Frequently Asked Questions for Super Specialty Division
Over one and a half million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year. Anyone can get cancer at any age, but the risk goes up with age. Nearly 9 out of 10 cancers are diagnosed in people ages 50 and older. Cancer can be found in people of all racial and ethnic groups, but the rate of cancer occurrence varies from group to group.
Tobacco use can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, kidneys, and many other organs. Spending a lot of time in the sun without protection can cause skin cancer. Radiation can cause cancer. Certain chemicals have been linked to cancer, too. Being exposed to or working with them can increase a person’s risk of cancer. Genes that run in families About 5% to 10% of all cancers are linked to genes that are inherited from parents.
It’s a common myth that injuries can cause cancer. But the fact is that falls, bruises, broken bones, or other such injuries have not been linked to cancer. Rarely, burn scars can be the site of cancer many years after the burn has healed. Most often, skin cancer is the type that starts in a burn scar.
There’s no sure way to prevent cancer, but there are things you can do to help reduce your chances of getting it. Ultraviolet (UV) rays and sunlight.
We know that our diet (what we eat or don’t eat) is linked to some types of cancer, but the exact reasons are not yet clear. The best information we have suggests a lower cancer risk for people who:
- Eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits (at least 2½ cups a day)
- Choose whole grains rather than refined grains and sugars
- Limit red meats (beef, pork, and lamb)
- Limit processed meats (bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs)
- Choose foods in amounts that help them get to and stay at a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 alcoholic drink a day or less for women and 2 or less for men
A person’s signs and symptoms are not enough to know whether they have cancer. If your health care provider suspects cancer you will need more tests, such as x-rays, blood tests, or a biopsy. In most cases a biopsy is the only way to be sure whether cancer is present.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the 3 main types of cancer treatment. A person with cancer may have any or all of these treatments. In choosing a treatment plan, the most important factors are generally the type of cancer and the stage (amount) of the cancer. Other factors to consider include the person’s overall health, the likely side effects of the treatment, and the probability of curing the cancer, controlling it to extend life, or easing symptoms.
Doctors use chemotherapy or “chemo” drugs to kill cancer cells. Usually, the drugs are given intravenously (IV or into a vein) or taken as a pill by mouth. Chemo drugs travel throughout the body in the bloodstream. They can reach cancer cells that may have spread away from the tumor.
Radiation therapy is treatment with high energy rays (such as x-rays) to kill or shrink cancer cells. The radiation may come from outside the body, called external radiation, or from radioactive materials placed right into the tumor (internal or implant radiation). Getting external radiation is a lot like getting an x-ray.
Other kinds of treatment you might hear about include targeted therapy, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, and immunotherapy. Hormone therapy is another type of treatment that’s sometimes used to treat certain kinds of cancer.
Doctors consider each patient as an individual with personal preferences, and then make recommendations based on things like their own personal experience, current research, the goal of treatment (cure or control), and current cancer treatment guidelines .
Short-term (and often treatable) side effects of chemo can include things like nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, hair loss, and mouth sores. Because chemo can damage the blood-making cells in the bone marrow, patients may have low blood cell counts
Radiation treatments are much like x-rays and are not painful. The most common side effects are skin irritation in the treatment area and fatigue. Fatigue is a feeling of extreme tiredness and low energy that doesn’t get better with rest. It often lasts for many weeks after treatment ends. Other side effects can happen, too, depending on what part of the body is being treated.
Some people think that remission means the cancer has been cured, but this isn’t always the case. Remission is a period of time when the cancer is responding to treatment or is under control.
Many cancers can be cured, but not all of them and not always. There is always a possibility of reoccurrence