Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Fighting Common Types of Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and it often becomes fatal because people simply do not know enough about it. Individuals are not educated on the most common types of cancer, and they often overlook the importance of regular physical exams and check-ups that can help catch cancer before it becomes untreatable.

To help protect yourself from becoming a victim of cancer, take the time to educate yourself on a few of the most prevalent types of cancer and the tests needed to determine whether or not they exist.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is by far the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and it isn’t just a diagnosis in smokers. Those exposed to secondhand smoke over a long period of time, workers surrounded by high concentrations of chemicals, and those with no history of carcinogen exposure at all may be diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease is highly treatable if caught in the early stages, and those who may be at high risk need to remain vigilant.

Lung cancer may first be noticed during your annual physical exam. Swollen lymph nodes above your collar bone, abnormal sounds in chest cavity, and a dullness in your chest when tapped can all suggest lung cancer. If your doctor notices anything irregular, he or she may order a CT scan. If the results of the scan are abnormal, a biopsy and bone scan are done to get a more accurate diagnosis and to determine the extent of the potential cancer.

KRAS testing to detect gene mutation can be used after a lung cancer diagnosis. This test helps individuals determine how well their bodies will respond to the typical epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor therapies commonly used as treatment patients with advanced stage lung cancer. Knowing how well your body will respond to treatment will make it easier to cater treatment to your needs which may ultimately increase your likelihood of survival.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second most leading cause of cancer-related death, and can be a little trickier to detect in those suffering from it. If you notice a constant change in bowel movements or have notice blood regularly in your stool, it may be time to consult your physician.

Upon noticing irregularity, your doctor may order a colonoscopy to see if polyps are in your colon. While a colonoscopy normally is not recommended until individuals reach the age of 50, if you have a familial history of colorectal cancer, you should have a colonoscopy 10 years before the age of the last person diagnosed in your family. So if your grandmother was diagnosed at age 50, you should have your first colonoscopy at age 40.

If your doctor notices polyps in your colonoscopy, he or she may remove a polyp to have a biopsy performed. A CT scan may also be ordered to determine the extent of any growths that may be occurring.

Like lung cancer, colorectal cancer has can also use a KRAS test to determine how well the body will respond to EGFR inhibitor therapies. This test is highly recommended as colorectal cancer can become highly aggressive and difficult to treat.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer has a 97 percent survivability rate if found while the cancer is still in the breast tissue. However, if left untreated, breast cancer can spread throughout the body, and require intense chemotherapy and numerous surgeries to combat.

One of the best ways to start screening for breast cancer is through your own breast exams and by attending your annual well-woman exam. Should your doctor notice any lumps, he or she may order a mammogram, breast ultrasound, or MRI to determine whether or not the irregular tissue should be of any concern. If the tissue is found to be abnormal, your physician may order a biopsy to get an accurate diagnosis.

Women who have a history of breast cancer in their families, as well as those who have tested positive for the gene, should consider having regular check-ups. These regular check-ups will help make sure that you stay healthy, and that breast cancer can be caught immediately should you become diagnosed.

No one wants to be confronted with cancer. However, ignoring its possibility won’t make cancer go away. By catching cancer in its early stages, those diagnosed have a much higher survival rate and are more likely to avoid the more aggressive cancer treatments. Keep yourself safe. Regularly attend your annual check-ups, and don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your doctor should you notice anything irregular with your body.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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