August 30, 2014
   
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Resource Center: Cancer

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Cancer develops when the cells in your body divide too quickly, and the genetic mechanisms that normally keep cell growth in check break down. There may be mutations in the cells’ DNA, which causes the cells to replicate too quickly or not die when they should. There are many different types of cancer; the most common types are melanoma (skin), breast, lung, bladder, colon, endometrial (uterine), kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, pancreatic, thyroid, and prostate cancers. The broader categories of tumor cell types include carcinoma, sarcoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and nervous system cancers.

There is a large genetic (family) component involved in one’s risk for developing cancer, but lifestyle choices also play an important role. Smoking, being overweight, being sedentary, spending a lot of time in the sun, and taking hormones are some of the better-known risk factors. Cancer is diagnosed using a variety of tools, but may include blood tests, biopsy, screening methods like colonoscopy and mammogram, and imaging tests like MRI and CT scans. Treatment depends on the type of cancer, but may involve radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy, and biological therapy.

Cancer Basics

Endocrine Disruptors: What We Know, What We Suspect: You can't see, smell or taste these environmental toxins, but they are in your furniture, in pesticide-laden soil, and in plastics we use every day. The terrible health effects of EDCs include fetal and genital abnormalities, cancer, and fertility issues. As one researcher puts it, “There are no safe doses for endocrine disruptors. ” Things you can do to avoid exposure — even when you can't see the danger.>

New and Controversial Recommendations for Prostate Cancer: The new guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening recommend against routine screening for prostate cancer. The risks promoted by the tests - of false positives and unnecessary biopsies and radiation - are more likely than those of cancer. The picture is different for men with certain risk factors, however. >

Cancer News

Colorful Foods May Decrease Breast Cancer Risk: The pigments that give some fruits and veggies their vibrant color help protect the body from breast cancer.

Doctors May “Misdiagnose” Patients’ Preferences: Patients often surprise their doctors by choosing different treatments than their doctors expect. Knowing all the options helps.

How You Cook Red Meat Could Matter in Cancer Risk: We're learning more about why eating red meat (especially charred meat) may increase our risk for cancer.

To Screen or Not to Screen?: New research tells us not to be so fast to drop PSA testing, as it still saves a lot of lives.

 
Reducing Your Risk

HPV Vaccine and Sexual Behavior:
Good news for parents: protecting girls with the HPV vaccine does not encourage sexual activity.

HRT: Timing Is Everything:
A new study finds HRT has protective benefits. But another study found it to be risky. It all depends on the timing.

Phytochemicals Cut Cancer Risk:
The antioxidant lycopene, found abundantly in tomatoes, may lower risk of certain types of cancer, like prostate. It has also been linked to bone, skin, and brain health.

Spray-On Tans May Pose Risk:
Spray-on tans definitely reduce chances of skin cancer, but a chemical in the sprays is not good...

Even Social Smoking Increases Lung Cancer Risk:
Cells of the airways and lungs were affected at the genetic level by even second hand smoke, suggesting that no amount of smoking is safe.

An Aspirin a Day Might Reduce Risk of Any Type of Cancer:
Aspirin may reduce your risk of developing cancer. But there are some risks.

Screening

Genetic Predictor of Ovarian Cancer:
Having a faulty RAD51D gene means a 1 in 11 chance of ovarian cancer. Knowing your status can help you and your doctor make decisions.

Too Many Surgical Breast Biopsies:
Doctors resort to biopsy too often, which can lead to scarring, infection, and other complications. Needle biopsies can be an effective, less stressful and less expensive alternative.

An Alternative to Colonoscopy:
Sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood tests may detect colon cancer just as effectively, eliminating the need for anesthesia and reducing the risk for complications.

Teaching Doctors Empathy:
Can listening to their own encounters with patients help doctors become more responsive?

Mammograms: What's The Right Age to Begin Screening:
The United States Preventative Services Tasks Force and the American Cancer Society are still at odds regarding when women should begin having mammograms: age 40 or age 50.

Treatment and Coping

National Cancer Drug Shortages:
Drug shortages have more than tripled. Patients in smaller hospitals suffer the most.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy Could Help Reconstruction:
For some women, nipple-sparing surgery can help their breasts look more natural after breast cancer surgery.

Staying Active through Illness:
A healthy alternative to anti-anxiety medication, exercise can reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with chronic illness.

Quit Smoking Sooner:
People who stop smoking soon after a lung cancer diagnosis double their five-year survival rate. When will programs to help people quit be a routine part of lung cancer treatment?

Grapefruit Juice Could Reduce Chemo Dose:
Adding a glass of grapefruit juice can enhance the effect of an anti-cancer drug. And with no unpleasant side effects.









 










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