“And I said to my body, softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this'” – Nayyirah Waheed
Your body is talking to you. Are you listening? Your body knows when something is “off” and it tells you. Take note of any alarm signals that it is sending out. Have a medical checkup as soon as you can. Remember that early detection dramatically improves cancer survival rates. In this section you have access to loads of information on understanding cancer, possible causes and prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatments. P.S. Welcome to Cancer College.
Sometimes it may seem that everything causes cancer. Luckily that is not the truth. Here are a few interesting cancer myths that can safely be busted: There is nothing you can do about getting cancer. Having a “cancer gene” means you are doomed to get cancer. Cancer is a death sentence. Cancer is purely hereditary. You can only get cancer if it runs in your family. Having surgery can cause your cancer to spread and grow. Now let’s get into what cancer actually is.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is not one disease, but a collection of related diseases that can occur almost anywhere in the body. Cancer is a disease of the genes in the cells of our body. Genes control the way our cells work. But changes to these genes can cause cells to malfunction causing them to grow and divide when they should not—or preventing them from dying when they should. These abnormal cells can become cancer.
Causes and Prevention
Cancer can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, environmental factors or genetics. Some risk factors – such as smoking, excessive sun exposure, or diseases which affect cell function – are well known. It’s possible to mitigate certain cancer risks through avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, lifestyle changes and a positive emotional and mental state.
Screening is checking for cancer (or for conditions that may become cancer) in people who have no symptoms. Screening can help doctors find and treat several types of cancer early. Early detection is important because when abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat.
Diagnosis and Screening
Cancer diagnosis typically begins with physical examinations, and can involve blood tests and scans. Ultimately, the diagnosis will only be confirmed by analysis of tissue samples obtained through a biopsy. This can take time, leading to uncertainty and anxiety. When doctors use the word “stage” it refers to the extent of the cancer according to the size of the tumour and if it has spread into other areas of the body.
You’ve been diagnosed with cancer and now have to decide on treatment. Not every doctor you visit is going to be a perfect match for you. If the shoe doesn’t fit, keep shopping. Seek second and, if need be, third opinions. Do your homework and be informed of what treatments you are undergoing and their risks vs benefits. Be an informed, active part in the decision making process in your cancer treatment. P.S Remove these words from your daily speech: “Maybe. Sure. I don’t know. You decide.”
Top Questions to ask your Oncologist
Going to an oncology appointment can be scary and overwhelming. Your Oncologist is going to explain a lot of information to you. It’s a great idea to record your conversation with your phone so that you can listen to it at your leisure afterwards and make sure you don’t miss out on valuable information. Try to take someone with you to the appointment. Remember your notepad, pen and a list of questions you would like to ask.
Getting to grips with the ins and outs of complimentary therapies and medicines.
There are many reasons why people with cancer consider using complementary therapies, which are generally used in combination with conventional cancer treatment. They offer you physical, emotional and spiritual support, reduce side effects from medical treatment, and improve your quality of life.
If you want to consider using complementary therapies, discuss this with your doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals qualified in the therapies you are interested in.
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