Category: Diseases and Conditions

January 21, 2015

SmokeWhat is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the disease when cells in one or both of the lungs undergo abnormal changes and grow out of control. These abnormal cells cannot perform their regular function and reduce the lung’s ability to deliver oxygen to the blood. Tumors may also form as a result of the abnormal growth. In addition, similar to other cancers, lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body as the disease processes. According to 2008 statistics by the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most prevalent cancer type in men and women (after prostate cancer and breast cancer, respectively), and it is the number one killer among all the cancer types.


What causes lung cancer?

Cigarette smoking is found to be responsible for the majority of lung cancer cases. Similar to other cancer types, lung cancer takes time to develop. Therefore, although lung cancer is often diagnosed among older people, the cause of the disease usually originates from a much younger age. For this reason, young people who smoke may not immediately see the damages done to their lungs, but they may have to suffer severe consequences later in life.


Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Secondhand smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Other lung diseases, such as tuberculosis
  • Genetic inheritance/ family history of lung cancer
  • Exposure to asbestos (a material used in the construction of older buildings)
  • Inhalation of radon gas (a gas released by soil that contains uranium)
  • Exposure to other harmful chemicals



Symptoms may vary from person to person, but the common symptoms include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Recurrent lung problems, such as inflammation and infection.
  • Increased amount of sputum (mucus)
  • Blood in coughing


Lung cancer is usually treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these. The specific treatment plan depends on the type of lung cancer, stage of the disease, as well as the patient’s health condition.



  • Don’t smoke!! Current and former smokers have a much higher chance of developing lung cancer.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Avoid exposure to radon and asbestos. Have your home tested if needed.
  • Avoid exposure to other harmful chemicals
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly



January 21, 2015

What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer is the disease when cells in the liver become abnormal and grow out of control. A tumor or tumors may form as a result of abnormal cell growth. The disease can also lead to liver failure, the complete loss of liver function. Similar to the other cancer types, liver cancer can spread to and affect other organs in the body.


What causes liver cancer?

Liver cancer affects people of all ages and ethnic groups, but there are several factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing this disease:

  • Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis means scarring of the liver. Whenever the liver tries to heal itself from a disease or injury, scar tissue may form as a result and reduce the liver’s ability to perform its function. Cirrhosis is irreversible, and it is linked to the majority of liver cancer cases.
  • Hepatitis B or C: These are chronic infections of the liver and often lead to cirrhosis and loss of liver function. Over many years, these infections can cause liver cancer.
  • Family history of liver cancer
  • Other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity, and exposure to harmful chemicals.



Liver cancer usually does not show symptoms until the later stages, and this makes early detection difficult. When symptoms do occur, they commonly include:

  • Pain around the liver area (the right side of the upper abdomen)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)



Liver cancer is often treated by surgery (to remove the cancerous tissues), liver transplant, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these methods. Treatment plans usually depend on the stage of the disease and the health condition of the patient.



You can significantly reduce your chance of developing liver cancer by taking these steps to protect yourself against hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, and other liver illness.

  • Receive vaccination against hepatitis B
  • Because hepatitis B and C can be sexually transmitted, you can protect yourself by learning about the practice of safe sex, including the use of condom every time and to limit the number of sexual partners.
  • Hepatitis B and C are transmitted via blood. You should avoid sharing razor blades, toothbrushes, needles, and other blood contaminated items.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • If you are taking medications, ask your doctor about any potential effects on your liver.



January 21, 2015

glucose meterWhat Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the condition when your blood glucose—also called blood sugar—is too high. Glucose is a form of sugar that your body uses for fuel. When you eat, most of the food is turned into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream and circulates around your body. An organ near the stomach called the pancreas produces insulin, which helps glucose get from your blood into your cells. Cells take up the glucose and turn it into energy. When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or the insulin produced does not function properly. As a result, glucose cannot get into the cells and begins to accumulate in the bloodstream.


Why is it Important for Teens to Know About Diabetes?

According to data published in 2006, over 150,000 young people under age 20 in the United States have diabetes. Among this group, about 80% are aged 10-19 years. As obesity rates in children continue to soar, diabetes is becoming more common in teens. Without proper treatment, diabetes puts an individual at higher risks of infection, nerve damage, heart disease, eye problem, and kidney failure.


What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms vary from person to person. Some may show no symptoms at all. The most common are:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Frequent hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Tingling or numbness in feet
  • Itchy skin



How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

A blood glucose test can detect diabetes. A normal fasting blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dl. Fasting means no food intake for at least 8 hours. A level between 100-125-mg/dl signals pre-diabetes. A fasting glucose of 126 mg/dl or above on two occasions confirm a diagnosis of diabetes. People diagnosed with diabetes can routinely monitor their glucose levels using a blood glucose meter. The device can be easily purchased at local pharmacies and provides a quick and convenient method for self-testing. Most insurance companies cover the meters and supplies.



What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: People with type 1 diabetes make very little or no insulin. This type of diabetes usually starts in childhood or adolescence but may occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes can be managed by daily insulin injections, a diabetic meal plan, and regular exercise.


  • Type 2 Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes make some insulin but not enough, or their bodies fail to respond to the insulin produced. Type 2 diabetes used to occur primarily in adulthood, but now more and more teens are developing type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight. For people who are overweight, losing weight can improve the body’s ability to use its insulin. People with type 2 diabetes may also need to take diabetes pills or insulin injections to treat the condition.


  • Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes appears during pregnancy and usually disappears after delivery. Many women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later on in life. Gestational diabetes can often be controlled by diet alone.



Tips for Diabetic Meal Planning:

For people with diabetes, having a properly planned diet is a crucial step in managing the condition. Here are several principles for healthy eating:

  • Eat regular meals: ideally 3 small meals with 1-2 healthy snacks daily.
  • Include foods high in fiber, such as brown rice, oats, dried beans, whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
  • Choose low-fat protein foods: lean meats, chicken breast, tofu, and egg white.
  • Avoid high-sugar foods: candies, soda, syrup, jams, juices and desserts.
  • Limit refined foods: white bread, white rice, jook (congee).
  • Avoid high-cholesterol foods: egg yolk, shrimp, squid, and organ meats.
  • Limit consumption of fast foods, fried foods, animal fats, and salty (high sodium) items.

Benefits of Exercise:

The benefits of exercise are endless. Besides helping to maintain a healthy weight, regular physical activities lower blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, strengthen your muscles and bones, and reduce your risk of other diseases. Combined with a healthy diet, routine exercise also helps to lower your need for insulin or diabetes medications. In fact, some people can manage their diabetes by diet and exercise alone.



Exercise Guidelines for People with Diabetes:

  • Always consult your health care team before starting a new exercise program.
  • Check blood glucose levels before and after a workout, to make sure your levels are neither too high nor too low. If glucose levels are too low (below 100 mg/dl) before a workout, have a snack and retest in 15 minutes. Find out from your health care provider what is the appropriate range of glucose levels for you.
  • Ask your doctor whether you need to adjust your insulin dosage before exercising to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • Keep a source of fast acting carbohydrates (e.g., glucose tablets) on you in case blood glucose levels become too low during exercise.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and breathable socks to prevent foot problems.
  • Bring a water bottle with you. Dehydration can increase blood glucose levels and affect heart function.
  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes and start with low-intensity activities.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes to cool-down after exercise.


For More Information on Diabetes:

Posted in Diseases and Conditions by CCHRC
January 21, 2015


The term “cancer” describes a group of diseases in which cells in a part of the body grow out of control. Cancer can originate from anywhere in the body and can spread to other parts of the body. Some cancers form a solid tumor but others, like cancer of the blood, do not. Cancer affects people of all ages, including children and youth. Although cancer among children and teens is rare, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease in children under 15.

Most cancers that occur in children are caused by changes in the genetic component within the body cell during early childhood.  You cannot “catch” cancer nor give it to someone else. Unlike many other diseases, there is no known way to prevent childhood cancer.


Leading Cancer Types in Children and Youth

  • Leukemia – Leukemia is the most common cancer type for this age group. It describes a group of cancers of the blood or bone marrow, caused by abnormal production of blood cells.
  • Brain and nervous system cancers – This is the second most common type of cancers for children and youth. It can lead to tumors in the cerebellum, brain stem, cerebral hemispheres, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Neuroblastoma – This cancer affects immature nerve cells and usually occurs in infancy or early childhood.
  • Wilms tumor – This cancer arises in one or both kidneys and may spread to nearby organs. It usually occurs in early childhood.
  • Lymphoma – This is a diverse group of cancers originating from the lymph tissues, such as lymph nodes, lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), and thymus.

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Cancer

If you experience any of the following symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor right away so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated. Most of the time, these symptoms may be due to reasons other than cancer.

  • Persistent fever, vision problems, headaches, nausea, joint or bone pain
  • Chronic fatigue or infections
  • Swelling or lump in the abdomen, arm pit, neck, or groin
  • Night sweats
  • Easy bruising
  • Unexplained weight loss

Common Types of Cancer Treatment

  • Surgery: Surgery can serve many purposes, including the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. To detect or confirm the presence of cancer, a small tissue sample can be removed from a suspected area. If cancer is confirmed, the tissue sample can also help identify the stage of the disease, although additional examination may be necessary. Surgery can be done to remove part or all of a tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy treats cancer by targeting fast-growing cells. However, this treatment may damage other healthy, fast-growing cells, such as those in the hair, intestine, and bone marrow. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, appetite changes, loss of hair, suppressed immunity, digestive problems and others. Chemotherapy can be given by mouth, or by injection into the vein.
  • Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy works by destroying the genetic material of the cancer cells so they will not be able to grow. Radiation can be delivered from an external machine or from small radioactive materials implanted into the tissues near the cancer site. Similar to chemotherapy, this treatment may cause damage to healthy cells. Depending on the area being treated, side effects vary.
  • Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant (BMT or PBSCT): These procedures involve the transplantation of blood-forming stem cells found in the bone marrow (the soft material inside the bones) or in the peripheral bloodstream. Stem cells divide and grow into mature blood cells, which serve important functions in the body. Blood-forming stem cells can be damaged by diseases as well as by chemotherapy and radiation. The purpose of BMT and PBSCT is to replace the damaged stem cells with healthy ones. Stem cell transplant is most commonly used in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma.


For More Information on Childhood Cancer:

October 22, 2014


Asthma is a chronic airway disease. It occurs when the airways in your lungs become inflamed and constricted, causing breathing problems. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A wheezing sound when breathing
  • Feeling of tightness or pain on the chest
  • Excessive mucus production
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing

What Are “Asthma Attacks”?

Asthma attacks are episodes of increased asthma symptoms characterized by tightening of airways and difficulty breathing. An attack can start suddenly, and the level of severity varies each time and from person to person. Mild attacks are more common and usually go away in minutes after taking quick-relief medications. In more severe cases, the person may become breathless, and the situation can be life threatening. People with asthma should discuss with doctors how asthma attacks should be handled and are recommended to carry quick-relief medications (usually inhalers) at all times.


Who Gets Asthma?

About one third of asthma sufferers are under the age of 18. The cause of asthma is not fully understood, but a number of risk factors are found to increase an individual’s chance of developing this disease:

  • A family history of asthma
  • Frequent respiratory infections as a child
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Living in an environment with severe air pollution
  • Frequent exposure to harmful chemicals


What Are Asthma Triggers?

People with asthma have inflamed airways that are sensitive to many things that do not bother other people. Staying away from these triggers helps to prevent asthma attacks:

  • Allergens: dust, dust mites, pollens, molds, and household pets
  • Irritants in the air: smoke from cigarettes, wood fires, or charcoal grills; strong odors from household sprays, paint, gasoline, or perfumes.
  • Food items that you are allergic to.
  • Respiratory infections such as cold, flue, sore throats, and sinus infections
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Strong emotions such as anger, fear, or excitement


Tips for Living with Asthma:

  • Keep your home environment clean.
  • Identify and avoid contact with your asthma triggers.
  • Take your medications as prescribed. If you use an inhaler, make sure you know how to use it correctly.
  • Recognize the symptoms of asthma attacks. The procedure to handle asthma attacks may vary depending on your medical condition. Ask your doctor for instructions.
  • Always keep quick-relief medications with you.
  • Monitor your asthma by using a “peak flow meter” to check your lung function.
  • Let your doctor know if you think your asthma is worsening.
  • Don’t let asthma keep you away from the sports or activities you love. A number of Olympic and professional athletes have asthma. Talk to your doctor about exercise guidelines.


For More Information on Asthma:

October 22, 2014


Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood cells where an abnormally large amount of white blood cells are produced.  It is the most common cancer among children and adolescents, accounting for 1 out of 3 cancer cases.



When healthy, the bone marrow makes three types of blood cells:

  • Red Blood Cells – carry oxygen to all parts of the body
  • White Blood Cells – help fight off infections
  • Platelets – helps the blood clot when there is an open wound

The bone marrow of persons with leukemia makes many immature white blood cells called blasts. When a large number of blasts are produced, they crowd out the bone marrow from producing normal blood cells. This can lead to anemia, infection and easy bleeding.



Currently, there are no known ways to prevent childhood leukemia. Leukemia is NOT linked to lifestyle risk factors such as diet and exercise



There are several types of leukemia, depending on how rapidly it develops and which type of white blood cell is affected. Acute leukemia progresses rapidly if untreated, while chronic leukemia is very slow and may take months or years to develop.

The two acute forms of leukemia most common in children are:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL): Accounts for about 70% of leukemia cases. ALL is most common in early childhood, peaking at ages 2-4.
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML): Accounts for about 30% of leukemia cases. AML is more common among children under the age of 2 and teenagers.



  • Exposure to high levels of radiation
  • Mother’s exposure to X-ray during pregnancy
  • Having a genetic disease, such as Down syndrome
  • Having a sibling with leukemia



  • Fever and night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Coughing
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Swollen belly
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck, or groin
  • Frequent infections
  • Extreme fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite



Since symptoms of leukemia are similar to symptoms of other diseases, only your doctor can confirm if you have leukemia through medical tests, medical history and physical exam. Samples of your blood, spinal fluid, and bone marrow will be taken and checked for abnormalities. In addition to blood tests, imaging tests such as Chest X-Rays, Computed tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Ultrasounds may also be ordered.



The primary treatment for leukemia is CHEMOTHERAPY, where anticancer drugs are given to kill the cancer cells.  The drugs are usually injected into the vein, and/or fluid around the brain and spinal cord. The total length of chemotherapy and follow-up treatments can last between 2-3 years. Although chemotherapy kills leukemia cells, it also harms normal cells. Some possible side effects are:

  • hair loss
  • mouth sores
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased risk of infections (because of low white blood cell counts)
  • bruising and bleeding easily (from low platelet counts)
  • fatigue (caused by low red blood cell counts)

In addition to chemotherapy, sometimes RADIATION and STEM CELL TRANSPLANT may be used. Radiation uses high energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells.  In stem cell transplant, healthy stem cells from a matching donor are introduced into the body to make new healthy blood cells.

With recent advances in treatment, children with leukemia are living longer into adulthood. The remission and cure rates for childhood leukemia continue to rise and the outlook for children diagnosed with leukemia is better than ever.


National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society