Read these 32 Free Cancer Advice Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Nurse tips and hundreds of other topics.
Breast Self Examination (BSE) should be done every month to help detect breast cancer.
When to do BSE:
If you still menstruate (have your period), the best time is two or three days after your period ends. These are the days when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen.
If you no longer menstruate, pick the same day of every month. It will be easy to remember.
If you take hormones, check with your doctor about the best time for your BSE.
How to do BSE:
Stand in front of a mirror that lets you see your breasts clearly. Look at both breasts. You are looking for anything unusual. This includes puckered, dimpled or scaly skin, or any discharge (clear or colored fluid) from nipples.
Now, look carefully to see if there is any change in the shape of your breasts. First, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward.
Next, press your hands on your hips - firmly - and continue to look for changes in the shape of your breasts. Bend slightly toward the mirror as you hunch your shoulders and pull your elbows forward.
Choose your pattern:
Use one of the following three patterns to examine your breasts. The one you choose is not important. What is important is that you don't miss any areas.
Begin in the underarm area and move your fingers down until they are below the breast. Move your fingers in toward the center and go slowly back up. Cover the whole area, going up and down or begin at the outer edge of your breast, moving your fingers slowly around the entire breast. When you come back to where you started, make a smaller circle and do it again. Continue, working toward the nipple. Check your underarm and upper chest areas too.
or start at the outer edge of the breast and move your fingers toward the nipple and back. Do the whole breast, covering one wedge-shaped section at a time. Check your underarm and upper chest areas too.
With any pattern, be sure to check the area under your nipples too.
Begin examining your breasts for lumps and thickness, using one of the three different patterns.
Raise one arm, putting your hand behind your head. With the opposite hand, use the pads of your fingers (the flat part) to check the breast, the area between the breast and underarm, the underarm itself and the area above the breast, up to the collarbone and over to your shoulder. Check each area firmly, carefully and completely.
Some women prefer to do this in the shower. It's a good idea, because fingers glide easily over soapy skin, making it easier to feel for changes underneath.
Repeat step 4 lying down. Lie flat on your back, with your right hand behind your head and a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. With your left hand, examine the right breast and area around it very carefully. Then switch hands and repeat the procedure for the left breast. You can use any of the patterns listed.
Most people associate breast cancer with a lump, but the symptoms of breast cancer can include a thickening within the breast or the overlying skin, redness of the skin, a change in the shape of the breast, discharge from the nipple, or a change in the shape of the nipple or its retraction. (Eight out of 10 breast lumps are benign; that is, they are not cancerous.)
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. One in nine women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. (Men may also develop breast cancer, but just one in every 100 cases of breast cancer is in a man.) Over 180,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and that number is increasing.
Counting and examining blood cells are very important in the diagnosis of blood cell diseases. Blood has several different types of cells in it: Red blood cells pick up oxygen as blood passes through the lungs and release it to the cells in the body. White blood cells help fight bacteria and viruses. Platelets are the cells that form a plug in response to a cut or wound. The platelets aggregate and plug up the site of bleeding.
Normal blood counts fall within the range that has been established by testing healthy men and women of all ages. The approximate normal ranges of blood cell counts for healthy adults are as follows:
Red blood cell (RBC) count: 4.5 to 6.0 million red cells per microliter of blood in men, 4.0 to 5.0 million red cells per microliter of blood in women
White blood cell (WBC) count: 4.5 to 11 thousand white cells per microliter of blood
Platelet count: 150 to 450 thousand platelets per microliter of blood
Hematocrit is the percent of the blood that is composed of red cells:
42% to 50% is normal in men
36% to 45% is normal in women
Hemoglobin is the compound in the red blood cell that carries oxygen:
14 to 17 grams per 100 milliliters of blood is normal for men
12 to 15 grams per 100 milliliters of blood is normal for women
White cell differential count, sometimes referred to as a "diff," measures the proportion of the total white cell count that is composed of one of the five principal white cell types. The observer can also tell if the white cells in the blood are normal in appearance. The five types of normal white cells that are counted are neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. Blood contains about 60% neutrophils, 30% lymphocytes, 5% monocytes, 4% eosinophils and <1% basophils.
Research shows one kind of tea can be up to 100 times more potent at blocking growth of cancer cells than another. While all tea (green, oolong or black) contains antioxidant compounds called catechins that protect against cancer (especially of the lung, breast, colon, stomach and skin) by neutralizing free radicals, green tea contains about 7 times more catechins than black tea. Green tea also has unique catechins that block an enzyme involved in breast, prostate and colon cancers. Green tea is 10 to 100 times stronger than black tea in blocking the growth of cancer cells. Catechins also prevent heart disease and stroke, primarily by defending against the harmful effects of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.
For more information about cancer, cervical cancer symptoms include painless vaginal bleeding, an unusual vaginal discharge, and painful intercourse. But often, the only way you will know is by having a Pap smear, a simple, accurate, inexpensive screening test used to identify the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix.
Cervical cancer is a slow-growing, highly predictable cancer of the cervix, where the narrow, outer end of the uterus opens into the vagina. Caught early, it is easily cured. Each year in the United States, approximately 12,800 women are diagnosed with the disease and 45,000 more with carcinoma in situ, an early-stage cervical cancer. Many thousands more are treated for a pre-cancerous condition known as dysplasia.
Colorectal cancer is very curable when found early and there are several things you can do to lower your risks:
Eat at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Have a digital rectal examination every year after age 40.
Have a stool blood test every year after age 50.
Have a flexible sigmoidoscopy at age 50, and then, after two normal examinations a year apart, every three to five years.
If you are over 50 and notice blood in your stools, see your doctor immediately.
The earlier cancer is detected, the greater the chance it can be treated before it spreads to other areas of the body.
That's why self-examinations (such as checks of the breasts, testicles and skin) are important to build into your routine.
And it's why regular medical screenings (such as mammograms, fecal occult blood tests, Pap smears and prostate exams) are crucial even if you feel perfectly healthy.
The cervical cancer risk factors can be lowered by limiting the number of sexual partners, using condoms, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, and getting regular Pap smears. Catching the disease early is simple and inexpensive, and in its early stages, cervical cancer can be completely cured. If you are at least 15 years old, if you are sexually active, and if you are not having Pap smears every year, do yourself this favor by making an appointment today for this important screening test.
Some prostate cancer risk factors include that it runs in families and is associated with a high fat diet. Prostate cancer is most common in Europe and in America, where African American men are at 30 percent higher risk. Increasing age is a factor, with men over 55 at greater risk. Other prostate cancer risk factors are multiple sex partners and venereal disease.
Heavy and chronic drinking increases the risk for cancer, with an estimated 2-4% of all cancer cases thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol. The strongest link between alcohol and cancer involves cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, the mouth, the pharynx, and the larynx. Less consistent data link alcohol consumption and cancers of the liver, breast and colon.
The cause of cancer of the colon and rectum isn't known, but it's believed that the disease is associated with a diet high in fat and low in fiber (roughage). Not surprisingly, some colorectal cancer risk factors include that it is more common in Western countries, where the diet tends to be highly refined, with less roughage. People over age 50 are more susceptible, and African-American men have a slightly higher risk. Anyone with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps in the colon, or ulcerative colitis is at particularly high risk and exposure to asbestos has been identified as a risk factor.
The cause of cervical cancer is unknown, but a variety of interacting cervical cancer risk factors are probably at fault, including early sexual activity, multiple sex partners, and sexually transmitted diseases. Viruses associated with sexually transmitted diseases are also thought to play an important role, as are hygiene and douching practices. Smoking and a lower socio-economic status may also be involved.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors:
Increasing age: As women grow older, their risk increases. Breast cancer is rare before the age of 30 and is most common in women older than 65. In fact, the biggest known risk factor is age.
History of previous breast cancer: A woman with a history of cancer in one breast has a higher chance of developing cancer in the other breast.
Family history of breast cancer: Close female relatives—a mother or sister, for example, increase a person's risk. Still, only about five to 10 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family history of the disease.
Absence of pregnancy: Both pregnancy and breast-feeding are associated with lowered risk and the earlier the pregnancy, the lower one's risk. Women who have a full pregnancy before the age of 18 have just one-third the breast cancer risk of women who give birth after age 30 or who have never had a child.
Follow these early detection guidelines for the best results for prostate cancer testing:
Have a digital rectal examination every year after the age of 50. (If you are an African-American male or you have a family history of prostate cancer, have this examination every year after age 40.)
Have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
Eat a low fat diet.
See your doctor immediately if you notice any of the warning signs of prostate problems.
There are usually no symptoms in the earliest stages of prostate cancer. Some symptoms of the condition benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a harmless, but annoying enlargement of the prostate that frequently occurs in older men, may be mistaken for symptoms of prostate cancer.
You should see your doctor if you experience:
Weak or interrupted flow of urine
Inability to urinate or difficulty urinating
Need to urinate frequently, especially at night
Blood in the urine
Painful or burning sensation when urinating
Continuing pain in the lower back, pelvis, or
Colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. About 150,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Most develop from polyps, growths that originate in the mucous lining of the colon or rectum. These grow slowly and can be detected by means of effective, easily performed tests, making colorectal cancer one of the most curable forms of cancer.
Seven Cancer Warning Signs
1. A change in bowel or bladder habits
2. A sore that does not heal
3. Unusual bleeding or discharge
4. Thickening or a lump in the breast or other area
5. Chronic indigestion or swallowing problems
6. An obvious change in a wart or a mole
7. A nagging cough or hoarseness
Cancer of the prostate gland is one of the most common cancers in men. It's estimated that one out of every 11 men will develop it. Fortunately, prostate cancer is usually a slow-growing type of cancer, and the highest risk is not until after age 55. Because of earlier detection and improvements in prostate cancer treatment, more than 90 percent of patients diagnosed early are alive five years after treatment.
Eighteen little-known facts about smoking that may motivate even a veteran smoker to give up the habit:
Cigarette smoke contains tar, made up of over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known to cause types of cancer.
Chemicals in smoke include cyanide (a deadly poison), methanol (wood alcohol), formaldehyde (a preservative), acetylene (fuel used in torches) and ammonia (found in fingernail polish remover). It also contains nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, both poisonous gases.
Smokeless tobacco (snuff) exposes a person to at least 10 times more cancer-causing substances than smoking does.
Smoking filtered cigarettes lowers the risk of lung cancer by only about 20 percent.
Smokers are more likely to get pneumonia than are nonsmokers.
Smokers are more likely to have and die from stomach ulcers than are nonsmokers.
Smoking causes and worsens heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, sinusitis, and cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), and esophagus (swallowing tube), and increases the risk of bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach and cervical cancers.
Women smokers experience earlier menopause and have less dense bones, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis and hip fractures.
Children whose parents smoke are at a higher risk for pneumonia and bronchitis.
Diseases caused by cigarette smoking kill about one in four smokers.
By the time lung cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to other parts of the body. The survival rate is low: only 13 percent are still alive five years after diagnosis, fewer than 10 percent after 10 years.
Lung cancer now kills more women than any other type of cancer.
Smoking takes an average of seven years off a person's life.
Smoking causes one out of every six deaths in the United States.
Nine out of ten smokers say they want to quit.
More men have quit smoking than women.
More than 43 million Americans have quit smoking, and–over the past decade, the percentage of smoking adult Texans has decreased from 31 to 22 percent.
Between 1964 and 1985, approximately 750,000 deaths were avoided or postponed as a result of decisions to quit smoking or not to start.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in America, but it could be prevented 80 to 90 percent of the time if only people would not smoke.
Because 75 to 80 percent of women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors, early detection offers the best hope for surviving the disease. The first step is to understand your risk factors - age, family, and personal history of breast cancer. The next is to follow the early detection guidelines recommended by the American Cancer Society:
Breast Cancer Self Examination - Women should examine their breasts monthly beginning by age 20. Over 90 percent of breast cancers are found by women themselves. But because fewer than one third of women perform regular breast self-examinations (BSEs), these cancers are often found when they are over an inch across. In general, the smaller the lump found, the better a woman's chance of long-term survival.
Physician Examination - An exam by a physician is recommended every three years until age 40, and then every year. This is an important part of an overall physical exam, but only a supplement to monthly breast self-examinations.
Mammography - This examination is recommended once between the ages of 35 and 40 as a baseline (for comparison), and then once a year beginning at age 40. Studies show very high survival rates in women whose breast cancer was first detected by mammography. When a mammogram finds a small breast cancer, usually only the tumor is removed, not the whole breast.
The following are various types of cancer and their risk factors:
Breast Cancer - Family history of breast cancer, obesity, late childbearing and childlessness
Bladder Cancer - Smoking (nearly half of cases); bladder cancer is more common in men than women
Cervical Cancer - First intercourse at an early age, multiple sexual partners, smoking, history of genital herpes
Colorectal Cancer - Being over 50 with colon polyps or ulcerative colitis, family history of these disorders or colon cancer, high-fat, low-fiber diet
Leukemia - Exposure to radiation, benzene and other chemicals
Lung Cancer - Smoking (83 percent of cases), exposure to asbestos, radiation and secondhand tobacco smoke
Lymphoma - Being over 50, no other known risk factors
Oral Cancer - Smoking, chewing tobacco and heavy alcohol use
Pancreatic Cancer - Smoking, high-fat diet
Prostate Cancer - Risk increases with age; more than 80 percent of cases occur after 65
Skin Cancer - Fair skin, severe sunburn in childhood, frequent sun exposure and family history of skin cancer
Uterine Cancer - Being post-menopausal with a history of infertility, ovulation failure or abnormal bleeding, also obesity, hypertension and diabetes
A new breast cancer drug shows early signs of being better than the best currently available breast cancer treatment at helping postmenopausal women with early-stage disease live longer after having surgery to remove their tumors. Women who have taken a newer type of drug called anastrozole, brand name Arimidex, were more likely to be alive and disease-free three years after surgery than women who took what is now considered the "gold standard" in breast cancer prevention, tamoxifen.
Gene defects that trigger an extremely rare and deadly childhood disease may also signal an increased risk of breast cancer. The discovery could help doctors screen women for cancer risks. The disease, Fanconi anemia, affects only about 500 families nationally, but the study found that six genes known to cause it are directly linked to one of the two genes responsible for the inherited risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
A new, simpler technique for detecting abnormal breast cells before they develop into life-threatening breast cancer is in the pipeline. Called ductal lavage, the procedure involves a doctor inserting a catheter the width of two human hairs into the nipple and washing out enough cells from milk-producing ducts to screen for precancerous changes. Scientists have known for years that milk ducts are a great place to test for these scary cells, Unfortunately, insurers don't always pay for the test, which can cost from $350 to $700.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|