FAQs about cancer

Cancer is not a single disease but rather a collection of related diseases occurring anywhere in the body.  A cancer occurs when the body’s cells lose control of their ability to divide normally and grow in an uncontrolled manner.  Learn More » 

Spread of cancer to a new part of the body is called metastasis.  Cancers go through several steps to spread to a new part of the body.  The cancer will grow uncontrolled, invading surrounding normal tissues.  The cancer can then gain the ability to spread away from the primary site.  Cancers most commonly spread by the lymph system or bloodstream.  This allows a cancer access to other parts of the body.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 and 609,640 people will die from cancer.  Approximately, 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life.

Maintaining a healthy diet and level of physical activity can reduce the risk of developing many types of cancers. It also improves your chances of survival if you do get cancer. Gender, age and family history are some risk factors associated with the development of cancer.  Smoking cessation and reducing exposures known to contribute to cancer can also lower risk of cancer.

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Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy are the most commonly used therapies for cancer.   However, many forms of treatment exists.  

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In most radiation treatments it is not possible to assess response during the treatment.  However, if you are having symptoms before therapy, an improvement in those symptoms is a reliable indicator of a good treatment response.  

The response to treatment will be followed with a combination of physical exam, labs and/or imaging following the completion of radiation. 

Many types of radiation have side effects but they generally do not occur until several weeks into treatment.  Side effects typically occur gradually with changes week to week.  This is one of the main reasons you will be seen weekly during radiation; To catch and treat symptoms early.

If you develop a symptom, tell your physician immediately.

There are over 100 different types of cancer.  Cancers are usually named for the organ and type of tissue they come from.  

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The four most common non-skin cancers in the US are breast , lung , bowel and prostate.  Together they account for about half of new cases of cancer.

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Remission means that the signs or symptoms of cancer have been reduced.  Remission may be partial or complete (if there is no sign of cancer following treatment).  If you stay in complete remission for 5 years, your doctor may say that you are cured.  Cure means that there are no traces of cancer and the cancer is not likely to come back. 

There are many ways to get involved with helping cancer patients.  Volunteering, donating, advocating, research and raising awareness are just a few of the ways!

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Radiation therapy uses beams similar to standard X-ray and CT equipment.  The biggest differences of therapeutic radiation from standard X-rays is that a higher energy beam is used and the energy beam is also highly focused to the area of the tumor to limit exposure to surrounding healthy tissues. 

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