Tag: radiation therapy

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:

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

Treatment:

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.

 

Prevention:

  • 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

 

Resources:

January 21, 2015

Kent1-449x560Overview

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: