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Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

One of the present issues being addresses in clinical trials is whether anticancer drugs should be used together (cancer combination chemotherapy) or if they should be used as a single agent (sequential chemotherapy). If drugs are combined and share common toxicity such as bone marrow suppression, often the dosage must be reduced, perhaps also reducing its efficacy. Some drugs in combination may be synergistic, wherein the combination of two or more drugs enhances the anticancer effect as compared to when drugs are given alone in sequence.


Skin Cancer

The other major issue for cancer specialists treating breast cancer with chemotherapy is drug dose regimen.

Based on successful clinical trial results in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease, breast cancer chemotherapy was traditionally given in combination. Early results did demonstrate a combination of drugs were better than a single agent. As new evidence emerges regarding the presence of potentiation of these drugs and toxicities from interactions, cancer chemotherapy regimens may contain combined drugs, as well as drugs given singularly.


The higher the dosage given in a fixed time period, the greater the potential toxicity and risk of adverse effects on the patient. Oftentimes, this is bone marrow toxicity, which involves a suppression of bone marrow stem cells leading to decreased white blood cell production (leucopenia), placing the patient at heightened risk for infection. Research shows that a certain dose intensity must be given to achieve the maximum antineoplastic activity, but going beyond this threshold only increases risk without further benefit.


A majority of anticancer drugs affect all dividing cells in the body. This includes both normal cancer cells. If a woman has microscopic spread of the cancer cells, these cancer cells will be replicating and be more sensitive to chemotherapy than most normal cells. Some of the body's normal cells that also replicate on a regular basis are the bone marrow cells and the lining cells of the gastrointestinal tract. It is for this reason that these normal cells are also sensitive to the anticancer drugs. Presently, there are several drugs that kill breast cancer cells and there are new agents under investigation. Much progress has been made in how to optimally administer these agents and there are supportive therapies to prevent the adverse events of chemotherapy. Several drug combinations have evolved and have been commonly used to treat women for possible metastatic disease.


The standard has been one of two combinations: adriamycin and cyclophosphamide with or without 5 fluorouracil; and cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and 5 fluorouracil. A new agent, trastuzumab (brand name Herceptin), an antibody directed against Her-2 protein that is abundant on the cancer cell surface. This cancer protein is over expressed in cancer cells and poses as a very good target for anticancer agents. This drug is presently undergoing testing for the use in women with localized breast cancer that demonstrate an abundance of this cancer protein.


It is important for cancer patients to educate themselves about chemotherapy and its adverse effects before making a decision to incorporate certain anticancer drugs in their treatment plan.


Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Breast Cancer


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Types, Signs And Symptoms Of Skin Cancer


Skin cancer is the most common of human cancer. It is estimated that over a million new cases occur annually. The skin is the largest organ of the human body, serving in both a protective layer and aesthetic capacity. Skin cancer refers to several types of malignancies that can occur, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and malignant melanoma. Although the first two types of skin malignancies are usually more treatable and are often described together as nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), melanoma is classified as a separate type of cancer with typically more aggressive behavior and prognosis.


The disease which are aggressive, recurrent or located upon 'high risk sites' of the body such as the central face, scalp, ears, or genitalia, may require more advanced surgical approaches such as Moh's micrographic surgery to attain high cure rates.

Signs and Symptoms There are various symptoms for different skin cancer. These includes sores or changes in the skin that do not heal, ulcers in the skin or, discoloring in parts of the skin, and changes in existing moles. Basal cell carcinoma usually looks like a raised, smooth, pearly bump on the sun-exposed skin of the head, neck or shoulders. Sometimes small blood vessels can be seen within the tumor. Crusting and bleeding in the center of the tumour frequently develops. It is often mistaken for a sore that does not heal.


Squamous cell carcinoma is commonly a red, scaling, thickened patch on sun-exposed skin. Ulceration and bleeding may occur. When SCC is not treated, it may develop into a large mass. Most malignant melanomas are brown to black looking lesions. Signs that might indicate a malignant melanoma include change in size, shape, color or elevation of a mole. The appearance of a new mole during adulthood, or new pain, itching, ulceration or bleeding of an existing mole should be checked.


Skin cancer is usually not painful but can sometimes be. Checking your skin for new gorwths or other changes is advisable, but always remember that changes in the skin are not a sure sign of skin cancer. Still you have to let your doctor examine any changes to your skin right away for proper diagnosis and treatment of skin problems.


Important Signs Of Prostate Cancer


Rates of prostate cancer vary widely across the world. It is least common in South and East Asia, more common in Europe, though the rates vary widely between countries, and most common in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is least common among Asian men and most common among black men with figures for European men in between. However, these high rates may be affected by increasing rates of detection. Although prostate cancer can sometimes strike younger men, the risk of getting it increases with age and more than seventy percent of men diagnosed with the disease are over the age of sixty five.


Types of Skin Cancer Basal cell of the disease grows slowly. It usually occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, and it is most common on the face. Basal cell cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell also occurs on parts of the skin that have been in the sun, but it also may be in places that are not in the sun. Squamous cell cancer sometimes spreads to lymph nodes and organs inside the body. Minor surface care readily treatable by simple surgery, but if the cancer is allowed to grow, it can penetrate through the layers of skin and affect the lymphatic system. It may also spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).


The disease can occur in men only; the prostate is exculsively of the male reproductive tract. Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate of the male reproductive system, this happens when cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control and can then invade nearby tissues or spread throughout the body. Large collections of this out of control tissue are called tumors. The tumor usually grows slowly and remains confined to the gland for many years. During this time, the tumor produces little or no symptoms or outward signs (abnormalities on physical examination). As the cancer advances, however, it can spread beyond the prostate into the surrounding tissues (local spread). Moreover, the cancer also can metastasize (spread even farther) throughout other areas of the body, such as the bones, lungs, and liver. Symptoms and signs, therefore, are more often associated with advanced prostate cancer. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms.


The cause of prostate cancer has not been identified but the cancer is thought to be related to benign prostatic hypertrophy (BHP). The risk factors include advancing age, heredity, hormonal influences, and such enviromental toxins, chemicals, and industrial products. The best way to try and prevent prostate cancer is to modify the risk factors for the disease that you have control over. You may want to try to eat a low fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Certain foods, vitamins and minerals have been suggested to decrease your chances of getting prostate cancer, however doctors are still studying more data before any particular food or supplement can be endorsed for preventing the disease. Currently, there are studies looking at selenium, lycopen, vitamin A and other retinoids, vitamin D, vitamin E, and soy for prostate cancer prevention.


Since it is a disease of older men, many will die of other causes before the disease can spread or cause symptoms. Deciding on treatment can be daunting not only because there are far better options for treatment today that they were ten years ago but also because not enough relaiable data are available on which to base the decisions. Prostate cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, occasionally chemotherapy, or some combination of these.


Most men who have the risk factors do not get the disease, on the other hand men who do get the disease often have no known risk factors, except for growing older. If you think that you may be at risk, you should consult your doctor immediately so that you may be given suggestions on ways of reducing your risk and can plan scheduled check-ups.


Tanning And Cancer

If one were living in any of the colder regions of the world, the tell tale signs of having enjoyed a good vacation would be to wear a tan, acquired from hours of lazing in the sun, on some beach. Better still, is the idea of wearing a tan regularly by resorting to tanning under a tanning bed, under artificial conditions. While the latter form of tanning may look very authentic and satisfactory, it is a process of tanning that is fraught with the risk of cancer.


Thus, the debate on tanning and the risks of cancer has been raging as a debatable issue with strong contenders on both sides. Several studies have shown that tanning under a tanning bed can increase the risk of getting cancer. On the other hand studies have shown that tanning has helped reduce the risks of cancer by its controlled system that reduces the risk of sunburn.


The UV rays that tanning under lights creates stimulates the skin cells. The activated and stimulated skin cells produce more melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin its natural color. Thus a tanning bed activates this principle under controlled conditions and the fashion industry has promoted this method, making it highly popular among Scandinavian women. That is why the effects of tanning and the risk of cancer have been extensively carried out among this category of women. The results have shown that among the women who regularly resorted to tanning, the risk of developing cancer had increased to 55%. In the same way a similar study carried out at Dartmouth concluded that the regular user of the tanning method was two and half times more likely to develop cancer.


The above studies as well as findings from independent sources had led the American Medical Association (AMA) to adopt a resolution calling for a total ban on tanning under light, so as to prevent the incidence of cancer from this source. But the US Federal Trade Commission (USFTC) was no twilling to go with them on this resolution and declined to institute such a ban. The contention of the USFTC was that the use and sale of tanning equipment for cosmetic purposes could be permitted as it had certain healthy benefits accruing from its use.


Supporting the argument put forth by the Federal Trade Commission lobby another organization, namely the Tanning Trends, contended that tanning on a tanning bed actually reduced the risk f developing skin cancer. Their argument was based on the fact that as the conditions of tanning were being done in a controlled environment the tanning process was completely regulated and there was no risk of getting sunburn in the process. In a natural condition, as on a beach the holiday maker for instance, had no control over the tanning process and if the sun was hot then there were chances of getting too much sunburn, in the bargain. Such exposure to sunburn ran the risk of getting cancer even more. Thus by getting a tanning done on a tanning bed, the cancer could actually be prevented altogether. & Tanning provides detailed information on tanning, tanning beds, tanning tips and more.


What Do We Know About Pancreatic Cancer


In the United States, cancer of the pancreas is diagnosed in more than twenty nine thousand people every year, with more than sixty thousand in Europe. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths. Living with a serious disease such as pancreatic cancer is not easy, some people may find coping with the emotional and practical aspects of their disease very difficult. People living with pancreatic cancer may worry about the future. They may worry about caring for themselves or their families, keeping their jobs, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common. Other patients join support groups where family members get together to share what they have learned about coping with their disease and the effects of treatment. Knowing and learning more about what you're up against always eases the burden and helps prepare patients not only practically but physically and emotionally as well.


This illness, also called cancer of the pancreas is represented by the growth of a malignant tumor within the pancreatic gland. About seventy percent of pancreatic cancers occur in the head of the pancreas, and most of these begin in the ducts that carry the enzymes. Although the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, smoking is a major risk factor. Research shows that cigarette smokers develop cancers of the pancreas three times more often than non-smokers.


Fluid may gather in the abdomen, this condition is known as ascites. It may make a woman feel bloated, or her abdomen may look swollen. Ovarian cancer cells can also enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system the tissues and organs that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease). Once in the bloodstream or lymphatic system, the cancer cells can travel and form new tumors in other parts of the body.


It has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause symptoms. If the tumor blocks the common bile duct and bile cannot pass into the digestive system, the skin and whites of the eyes may become yellow, and the urine may become darker. This condition is called jaundice. As the cancer grows and spreads, pain often develops in the upper abdomen and sometimes spreads to the back. The pain may become worse after the person eats or lies down. Cancer of the pancreas can also cause nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, and weakness.


Treatment of the cancer depends on factors such as the type, size, and extent of the tumor as well as the patient's age and general health. Treatment of the disease is curable only when it is found in the earliest stages before it has spread, or it is difficult to cure. However, it can be treated, symptoms can be relieved, and the quality of the patient's life can be improved. Treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Biological therapy is also being studied by researchers to see whether it can be helpful in treating the disease.


Learning to live with the changes that can be brought about by cancer would be easier for patients and those who care about them when they have helpful information and support services. Patients can always seek the aid of local and national agencies that help with the emotional support, financial aid, transportation, or home care.

Guide To Ovarian Cancer Symptoms And Treatments

As women get older, their risk of having ovarian cancer increases. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer brings with it many questions that needs clear understandable answers. Knowing and having more information about this disease can make it easier for women and their families to handle the challenges they face. Cancer researchers continue to study and learn more about ovarian cancer.


The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are located in a woman's pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows). Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond and they can often be felt by a doctor during bi-manual portion of a pelvic examination. The ovaries have to main functions: production of eggs and production of female hormones (chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs functions). Every month during menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary in a process called ovulation. The ovaries are also the main source of female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones influence the development of a woman's breasts, body shape, and body hair. They also regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.


A malignant tumor (mass of cells that form due to abnormal uncontrollable production of cells in the body) that begins in the ovaries is called ovarian cancer. There are numerous types of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer that begins on the surface of the ovary (epithelial carcinoma) is the most common type. Ovarian cancer that begins in the egg-producing cells (germ cell tumors) and cancer that begins in the supportive tissue surrounding the ovaries (stromal tumors) are rare. In a process called shedding, ovarian cancer cells can break away from the ovary and spread to other tissues and organs; when it sheds, it tends to seed (form new tumors) on the peritoneum (the large membrane that lines the abdomen) and on the diaphragm (the thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen).


The risk for developing ovarian cancer appears to be affected by several factors. The more children a woman has, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer. Early age at first pregnancy, older ages of final pregnancy, and the use of some oral contraceptive pills have also been shown to have a protective effect. Ovarian cancer is reduced in women after tubal ligation. Risk factors for getting ovarian cancer includes age, the older a woman becomes, the highert the chances of getting it; family history, particulary family members affected at an early age; other factors that have been investigated, such as talc use, asbestos exposure, high dietary fat content, and childhood mumps infection, are controversial and have not been definitively proven.


Early stages of this cancer usually do not cause any symptoms, and even when it does produce symptoms, they are often very non-specific and don't point towards diagnosis of ovarian cancer. When the tumor grows in size it produces a variety of problems that includes abdominal swelling or abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause, bloating, gas, indigestion or cramps, pelvic pain loss of appetite, feeling full after a small meal, or feeling full very easily, changes in bowel or bladder habits, and weight loss or weight gain. These symptoms are non-specific and could present a variety of different conditions; however checking with your doctor is advisable if you develop any of these problems.


Treatment of the disease depends on a number of factors including the stage of the disease and the general health of the patient. Surgery is the usual initial treatment for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Studies have shown that surgery performed by a specialist in gynecologic oncology usually result in a higher rate of cure. Other treatment includes chemotherapy and radiationa therapy.


The National Cancer Institute is supporting and conducting research on the causes and prevention of ovarian cancer. Cancer support groups provide an environment where cancer patients can talk about living with cancer with others who may be having similar experiences. This helps patients in coping up with the emotional aspects of their disease.


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