Category: Cancer


lthough lung cancer rates have dropped among white males during the past decade, the rate among white females and black males and females has begun to slow, but still continues to be a pervasive threat. Lung cancer caused an estimated 164,000 deaths in 2000. Since 1987, more women died from lung cancer than from breast cancer, which for over 40 years had been the major cause of cancer deaths in women. Today, lung cancer continues to be the leading cancer killer for both men and women. As smoking rates have declined over the past 30 years, however, we have seen significant declines in male lung cancer. But these rates are not dropping as quickly among women. Another cause for concern is that although adult smoking rates have declined, tobacco use among youth is again on the rise.Symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, blood-streaked sputum, chest pain, and recurrent attacks of pneumonia or bronchitis. Treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are all treatment options. If the cancer is localized, surgery is usually the treatment of choice. If the cancer has spread, surgery is used in combination with radiation and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, despite advances in medical technology, survival rates for lung cancer have improved only slightly over the past decade. Just 13 percent of lung cancer patients live five or more years after diagnosis. These rates improve to 47 percent with early detection, but only 15 percent of lung cancers are discovered in their early stages of development.
Prevention Smokers, especially those who have smoked for over 20 years, and people who have been exposed to certain industrial substances such as arsenic and asbestos or to radiation from occupational, medical, or environmental sources are at the highest risk for lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2000, over 430,000 cancer deaths were caused by tobacco use and an additional 20,000 cancer deaths were related to alcohol use, frequently in combination with tobacco use. Exposure to sidestream cigarette smoke, known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS, increases the risk for nonsmokers. Some researchers have theorized that as many as 90 percent of all lung cancers could be avoided if people did not smoke. Substantial improvements in overall prognosis have been noted in smokers who quit at the first signs of precancerous cellular changes and allowed their bronchial linings to return to normal.*14/277/5*

Phytochemicals, those naturally occurring substances found in plants, are giving experts reason to believe that a cancer-fighting ingredient may be found in a variety of foods. Other health scientists, however, are not yet ready to jump on this bandwagon.
Phytochemicals are classified under five groups: indoles, thioallyl derivatives, antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids.
- The indoles group includes broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower; this group is necessary for healthy cells.
- Thioallyl derivatives include garlic, leeks, and onions and may provide a boost for the immune system while helping rid the body of carcinogens.
- Antioxidants are critical to the immune system and cellular health; they also appear to promote healing and slow aging. Antioxidants, which include beta-carotene and vitamins С and E, are readily available in produce.
- Phenolic compounds, found in fruits, vegetables, and black and green tea, may have antitumor and anticancer values.
- Flavonoids, found in soy products and apples, also contain antioxidants and are important to healthy cellular growth and development.
- Bright-colored foods, such as tomatoes, orange and yellow peppers, and pink grapefruit, appear to be particularly rich in cancer-fighting chemicals. However, it is important to note that in 2000, experts began to question the “hype” about antioxidants and their benefits. Could this enthusiasm about phytochemicals be just another flash in the nutritional pan? Stay tuned for more research that might further validate or dispute claims related to phytochemicals.


There are some cancers which are so likely to spread through the bloodstream that it is best to take it for granted that they already have when planning treatment. Combinations of chemotherapy with surgery and/or radiation have a higher chance of curing these types of cancer than any one treatment on its own. These cancers include acute leukaemias, rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of muscle), Ewing’s sarcoma (a cancer of bone), Wilm’s tumour (a kidney cancer), and small cell anaplastic cancer of the lung. Chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for these types of cancer, because it travels through the blood and gets to nearly every part of the body. However, if local forms of treatment-surgery and radiation—are directed to the areas where cancer cells are most likely to escape being killed by the chemotherapy drugs, the cure rate is higher than if chemotherapy is used on its own.


Radiation can be combined with other forms of treatment to produce cure rates which are greater than when any one treatment is used on its own. The radiation may be to the primary site or to likely or definite secondary sites. Ependymoma, and low grade astrocytoma are examples of  cancers which are more likely to be cured by a combination of surgery and radiation, both to the primary site, than by either [ surgery or radiation alone. These two examples are both brain  cancers which, because of their location, are difficult to remove completely. Radiation given after surgery increases the cure rate by killing any cells which have not been removed. As we will see in the next section, pre- or post-operative radiation to the primary site usually makes a difference only to the chance of local recurrence and not to the chance of complete cure. These cancers are I exceptions to this rule because they rarely spread outside of the central nervous system. Effective local treatment therefore has a good chance of curing them completely.  Some cancers which have spread can be cured by removing the primary cancer surgically and irradiating the secondary deposits. The main examples are seminoma (a type of testicular cancer) and dysgerminoma (a rare type of ovarian cancer). The primary cancer is removed mainly in order to make a definite and exact diagnosis. These types of cancer are so sensitive to radiation that even quite large secondary deposits can be destroyed completely К using safe doses of radiation. These cancers are also very sensitive to chemotherapy treatment. The chance of cure is greater with chemotherapy than with radiation if the disease is very extensive. However, chemotherapy has more side effects. If you have one of these types of cancer you will have to find out what figures apply in your particular case and exactly what each treatment would involve in order to make the best decision for you.


Extreme agitation and restlessness are not always due to nervous tension. These symptoms can be caused by certain drugs — antinausea drugs, some sedatives, some cough mixtures and medicines designed to dry up phlegm, and corticosteroids. So, if you get these symptoms, especially if they start quite suddenly, ask your doctor to check through your medicines for any that could be causing it. The culprit will usually be one you have just started taking.

This is another area where nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists are likely to be of very much more practical help than doctors. If you actually already have developed, or do develop, a pressure sore, you will certainly need this help to get it healed. But don’t leave it until then to ask for advice. If you can’t move around freely and easily, ask these people for help with choosing and getting into good positions, with ways to keep dry, with easy to manage ways of padding your danger points and with ideas of what to rub on any sore spots. You are unlikely to develop any pressure sores if you follow their advice.



Some time after your operation you will be visited on the ward by a hospital doctor to check that all is well.

Before you are discharged from hospital, the nursing staff will need to be sure that you will be able to manage. If you do not have help at home, and you are concerned about managing on your own, do tell one of the nurses before your operation so that some arrangement can be made for you. For some people, such as students who are returning alone to student accommodation, or elderly women who live on their own, a longer stay in hospital may be necessary until they are better able to cope.

By the time you are discharged from hospital you should have only slight pain or discomfort, your wound will be healing, and any drains will have been removed.


You should not drive yourself home after your operation, and should probably avoid driving for at least 2 weeks. Your car insurance is likely to be invalid for at least 48 hours after a general anesthetic: you may feel all right, but your reactions in an emergency would be slower than normal.

Even if you have not had a general anesthetic, do not drive until you are sure you can make an emergency stop without being hindered by pain from your wound. If you are in any doubt, your GP will be able to advise you about this.

Discharge letter

Before you leave hospital you will be given a letter to take to your GP’s surgery. This will contain a report of the operation and anything your GP may need to know about your treatment, and should be delivered as soon as possible – on your way home from hospital if this is feasible. The letter may be posted to your GP if you leave hospital before it has been written.

Follow-up clinic visits

Before you leave the hospital, nursing staff will arrange your next clinic visit – within a week or two of your operation. Time will be allowed for the results to be received from the examination of your breast tissue which always follows an operation on the breast.

If the stitches in your wound are non-absorbable, these will either be removed at the clinic visit or, if nursing staff think your wound will have healed sufficiently beforehand, you will be asked to make an appointment at your health centre or GP’s surgery so that they can be removed there.

Although the anxiety you and your family will feel while you await this next visit to the clinic is well understood by the nursing and medical staff, they must be sure that the results from the laboratory will have been received first.

Visit from the breast care nurse

If your hospital has a specialist breast care nurse, she will visit you on the ward before you leave. Do tell her if you are concerned about anything, or if there is anything you do not understand. She may be able to arrange a date to visit you at home if you would like her to do so, and will probably continue to see you as often as necessary, either at home or in her clinic.