Cancer Resources

What is Cancer?

The term cancer is generally used to describe a disease resulting from abnormal cells in the body that rapidly divide and spread to other tissues and organs. To date, there are over 200 different types of cancer that have been identified.

A healthy body contains trillions of cells that grow and divide daily to help the body function properly. Healthy cells have a specific life cycle, reproducing and being replaced by new cells on an ongoing basis. Cancer occurs when DNA is changed or mutated in some way, causing otherwise healthy cells to function abnormally. Such mutations can cause cells that should be replaced to survive and rapidly divide, potentially leading to tumorous growths, which may or may not be cancerous in nature.

Benign (noncancerous) cell growths/tumors may exist within the body without causing any harm, or, depending on the size and location of the tumor, some health issues may arise if neighboring organs and tissues and adversely affected. Malignant (cancerous) cell growths/tumors invade and cause damage to the body, and have the potential to spread through organs, tissue, the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Staying Informed

Edwards Cancer Center believes in making sure our patients and their loved ones have the most current information available regarding risk factors, signs and symptoms, preventative measures, treatment options, and more when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

The list below focuses specifically on the top 13 most diagnosed cancers, and is intended to serve as an educational tool to provide helpful information about what you and your loved ones can typically expect or may experience during your cancer journey.

For more information, or to learn about other types of commonly and uncommonly diagnosed cancers, we encourage you to visit the American Cancer Society website.

Cancer cells that form a tumor in the breast can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a dense knot in the breast tissue. Many masses that develop in the breast are benign and not indicative of cancer, though some types of benign lumps can increase breast cancer risk.

About Breast Cancer

Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers), though there are also other types of breast cancer such as lobular, phyllodes tumors, angiosarcomas, sarcomas and lymphomas.

It is important to know that, though many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the tissue, this is not always the case. Many early diagnosed breast cancers are actually found during a mammogram screening, which has been proven to detect some cancers before they can be felt or before any symptoms begin.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Breast Cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history or even choosing to take certain medications.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect breast cancer risk are:

  • Drinking alcohol, especially in excess
    • It is recommended that women who do choose to consume alcohol limit their intake to an average of 1 drink per day. Higher alcohol consumption can lead to an average 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer over non-drinkers.
  • Increases in estrogen or insulin levels
    • Women who are overweight tend to have higher blood insulin levels and may develop higher estrogen levels after menopause. It is recommended to stay at a healthy weight throughout your life by balancing a healthy diet with exercise.
  • Lack of physical activity
    • It is recommended that adults stay active on a regular basis. Talk to your doctor about exercise methods best suited for your lifestyle.
  • Certain types of birth control
    • Oral contraceptives, the birth control shot, implants, skin patches and other types of birth control can affect your breast cancer risks. Your doctor will be able to recommend if, when, and what type of birth control method may be most appropriate for your needs.
  • Hormone therapy
    • Estrogen therapy can help relieve menopausal symptoms and fight osteoporosis, among other things, but could also potentially affect your risk for breast cancer, especially after prolonged use. Your doctor can help you determine if hormone therapy is right for you.
  • High-risk or later life pregnancies
    • Women who become pregnant after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk, as do women who have never been pregnant.
  • …and more

Family history can also play a part in the risk of developing breast cancer, and is not something that can be changed by lifestyle choices. It is important to let your doctor know if you have a family history of breast cancer so that your provider can evaluate your potential hereditary risks and respond accordingly.

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, which is why regular screenings such as a mammogram, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI are so important and strongly recommended to women over age 40 or those younger who have underlying risk factors.

If a change in the breast tissue is detected during a screening then your doctor may choose to perform a biopsy to gather more information. A biopsy is where the doctor removes small pieces of a suspicious area so the cells can be further examined. Having a biopsy does not mean you definitely have cancer, but it is the only way to find out for sure.

If there is further suspicion of cancer risk you may be asked to participate in more testing, such as chest x-rays, CT scans, bone scans, PET scans or an MRI.

If it is determined that malignant cells are present, your doctor will then discuss with you in greater detail the extent (stage) of your cancer diagnosis, answer your questions, and work closely with you and your loved ones to determine the most appropriate next steps, such as treatment options and what to expect for your condition.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of breast cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery can be used to remove as much of the cancer as possible, to find out if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, to relieve certain symptoms, or to restructure the shape of the breast if needed.
  • Radiation
    • The main types of radiation treatments that can be used, if suitable, are external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Not all women with breast cancer will need chemo, but when appropriate, anti-cancer drugs may be given by injection or by mouth.
  • Hormone therapy
    • Some breast cancers may respond to hormone therapies, which are designed to stop estrogen and progesterone from attaching to cancer cells and making them grow.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after breast cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any problems or concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any changes in your body.

Your follow-up visits will likely include a physical exam, and if needed, lab or imaging tests may be recommended.

Depending on your type of breast cancer and the treatment you received, you may be asked to undergo various testing including a mammogram, pelvic exam, bone density test, or others. If symptoms or possible signs or recurrence re-emerge, your doctor will likely discuss other imaging tests or biopsy needs with you as well.

About Lung Cancer

Your lungs are made up of lobes on each side, your trachea (windpipe), bronchial tubes (bronchi and bronchioles) and small air sacs (alveoli), all of which function to absorb oxygen into your blood from inhaled air and to remove carbon dioxide when you exhale. Lung cancers generally start in the smaller branches of the bronchial tubes or in the alveoli.

Most lung cancers (80-85%) are considered non-small cell (NSCLC) such as adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

  • Adenocarinomas occurs primarily in current or former smokers, but is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers. This cancer can be found in outer parts of the lung more easily, before the disease has had a chance to spread.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas occur in flat cells lining the airways of the lungs, and are often linked to cases with a history of smoking.
  • Large cell carcinomas may develop in any part of the lung, and can grow and spread quickly, making this type of cancer harder to treat.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) makes up 10-15% of lung cancer types. This type of cancer can grow and spread quickly, though it does tend to respond well to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is also more likely to return at some point after treatment.

About 5% of lung cancer types occur from carcinoid tumors, adenoid cystic carcinomas, lymphomas, sarcomas, or hamartomas, all of which are much more rare than non-small cell or small cell lung cancers.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Lung Cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop lung cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect lung cancer risk are:

  • Tobacco use
    • Smoking is the #1 leading risk factor for lung cancer, and is believed to be the cause of roughly 80% of lung cancer deaths.
  • Secondhand smoke
    • Even if you don’t smoke, being in an environment where you are subjected to breathing in smoke from others is harmful to your lungs.
  • Radon exposure
    • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that occurs indoors and outdoors, though is more dangerous when concentrated in a closed environment like homes or other buildings. Excessive radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and is the leading cause amount non-smokers. There are different types of radon tests that are available so that you can better monitor the health of your home.
  • Exposure to asbestos
    • Certain occupations such as working in mines, mills, textile plants, or other places where insulated is used, can be more hazardous as employees may be exposed to larger amounts of asbestos. In recent years, the use of asbestos has greatly decreased, and is considered less harmful as long as it is not released into the air by demolition, renovation or deterioration.
    • …and more

There are other risk factors for developing lung cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as previous radiation therapy, air pollution, and family history. It is important to let your doctor know if you have a family history of lung cancer so that your provider can evaluate your potential hereditary risks and respond accordingly.

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Though many symptoms are likely to be caused by something other than lung cancer, you should still visit your doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Persistent or worsening cough
  • Mucus or blood when coughing
  • Chest pain when breathing, coughing or lauging
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Wheezing
  • Bone pain
  • Numbness, dizziness, balance issues or seizures
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • …and more

A low-dose CT scan (LDCT) is often used to test people with higher risk of getting lung cancer. This scan is able to help detect certain abnormal areas in the lungs, and are more highly recommended for diagnosis of lung cancer than regular chest x-rays. Other testing methods, if appropriate, may include an MRI, PET scan, Bone scan, or biopsy.

Screenings are very important in helping to identify possible lung cancers well before symptoms may even appear, which sometimes may not happen until the cancer has already reached an advanced stage. When found at an earlier stage, many lung cancers are more likely to respond well to treatment.

If it is determined that malignant cells are present, your doctor will then discuss with you in greater detail the extent (stage) of your cancer diagnosis, answer your questions, and work closely with you and your loved ones to determine the most appropriate next steps, such as treatment options and what to expect for your condition.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of lung cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery may be an option for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, and provides the best chance of curing the disease. Surgery for lung cancer is complex and should be performed by a surgeon with an extensive background in lung cancer operating techniques. General anesthesia is required for lung cancer surgical procedures, which can vary from localized resection to removal of an entire lung. There are now specialized tools designed specifically to assist in some lung surgeries, including video-assisted and robotically-assisted thoracic techniques.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation
    • This process uses high-energy radio waves to heat tumors by inserting a needle-like probe guided by CT scans into the tumor itself. This is usually done as an outpatient procedure as a less-invasive alternative to surgery.
  • Radiation therapy
    • In this type of treatment high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. This may be done before surgery, after surgery, or sometimes instead of surgery. The main types of radiation treatments that can be used, if suitable, are external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Not all people with lung cancer will need chemo, but when appropriate, anti-cancer drugs may be given by injection or by mouth.
  • Targeted Drug therapy
    • This type of therapy is most often used for advanced lung cancers to aid in blocking new blood vessel growth, which can encourage tumor growth. There are many types of targeted medicines that may be used depending on the situation.
  • Immunotherapy
    • A vital part of the body’s immune system is the ability to keep itself from attaching normal cells in the body. Immunotherapy uses targeted drugs to help a person’s immune system function properly so that it recognizes and is able to potentially destroy cancer cells more effectively.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after lung cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

Staying as healthy as possible is more important than ever after lung cancer treatment. If you smoke, quitting is vital as it has been shown to help people with lung cancer live longer, and can lower the chance of getting another type of lung cancer.

It has also been suggested that certain changes in diet, nutrition, and dietary supplements may be helpful. Talk to your doctor about possible dietary changes that may be right for you.

About Prostate Cancer

The prostate is below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and is a gland only found in males. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas that develop from the gland cells. Just behind the prostate are gland cells (seminal vesicles) that are responsible for creating most of the fluid for semen. Through the center of the prostate is the urethra, a tube that carries urine and semen out of the body.

While some prostate cancers may grow and spread quickly, most are slow-growing, and some may never be detected, and may never affect a man during their lifetime.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Prostate Cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop prostate cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Most prostate cancers develop as a result of factors out of a person’s immediate control, and therefore don’t have viable prevention methods, such as:

  • Age
    • Prostate cancer risk increases as a male gets older, typically being rare in men younger than 40, and rapidly rising after age 50.
  • Race/ethnicity
    • Prostate cancer can affect any ethnicity, but is more predominantly found in African-Americans and Caribbean men of African ancestry.
  • Geography
    • Though it is not clear why, prostate cancer has been primarily linked to North America, Australia, northwestern Europe and on Caribbean islands. These areas tend to have more intensive screening processes, which could be a factor in diagnosing more cases.
  • Family history
    • Having a father or brother with prostate cancer, or several affected relatives in the family history, more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease.
  • …and more

There are also thought to be some lifestyle-related factors, such as diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposures, sexually transmitted diseases, and others, that may potentially affect prostate cancer risk, though these items have a much less clear effect than the primary factors of age, ethnicity, geography and family history.

Early Detection and Diagnosis

A test that looks for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in the blood is one of the most widely-used methods for prostate cancer screening. Another well-known method is the digital rectal exam (DRE) in which a physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer screenings are important, especially when it helps to identify abnormalities early. However, neither the PSA test nor the DRE is 100% accurate, and sometimes a false reading can lead to a misdiagnosis or unnecessary treatment. Ongoing studies are being conducted to determine better screening methods and ways to find more definitive results.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of prostate cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Observation or Active Surveillance
    • Because prostate cancer tends to progress very slowly, many physicians may simply recommend close monitoring of the cancerous area, which means regular follow-up visits, and if needed, imaging tests or biopsies down the road. This course of action general applies to small, centrally-located prostate cancers and/or those cancers growing slowly or not causing any symptoms.
  • Surgery
    • If the cancer has not spread outside of the prostate gland then surgery may be an appropriate course of action. There are various levels of surgical procedures available, including some that are less-invasive, though most options do have the same general risks of any other kind of surgery, including bleeding, blood clots, infection, and more. In some cases more severe effects could occur, such as urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction. You should talk to your doctor about whether surgery is right for your situation.
  • Radiation Therapy
    • In this type of treatment high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. This therapy is most likely to be used as a first treatment for prostate cancer that is still in the gland and considered low-grade, or alongside hormone therapy for cancers that have progressed to nearby tissues. It can also be used after surgery or to help control cancers that are more advanced for as long as possible. The main types of radiation treatments that can be used, if suitable, are external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy.
  • Brachytherapy
    • Brachytherapy is an internal form of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. It uses a low-dose radiation treatment during which tiny radioactive devices placed inside the body deliver the radiation. These radioactive devices, called “seeds.” are implanted directly into the prostate gland and destroy the cancer from the inside, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. On average, 60 to 120 seeds, each smaller than a grain of rice, are placed in a predetermined pattern specific to your prostate and remain there, permanently and harmlessly in place.  
  • Hormone Therapy
    • This treatment can be used to help reduce levels of male hormones to stop them from fueling prostate cancer cells. It does not cure prostate cancer, but may help to shrink the cellular mass or to decrease growth. Hormone therapy is mostly used when surgery or radiation is not the most viable option, before or in conjunction with radiation therapy, or as treatment if the cancer returns after surgery or radiation therapy. There are many types of hormone therapies available. You should talk to your doctor to determine if this treatment is right for your specific situation.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs given by injection or by mouth, and is applied to prostate cancer diagnoses in situations where the cancer has spread and hormone therapy is not working. This type of treatment often has some side effects, which can include hair loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite and more.
  • Targeted therapy
    • This type of therapy uses drugs taken daily in pill form that are designed to attack cancer cells while causing little damage to healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy
    • For prostate cancer, immunotherapy may be used as treatment or as a “cancer vaccine” specifically to boost the body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. This is mostly used for advanced prostate cancer that is not responding to hormone therapy but is causing few or no symptoms. In the specific use for prostate cancer, the vaccine created by immunotherapy consists of white blood cells mixed with a protein from prostate cancer cells. It is not intended to stop growth, but has shown positive results in helping those battling prostate cancer to live several months longer.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after prostate cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems. Depending on your situation, your physician may want to do exams and lab or imaging tests for a more thorough assessment during your follow-up visits.

There are some things you can do on your own that might be helpful in lowering the risk of your prostate cancer growing or returning. More studies are needed, but some initial research suggests that it’s good for men to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, and eat a diet richer in vegetables and lower in animal fats.

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, which make up the large intestines in the digestive system. The colon functions to absorb salt and water from food after it goes through the small intestine. The waste matter remaining goes into the rectum, where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs.

Most colorectal cancers begin as growths (polyps) on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Though many polyps are not cancerous, those that are more likely to become cancerous are typically larger than 1 cm. The chances of cancer increases if multiple growths develop in an area of the colon or rectum.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Colorectal cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop colorectal cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect colorectal cancer risk are:

  • Being overweight or obese
    • Maintaining a healthy weight is important and may lower your risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Lack of physical activity
    • Regular, moderate, or vigorous physical activity can help lower your risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Diet
    • Colorectal cancer risks are higher for those with diets high in red or processed meats. Incorporating a healthy regimen of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and avoiding red and processed meats or sugary drinks is suggested to lower your risk.
  • Smoking
    • People with a long history of tobacco use are more likely to develop and die from colorectal cancer.
  • Alcohol intake
    • There is some risk with drinking alcohol, though higher risks are associated with moderate to heavy alcohol use (more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women).

There are other risk factors for developing colorectal cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Older age
    • Younger adults can get colorectal cancer, though it is more commonly seen in those ages 50+.
  • A personal history of colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease
    • If you have multiple or large polyps, ulcerative colitis or Chron’s disease, your risk for colorectal cancer is higher.
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
    • You may be at an increased risk if a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) has had colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of the disease, you should talk to your doctor about screening for colorectal cancer at a younger age.
  • An inherited syndrome (gene changes/mutations)
    • Though much more rare, some inherited syndromes are linked with colorectal cancers such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.
  • Race and ethnicity
    • Though the reasons are not understood, African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer diagnoses and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

A polyp can sometimes take as long as 10-15 years to develop into cancer. With regular colorectal screenings, it is more likely that a physician can detect and remove polyps before they have time to develop into cancer. Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of death for both men and women, though thanks to improved screening methods, colorectal cancer found at an earlier stage is often treatable, with a relative 5-year survival rate of about 90%.

There are some general signs associated with colorectal cancer, so though the following symptoms are often something unrelated to a cancerous condition, you should still seek a consultation with your doctor if you experience:

  • Changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for several days
  • A feeling of needing to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by acting having one
  • Bright red rectal bleeding
  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain or unusual cramping
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Screenings for colorectal cancer are usually done in one of two ways, either through stool-based tests, which is less invasive, or a visual exam, which is performed with a scope (tube-like instrument with a light and tiny video camera) inserted into the rectum or with special imaging (x-ray).

Each of these tests have benefits and limits. Talk to your doctor about colorectal screenings to determine if, when, and what type of testing is most appropriate for your situation.

If your physician feels there is need for concern after testing, they may first conduct a physical exam, a digital rectal exam (DRE), or various types of blood tests. If needed, they may also order a diagnostic colonoscopy (typically performed if symptoms are present or something abnormal was found on another screening test), a proctoscopy (performed if rectal cancer is suspected), or a biopsy.

Other methods for further testing may include imaging scans such as:

  • A CT scan
    • This method uses x-rays to make detailed cross-sectional images of your body in order to see if colorectal cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Ultrasound
    • An ultrasound test uses sound waves and their echoes to create images of the inside of the body, which are then converted to a computer screen for further analysis.
  • MRI
    • Similar to a CT scan, and MRI shows detailed images of soft tissues in the body, but this method uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays.
  • Chest x-rays
    • X-rays on the chest are typically done after a colorectal cancer diagnosis to see if the cancer has spread to the lungs.
  • PET scan
    • This type of scan, though less utilized for colorectal cancer testing, uses a slightly radioactive form of sugar injected into the blood to monitor resulting collection of the material in cancer cells.
  • Angiography
    • Another type of x-ray often used if colorectal cancer has spread to the liver, this test is designed to look specifically at blood vessels by using a contrast dye injected into an artery, and then capturing images of the vessels outlined by the dye.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of colorectal cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Colon cancer surgery
    • There are different types of surgery options available depending on the stage of the cancer, its location within the colon, and the ultimate goal of the surgery (i.e. polyp removal, colon resection, colon removal, colostomy, and more). You should ask your doctor if surgery is right for your situation, and what kind of procedure best fits your needs.
  • Rectal cancer surgery
    • There are different types of surgery options available depending on the stage of the cancer, its location within the colon, and the ultimate goal of the surgery (i.e. polyp removal, transanal excision, transanal endoscopic microsurgery, low anterior resection, proctectomy, and more). You should ask your doctor if surgery is right for your situation, and what kind of procedure best fits your needs.
  • Ablation and embolization
    • This method is used when colon or rectal cancer has spread and there are small tumors (less than 4 cm across) present in other parts of the body. Ablation methods may utilize high-energy radio waves, microwaves, concentrated alcohol injections, or freezing of tumors, while embolization is focused on the liver and injecting a substance directly into an artery to block or reduce blood flow to the tumor.
  • Radiation Therapy
    • In this type of treatment high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. This method is used to treat rectal cancer more than colon cancer, but can be used for both.

The main types of radiation treatments that can be used, if suitable, are external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), brachytherapy, and radioembolization.

  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs given by injection or by mouth, and is often used to treat colorectal cancer. This type of treatment often has some side effects, which can include hair loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite and more.
  • Targeted therapy
    • This type of therapy is similar to chemotherapy in that it uses drugs entered into the bloodstream that can reach almost all areas of the body. However, with targeted therapy, the type of drugs are different and operate differently than chemotherapy drugs, and often have different side effects. Targeted drugs attack various proteins in the body that help cancer cells grow.
  • Immunotherapy
    • For prostate cancer, immunotherapy may be used as treatment or as a “cancer vaccine” specifically to boost the body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. This is mostly used for advanced prostate cancer that is not responding to hormone therapy but is causing few or no symptoms. In the specific use for prostate cancer, the vaccine created by immunotherapy consists of white blood cells mixed with a protein from prostate cancer cells. It is not intended to stop growth, but has shown positive results in helping those battling prostate cancer to live several months longer.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after colorectal cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems. Depending on your situation, your physician may want to do exams and lab or imaging tests for a more thorough assessment during your follow-up visits.

If you had surgery for your colorectal cancer, it is common that your doctor will recommend that you have a colonoscopy about a year after the surgery. If results are normal, it may be up to 3 years before you will require another colonoscopy. If abnormalities are detected, the test may be needed more often.

If you had transanal excision surgery for rectal cancer, your doctor will likely recommend that you have a proctoscopy every three to six months for the first couple of years after treatment, then less often if no new abnormalities are detected.

There are some things you can do on your own that might be helpful in lowering the risk of your colorectal cancer growing or returning. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, eating a diet higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, chicken and fish, quitting smoking, and even taking aspirin on a regular basis can be helpful in lessening the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

About Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) start to grow out of control. Though Melanoma is less common than some other skin cancers, it is considered to be more dangerous due to its likelihood to spread to other parts of the body unless detected in its early development.

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, but is more likely to appear on the chest and back in men and on the legs in women. Neck and face are other common areas that may be more easily affected.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Melanoma risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop melanoma  may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect melanoma risk are:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
    • Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, though tanning beds and sun lamps also emit ultraviolet light. Melanoma occurs when these rays damage the DNA inside skin cells, and chances of melanoma risk are increased with long-term UV exposure.
  • Moles
    • Though moles usually pose little to no cancer threat, some moles can become atypical, which means they are typically larger in size than a regular mole and often have an abnormal shape or color. Moles begin to appear on most people when they are children and young adults, and can grow, change and increase in quantity as a person ages. If you notice changes in one or more moles, especially if the mole(s) grows in size or begins to look different, it is vital that you have the area checked by a dermatologist.

There are other risk factors for developing melanoma that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Fair skin, freckling, and light hair
    • Caucasians are at a much higher risk of melanoma if they have red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, or fair skin that freckles or burns easily.
  • Family history
    • Melanoma risk is higher if a first-degree relative (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) has had it before. If you have a family history of the disease, you should talk to your doctor about having regular skin exams by a dermatologist, and should be more careful about UV exposure.
  • Having a weakened immune system
    • The immune system helps fights many cancers, including melanoma, though those with weaker immune systems are more susceptible to developing the disease.
  • Being older
    • Though melanoma can occur in younger people, it is more likely to appear in those above age 30.
  • Gender
    • Melanoma risk tends to be higher in women before age 50, whereas mean are more likely to develop the disease after age 50.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Anyone can get melanoma, but if detected early, there is a much greater possibility of treating and curing the disease. It’s important to know how to check your own skin for signs of melanoma, keeping a watchful eye on patterns of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on the body, as well as taking notice to any new spots that may appear suddenly or areas that start causing redness, swelling, itching or pain. A self-exam can easily be done in a well-lit space, in front of a mirror, and should include checking all parts of the skin including palms, soles, scalp, ears, nails and your back.

When checking your skin, a method called ABCDE is suggested:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match other
  • B is for Border: Edges are blurred, ragged, notched or irregular
  • C is for Color: There are variations in shades of coloration
  • D is for Diameter: A mole or blemish is larger than 6 mm across
  • E is for Evolving: Changes are occurring to the shape, size or color

If you notice changes in your skin, ask your doctor to look at any suspicious areas and to conduct a skin exam during an office visit. If your doctor feels there is any need for concern, they will likely recommend you to a dermatologist for further analysis.

There are several tests that a dermatologist may perform in order to diagnose melanoma, including:

  • Skin biopsy
    • For a normal biopsy, a local anesthetic is injected to numb the area of the skin where the biopsy will occur, and then a small piece of the suspicious spot will be removed and sent to a lab for further analysis.
  • Shave biopsy
    • In this procedure, the doctor shaves thin layers of the skin with a surgical blade. This method is most often used when the risk of melanoma is considered to be very low.
  • Punch biopsy
    • This type of biopsy removes a deeper sample of skin using a special tool, and the edges of the biopsy site are often then stitched together.
  • Excisional and incisional biopsies
    • If a tumor looks like it has grown deeper into the skin, a doctor may use one of these methods to remove part or all of the tumor using a surgical knife.
  • …and more

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of melanoma is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery is the main treatment option for most melanomas, and can usually cure cancers that are in an early stage of development. Wide excision surgery is a minor operation in which the affected area is numbed and then cut out. Another option favored by some doctors is Mohs surgery, which is a slower process that removes layers of skin one at a time, looking at each layer to see if cancer is detected. In other, more severe cases of melanoma, a lymph node dissection or amputation may be performed. In the case of metastatic melanoma, where the disease has already spread to other organs, surgery is a less suitable option.
  • Immunotherapy
    • With this treatment, medicines are used to stimulate a person’s immune system in the hopes that it will be able to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Some types of immunotherapy use inhibitor drugs to target proteins in the body to help restore their response against melanoma cells. Other methods can include using a virus designed to infect and kill cancer cells or applying a cream designed to stimulate a local immune response against cancer cells. Newer studies have shown promise in treating melanoma by combining certain types of immunotherapies.
  • Targeted Drug Therapy
    • About half of melanomas experience changes in the BRAF gene, resulting in the body’s production of an altered protein that helps cancer cells grow. Some therapy drugs target this protein or other related proteins such as MEK. If a mutation is detected, a doctor will often recommend both a BRAF and an MEK inhibitor drug. Studies have shown that these two medications work better when combined than on their own.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Not all people with melanoma will need chemo, but when appropriate, anti-cancer drugs may be given by injection or by mouth. This treatment method is usually used after other treatments have already been tried, and though it can shrink melanoma tumors in some people, it is not considered as helpful for melanoma as it is for many other cancer types.
  • Radiation therapy
    • In this type of treatment high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. For melanoma patients, this treatment can be an option for very early stage cancer if surgery can’t be performed for some reason. It may also be used after surgery, or for returning melanomas. In many cases radiation therapy used for melanoma is more to relieve symptoms caused by spreading cancer cells and is not expected to cure the cancer. The primary type of radiation treatment used for melanoma cancers is external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), which uses radiation beams outside the body to focus on the cancerous area.
    • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after melanoma treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

A typical follow-up schedule will include skin and lymph node exams, and frequency of visits will depend on the severity of your diagnosis. In some cases, your doctor may wish to recommend an ultrasound or CT scan in addition to a regular exam.

There are some things you can do on your own that might be helpful in lowering the risk of returning melanomas. Limit your exposure to UV rays, adopt healthy behaviors such as quitting smoking, staying active and eating well, and conduct a self-exam on your skin every month, or more frequently depending on doctor recommendation.

About Bladder Cancer

The bladder is a hollow organ with flexible, muscular walls and is located in the lower pelvis. Its primary function is to store urine and to contract to release the urine from the body.

Urothelial carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer, starting in the urothelial cells that line the inside of the bladder. There are other types of bladder cancer that are far less common. Urothelial cells also exist in other areas of the urinary tract, including the kidney, ureters and urethra. Tumors may develop in these locations as well, so the entire urinary tract should be checked when bladder cancer has been diagnosed. If the cancer is invasive then cells may grow into other layers of the bladder wall or spread to lymph nodes, or even to the bones, lungs or liver.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Bladder cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop bladder cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect melanoma risk are:

  • Smoking
    • The most important risk factor for bladder cancer, and the cause for about half of bladder cancer diagnoses, being a smoker makes you at least three times more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers.
  • Workplace exposures
    • Certain chemicals can affect your risk for developing bladder cancer. These harmful substances are most often found in environments where painters, truck drivers, hairdressers, printers or machinists may work.
  • Certain medicine or herbal supplements
    • The FDA has determined that use of the diabetes medicine pioglitazone may be linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. Certain dietary aides containing aristolochic acid is also considered a risk factor.
  • Arsenic in drinking water
    • For most Americans, drinking water isn’t a major source of arsenic. However, water from a well or from a public water system could contain higher levels that do not meet the standards for acceptable arsenic content.
  • Not drinking enough fluids
    • Consuming more water assists in keeping your bladder flushed out more regularly, which could help to keep chemicals from lingering in the body.

There are other risk factors for developing bladder cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Race and ethnicity
    • Caucasians are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer.
  • Age
    • About 9 out of 10 people who develop bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
  • Gender
    • Bladder cancer is more common in men.
  • Chronic bladder irritation and infections
    • Ongoing or returning irritations such as urinary infections, kidney and bladder stones, and others, have been linked to bladder cancer, though it is not clear if they actually cause the disease.
  • Personal history of bladder cancer
    • If you have already had bladder cancer then you are at an increased risk of developing the disease again, even if your tumor(s) were completed removed the first time.
  • Family history
    • If someone in your family has had bladder cancer as a result of chemical exposure of gene mutations, and you were exposed to the same chemicals or carry the same mutation, then you have a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Anyone can get bladder cancer, but if detected early, there is a much greater possibility of treating the disease. There are screening tests available, but at this time routine screenings for bladder cancer are not highly recommended for the general public. Certain urinalysis tests can be done to check for blood or cancer cells in the urine, but these methods are also not considered to be useful as a routine screening option. Those considered to be at very high risk (i.e. people who have signs or symptoms or have had bladder cancer before) may be considered for a screening test.

Though many symptoms are likely to be caused by something other than bladder cancer, you should still talk to your doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Having trouble urinating or experiencing a weak urine stream
  • Feeling the need to urinate right away, even if your bladder isn’t full
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • …and more

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of bladder cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • The type of surgery that can be done for bladder cancer depends largely on the extent or progression of the cancer, as well as on your personal choices based on possible long-term side effects that may occur as a result of surgery. From less invasive options to all or complete removal of the bladder, surgical options for bladder cancer can vary in their necessity and potential effectiveness. If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer you should talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, and lasting effects of undergoing a surgical procedure.
  • Intravesical therapy
    • This treatment is often used after a bladder tumor resection surgery, and is performed by the provider injecting a liquid drug directly into the bladder. The drug stays in the bladder for up to two hours to affect the cells lining the inside of the organ without having major effects on the rest of the body. The goal of using this method is to kill any cancer cells that may have remained in the bladder after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemo drugs for bladder cancer can be put directly into the bladder if the cancer is only affecting the bladder lining, or, if cancer has spread, chemo can be given in pill form, into the vein, or into the muscle, which allows the drug to travel throughout the body. This treatment may be used before surgery to try and shrink a tumor, after surgery to try and kill any lingering cancer cells, or in conjunction with radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy
    • In this type of treatment high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. For bladder cancer patients, this treatment can be an option for very early stage cancer if surgery or chemotherapy can’t be performed for some reason. It may also be used after surgery, or as part of treatment for advanced bladder cancer.
  • Immunotherapy
    • With this treatment, medicines are used to stimulate a person’s immune system in the hopes that it will be able to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Some types of immunotherapy use inhibitor drugs to target proteins in the body to help restore their response against cancer cells. Another method involves using a specific type of bacteria injected into the bladder as a liquid and designed to activates immune cells that can attack bladder cancer cells. There are downsides to immunotherapy treatment for bladder cancer, such as developing an infusion reaction, similar to an allergic reaction, to certain drugs, or, if the body’s immune system starts attacking other parts of the body, which can potentially cause serious problems in other organs.
  • Targeted Drug Therapy
    • The Fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) in the body are a group of proteins on bladder cancer cells that may help them grow. Certain inhibitor drugs can target and treat these areas in some people with bladder cancer.
    • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after bladder cancer treatment is completed. People who have had bladder cancer have a higher risk of developing a second bladder cancer, so it’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

Your appointment schedule will depend largely on the stage and grade of your cancer and treatments you’ve had, and for a while could include urine tests, physical exams, certain imaging tests, and blood tests.

There are some things you can do on your own that might be helpful in lowering the risk of returning bladder cancer, including not smoking, staying active and eating a well-balanced diet.

About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma starts in specific white blood cells called lymphocytes, which make up part of the body’s immune system. This disease appears mostly in adults, though children can also get it. Lymphomas can start wherever lymph tissue is found, but the most common sites are lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, the thymus, adenoids and tonsils, and the digestive tract.

Types of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be grouped by the type of white cells affected, and whether the lymphomas are indolent (grow and spread slowly) or aggressive (grow and spread rapidly). Other types of this disease may not fit into either of these categories.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma risk factors are primarily related to items out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Age
    • Overall, lymphoma occurs mostly in people age 60 or older, though it can occur in younger people as well.
  • Gender
    • Though the reasons are unknown, the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is typically higher in men than in women.
  • Race, ethnicity, and geography
    • The United States and Europe tend to have higher incidences of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with Caucasians being more likely to develop the disease.
  • Family history
    • Your risk is increased if you have a first degree relative (parent, child, sibling) who was had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Certain chemicals and drugs
    • Some herbicides and insecticides may be linked to an increased risk, as may certain drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, though research on these topics are still in progress.
  • Having a weakened immune system
    • You are at a higher risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma if you have received a transplanted organ (due to drugs you must take that suppress the immune system), have HIV, or were born with a genetically deficient immune system.
  • Autoimmune diseases
    • Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, and others have been linked to a higher risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In these circumstances, the body’s immune system becomes overactive and could cause lymphocytes to grow and divide more rapidly.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

There are currently no screening tests that are widely recommended for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, primarily because no test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from this disease. However, in some cases, lymphoma can be found early. The best way to detect lymphoma is to watch for possible signs and symptoms such as enlargement of lymph nodes that cause a lump or bump under the skin.

Though many symptoms are likely to be caused by something other than Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, you should still talk to your doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Fever or chills
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Fatigue

It is important for those with known risk factors to have regular medical check-ups, just to be aware of possible signs and symptoms.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemo is the main treatment for this disease, and these anti-cancer drugs may be given by injection or by mouth. In many cases, several drugs may be combined and the doses and length of treatment depend on the type and stage of the lymphoma. Chemotherapy may be used alone, or depending on the extent of the disease, may be combined with other treatments, such as immunotherapy drugs or radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy
    • This type of therapy is used to either boost the immune system or to utilize man-made versions of the normal parts of the immune system to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Antibodies are proteins that the body’s immune system produces to help fight infections. Man-made versions of these proteins can be designed to target specific areas of lymphocytes. Other immunotherapy inhibitor drugs may be used to block checkpoints in the immune system, which can boost the immune response against cancer cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy
    • Newer drugs have been developed to specifically target changes in lymphoma cells. These inhibitor drugs function in various ways, depending on the treatment, and some have been shown to be helpful in treating certain types of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Radiation therapy
    • For Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, radiation may be used in certain situation, such as to attack stage I or II tumors, which typically respond well to radiation treatment. For more advanced or aggressive lymphomas, radiation is sometimes used alongside chemotherapy. This type of treatment is also sometimes used to ease symptoms caused by lymphoma.
  • Stem cell transplant
    • This method allows doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy, sometimes alongside radiation therapy, by first giving a patient a stem cell transplant so that blood-forming cells can work to restore the bone marrow afterwards.
  • Surgery
    • When it comes to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, surgery may be used to get a biopsy sample in order to diagnose and classify a lymphoma. However, it is rarely used as an actual form of treatment. On occasion, surgery may be used to treat lymphomas in certain organs.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer treatment is completed. People who have had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma do sometimes develop new lymphomas, even many years after treatmen,  so it’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

Your appointment schedule will depend largely on the stage and grade of your cancer and treatments you’ve had, and for a while could include CT scans or PET/CT scans. You may also be asked to have frequent blood tests.

At this time there it is not clear if there are any actions you can take to help lessen the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, though adopting behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, and staying at a healthy weight, are all recommended for an overall healthier body and lifestyle.

About Kidney Cancer

Each of our two kidneys is about the size of a fist and are attached to the abdomen and protected by the rib cage. Their primary function is to remove excess water, salt and waste products from blood coming in from the renal arteries, and turn those substances into urine, which is then released into the bladder until urination occurs.

Though kidneys are important, it is possible for most people to function with only one. Some people, who have lost both kidneys, can even survive with the help of dialysis.

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, and makes up about 9 out of 10 diagnoses.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Kidney Cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some who develop kidney cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect kidney cancer risk are:

  • Smoking
    • Smoking increases kidney cancer risk, and seems to be related to how much you smoke. If you quit smoking, the risk will drop, but it takes many years to get to close to the risk level of someone who never smoked.
  • Obesity
    • People who are very overweight have a higher risk for developing kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressure
    • Kidney cancer risk is higher in those with high blood pressure, even if there are medicines being taken to help treat the condition.
  • …and more

There are other risk factors for developing kidney cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Gender
    • Kidney cancer is about twice as common in men as in women.
  • Race
    • African Americans have a slightly higher rate of developing kidney cancer than Caucasians. The reasons for this are unclear.
  • Family history
    • Your risk is increased if you have had a strong family history of kidney cancer, especially if a brother or sister has been diagnosed with it.
  • Certain medicines
    • Some studies have suggested that acetaminophen, a common pain medicine, may be linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Genetic and hereditary conditions
    • Some rare inherited conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, can increase kidney cancer risk.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

In people who are at an average risk, kidney cancers can sometimes be found by accident during routine imaging tests for another illness or symptom. Other times, a urinalysis that shows small traces of blood in the urine can be an indicator of early stage kidney cancer, though most often is related to other conditions such as urinary tract or bladder infections. There are no specifically recommended screening tests to find kidney cancer in people who are at a regular risk level.

For those at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer, doctors may recommend a periodic CT, MRI or ultrasound to look for possible tumors. Kidney cancers found early with these tests can often be cured.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of kidney cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery is the primary treatment used for most kidney cancers, and in many cases, depending on the stage and location of the cancer, it can be the cure all by itself. Some people whose kidney cancer may have spread could potentially still benefit from having the kidney tumor(s) or the entire kidney removed.
  • Ablation or other local therapy
    • For people who are too sick to have surgery, or simply don’t want surgery, certain types of ablation or other similar therapies may be an option to help treat small tumors, typically no larger than 1.5 inches. The most common of these therapies is cryotherapy, which uses extreme cold to destroy the tumor, or radiofrequency ablation, which uses high-energy radio waves to heat the tumor and destroy cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemo uses anti-cancer drugs that are given by injection or by mouth. Kidney cancer cells do not typically respond well to chemo, so it is not a commonly used treatment, and therefore is most often used to treat kidney cancer after targeted drug therapy or immunotherapy have already been tried.
  • Immunotherapy
    • This type of therapy is used to boost the immune system so that it is more capable of recognizing and attacking harmful cancer cells. In the case of kidney cancer, immunotherapies including checkpoint inhibitor drugs are often used to target certain proteins and either block them from harming other cells in the body, or help to restore their immune response against cancer cells. Certain inhibitors can even shrink some tumors or slow their growth. Other types of immunotherapy include the use of man-made cytokines, which are small proteins that may cause tumors to shrink in a small percentage of patients.
  • Targeted drug therapy
    • Targeted drugs are mostly used for kidney cancer in an effort to shrink or slow the growth of tumors, though it does not appear that any current targeted drug therapy is an actual cure for the disease. This therapy is mostly used to treat advanced kidney cancer, and may also be given after surgery to those patients with a higher risk of the cancer returning.
  • Radiation therapy
    • If a person is not healthy enough to have surgery, or only has one kidney, then radiation might be an alternative treatment option. Mostly, this treatment is used primarily to ease symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or other problems resulting from cancer spreadl.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after kidney cancer treatment is completed. People who have had kidney cancer may experience longer-term side effects from treatment, or the possibility of recurrence, so it’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any issues or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

Your appointment schedule will depend largely on the stage and grade of your cancer and treatments you’ve had, and will likely include a physical exam and possibly imaging or blood tests.

At this time, not enough is known about kidney cancer to say for sure if there are things you can do that may be helpful in decreasing your risk of developing the disease. However, it is believed that quitting smoking is a positive step to take because it is considered a risk factor.

About Endometrial Cancer

The endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus, a hollow organ in the female body where a fetus grows and develops when a woman is pregnant. Endometrial cancer begins in the cells of the inner lining, and is the most common cancer of the uterus. There are different types of endometrial carcinomas (cancer cells), which are divided into different types based on how the cells look under a microscope. Most of these cancers are classified as adenocarcinomas, which develop in gland cells. There are also different grades of endometrial cancer, which is based on how much the cancer cells are organized into glands that look like normal, healthy endometrium glands.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Endometrial cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some women who develop endometrial cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect endometrial cancer risk are:

  • Obesity
    • Obesity is a strong risk factor for endometrial cancer, especially in cases where fat tissue changes some hormones into estrogen, which can be its own risk factor especially after menopause. Endometrial cancer is twice as common in overweight women, and three times as common in largely obese women.
  • Hormone factors
    • Estrogen therapy
      • Often used to help women through menopause, using estrogen alone can lead to endometrial cancer in women who still have a uterus. To lower that risk, talk to your doctor about also taking progesterone to balance the estrogen levels. This is called combination hormone therapy.
    • Birth control pills
      • Using birth control pills actually helps to lower the risk of endometrial cancer, though it can cause other issues with the body and therefore use of the pill should be discussed with your doctor to determine the pros and cons.
    • Pregnancy
      • Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, especially if they were infertile. Women who have many pregnancies have hormonal balances that shifts more towards progesterone, which can help lower endometrial cancer risk.
    • …and more
  • Use of an intrauterine device (IUD)
    • Women who have used an IUD for birth control seem to have a lower risk of developing endometrial cancer. Information about this protective effect is limited to IUDs that do not contain hormones, and does not refer to newer types that may release progesterone.
  • Age
    • Risk increases as a woman gets older.
  • Diet and Exercise
    • An unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle may lead to obesity, which is a high risk factor for developing endometrial cancer.
  • …and more

There are other risk factors for developing kidney cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Gender
    • Because endometrial cancer is a disease of the uterus, it only affects women.
  • Family history
    • Endometrial cancer tends to run in some families.
  • Breast or ovarian cancer
    • If you have had breast or ovarian cancer, you may have an increased risk of endometrial cancer as well.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

If you have abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, especially if it’s getting worse over time, occurring between periods, or happening after menopause, then you should visit your doctor right away. There are early detection tests for the disease, though none specifically designed for women who are at an average level of risk or have no symptoms. Women at higher risk, such as at or after menopause, who are dealing with obesity, high blood pressure, infertility or diabetes, or those with symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, can talk with their doctor about possible screening options best suited for their situation.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of endometrial cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery is the primary treatment used for endometrial cancers, and can consist of a hysterectomy, pelvic washings, removal of lymph nodes, or other methods. Of the options, a hysterectomy is the main treatment method. This involves removing the uterus through an abdominal incision or through the vagina. If endometrial cancer has spread to the cervix or surround area, then a radical hysterectomy to remove the uterus, neighboring tissues, and part of the vagina, may be performed.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemo uses anti-cancer drugs that are given by injection or by mouth. Because chemo drugs circulate throughout the bloodstream, this treatment is more often done when endometrial cancer has spread beyond the endometrium and surgery cannot be performed. Chemo is commonly used for higher grade cancers that tend to spread or grow quickly. It is not used to treat stage I and II endometrial cancers.
  • Immunotherapy
    • At this time there are a lot of clinical trials in progress to analyze the use and effects of immunotherapy as an effective treatment against endometrial cancer.
  • Targeted drug therapy
    • Targeted therapy is still fairly new in the treatment of endometrial cancer, so only a few targeted drugs are in use at this time. Clinical trials are in progress to study the use and effect of targeted drugs on endometrial cancer.
  • Radiation therapy
    • Radiation can be used to treat endometrial cancer through either internal radiation therapy, which involves putting radioactive materials inside the body, or through external beam radiation therapy, which involves the use of a machine to focus beams of radiation at the tumor from outside the body. Radiation is most commonly used after surgery to treat endometrial cancer as it can kill cancer cells that may still be residing in the surgically treated area.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after endometrial cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-term side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems, including:

  • Vaginal, bladder or rectal bleeding
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pelvic, hip, belly or back pain
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the stomach or legs

Endometrial cancer is most likely to come back within the first few years after treatment, so your follow-up appointment schedule will depend largely on the stage and grade of your cancer and treatments you’ve had, and will typically include a pelvic exam and imaging scans or blood tests.  

Adopting healthy behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, and staying at a healthy weight, are all good things to do for your body, though no one knows for sure if these measures can prevent endometrial cancer from developing.

About Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer starts in the thyroid gland, which is in the front part of the neck, consists of two lobes and is butterfly shaped. This gland has follicular cells that make hormones to regulate a person’s metabolism and C cells that help control how the body uses calcium. Different cancers can develop from each type of cell.

Many issues with the thyroid are non-cancerous (benign) such as typical cases of general enlargement or when small lumps or bumps develop.

Most cancers of the thyroid are called papillary adenocarcinomas, which tend to grow very slowly, developing in only one lobe of the gland.  Though slow-growing, papillary cancers can often spread to lymph nodes in the neck. However, even when this occurs, this type of cancer can often be treated successfully. Other types of thyroid cancers are considered much rarer, occurring in a very small percentage of diagnosed cases.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Thyroid cancer risk factors can vary from everyday lifestyle behaviors to things such as family history. However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get the disease, just as some women who develop thyroid cancer may have few or no risk factors.

Some lifestyle-related factors that can potentially affect endometrial cancer risk are:

  • Obesity
    • People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer, and the risk appears to increase as the body mass index rises.
  • Iodine in the diet
    • Follicular thyroid cancers are more common in areas of the world where people’s diets are lower in iodine. On the other hand, a diet high in iodine may increase the risk of papillary thyroid cancer. In the US, most people get appropriate amounts of iodine in their diets.

There are other risk factors for developing kidney cancer that are things out of our immediate control, such as:

  • Gender and age
    • Thyroid cancers tend to develop three times more often in women than in men, and can occur at any age, though the risk peaks earlier for women (40s or 50s) versus men (60s or 70s).
  • Family history
    • Having a first-degree relative with thyroid cancer increases your risk, though the genetic basis for this is unclear.
  • Radiation
    • Exposure to radiation, such as in certain medical treatment or fallout from power plant accidents or nuclear weapons, are proven risk factors for thyroid cancer.
  • …and more

Early Detection and Diagnosis

Many thyroid cancers can now be found much earlier than in the past, and can often be treated successfully. Most instances are found by doctors if a patient makes a visit due to lumps or nodules they’ve noticed. If you have a swelling in your neck, you should see your doctor right away.

Other thyroid cancers can be found simply during a routine checkup, and occasionally through results from certain imaging tests.

Blood tests or a thyroid ultrasound are often used to find changes in the thyroid, though they are not commonly recommended as actual cancer screening tests unless a person is at an increased risk of the disease. Currently, there is no recommended screening test to find thyroid cancer for people at average risk.

Treatment Options

Every diagnosis of thyroid cancer is unique, and must be assessed and treated based on decisions that are best for the patient and their specific situation.

There are many types of treatment methods, including:

  • Surgery
    • Surgery is the primary treatment used for thyroid cancers, and is used in nearly every case. If thyroid cancer has been diagnosed then surgery can often help to remove the tumor and/or all or part of the thyroid gland. If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, those affected areas can also be removed during surgery.
  • Radioactive Iodine Therapy
    • Your thyroid gland absorbs nearly all of the iodine in your body. Because of this, radioactive iodine (RAI) can be used to treat thyroid cancer. This radiation can destroy the gland and cells that take up your iodine, with little effect on the rest of your body.
  • Thyroid hormone therapy
    • If you have had your thyroid removed then you will need hormone pills to make up for the natural hormones that help maintain normal metabolism.
  • External beam radiation therapy
    • In this treatment, a focused beam of high-energy rays is used to deliver radiation from a machine outside the body. This method can destroy cancer cells or slow their growth.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Chemo uses anti-cancer drugs that are given by injection or by mouth. Chemo is not considered to be a helpful treatment option for most types of thyroid cancer, though it is sometimes used for advanced cancers, and often combine with radiation, for those thyroid cancers that no longer respond to other treatments.
  • Targeted drug therapy
    • Newer drugs that specifically target changes inside cells that cause them to become cancer are actually now being used to treat some thyroid cancers. These inhibitor drugs block certain proteins that can tell cancerous cells to grow.
  • …and more

After Treatment

Your doctors will still want to watch you closely to keep an eye on your progress even after thyroid cancer treatment is completed. It’s very important to continue going to follow-up appointments, and to be completely upfront about any concerns you may be having. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any long-term side effects or if you have noticed any new symptoms or problems.

Most people do very well after treatment, but it is important to note that most thyroid cancers grow slowly and can even recur 10-20 years later. Your follow-up appointment schedule will depend largely on the stage and grade of your cancer and treatments you’ve had, and will typically include a blood tests or imaging tests such as ultrasounds or radioiodine scans.  

Adopting healthy behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, and staying at a healthy weight, are all good things to do for your body, though no one knows for sure if these measures can prevent thyroid cancer from developing.