5 Facts About Lung Cancer

Because of its commonly known association with smoking, lung cancer is likely one of the forms of the disease that most people could point to when they hear the word “cancer.” However, that doesn’t mean the public’s awareness about the condition is complete, or correct. Understanding the full extent of the risk factors, symptoms and treatments can help make all of us better informed and prepared should a diagnosis hit close to home. Beyond the 5 facts about lung cancer listed below, there are countless other nuances to the disease, so, should you find your own life impacted by lung cancer, it’s important to do your research and educate yourself. 5 Facts About Lung Cancer Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer. More than 1.8 million people around the world are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, including 222,500 Americans. It follows only breast cancer in the number of people affected. It has higher fatality rates than many other types of cancer. Nearly 160,000 people die of lung cancer each year—more than the rates for colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Smoking is the leading — but not only — risk factor. Smoking cigarettes drastically increases your chances for contracting the disease, as does smoking cigars, pipes, and hookahs. However, up to 15% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers, with other risk factors including secondhand smoke, carcinogen exposure, and genetic mutations. There are four primary forms of lung cancer. The vast majority of cases are considered non-small cell lung cancer, while other forms include small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma, and carcinoid tumors. A registry exists for...

What Cancer Patients Need to Know About Preserving Fertility

Cancer has a wealth of immediate impacts on a patient’s life: disrupting normal routines, work and school commitments, finances and countless other areas. It can also have a long-lasting effect on family-planning. However, with enough forward-thinking and preparation—and plenty of research about what cancer patients need to know about preserving fertility—those who are aiming to become parents don’t have to let their plans get knocked off course. There are a number of reasons that infertility and cancer are known to go hand in hand. For one, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can do extensive damage to both men and women’s reproductive systems, damaging both eggs and sperm. Miscarriages are an unfortunate reality for many patients, and treatment-related damage can also lead to birth defects if a child is carried to term. While the risk for treatment-related genetic damage does subside a year after a treatment, some patients may be permanently affected. Additionally, both treatments and medications can also affect hormones and other organs, making conceiving and carrying a challenge. However, there are options for those who still want to fulfill their goal of starting or expanding a family. Here’s what cancer patients need to know about preserving fertility: Embryo freezing: In this method, before a woman begins cancer treatment, her eggs are retrieved and fertilized with the sperm of a partner or donor. The resulting embryos are frozen and stored for future use, at which time they can be reimplanted in the woman’s uterus or that of a surrogate. While a successful approach, it can be costly, with prices as high as $8,000. It can also be time-consuming,...

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month: 5 Things You Need to Know

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a time when those affected by the disease, researchers and others assess all that we know about thyroid cancer, and all that there is still to learn. From signs of thyroid cancer to treatment options, it’s important to keep yourself apprised of the latest research so that, should your life be touched by thyroid cancer, you can be more prepared to face the diagnosis head-on. Here are five things you should know about thyroid cancer to protect yourself and your loved ones: 1. Rates are on the rise: According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer is the fastest-growing cancer in the country, with rates more than tripling in the last decade. While there are a number of factors that could contribute to that growth, among them better screening and testing techniques, more aggressive forms of the cancer are also becoming more prominent. 2. It is most common among young women: Because the cancer is less complex than some other forms, which may involve a number of genetic mutations, it’s often diagnosed earlier. Women are disproportionately affected, with only about a quarter of diagnoses in America in men. 3. The signs of thyroid cancer: While thyroid cancer is most commonly diagnosed after the presence of a lump, the vast majority of thyroid-related lumps are benign. Other signs of thyroid cancer include pain in the thyroid area, trouble swallowing and persistent hoarseness. 4. Survival rates are decreasing: Mortality rates vary depending on a number of circumstances, but survival is usually quite common, especially if the cancer is caught early; however, survival rates are lowering,...

Cancer Research: Killing Dormant Tumor Cells

It’s an unfortunate reality that, many times, even when oncology teams are able to target and kill active cancer cells, the patient may not be out of the woods — as cancer cells frequently spread, or metastasize. These cells may lie dormant for years, hiding within the bones, lymph nodes or other areas of the body — making effective treatment an ongoing challenge. However, a new research study has highlighted one approach that showed promising results for rooting out and killing cancer cells that are hiding in the body. How Does Cancer Spread? First, it’s important to understand, how does cancer spread or metastasize? Infected cancer cells can break away from the primary tumor and become insulated within healthy cells. These normal cells surrounding the tumor, known as the tumor microenvironment, can provide unfortunate protection for the surviving cancer cells. In their experiments with mice, the researchers found that these escaped cells were often clustered around blood vessels in an area called the perivascular niche. In particular, the vessels’ endothelial cells were guarding the cancer cells, making them resistant to treatments like chemotherapy. The researchers also found molecules called integrins that were interacting with the endothelial cells. Integrins are a natural part of healing and are designed to protect cells — but that tendency may be helping infected cells continue to thrive and spread. What’s Next for Cancer Researchers? Using this data, researchers developed two antibodies designed to target the integrins. In mice that were administered only chemo, 75% experienced metastasis; however, those who were also treated with the anti-integrin antibodies had much more success, with only 22% of...

What is Sarcoma Cancer? 5 Things You Need to Know

Sarcoma is called the “forgotten cancer,” as it’s a form of the disease that is much more rare than others, and because of that, it often doesn’t get the attention it should. However, although it’s less common, sarcoma can still pose a serious risk to someone’s health, so it’s important to be educated about the condition. July is a perfect time to do that, as it’s Sarcoma Awareness Month. What is Sarcoma Cancer? Before you can dive in and do your part to encourage sarcoma awareness, it’s helpful to first understand what the condition actually is. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that can be found anywhere in the body and typically is defined as either soft tissue or bone, with dozens of different categories of each. Sarcomas are often difficult to detect and diagnose, though they unfortunately claim more than 6,500 American lives every year, with more than 15,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research. How Can I Promote Sarcoma Awareness? Keeping those statistics in mind, spreading sarcoma awareness can be a vital tool in helping to save lives. Here are five important things you need to know — and that you should tell others in your life! — about sarcoma cancer: Most sarcomas have no known cause: Unlike other forms of cancer, there are no known risk factors for sarcoma. However, certain genetic conditions such as Gardner syndrome or lymph-system damage can enhance the risk, and exposure to radiation, certain herbicides and other chemicals are also thought to play a role. Sarcomas are rare among adults, but...

Unique Ways to Help with Cancer Research

Donating money for cancer patients is one way to help those in need—but, as cancer continues to ravage countless lives around the globe, support for cancer research is just as vital. Often when a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she may start looking into ways to access assistance: programs that offer transportation to appointments, loans that provide money for cancer patients, employment-assistance initiatives to help people in recovery get back to work. While all of those efforts are vital, cancer patients may also find a source of comfort from giving back. Patients with cancer are part of a worldwide community, and investing in efforts to make that community smaller year by year can help those fighting their personal battle feel a bit more empowered and inspired. Here are a few ways that cancer patients, along with their loved ones, can support cancer research: Donate tissue: To really understand the root causes of cancer, researchers need to see the disease in action, and one of the best ways to do that is through live tissue. Agencies like the National Cancer Institute run large-scale research studies to which patients can donate tissue. Healthy tissue may also sometimes be needed, so family and friends of those fighting cancer should also explore this option. Organize a penny drive: A penny may not seem like much in the grand scheme of the need for money for cancer patients, but every cent counts. A penny drive in your neighborhood, through a child’s athletic group or at a local business can be a good way for the entire community of supporters surrounding a patient to do...