Bill, 53 years old and a 3-year survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, reflects on his ongoing journey as a cancer survivor: “I was very sick and treatment was very rough, complete with a severe allergic reaction that was difficult to diagnose for a long time. But I made it through to the other shore…remission. Since then, I’ve been trying to rebuild a new life…Living with an 18-year-old [son], I can see how in some ways I’m in a parallel universe…Both of us are looking out at the world before us, at all the many possible options...trying to figure out what we want tomorrow to look like.
It is estimated that more than 62,000 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2008, with more than 8,400 deaths, and an estimated lifetime risk predicted to be 1 in 55. Although deadly in its later stages, melanoma carries an excellent prognosis if it is diagnosed early. Fortunately, most melanoma cases (80%) are diagnosed at a localized stage; the 5-year survival rate for this group is 98.5%.
Osteoporosis, the most common late effect of cancer treatment in the US, occurs with greater frequency among cancer survivors than the general population. Survivors of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood leukemia are at particularly high risk for changes in bone mineral density (BMD) / osteoporosis that can lead to fractures. In breast and prostate cancer patients, bone effects are often the result of endocrine therapy–induced alterations in bone microarchitecture. They also can be caused by other types of cancer therapy, vitamin D deficiency, and other physiological changes that may or may not be related to cancer or its treatment. In childhood leukemia patients, bone effects can be caused by a variety of factors, including corticosteroid therapy, radiation therapy to the brain, and the disease itself.
As difficult as treatments are for many cancer patients, another difficult time awaits them at the conclusion of therapy. Until that point, patients have become accustomed to the fleeting comfort of regularly scheduled appointments for diagnostic testing, chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, and ongoing contact with health care professionals. Conclusion of treatment can seem abrupt and the absence of attention can be unsettling for many. It is at this point that patients often ask, “What can I do now to help myself?”
In 2008, roughly 1.44 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer, and accordingly were labeled as “cancer survivors.” Fortunately, for roughly 65% of those who were newly diagnosed, this label will expand to encompass issues of long-term survivorship and health maintenance. Extended cancer survivorship is a relatively new concept. In the past, most people who were diagnosed with the disease did not survive it. While longer survival times are a measure of success, the dark side of this victory is that a substantial proportion of these survivors will experience recurrence or second cancers. In addition, many more will go on to develop comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, or osteoporosis, which often kill or debilitate survivors at much higher rates than the cancer itself.[3,4]
When you have cancer, you can get diarrhea for a number of reasons. Most often, it is a side effect of treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Cancer occurs in approximately 1 per 1,000 pregnancies. For the woman and her family, the diagnosis creates an emotional upheaval of hopes and fears and raises the issue of immortality and mortality simultaneously. The treatment proposed to save the mother can appear in direct conflict with the desire to protect the developing fetus.
A diagnosis of cancer and its subsequent treatment can be a very frightening and confusing experience for the pregnant patient, and are challenging for the physician and nurse. As women delay childbirth until later in life, the incidence of pregnancy associated with cancer is expected to increase. Currently, approximately 1 in 1,000 pregnancies is complicated by cancer.[1–5]
When you have cancer, constipation is more likely to occur because of the cancer itself or as a side effect of treatment. If you have constipation, your doctor or nurse can help you to treat it and prevent it in the future.
42-year-old Caucasian female who was in her usual state of health when her first mammogram showed suspicious calcifications and a spiculated mass in the upper outer quadrant of the right breast. An ultrasound-guided biopsy showed an invasive ductal carcinoma. She underwent a lumpectomy, with the excised tumor measuring 1.2 cm. The tumor was estrogen and progesterone positive and HER2/neu negative.