Cancer is a common and deadly disease, and it's surrounded by myths. There are certain basics a patient needs to know when they're confronted with a cancer diagnosis; everything from clinical facts and practices to learning how to navigate the health insurance bureaucracy.
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Barium SwallowA barium swallow is a test used to determine causes of painful or difficulty swallowing, and diseases such as GERD, hiatal hernia, ulcers, dysphagia, tumors, or polyps of the esophagus and stomach. Risks of barium swallow include an allergic reaction to the barium drink, constipation, or aspiration of barium into the windpipe.The barium swallow procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Bladder CancerBladder cancer originates within the bladder, and may have several different causes, including smoking, workplace chemical exposures, diet, and the herb Aristolochia fangchi. Though there are several types of bladder cancer, cancer is most likey to develop in the interior lining of the bladder. Treatment includes a variety of options, including radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and biological therapy.
Bone Marrow BiopsyA bone marrow biopsy is performed for any of the following reasons: to evaluate bone marrow function or to determine the cause of some infections; diagnose tumors; determine how far a disease, such as lymphoma, has progressed; and to evaluate the effectiveness of chemotherapy or other bone marrow active drugs.
Brain CancerBrain cancer may develop in primary brain cells, in cells that form other brain components, or from the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body that have spread to the brain. Symptoms include headache, seizures, weakness, and nausea and vomiting. Treatment depends upon the patient's age, overall health, and the size, type, location, and grade of the tumor.
Breast CancerBreast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women. Symptoms and signs of breast cancer include breast lumps, nipple discharge or inversion, or changes in the breast's skin. Treatment typically involves some type of surgery and depends upon the staging of the cancer, the tumor type, and the person's health.
Cancer of the Mouth and ThroatCancer of the mouth and throat may look like an ulcer or a sore on the tongue, lips, inside lining of the cheeks, and other structures. Tobacco use, sun exposure, and human papillomavirus (HPV) are just some risk factors for mouth and throat cancer. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy. The prognosis of mouth and throat cancer depends on many factors.
Cervical CancerCervical cancer can be cured if it is detected and treated early. Risk factors for cervical cancer include HPV infection, smoking, oral contraceptive use, and having a weakened immune system. Treatment for cervical cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Chronic PainChronic pain is pain that persists for a period of six months or longer, and is the result of a long-standing medical condition(s) or damage to the body. Common sources of chronic pain include headaches, back pain, and arthritis. There are several types of pain including general somatic pain, visceral pain, bone pain, muscle cramps, neuropathy, circulatory problems, and headache pain. Chronic pain may be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Colon CancerThe human colon is a muscular, tube-shaped organ measuring about 4 feet long. It extends from the end of your small bowel to your anus. Most colon cancers start as adenomatous polyps that turn into adenocarcinomas. Colon cancer (bowel cancer) is typically diagnosed through a colonoscopy or other type of endoscopic procedures. Treatment methods include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
ColonoscopyColonoscopy is a procedure used to view the inside of the colon. Reasons for colonoscopy is to detect or diagnose diseases of the colon, for example, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, other types of colitis, colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticulitis, and other bowel and rectal diseases. Risks for colonoscopy include colon perforation, infection, or bleeding.
CT ScanWhat is a CT scan? Computerized tomography scans (CT scans) are important diagnostic tools for a variety of medical conditions. Some areas of the body frequently evaluated by CT scans include the brain, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and sinuses. The CT scan process uses X-rays and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
Endometrial CancerUterine (endometrial) cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the U.S. Read about staging, symptoms, prognosis, risk factors and treatment. Treatment may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Cancer of the EsophagusTwo types of tumors affect the esophagus: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Symptoms of esophageal cancer include difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), weight loss, central chest pain, pain upon swallowing, vomiting, chronic cough, and symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding. Esophageal cancer is treated by surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Liver BiopsyLiver biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from the liver. Reasons for liver biopsy is to diagnose disease, monitor disease, and monitor the effectiveness of therapy. Risk of liver biopsy include hematoma, bleeding, striking another organ, and tumor tracking. Types of liver biopsy include percutaneous, transjugular, and intraoperative liver biopsy.
Understanding Lung Cancer MedicationsMedical therapy options for lung cancer include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs used for lung cancer, whether to help prevent relapse or for potentially life-prolonging palliative care.
LymphomaLymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. Symptoms include fevers, chills, itching, enlarged spleen, and swollen lymph nodes. Treatment depends upon the type and stage of the lymphoma, in addition to the age and overall health of the individual.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abdomen, and pelvis. MRI is a very safe procedure; sedation may be used for infants, small children, or adults who are claustrophobic.
MammogramMammogram is a special X-ray of the breast used to detect breast cancer early. There are few risks associated with mammography. Mammograms may show suspicious areas of the breast, white spots, and microcalcifications. Risk factors for breast cancer include age, genetic predisposition, family history, medical history, fibrocystic breast disease, therapeutic radiation exposure, menstrual cycle, previous pregnancies, hormone therapy for menopause, oral contraceptive use, breastfeeding, alcohol, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
MesotheliomaMesothelioma refers to malignant, or cancerous, tumors of the mesothelial cells. Asbestos exposure is the main risk factor for developing pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing, chest pain and discomfort, cough, fever, weight loss, and easy fatigability. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
MyelomaMyeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells of the blood. Symptoms include early osteoporosis, hypercalcemia, hyperviscosity of the blood, low red and white blood cell counts, low platelet count, cryoglobulinemia, and amyloidosis. Tests to diagnose multiple myeloma include blood and urine tests, bone marrow examination, X-rays, MRIs, PET scans, and regular monitoring. Multiple myeloma treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation, medications, and stem cell transplantation. Life expectancy for multiple myeloma is a 30% five-year survival rate.
Night SweatsNight sweats refer to excess sweating occurring during the night. Causes include menopause, infections such as TB, appendicitis and diverticulitis, cancer; medications like aspirin, other NSAIDs, and antidepressants, diabetes, low testosterone, and hormone disorders. Depending on the cause, in addition to sweating at night, symptoms may include flushing, fever, or chills. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Non-Small-Cell Lung CancerNon-small-cell lung cancer is one of two types of lung cancer. Non-small-cell lung cancer symptoms and signs include coughing, shortness of breath, spitting blood, chest pain, pneumonia, and other respiratory symptoms. Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery. The prognosis and life expectancy are good if the disease is caught in the early stages.
Ovarian CancerOvarian cancer occurs when tumors in the female reproductive organs, the ovaries, grow out of control. Doctors aren't sure what causes ovarian cancer, but heredity plays a role. Symptoms include: Pelvic pain or pressure, Pain with intercourse, Abdominal swelling and bloating, Urinary frequency, Constipation, Ascites (collection of fluid in the abdomen), Loss of appetite, Feeling full after eating little, Gas and/or diarrhea, Nausea and vomiting, and Abnormalities in menstruation. Treatment may include surgery followed by chemotherapy.
Pancreatic CancerPancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, one of the most non-responsive to treatment, and one of the hardest to diagnose; in one recent year, 84 % of those diagnosed in the U.S. died of the disease. It affects the pancreas, which is a crucial abdominal organ that produces insulin to maintain blood sugar, and it performs other functions crucial to digestion and metabolism.
Pap SmearA Pap smear test can detect certain viral infections that are known to cause cervical cancer. There are few risks during a Pap smear procedure. Types of abnormal Pap test results include atypical squamous cells; atypical grandular cells; endocervical adenocarcinoma in situ; low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion; high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. Pap smear is recommended even for women in menopause or who are postmenopausal.
Prostate CancerProstate cancer often has no symptoms. Screening includes a digital rectal examination, PSA, and urinalysis. Treatment depends upon age, the patient's medical condition, and whether the tumor has metastasized. Risk factors for prostate cancer include advanced age, race, family history, infection with STDs, high-fat diet, and chemical exposure.
Renal Cell CancerThe kidneys, which filter excess water and waste from the blood, are susceptible to a number of different types of cancer, including renal cell cancer. This renal carcinoma develops in the small tubes in the kidneys' filtering system. Renal cell cancer may have a variety of environmental or hereditary causes, including smoking, obesity, occupational hazards and others. Renal cell cancer does not typically present symptoms early on, but symptoms include pain, blood in the urine, fatigue, malaise, night sweats, fevers and others.
Sentinel Node BiopsyA sentinal node biopsy is the surgical removal of one to five lymph nodes closest to a cancerous tumor -- usually breast or skin cancer (melanoma) -- in order to figure out the stage of the cancer, that is, how advanced the cancer is.
SigmoidoscopySigmoidoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor looks in your large intestine using a long, flexible fiberoptic camera. This is a common test for cancers and other diseases of the colon.
Skin BiopsyA skin biopsy is a test in which a doctor cuts a small sample of a patient's skin to diagnose a wide range of conditions, including bacterial or fungal infections, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other skin problems.
Skin CancerSkin cancer, the most common cancer, happens when skin cells start growing out of control, usually as a result of too much ultraviolet light exposure from the sun or tanning booths. Of the three types of skin cancer -- basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma -- melanoma is the deadliest. Surgery is the most common treatment for skin cancer.
Small-Cell Lung CancerWhen cells of the lung start growing rapidly in an uncontrolled manner, the condition is called lung cancer. Lung cancer can affect any part of the lung. Small-cell lung cancer is one of two major types of lung cancer, the other being non-small-cell lung cancer.
Stomach CancerStomach cancer is found in the upper digestive tract and usually begins in the lining of the stomach organ. Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of stomach cancer, and this kind of cancer tends to spread or metastasize into the adjoining tissues and organs. Risk factors include: Smoking, a diet low in fruit and vegetables, being male, a diet high in smoked and processed meats, and a prior diagnosis of pernicious anemia Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Understanding X-xaysX-Rays are a form of radiation used to image solid forms inside the body. X-rays are administered by radiologists for many different routine tests, such as mammograms, checking for broken bones, upper GI series, and dental exams, among others. Radiologists carefully monitor the X-ray equipment to make sure the patient receives the smallest dose of radiation possible.
Expert Views and News
- Increased Cancer Incidence and 'Overdiagnosis'
- Rise in GI Cancers in Younger Adults
- Overall Cancer Mortality Continues to Decline
- Cancer Drugs Dominate Top 10 Best-Selling Drugs
- US Life Expectancy Up for First Time in 4 Years
- Half of US Cancer Survivors Drink Alcohol
- Acupuncture Associated With Cancer Pain Reduction
- Aspirin in Older Adults Linked to Fewer Deaths
- FDA Investigates Metformin for Possible Carcinogen
- Earpods for Cell Phones — Are There Health Risks?
- Ultraprocessed Food Tied to Higher Mortality
- Skipping Cancer Screening, Early Mortality
- How Microsoft Aims to Help Solve Problem of Cancer
- FDA Approves Novel 'Tissue Agnostic' Cancer Drug
- Does Breastfeeding Reduce Cancer Risk?
- HPV Vaccine Uptake Low Despite Need for Action
- Eating More Organic Food Tied to Lower Cancer Risk
- Cancer Bell Ringing Angers Some Who Can Only Watch
- Regular Aspirin Use Curbs Risk of Cancers
- Nobel Prize Goes to Cancer Immunotherapy Pioneers
- Breath Tests for Cancer Detection
- Vitamin D Does Not Prevent Cancer: Study
- FDA Recalls Some Valsartan Drugs Due to Impurity
- Delivery Device Sends 'Chemosurgery' to Brainstem
- Cancer Patient Difficulty in Getting Opioids
- Cancer Burden on the Rise in Much of the World
- Cancer Risk in Old Age and Immune System Decline
- Cancer Vaccine Works 'Startlingly Well' in Model
- Steady Increase in Eyelid Cancer Found in England
- Severe Gum Disease Increases Cancer, Mortality
- For Five Cancers, Screening Skews Risk Factors
- Cancer Survivors Age More Quickly
- Most US Adults Unaware of Two Major Cancer Risks
- Breast Cancer and Underarm Lymph Nodes Cancer
- 'Spare Tire' Increases Cancer Risk More Than BMI
- Ischemic Stroke May Hint at Underlying Cancer
- Device Detects Cancer During Surgery in 10 Seconds
- Statins Again Shown to Improve Odds After Cancer D
- Gum Disease Significantly Increases Risk for Many
- Cancer Diagnosis Now 'More Common Than Marriage'
- Raised Platelets a Red Flag for Cancer?
- CRISPR: Is It Possible to Remove Disease From DNA?
- Tests May Bring New Wave of Cancer Detection
- Cancer Mutations Mostly Due to 'Bad Luck'
- Universal Cancer Vaccine -- Still a Pipe Dream?
- Changes in Sperm After Chemotherapy
- Scalp Cooling to Prevent Chemo Hair Loss
- Chemo Overused in Younger Colon Cancer Patients?
- Higher Risk for Five Leading Causes of Death
- Doctor/Patient Disconnect on Cancer Prevention
- Many Do Not Engage in Regular Physical Activity
- Exercise May Cut Alcohol Health Risks
- Oxygen Can Impair Cancer Immunotherapy: Study
- Pembrolizumab Approved for Head and Neck Cancer
- Biden Issues Challenge to Speed Cancer Discoveries
- Rare Cancers May Masquerade as ADHD in Children
- President Obama Touts Cancer Research Goals
- Most Cancers Stem From Avoidable Things
- First Emergency Treatment for Chemotherapy Overdos
- Meat and Cancer: What's the Risk?
- Jimmy Carter: Melanoma Has Spread to Brain
- Former President Carter's Cancer: FAQ
- Unusual Capsule Could Help Spot Esophagus Cancer
- Immune Drugs Show Promise Against More Cancers
- Can the ‘Chemical Soup' We Live in Cause Cancer?
- Recommended Cancer Screening Tests
- Superbugs: What They Are and How You Get Them
- Does This Common Pesticide Cause Cancer?
- Biosimilar Drugs: FAQ
- Cancer Rates Higher in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
- Single Blood Test Could Speed Cancer Diagnosis
- Immunotherapy Brings New Hope to Cancer Fight
- The Future of Cancer Detection
- Woman Skips Round of Chemo to Help Cancer Research
- Drug Determines Extent and Severity of Cancer
- FAQ: Vitamins to Prevent Cancer, Heart Disease?
- Genetic Link With Normal Fetal Growth and Cancer
- Cancer Causes
- Smoking May Worsen Cancer Pain
Cancer: What You Need to Know Topic Guide - Visuals
Slideshows, Pictures, Images, and Quizzes:
Cancer: What You Need to Know Topic Guide - Medications and Vitamins
Dasatinib is a cancer medicine that slows the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body...learn more »
Darbepoetin alfa is a man-made form of a protein that helps your body produce red blood cells...learn more »
Epirubicin is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body...learn more »
Valrubicin is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body...learn more »
Topotecan is used to treat ovarian cancer, small cell lung cancer, and certain types of cervical cancer.learn more »
Doxorubicin liposomal is used to treat ovarian cancer, AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma, and multiple myeloma...learn more »
Estradiol is a form of estrogen, a female sex hormone that regulates many processes in the body...learn more »
Filgrastim is a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help your body fight against infec...learn more »
Vincristine is cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their spread in the body...learn more »
Thiotepa is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body...learn more »
Fentanyl is an opioid medication used as part of anesthesia to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedure...learn more »
Fentanyl is an opioid pain medicine that is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain around the clock. Fentanyl transdermal is not for treating mild...learn more »
Doxorubicin is used to treat different types of cancers that affect the breast, bladder, kidneys, ovaries, thyroid, stomach, lungs, bones, nerve tissues, joi...learn more »
Dexamethasone is a steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation...learn more »
Dactinomycin is used to treat different types of cancers that affect the kidneys, uterus, testicles, bones, muscles, joints, and soft tissues. Dactinomycin ...learn more »
Dacarbazine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body...learn more »