Symptoms and Therapy
Symptoms of cancer depend on the type and location of the tumor. For example, lung cancer can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain while colon cancer often causes diarrhea, constipation, and blood in the stool.
Some cancers may not have any symptoms at all. However, the following symptoms are common with most cancers: 27
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Treatments and Prevention
In the past two decades significant progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. More than 1.2 million new cases are expected every year. 1, 26
Given the variable nature of cancerous cells, each cancer behaves somewhat uniquely. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases that grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. Thus, people with each specific cancer need specific treatment targeted at their type of cancer.
There exist many alternative cancer treatments that have been investigated in good quality, yet still shown to be ineffective. Always consult a physician before attempting any radical or unproven treatments. Residents in coutries of low socioeconomic status have 13% higher death rates from cancer in men and 3 % higher rates in women compared with more affluent countries. 35
Drugs used for chemotherapy include 12 :
- Cisplatin (e.g. platinol)
- Tositumomab and Iodine I131
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs, for cancer treatment, that stops cells from growing and multiplying. Unfortunately, these drugs also destroy healthy cells such as skin, bone, hair, and blood cells. The overall number of any or all three types of blood cells can be lowered dramatically. Reducing the blood cell count in white, red, or platelets causes other disruptions in the body's functioning.
On average, a normal hemoglobin range should be between 12 and 16 g/dL (grams per deciliter of blood) for women and 12 and 18 g/dL for men. As a chemotherapy patient, you may find yourself with a low red blood cell count, which can lead to anemia, which may cause fatigue.
The effects of low red blood cell count, anemia, include:
- Reduced effectiveness to chemotherapy.
Pain management remains to be one of the primary goals during therapeutic intervention. Methods such as sedation and analgesics are not uncommon. 3
The magnitude and severity of pain in patients with cancer has been nationally recognized, and many programs and treatments are underway to improve this problem. 11
End of Life Care 31
End-of-life care is treatment given when the person has a life-limiting or terminal disease, and has decided not to have any more treatment to cure the disease or prolong life. The goal of end-of-life care is to enhance the quality of remaining life. If end-of-life care is chosen, the physician will continue to direct care and will suggest resources to help manage the problems that are faced.
- Ideally, end-of-life care is compassionate, skilled, and personalized, offering emotional and physical comfort and relief from pain.
- While such care is often given in a hospital, hospice, or nursing home, it can also be provided at home.
- End-of-life care focuses on comfort, but it also includes the concerns of family and loved ones.
Screening for various cancers is recommended for all persons aged 40 and older by the American Cancer Society, especially if there is a preexisting condition or hereditary syndrome in their family's history. However, the economic value and overall effect on mortality rates due to some types of screening such as for prostate or lung cancer finds insufficient evidence to suggest screening for asymptomatic low risk individuals of some cancers. 1, 7 , 16, 18 In fact, no major professional organization currently recommends screening for lung cancer, even for moderate risk lung cancer potentials. 18, 39, 43
Avoidance or cessation of: 13, 14
- tobacco products such as cigarettes
- excessive exposure to sunlight
- excessive alcoholic consumption.
Screenings such as mammography and breast examination for breast cancer and colonoscopy for colon cancer may help catch these cancers at their early, most treatable stages. 7
- Fecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT)
- Digitial Rectal Screening
- Barium Enema