Oncology

All posts tagged Oncology

A Guide to Ovarian Cancer

Published March 28, 2015 by teacher dahl

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What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Current research suggests this cancer begins in the fallopian tubes and moves to the ovaries, the twin organs that produce a woman’s eggs and the main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Treatments for ovarian cancer have become more effective in recent years, with the best results seen when the disease is found early.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms include:

  • Bloating or pressure in the belly
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Feeling full too quickly during meals
  • Urinating more frequently
  • These symptoms can be caused by many conditions that are not cancer. If they occur persistently for more than a few weeks, report them to your health care professional.

Risk Factor: Family History
A woman’s odds of developing ovarian cancer are higher if a close relative has had cancer of the ovaries, breast, or colon. Researchers believe that inherited genetic changes account for 10% of ovarian cancers. This includes the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are linked to breast cancer. Women with a strong family history should talk with a doctor to see whether closer medical follow-up could be helpful.

age factor

Risk Factor: Age

The strongest risk factor for ovarian cancer is age. It’s most likely to develop after a woman goes through menopause. Using postmenopausal hormone therapy may increase the risk. The link seems strongest in women who take estrogen without progesterone for at least 5 to 10 years. Doctors are not certain whether taking a combination of estrogen and progesterone boosts the risk as well.

Obesity

Risk Factor: Obesity
Obese women have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer than other women. And the death rates for ovarian cancer are higher for obese women too, compared with non-obese women. The heaviest women appear to have the greatest risk.

Ovarian Cancer Screening Tests
There is no easy or reliable way to test for ovarian cancer if a woman has no symptoms. However, there are two ways to screen for ovarian cancer during a routine gynecologic exam. One is a blood test for elevated levels of a protein called CA-125. The other is an ultrasound of the ovaries. Unfortunately, neither technique has been shown to save lives when used in women of average risk. For this reason, screening is only recommended for women with strong risk factors.

biopsy

Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or CT scans (seen here), can help reveal an ovarian mass. But these scans can’t determine whether the abnormality is cancer. If cancer is suspected, the next step is usually surgery to remove suspicious tissues. A sample is then sent to the lab for further examination. This is called a biopsy.

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Stages of Ovarian Cancer

The initial surgery for ovarian cancer also helps determine how far the cancer has spread, described by the following stages:

  • Stage I: Confined to one or both ovaries
  • Stage II: Spread to the uterus or other nearby organs
  • Stage III: Spread to the lymph nodes or abdominal lining
  • Stage IV: Spread to distant organs, such as the lungs or liver

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Types of Ovarian Cancer
The vast majority of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas. These are malignant tumors that form from cells on the surface of the ovary. Some epithelial tumors are not clearly cancerous. These are known as tumors of low malignant potential (LMP). LMP tumors grow more slowly and are less dangerous than other forms of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates
Ovarian cancer can be a frightening diagnosis, with five-year relative survival rates that range from 89% to 18% for epithelial ovarian cancer, depending on the stage when the cancer was found. For LMP tumors, the five-year relative survival rates range from 99% to 77%.

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Ovarian Cancer Surgery
Surgery is used to diagnose ovarian cancer and determine its stage, but it is also the first phase of treatment. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible. This may include a single ovary and nearby tissue in stage I. In more advanced stages, it may be necessary to remove both ovaries, along with the uterus and surrounding tissues.

Chemotherapy
In all stages of ovarian cancer, chemotherapy is usually given after surgery. This phase of treatment uses drugs to target and kill any remaining cancer in the body. The drugs may be given by mouth, through an IV, or directly into the belly (intraperitoneal chemotherapy). Women with LMP tumors usually don’t need chemo unless the tumors grow back after surgery.

targeted theraphy

Targeted Therapies
Researchers are working on therapies that target the way ovarian cancer grows. A process called angiogenesis involves the formation of new blood vessels to feed tumors. A drug called Avastin blocks this process, causing tumors to shrink or stop growing (seen in the illustration here). Avastin is approved for other cancers, but ovarian cancer researchers are still testing this therapy, which can have serious side effects.

source; Web MD

Five (5) Unconventional Signs of Breast Cancer

Published March 13, 2015 by teacher dahl

early detection

Breast cancer is one of the most common form of the disease in the world that affects both men and women. The chances of getting the disease increase as you age, but detecting it at an early age could be life saving.

There are several signs that the American Cancer Society claim should be analyzed closely by a specialist. It is important to remember that these signs aren’t definitive proof of existing breast cancer. They can sometimes indicate smaller hormonal or health factors, so visiting an expert can clear any ambiguity.

Some of the more obvious signs are:

  • Change in breast structure
  • Appearance of lumps
  • Changes in the skin or nippleHere are a few of the sneakier breast cancer indicators that many people overlook:

1. Itching, redness and pain

It’s common for breasts to be sore and sensitive during menstruation, but this symptom could mean something more serious if the sensitivity persists after the period. There may also be swelling involved with skin that is warm to the touch, indicating the less common (about 3% of cases) forms of inflammatory breast cancer.

Inflammatory cancer may also cause swelling, itching and pain in the chest. The skin may look scaly or have small blue marks similar to hemorrhages, somewhat like cellulite holes on the breast. Some women misunderstand the symptom for an allergic reaction on their breasts that refused to leave after several days. It’s important to know that this form of cancer is characterized by a rapid development, which blocks the blood vessels feeding the skin to cause redness, warmth and sensitivity.

2. Back pain

Patients typically feel back pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades before any other sign of breast cancer reveals itself. The discomfort is usually attributed with muscle pain, inflammation of the spine or stretching the tendon and ligaments in the back. It’s important to know that tumors will sometimes develop deep within the breast tissue of the chest and felt in the spine or ribcage. There is also the possibility of metasis, a malignant spreading of the disease to the ribs or spine.

3. Pain and tenderness in the armpit

According to studies, the first place breast cancer spreads to is the axillary lymph nodes. The axillary lymph nodes indicate breast cancer in the same way the lymph nodes in the neck and throat indicate a flu, making the axillaries an essential place for onset discovery. Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or pain and tenderness could indicate the presence of a tumor before it becomes noticeable in the breast. Any pain or discomfort in the armpit is something that should definitely be tested.
First the person testing should compare it to their other armpit. If the difference is persistently evident, it’s worth consulting an expert. There is sometimes a hard lump that appears in the armpit and tissue surrounding it that won’t move when touched. There may also be tissue that is thicker and dense when compared with the other armpit. A sore spot could indicate many things that aren’t a tumor. It never hurts to be safe and get a medical evaluation, however, as the underarm tissue does have a close connection to breast tissue.

4. Nipple discharge or changes

One of the most common locations of breast cancer is beneath the nipple. The presence of a cancerous lesion may cause changes in appearance and sensitivity. Different texture, color and shape might occur. The nipple may also feel much more tender and have an unusual texture. Some women describe a lack of sensitivity within the nipple, especially during intimate relations.

A discharge of clear liquid, blood, or milk that doesn’t happen during breast feeding might also be a sign of breast cancer. This happens when a tumor forms in the milk duct on the nipple or behind it. When this happens the skin jostles to one side, allowing the tumor to cause irritation and inflammation that results in an unusual discharge from the nipple. Medical evaluation and followups are needed for early detection, but it is important to remember that many tumors are harmless.

5. Changing shape from a circle to oval

Many women around the world believe that an easily visible and touchable lump close to the surface of the skin is a sign of a breast tumor. Far less women, however, report the fact that one breast has taken on an elliptical shape while the other remains normal. Other women have reported the progression of breast tissue on one side of the breast, looking uneven. Some women notice a change in appearance and feel when they put a bra on. Many times it’s the spouse that notices these physical indicators instead of the patient.

The best way to detect the changes that aren’t associated with pain or strange sensations is by learning about the appearance and size of your breasts. Breast cancer organizations recommend that you sit in front of a mirror and examine the structure of the breast. Use your hands to lift the breast and check the variability of skin stretching on both sides.

Don’t forget to do this often to make sure you don’t miss any sudden changes in appearance. Any of these symptoms should be analyzed by a medical professional for a conclusive verdict. If not professionally examined you’ll be left in a worrying state of uncertainty. Hopefully everything is fine, but even if it isn’t, detecting breast cancer in the earlier stages could very well make your chances for survival exponentially better.

Source: healthyandnaturalworld.com

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