier (BRM) therapy or immunotherapy. This treatment is currently only being given in clinical trials.

Bone marrow transplantation is a newer type of treatment that is being studied in clinical trials. Sometimes breast cancer becomes resistant to treatment with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Very high doses of chemotherapy may then be used to treat the cancer. Because the high doses of chemotherapy can destroy your bone marrow, marrow is taken from your bones before treatment. The marrow is then frozen and you are given high-dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy to treat the cancer. The marrow you had taken out is then thawed and given to you through a needle inserted into a vein to replace the marrow that was destroyed. This type of transplant is called an autologous transplant. If the marrow you are given is taken from another person, the transplant is called an allogeneic transplant.

Peripheral blood stem cell transplant is another type of autologous transplant. Your blood is passed through a machine that removes the stem cells (immature cells from which all blood cells develop) and then returns your blood to you. This procedure is called leukapheresis and usually takes 3 or 4 hours to complete. The stem cells are treated with drugs to kill any cancer cells and then frozen until they are transplanted to you. This procedure may be done alone or with an autologous bone marrow transplant.

A greater chance for recovery occurs if your doctor chooses a hospital that does more than five bone marrow transplantations per year.

Treatment By Stage

Treatment for breast cancer depends on the type and stage of your disease, your age and menopausal status, and your overall health.

You may receive treatment that is considered standard based on its effectiveness in a number of patients in past studies, or you may choose to go into a clinical trial. Not all patients are cured with standard therapy and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired. For these reasons, clinical trials are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the most up-to-date information. Clinical trials are going on in most parts of the country for all stages of breast cancer. If you want more information, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237); TTY at 1-800-332-8615.

Treatment For Breast Cancer In Situ

Your treatment depends on whether you have ductal carcinoma in situ or lobular carcinoma in situ. Since it is difficult to distinguish between these two types, it may be helpful to have a second opinion by having your biopsy preparations (slides) studied by pathologists at another hospital.

If you have ductal carcinoma in situ, your treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the whole breast (total mastectomy).
2. Surgery to remove only the cancer (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy.
3. Clinical trial of surgery to remove only the cancer (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy with or without hormone therapy.

Rarely, some of the lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed during the above surgeries.

If you are going to have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having breast reconstruction (making a new breast mound). It may be done at the time of the mastectomy or at some future time. The breast may be made with your own (non-breast) tissue or by using implants. Different types of implants can be used. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that breast implants filled with silicone gel may only be used in clinical trials. Saline-filled breast implants, which contain saltwater rather than silicone gel, may also be used. Before you decide to get an implant, you may call the FDA (1-800-532-4440) to obtain additional information, then discuss any questions you have with your doctor.

If you have lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), you have a marker for a higher risk of an invasive cancer in both breasts: about a 25% chance over 25 years. LCIS is not breast cancer, and many women with LCIS never develop breast cancer. The treatment options for LCIS are varied and quite controversial. Your treatment may be one of the following:

1. Biopsy to diagnose the LCIS followed by regular examinations and yearly mammograms to find any changes as early as possible.
2. A large clinical trial is testing hormone therapy with the drug tamoxifen to see whether it can prevent cancer from occurring. You can call the Cancer Information Service for more information (1-800-4-CANCER).
3. Surgery to remove both breasts, called total mastectomy.

Treatment For Stage I Breast Cancer

Your treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove only the cancer and some surrounding breast tissue (lumpectomy) or to remove part of the breast (partial or segmental mastectomy); both are followed by radiation therapy. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. This treatment provides identical long-term cure rates as those from mastectomy. Your doctor’s recommendation on which procedure to have is based on tumor size and location and its appearance on mammogram.

2. Surgery to remove the whole breast (total mastectomy) or the whole breast and the lining over the chest muscles (modified radical mastectomy). Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out.

Adjuvant therapy (given in addition to the treatments listed above):

1. Chemotherapy.
2. Hormone therapy. If you receive a drug called tamoxifen, you will probably take it for 5 years.
3. Clinical trials of adjuvant chemotherapy in certain patients.
4. Clinical trials of no adjuvant therapy for patients with a good chance of recovery (prognosis).
5. Clinical trials of treatment to keep your ovaries from working.

If you are going to have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having breast reconstruction (making a new breast mound). It may be done at the time of the mastectomy or at some future time. The breast may be made with your own (non-breast) tissue or by using implants. Different types of implants can be used. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that breast implants filled with silicone gel may only be used in clinical trials. Saline-filled breast implants, which contain saltwater rather than silicone gel, may also be used. Before you decide to get an implant, you may call the FDA (1-800-532-4440) to obtain additional information, then discuss any questions you have with your doctor.

Treatment For Stage II Breast Cancer

Your treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove only the cancer and some surrounding breast tissue (lumpectomy) or to remove part of the breast (partial or segmental mastectomy). Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also removed. Radiation therapy is given following surgery. This treatment provides identical long-term cure rates as those from mastectomy. Your doctor’s recommendation on which procedure to have is based on tumor size and location and its appearance on mammogram.

2. Surgery to remove the whole breast (total mastectomy) or the whole breast and the lining over the chest muscles (modified radical mastectomy). Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out.

Adjuvant therapy (following surgery):

1. Chemotherapy with or without hormonal therapy.
2. Hormone therapy. If you receive a drug called tamoxifen and your lymph nodes are not involved, you will probably take it for 5 years
3. Clinical trial of chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy).
4. Clinical trials of high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow transplantation for patients with cancer in more than three lymph nodes.

If you are going to have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having breast reconstruction (making a new breast mound). It may be done at the time of the mastectomy or at some future time. The breast may be made with your own (non-breast) tissue or by using implants. Different types of implants can be used. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that breast implants filled with silicone gel may only be used in clinical trials. Saline-filled breast implants, which contain saltwater rather than silicone gel, may also be used. Before you decide to get an implant, you may call the FDA (1-800-532-4440) to obtain additional information, then discuss any questions you have with your doctor.

Treatment For Stage III Breast Cancer

Stage III breast cancer is further divided into stage IIIA (can be operated on) and IIIB (biopsy is usually the only surgery performed).

Stage IIIA cancer:

1. Your treatment may be one of the following surgeries: Surgery to remove the whole breast and the lining over the chest muscles (modified radical mastectomy) or the whole breast and the chest muscles (radical mastectomy). Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out.
2. Radiation therapy given after surgery.
3. Chemotherapy with or without hormone therapy given with surgery and radiation therapy.
4. Clinical trials are testing new chemotherapy with or without hormonal drugs; they are also testing chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy).
5. Clinical trials of high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation.

Stage IIIB Cancer:

Your treatment will probably be biopsy followed by radiation therapy to the breast and the lymph nodes. In some cases, a mastectomy may be done following radiation therapy.

1. Chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery and/or radiation therapy.
2. Hormonal therapy followed by additional therapy.
3. Clinical trials are testing new chemotherapy drugs and biological therapy, new drug combinations, and new ways of giving chemotherapy.
4. Clinical trials of high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation.

Treatment For Stage IV Breast Cancer

You will probably have a biopsy and then be given one or more of the following:

1. Radiation therapy or, in some cases, a mastectomy to reduce your symptoms.
2. Hormonal therapy with or without surgery to remove your ovaries.
3. Chemotherapy.
4. Clinical trials are testing new chemotherapy and hormonal drugs and new combinations of drugs and biological therapy.
5. Clinical trials of high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation.

Treatment For Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Your treatment will probably be a combination of chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy, which may be combined with surgery to remove the breast. The treatment is usually similar to that for stage IIIB or IV breast cancer.

Treatment For Recurrent Breast Cancer

Breast cancer that comes back (recurs) can often be treated, but usually cannot be cured when it recurs in another part of the body. Some patients with recurrence in the breast can be cured, however. Your choice of treatment depends on hormone receptor levels, the kind of treatment you had before, the length of time from first treatment to when the cancer came back, where the cancer recurred, whether you still have menstrual periods, and other factors.

Your treatment may be one of the following:

1. Hormonal therapy with or without surgery to remove your ovaries.
2. For the small group of patients whose cancer has come back only in one place, surgery and/or radiation therapy.
3. Radiation therapy to help relieve pain due to the spread of the cancer to the bones and other places.
4. Chemotherapy.
5. A clinical trial of new chemotherapy drugs, new hormonal drugs, biological therapy, or bone marrow transplantation.

To Learn More

You can also write to the National Cancer Institute at this address:

National Cancer Institute
Office of Cancer Communications
31 Center Drive, MSC 2580
Bethesda, MD 20892-2580

Tags: breast cancer, cancers, gene, leukapheresis, Lung cancer, lobular carcinoma, ovarian cancer

Facts About Breast Cancer

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Getting the facts about and mammograms is an important step in taking care of your health. This page will help you get the information that you need. It provides information on a woman’s risk for breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute’s recommenda-tions about mammograms, and the benefits and limitations of the procedure.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the United States. It is second only to lung cancer in cancer-related deaths. Approximately 180,000 new cases of breast cancer are estimated for 1997, and about 44,000 women are expected to die from the disease.

Who Is at Risk for Breast Cancer? Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at some risk for breast cancer. Your risk for breast cancer continues to increase over your lifetime. Several known factors can further increase your risk for breast cancer. Most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors such as a family history of the disease. Talk to your doctor about the known risk factors for breast cancer.

What factors can increase your risk for breast cancer? One or more of the following conditions place a woman at higher than average risk for breast cancer:

  • Personal history of a prior breast cancer
  • Evidence of a specific genetic change that increases susceptibility to breast cancer (BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations)
  • Mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives, such as cousins, with a history of breast cancer (especially if diagnosed at a young age)
  • A diagnosis of a breast condition (i.e., atypical hyperplasia) that may predispose a woman to breast cancer, or a history of two or more breast biopsies for benign breast disease

Additional factors can play a role in a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

  • Women age 45 or older who have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram are at some increased risk.
  • A slight increase in risk for breast cancer is associated with having a first birth at age 30 or older.

In addition, women who receive chest irradiation for conditions such as Hodgkin’s disease at age 30 or younger, remain at higher risk for breast cancer throughout their lives.

Not having any of the above risk factors does NOT mean that you are “safe.” The majority of women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease, nor do they fall into any other special high-risk category.

What Can You Do?

  • If you are in your 40s or older, get a mammogram on a regular basis, every 1 to 2 years.
  • Talk with your doctor or nurse about planning your personal schedule for screening mammograms and breast exams.
  • Gather as much information as you can about your family history of cancer, breast cancer, and screening mammograms.
  • Call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service for more information about breast cancer and mammograms at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). People with TTY equipment, dial 1-800-332-8615.
  • For the latest information on cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s website for patients and the public at rex.nci.nih.gov or CancerNet at cancernet.nci.nih.gov.

What Are the Benefits of Getting Mammograms?

  • A mammogram can find breast cancer before a lump can be felt.
  • A mammogram is the best method available today to detect breast cancer early. Early detection of the disease may allow more treatment options.

What Are the Limitations* of Getting Mammograms?

  • Mammograms may miss cancer that is present.
  • Mammograms may find something that turns out NOT to be cancer.

*These limitations occur more often in women under age 50.

Tags: Lung cancer, Risk factors of breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, Breast, Breast cancer; calcium and vitamin D

Why should you stop smoking?

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Almost forty million Americans have stopped smoking. Most succeed by going “cold turkey”. Others taper off by changing to low tar and nicotine brands, smoking each cigarette only halfway down or using nicotine replacement therapy. Research shows that it isn’t the method you use that determines your success; it is your determination to gain control over your own behavior that gives you the power to quit. Exercise, relaxation, and stress management often ease the way to new nonsmoking habits.

Within 24 hours of smoking cessation, your exercise tolerance will improve, as your body rids itself of carbon monoxide. A few days later you may notice an improved sense of taste and smell. Although you may cough more initially, (your body???s way of repairing itself), in a few weeks you will recover from your smoker’s cough. You won’t produce phlegm anymore unless you have a cold.

Smokers have a high risk of and death from bronchitis, emphysema, and . Your risk of having a heart attack decreases by one half in the first year of quitting and is normal within five years. Although some lung and blood vessel damage is not reversible, after 10 to 15 years, your risk of death from bronchitis, emphysema, and cancer is nearly the same as a person who never smoked.

Changing to snuff or chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking.

Your risk of mouth and throat cancer remains high with tobacco in any form. replacement therapy may help very heavy smokers who are addicted to nicotine. If you think this would be helpful to you, discuss it with your physician. You will need to acquire a prescription if you choose this approach in your efforts to stop smoking.

Stopping smoking early in pregnancy greatly reduces your risk of having a low birth weight baby. Children who grow up in non-smoking homes get only half as many colds as children of smokers. Your family will be safer from fires, since one quarter of home fires are attributed to smoking. Non-smokers have fewer car accidents. You may even qualify for lower car insurance rates.

You can minimize the withdrawal symptoms of irritability, headache, difficulty concentrating and constipation by increasing exercise and by drinking more juice and water during the first weeks after you stop smoking.

People usually try more than once before they kick the habit for good. Each day without smoking gives your body a chance to heal.

Tags: nicotine replacement therapy, Emphysema, Smoking, cancer, Tobacco

Colonoscopy

December 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

This brochure has information is about colonoscopy.

Tags: brochure, cancer, Gastroenterology, Colonoscopy, United States

What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as . Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, and smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lungs larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, kidneys, bladder, colon and several other organs.

But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. Even if a person with colorectal cancer has a risk factor, it is often very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.

Researchers have found several risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of developing colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
Risk factors you cannot change
Age

While younger adults can develop colorectal cancer, the chances of developing colorectal cancer increase markedly after age 50. More than 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50.
Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer

If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. This is especially true if the polyps are large or if there are many of them.

If you have had colorectal cancer, even though it has been completely removed, you are more likely to develop new cancers in other areas of the colon and rectum. The chances of this happening are greater if you had your first colorectal cancer when you were younger than age 60.
Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a condition in which the colon is inflamed over a long period of time. If you have IBD, your risk of developing colorectal cancer is increased, and you need to be screened for colorectal cancer on a more frequent basis (see the section, “Can colorectal cancer be found early?”). Often the first sign that cancer may be developing is called dysplasia. Dysplasia is a term that refers to abnormal cells that have the potential to progress to cancer.

Inflammatory bowel disease is different than irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which does not carry an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
Family history of colorectal cancer

Most colorectal cancers occur in people without a family history of colorectal cancer. Still, up to 20% of people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by this disease.

People with a history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps in one or more first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) are at increased risk. The risk is about doubled in those with a single affected first-degree relative, and is even higher in people with a stronger family history, such as:

* a history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps in any first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) younger than age 60
* a history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps in 2 or more first-degree relatives at any age

The reasons for the increased risk are not clear in all cases. Cancers can “run in the family” because of inherited genes, shared environmental factors, or some combination of these.

People diagnosed with adenomatous polyps or colorectal cancer should inform other family members. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer need to talk with their doctor about the possible need to begin screening before age 50.
Inherited syndromes

About 5% of people who develop colorectal cancer have an inherited genetic susceptibility to the disease. The 2 most common inherited syndromes linked with colorectal cancers are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): FAP is caused by changes (mutations) in the APC gene that a person inherits from his or her parents. About 1% of all colorectal cancers are due to FAP.

People with this disease typically develop hundreds or thousands of polyps in their colon and rectum, usually in their teens or early adulthood. Cancer usually develops in 1 or more of these polyps as early as age 20. By age 40, almost all people with this disorder will have developed cancer if preventive surgery (removing the colon) is not done.

FAP is sometimes associated with Gardner syndrome, a condition that involves benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the skin, soft connective tissue, and bones.

Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC): HNPCC, also known as Lynch syndrome, is another clearly defined genetic syndrome. It accounts for about 3% to 4% of all colorectal cancers. HNPCC can be caused by inherited changes in a number of different genes that normally help repair DNA damage. (See the section, “Do we know what causes colorectal cancer?,” for more details.)

This syndrome also develops when people are relatively young. People with HNPCC have polyps, but they only have a few, not hundreds as in FAP. The lifetime risk of colorectal cancer in people with this condition may be as high as 70% to 80%.

Women with this condition also have a very high risk of developing cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Other cancers linked with HNPCC include cancer of the ovary, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, kidney, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), and bile duct.

Peutz-Jeghers syndrome: People with this rare inherited condition tend to have freckles around the mouth (and sometimes on the hands and feet) and large polyps in their digestive tracts. They are at greatly increased risk for colorectal cancer, as well as several other cancers, which usually appear at a younger than normal age.

Identifying families with these inherited syndromes is important because it allows doctors to recommend specific steps, such as screening and other preventive measures, at an early age.

Because several types of cancer can be linked with these syndromes, people should check their family medical history for polyps or any type of cancer. Those who develop polyps or cancer should inform other family members. People with a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer should consider genetic counseling to review their family medical tree and determine whether genetic testing may be right for them. If needed, this can help them to decide about getting screened and treated at an early age.
Racial and ethnic background

African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. The reason for this is not yet understood.

Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world. Several gene mutations leading to an increased risk of colorectal cancer have been found in this group. The most common of these DNA changes, called the I1307K APC mutation, is present in about 6% of American Jews.
Lifestyle-related factors

Several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. In fact, the links between diet, weight, and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.
Certain types of diets

A diet that is high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs, bologna, and luncheon meat) can increase colorectal cancer risk. Methods of cooking meats at very high temperatures (frying, broiling, or grilling) create chemicals that might increase cancer risk, although it’s not clear how much this might contribute to an increase in colorectal cancer risk. Diets high in vegetables and fruits have been linked with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Whether other dietary components (fiber, certain types of fats, etc.) affect colorectal cancer risk is not clear.
Physical inactivity

If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer. Increasing activity may help reduce your risk.
Obesity

If you are very overweight, your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is increased. While obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women, the link seems to be stronger in men.
Smoking

Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. While smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, some of the cancer-causing substances are swallowed and can cause digestive system cancers, such as colorectal cancer.
Heavy alcohol use

Colorectal cancer has been linked to the heavy use of alcohol. At least some of this may be due to the fact that heavy alcohol users tend to have low levels of folic acid in the body. Still, alcohol use should be limited to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
Type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 (usually non-insulin dependent) diabetes have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Both type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer share some of the same risk factors (such as excess weight). But even after taking these into account, people with type 2 diabetes still have an increased risk. They also tend to have a less favorable prognosis (outlook) after diagnosis.

Last Revised: 03/05/2008 – from the American Cancer Society

Tags: colorectal cancer incidence, freckles, cancer, Colorectal Cancer, colon cancer

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes