Posts Tagged all cancer awareness

April Cancer Awareness Part 3: Esophageal Cancer Awareness

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Esophageal (Esophagus) Cancer- Healthy cells that change and grow uncontrollably in the cells that line the esophagus that form a tumor. Esophageal cancer begins in the inner layers of the esophageal wall and grows outward. If it spreads through the wall it can travel to lymph nodes and can also spread to the lungs, liver, stomach and other parts of the body.

Types of Esophageal Cancer:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma- starts in squamous cells that line the esophagus. Usually develops in the upper and middle parts of the esophagus.

Adenocarcinoma- Begins in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus where the stomach and esophagus come together.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty and pain with swallowing  when eating meat, bread and raw vegetables. As the tumor grows it may block the pathway to the stomach making swallowing liquid painful as well.
  • Pressure and burning in the chest
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Frequent choking on food
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing or hoarseness
  • Pain behind the breast bone or in throat

Prevention: Not all esophageal cancers can be prevented but there are some factors that may lower the risk.

  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
  • Watching diet and body weight
  • Getting treatment for reflux or Barrett’s esophagus

Helpful Links:


Also if you haven’t already, please read these previous posts!



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April Cancer Awareness Part 2: Head, Neck and Oral Cancer Awareness

April is National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Month

Oral Cancer– Also called Oral Cavity Cancer, is cancer that starts in the mouth.

Head & Neck Cancer– Cancer that starts in the head or neck region ( nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth salivary glands, throat or larynx).

I have included a small video that shows the treament course of a patient diagnosed with base-of- tongue cancer: John’s Story

Here is a brief summary of facts about Oral Cancer:

  • Some risk factors are smoking, drinking heavily, HPV ( Human Papillomavirus)and prolonged sun exposure.
  • Almost all Oral cancer begins in the flat cells that cover the surfaces of the mouth.

Here is a brief summary of facts about Head and Neck Cancer:

  • Cancer usually begins in the squamous cells that line the moist mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck ( Inside mouth, nose, throat).
  • Risk factors include smoking, heavy drinking, and HPV ( Human Papillomavirus).

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer:

  • Patches inside mouth or on lips
  • A sore in your mouth or on your lips that doesn’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding in your mouth
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • A lump in your neck
  • An earache that doesn’t go away
  • Numbness of the lower lip and chin

Signs and Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer:

  • A lump or sore throat that doesn’t heal
  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Ringing or pain in ears
  • Sinuses that are blocked and do not clear
  • Chronic sinus infections that do not respond to antibiotics
  • Nosebleeds
  • Numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face

Prevention- Early Detection:

Early detection is key

Doctors recommend self oral exams monthly to help prevent Oral cancer

Doctors recommend a yearly physical examination of the head and neck to help prevent Head & Neck Cancer

Helpful Links for more information:

Also if you haven’t already read the previous posts please take the time out to go read!


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April Cancer Awareness Part 1: Testicular Cancer Awareness

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Testicular Cancer– When normal cells in one or both testicles change and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor.

Facts about Testicular Cancer:

  • Most tumors develop in germ cells which make sperm. Hence they are called germ cell tumors
  • Testicular cancer is divided in to two types seminomas and non-seminomas.  Non-seminomas grow more quickly and are more likely to spread.
  • Both types require immediate treatment.
  • It is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35 years old.
  • It is one of the most curable cancers if it is detected early.

Improving Treatments for germ cell tumors:

Risk Factors:

  • Undescended testicles (cryptochordism)
  • Urological birth defects
  • Family History
  • Being a Caucasian male

Signs and Symptoms:

Most common:

  • Lumps, swelling and or pain in scrotum.
  • Usually lumps are painless or mildly uncomfortable so do not wait until it becomes more serious to seek medical attention.
  •  Swelling can happen without a lump being present.
  • Dull ache or pressure in lower abdomen or back.
  • Change of size in testicles.
  • Feeling of heaviness or fullness in the scrotum.
  • Enlargement or tenderness in breasts.

Advanced symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss and/or enlarged abdominal lymph nodes. (Due to growth of tumors)
  • Back pain
  • Chest pain, coughing and difficultly breathing.
  • Coughing up blood ( Due to tumors in the lungs)
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes in abdomen and/or neck.

Prevention:  A monthly self exam for all men over the age of 14. The exam is best performed after a bath or shower as it relaxes the scrotum making it easier to spot abnormalities.

Helpful Links:

Also if you haven’t already read the previous posts please take the time out to go read!


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March Cancer Awareness Part 3: Multiple Myeloma Awareness

March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

Multiple Myeloma- Cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow (spongy tissue inside bones). The cancer begins when healthy plasma cells change and grow uncontrollably.

Plasma cells-part of the bodies immune system that produce antibodies that help fight infection.

Myeloma cells can produce antibodies but are unable to produce healthy, functioning antibodies. The cells instead make monoclonal protein or m protein which can build up in blood and urine which causes damage to the kidneys and other organs. Monoclonal protein often causes structural bone damage resulting in painful fractures or bone breaks. About 90% of people have multiple bone lesions when they are diagnosed, thus “multiple” myeloma.

Types of Multiple Myeloma

Solitary Plasmacytoma- Mass of myeloma cells that involve only one site in the bone or other organs. The most common site is the upper respiratory tract including the nose and throat.

Extramedullary Plasmacytoma- Myeloma that started outside the bone marrow in locations such as lymph glands, sinuses, throat, liver and under the skin.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Fatigue
  • Bone Pain- back and ribs are the most common site of bone pain although any bone can be affected. Pain can be worse with movement and at night
  • Pain, numbness and weakness
  • Kidney damage or failure may occur when M protein produced by myeloma cells clog the kidney filter
  • Hypercalcemia- a high level of calcium in the blood that can occur as a result of bone breakdown
  • Weight loss, nausea thirst, muscle weakness and mental confusion symptoms related to kidney failure, hypercalcemia or other imbalances in blood chemicals
  • Fever and infections, especially upper respiratory tract and lungs
  • Blood clots, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, bruising and hazy vision caused by hyperviscosity, thickened blood or low platelets


There is no known way to prevent Multiple Myeloma.

Helpful Links:


Also if you haven’t already please read these previous posts!



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March Cancer Awareness Part 2 : Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month


Kidney Cancer– when healthy cells in one or both kidneys change and grow uncontrollably forming a tumor.

The kidneys are reddish-brown bean-shaped organs located above the waist that filter blood to remove impurities and also produce hormones that control blood pressure, red blood cell production and other bodily functions.

Types of Kidney Cancer-

Renal Cell Carcinoma- 85% of all diagnosed, the most common type of adult kidney cancer it develops in the proximal renal tubes that make up the kidney filtration system.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma (Urothelial Carcinoma)- 10%-15% of diagnosed, begins in the area where urine collects before moving to the bladder, this type of cancer is similar to bladder cancer.

Sarcoma-Rare, develops in the soft tissue of the kidney , the thin layer of connective tissue surrounding the kidney or surrounding fat.

Wilms tumor- most common in children

Types of Kidney Cancer Cells-

Clear cell- 70% of kidney cancer, ranges from slow growing to fast growing

Papillary- 10%-15% of kidney cancer, divided into two sub types called type 1 and type 2

Sarcomatoid- fastest growing and most aggressive type, it may develop from any cell type

Collecting Duct- Rare cancer that behaves similarly to transitional cell carcinoma

Chromophobe- Rare cancer that behaves differently from other types, may form indolent tumors

Oncocytoma- Slow growing cancer that rarely spreads

Angiomyolipoma- Benign tumor that has a unique appearance on a CT or CAT scan and under a microscope, less likely to grow or spread

Signs & Symptoms

In early stages there is no pain, symptoms usually appear when the tumor is larger and begins to affect nearby organs.

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or pressure in the side or back
  • A mass or lump in the side or back
  • Swelling of the ankles and legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia ( low red blood cell count)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurrent fever that is not from cold, flu or other infection
  • For men- rapid development of a cluster of enlarged veins around a testicle


There is no proven way to prevent kidney cancer, however these may lower the risk

  • Quitting smoking
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat

Helpful Links:

Also if you haven’t already please read these previous posts!





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March Cancer Awareness Part 1: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer– Cancer of the Colon or Rectum

Here is a brief summary of facts about Colorectal Cancer:

  • 3rd most common cancer
  • Most Colorectal cancers develop slowly over many years
  • Colorectal cancer usually starts with colorectal polyps ( Abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum)

Possible Signs and Symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea, constipation or feeling bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Blood in stool
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Feeling very tired

Prevention- Early Detection:

Regular screening is recommended for both men and women once they reach age 50

Advances in Colorectal Cancer:

ASCO ( American Society of Clinical Onocology)  2014 meeting had a new study that shows that a combination of  chemotherapy and certain targeted therapies have been effective for metastatic colorectal cancer. Targeted therapy works by targeting specific genes, proteins or tissue that contribute to the cancer’s growth and survival. Both treatments in this study have chemotherapy but one has the targeted therapy bevacizumab (Avastin) and the other uses the targeted therapy  cetuximab (Erbitux).

Helpful Links for more information:

Also if you haven’t already read these 2 previous posts please go read them!


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February: Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

February is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month.


Gallbladder Cancer when normal cells in the gallbladder grow uncontrollably forming a tumor that can be cancerous or benign.

The gallbladder is a small organ located under the liver that stores bile. The gallbladder is made up of 3 main layers of tissue. The mucosa which is the innermost layer covers the wall, the muscularis or the middle layer made up of smooth muscle and the serosa or the outer layer. Primary gallbladder cancer begins in the inner layer and spreads to the outer layer. Gallbladder cancer is usually not found in its earlier stages.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Fever


There is no known way to prevent gallbladder cancer although maintaining a healthy weight may help lower the risk.

Helpful Links:


Bile Duct Cancer– when normal cells in the bile duct change and grow uncontrollably and form a tumor that can be cancerous or benign.

The bile duct is a tube that connects the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. It allows bile to flow into the small intestine.

Types of Bile Duct Cancer:

Extrahepatic- the part of the bile duct that is outside of the liver. Cancer usually begins in this part of the bile duct.

Intraheptic- 5%to 10% of bile duct cancers occur in the part of the bile duct located inside the liver

Cancer can occur anywhere in the bile duct.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Jaundice
  • Urine may become a dark color
  • Bowel movements may become pale
  • Itching
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain (Early bile duct cancer does not cause pain but a person may experience pain if the cancer has spread)


There is no proven way to completely prevent this disease. However there are ways to lower the risk such as avoiding contact with hazardous chemicals, avoiding alcohol abuse and drinking only purified water and foods if traveling to parts of the world where liver flukes are common.

Helpful Links:

Also if you haven’t already please read these previous posts!





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