Providing Helpful Assistance to Cancer Patients

While learning that a family member or a friend has cancer is often overwhelming, there are several ways to help without offending the patient by becoming overly involved in his or her diagnosis. From providing emotional support and active, in-home assistance to offering advice or resources at the patient’s request, making oneself available is key when a loved one is facing a battle with cancer.

Although offering emotional support to recently diagnosed cancer patients can be tricky business, the sentiment is almost universally welcome. Depending on the personality of the individual with cancer, support may range from holding his or her hand when it all becomes too much to deal with to spending time together talking about family, mutual friends, work and anything but cancer; the idea is to simply be available to provide something that he or she needs, regardless of whether it involves discussing the disease or pretending it doesn’t exist for a few hours.

Cancer treatment takes a lot of energy and robs patients of their ability to manage their lives normally; when this happens, the best support may come in the form of cooking a meal for the patient’s family, tidying his or her home or even taking the kids for a couple of days at a time. The type of assistance does not matter as long as it is useful and welcome.

A common complaint from cancer patients describes well-meaning friends who go overboard when it comes to advising the patient on treatment, his or her prognosis or even on life after cancer. Even health professionals are guilty of talking only about cancer after learning of the diagnosis; by sharing information only when asked, the patient will not feel bombarded with constant conversations about the disease. Finally, those who want to provide something tangible to a recently diagnosed friend without overwhelming them may want to consider putting together a gift basket. Uplifting books for cancer patients, favorite movies, a selection of teas or coffees and other items that the individual will welcome come together nicely to create a gift that is not entirely focused on the disease.

The most important part of supporting a loved one with cancer is focusing on his or her needs. Offering only assistance that is welcome will provide a cancer patient with a well-deserved break from the constant focus on his or her illness.

How to Prevent Cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in most countries, including the Philippines. What makes it difficult for Filipinos to get this kind of illness is that they don’t have the money to pay for treatments, or the truth in the matter is that many of them particularly the poor and indigent people have less knowledge about Cancer and can’t even afford to get them screened while early.

To make matters worse is that healthcare is limited and expensive that’s most of them would just endure the early stage and then that’s the time they’ll attend to their sickness when they are already suffering from pain. Cancer is a deadly disease, you can acquire it genetically, but you can still prevent cancer if you value your health.

Prohibit yourself from smoking

I know smoking can be cool especially when you are out with friends, smoking is carcinogenic, that means it is full of toxins that can ruin your body in any way possible. If cancer runs from your family, you might as well think twice because once you started smoking, it can be difficult to give up and that means your health is at stake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Keep your distance with smokers

Puffing some cigarette is harmful enough how much more if you are inhaling the fumes from the smokers themselves. Second smoking is ten times more toxic than smoking itself. Cut the bullshit by reasoning out that you are exposed to smokers anyway so why not just puff a cigarette. If you are going to do that then you are going to die early.

Exercise

Jog, swim, do a cardio, exercising is good for you. It will not only keep you slim and physically fit but exercising means you are removing the toxins out of your body by sweating. Exercising also increases your metabolism, which means all your waste is washed out rapidly. Just remember to drink plenty of fluids while doing so.

Eat healthy

With the number of fast food restaurants and instant foods available in the market, no wonder more and more people are getting cancer. Foods that are sealed with preservatives exposes us to carcinogens, the more we eat these stuffs, the more we take in toxins in our body. Stop eating those comfort foods and eat organic foods instead.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells originating within the colon tissue. This includes both the rectum and the colon. Not including skin cancers, this type of cancer has been the third most common in the U.S and the second leading death cause related to cancer.

Important Facts About Colon Cancer

  • Of all cases of colorectal cancers, one-third is seen in the rectum, while the remaining have been found in the colon.
  • Detecting colon cancer in its early stages increases the probability of treating the disease while decreasing the need for surgery.
  • Screening for this type of cancer has increased in the U.S., which may have contributed to a decrease in colon cancer cases.
  • The risks of colon cancer increases for people over 40. Screening should be done for these individuals. Regardless of the risk factors, roughly 80 percent of colon cancer patients are aged 40 and above.
  • Colon cancer risks are similar in both men and women.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Usually, colon cancer starts from the adenomatous polyps-clusters of the abnormal cells found within the glands wrapping the interior colon wall. As the abnormal growth progresses over time, they degenerate and lead to adenocarcinomas. This condition generally runs in the family, which case may be termed as familial adenomatous polyposis.

Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer is another colorectal cancer syndrome that runs in the family. Here, the cancer develops despite the absence of precursor polyps. Such condition is associated with a specific genetic abnormality, which could be determined with genetic screening.

Other factors that increase colon cancer risks include:

  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer (past and present)
  • History of colorectal cancer in the family

For people whose first-degree relative has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the risk increases by roughly three times. This increases further per family member affected with the disease, particularly those diagnosed at an early age.

Tests for Identifying Colon Cancer

  1. Digital Rectal Exam. A DRE is where the physician a gloved finger inside the rectum to identify possible abnormalities. Around 10 percent of colon cancers are detected through this test.
  2. Fecal Occult Blood Test. The FOBT is where a stool sample is taken to check for blood. Tumors could bleed at any time. This test aims to identify if blood is present in the stool, which could determine whether the patient has colon cancer or another condition. While this test could be negative, further testing may be done in ruling out colon cancer.
  3. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. A soft, fiberoptic scope is inserted inside the anus to determine if tumors are present in within the rectal walls and the colon’s sigmoid part. Almost all rectal and approximately half of the colon tumors are detected in this test.
  4. Colonoscopy. A more comprehensive version of the sigmoidoscopy, this procedure requires the patient to take medications for relaxation. A scope with a small camera is then inserted into the anus to view images inside the colon and identify signs of the disease, polyps, or inflammation. Polyps could be taken out in this procedure, and the physician could also take samples of suspicious parts for lab testing.

Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer

Chemotherapy. This is a type of treatment involving the administration of certain medications to kill cancer cells. This option is made for people affected with advanced stages of the disease that may have already spread throughout various body parts.

Surgery. In this procedure, the section where the cancer is present is surgically removed. This serves as the initial treatment option for patients affected with the disease.

Radiation Therapy. This treatment option is where radiation is applied to get rid of cancer cell and prevent them from further developing. This may be given as preparation for surgery, usually for individuals with rectal cancer. Tumors may be shrunk in this process and significantly decrease the chances of cancer from spreading.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells originating within the colon tissue. This includes both the rectum and the colon. Not including skin cancers, this type of cancer has been the third most common in the U.S and the second leading death cause related to cancer.

Important Facts About Colon Cancer

  • Of all cases of colorectal cancers, one-third is seen in the rectum, while the remaining have been found in the colon.
  • Detecting colon cancer in its early stages increases the probability of treating the disease while decreasing the need for surgery.
  • Screening for this type of cancer has increased in the U.S., which may have contributed to a decrease in colon cancer cases.
  • The risks of colon cancer increases for people over 40. Screening should be done for these individuals. Regardless of the risk factors, roughly 80 percent of colon cancer patients are aged 40 and above.
  • Colon cancer risks are similar in both men and women.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Usually, colon cancer starts from the adenomatous polyps-clusters of the abnormal cells found within the glands wrapping the interior colon wall. As the abnormal growth progresses over time, they degenerate and lead to adenocarcinomas. This condition generally runs in the family, which case may be termed as familial adenomatous polyposis.

Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer is another colorectal cancer syndrome that runs in the family. Here, the cancer develops despite the absence of precursor polyps. Such condition is associated with a specific genetic abnormality, which could be determined with genetic screening.

Other factors that increase colon cancer risks include:

  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer (past and present)
  • History of colorectal cancer in the family

For people whose first-degree relative has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the risk increases by roughly three times. This increases further per family member affected with the disease, particularly those diagnosed at an early age.

Tests for Identifying Colon Cancer

  1. Digital Rectal Exam. A DRE is where the physician a gloved finger inside the rectum to identify possible abnormalities. Around 10 percent of colon cancers are detected through this test.
  2. Fecal Occult Blood Test. The FOBT is where a stool sample is taken to check for blood. Tumors could bleed at any time. This test aims to identify if blood is present in the stool, which could determine whether the patient has colon cancer or another condition. While this test could be negative, further testing may be done in ruling out colon cancer.
  3. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. A soft, fiberoptic scope is inserted inside the anus to determine if tumors are present in within the rectal walls and the colon’s sigmoid part. Almost all rectal and approximately half of the colon tumors are detected in this test.
  4. Colonoscopy. A more comprehensive version of the sigmoidoscopy, this procedure requires the patient to take medications for relaxation. A scope with a small camera is then inserted into the anus to view images inside the colon and identify signs of the disease, polyps, or inflammation. Polyps could be taken out in this procedure, and the physician could also take samples of suspicious parts for lab testing.

Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer

Chemotherapy. This is a type of treatment involving the administration of certain medications to kill cancer cells. This option is made for people affected with advanced stages of the disease that may have already spread throughout various body parts.

Surgery. In this procedure, the section where the cancer is present is surgically removed. This serves as the initial treatment option for patients affected with the disease.

Radiation Therapy. This treatment option is where radiation is applied to get rid of cancer cell and prevent them from further developing. This may be given as preparation for surgery, usually for individuals with rectal cancer. Tumors may be shrunk in this process and significantly decrease the chances of cancer from spreading.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the breast tissue as a malignant tumor. The two major types of breast cancer are ductal and lobular carcinoma, each of which’s name is derived from whether the cancer cells originated from the ducts or the lobules. While breast cancer generally affects women, this could also be found in men.

When Should You Seek A Doctor?

Symptoms may not be visible in the early stage of breast cancer. Most people only find themselves affected by the condition after being tested in a mammography. A breast lump found around the armpit or in the upper collarbone may also be a sign of breast cancer. Nipple inversion, skin changes, and breast discharge may also occur as breast cancer symptoms.

Once these symptoms are experienced, it is important that you immediately seek a medical professional to have yourself checked for breast cancer. In some cases, these symptoms could be another condition and not breast cancer. To diagnose breast cancer, the doctor may require a breast ultrasound and a biopsy to determine if the cells in the breast are cancerous or not.

What are the Tests for Diagnosing Breast Cancer?

Initially, the doctor will check for abnormalities or lumps in both breasts and in different positions. When the doctor feels the need for further testing, you may undergo one or more of the following exams.

  •  Mammogram. This breast cancer-screening tool checks for cancer cells through x-ray. It is advised for women over 40 to have a mammogram exam at least once a year. The results could be obtained after 2 weeks.
  • Breast ultrasound. This type of ultrasound determines if the abnormality in the breast cells is composed of solid mass or a cyst filled with fluid, which also determines if the condition is cancerous or benign.
  • Biopsy. In this procedure, a small amount of breast tissue is extracted to determine the presence of cancer cells through lab testing. This also helps detect the grade of the breast cancer and other types of cells that are involved in the cancer.
  • Breast MRI. A magnetic resonance imaging machine utilizes radio and magnetic waves to produce images of the inside of the breast. Before this procedure is done, dye is injected through the breast. An MRI will also help detect if cancer cells are also present in the other breast and the area of the breast affected by cancer.

What are the Treatments for Breast Cancer?

Local and systemic treatments for breast cancer are available. For local treatments, the cancer cells are destroyed or removed through surgery or radiation therapy. Surgery could be lumpectomy or mastectomy. In radiation therapy, high radiation levels are used to eliminate cancer cells and prevent their development while keeping healthy cell damage to a minimum.

For systemic treatments, the cancer cells throughout the entire system are controlled or destroyed using any of the following procedures:

Hormone therapy. Also termed as endocrine therapy, the patient takes medications to prevent the hormones from facilitating cancer cell growth. Post- and pre-menopausal women are given tamoxifen, a drug that blocks estrogen activity. Aromasin, Arimidex, and Femara may also be given to post-menopausal women. Vaginal dryness and hot flashes may be experienced as side effects to these drugs.

Chemotherapy. This is often required after the patient has undergone mastectomy or lumpectomy. In this treatment type, drugs are given to the patient either orally or intravenously. This treatment is administered in cycles, in which a recovery stage the follows. The entire treatment procedure lasts from a few months to a whole year, which period will depend on the medications given.

Biological Therapy. This treatment utilizes the immune system to eliminate cancer cells with high HER2 levels through medications such as Tykerb, Perjeta, or Herceptin.