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What If It Is Cancer?

What If It Is Cancer?

Today, receiving a notice that you have been diagnosed with some kind of cancer does not necessarily mean that the death notice should be posted at the door. Now a tremendous advance toward curing or slowing down cancer exists. No matter what kind of cancer you have been diagnosed with, be glad that it was caught when it was, and hopefully that was rather early. 

Take for example a male cancer called prostate cancer. Whereas it used to be that surgery was immediately scheduled for a radical prostatectomy, meaning the removal of the prostate in males, today more and more advanced cancer therapists sometimes suggest a wait and see approach, as the majority of males with early prostate cancer often get to live long and happy lives without removal of their prostate. Granted, when the cancer is growing aggressively and has taken over the prostate, and then it is necessary but you are still counseled to do your research prior to agreeing to a prostate removal. 

Breast cancer in women is still a serious consideration though, and thus it will need to be taken care of. Lumpectomies are sometimes utilized in order to save the greater majority of the breast tissue if possible, and this is the reason why women are counseled to have yearly mammograms and breast testing. Catching it early is tantamount to it being good news in the majority of cases. Granted they are still using chemotherapy to kill the cancer, but the changes in medicine means that no more are they irradiating huge sectors of the body, but rather more and more they can pinpoint the chemotherapy so that "good" tissue is spared. That way, only the tumor is receiving the higher radiation. Sometimes radiation therapy is utilized in some cancers to "pre-shrink" the tumor so that if an operation is necessary to remove the cancer it is much smaller in size and thus easier to cut out. 

Regardless what kind of cancer you may have, at some time computer imaging will be utilized. It is truly amazing what great strides such computer usage has accomplished in aiding those oncologists. You should know that oncologists are what cancer specialists are called. You will hear terms such as IMRT often used, but all that refers to is a type of radiation therapy. IGRT is also often mentioned, and what that refers to is image guided radiation therapy - see there's the use of those computers again to guide the oncologist precisely to your tumor and leave the normal tissue be. 

Both IMRT as well as IGRT may be utilized in almost all kinds of cancers such as colorectal, esophagus, pancreas, some head or neck malignancies, thyroid, sarcomas, prostate, lung, cervix or endometrium meaning gynecological malignancies, breast, and even brain cancers. Granted, your oncologist will be the one to decide which avenue is best for you depending on your cancer and its location. 

Many patients are unduly frightened at the various treatments available because for instance they fear great pain when undergoing IMRT or IGRT, but actually the patient never feels any pain while undergoing treatment, and in fact many are very calmed when told that the machine delivering the radiation therapy will not even touch the patient ever! 

Some fear the aftereffects of undergoing such therapies. Yes, some patients do lose their hair if they are undergoing radiation therapy on their head, but it will grow back, and yes at times there are some who do have to cope with nausea, however rest assured that medicine has advanced with those problems as well. 

It is strange how rumors can cover even cancer therapy. For instance, one woman reported that her physician gave her a tattoo before sending her to radiation therapy, and her friends were shocked. This is actually based on fact, as frequently oncologists want the skin marked with a very tiny little dot so that the chemotherapy can always be given to the right spot, and that is occasionally done with a very tiny tattoo. Those, whose religion will not allow a tattoo, will have a mark put on them each and every time with a Magic Marker instead. The problem is, of course, that bathing that area may remove the mark, and prevent the operator giving the therapy from pinpointing the exact location.


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