DRUGS & CONDITIONS

HELPING YOU UNDERSTAND AND MANAGE YOUR CANCER TREATMENT

Taking Control

Recent medical advances for cancer are changing the way this disease is diagnosed and treated. Through public awareness campaigns and access to information, there is much known about cancer and its treatments, such as ways to improve symptoms and side effects of treatment. By talking with your CVS Specialty Cancer CareTeam, we can help you better understand your treatment options, know what to expect with certain treatments, and improve the way you feel.

Here are some of the ways CVS Specialty can help you manage your condition. An experienced, pharmacist-led Cancer CareTeam will work closely with you to:

  • Review drug dosing and treatment cycle information
  • Discuss possible side effects and drug interactions and ways to manage your symptoms
  • Educate you on cancer medications, types of cancer, and steps you can take to feel better
  • Coordinate delivery of refills
  • Provide easy access to oral and injectable cancer drugs and supportive care drugs
  • Verify insurance and provide reimbursement counseling
  • Answer your questions and consult with you through an on-call pharmacist available 24/7
  • Receive prompt, no-cost medication delivery to your location of choice
     

CVS Specialty is here to help you. For more information, please click here or you can call us toll-free at: 1-800-237-2767

 

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

WHAT IS CANCER?

Topics

Defining Cancer

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start. For example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer; cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

  • Carcinoma - cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs
  • Sarcoma - cancer that begins in bone, fat, muscle, blood and lymph vessels, or other fibrous tissue (tendons and ligaments)
  • Leukemia - cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood
  • Lymphoma and myeloma - cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system
  • Central nervous system cancers - cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord
     

Origins of Cancer

All cancers begin in cells, the body's basic unit of life. To understand cancer, it's helpful to know what happens when normal cells become cancer cells. The body is made up of many types of cells. These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. As cells become more and more abnormal, they do not die when they should. New cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

Not all tumors are cancerous; tumors can be benign or malignant.

  • Benign tumors aren't cancerous. They can often be removed, and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Malignant tumors are cancerous. Cells in these tumors can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.
     

Some cancers do not form tumors. For example, leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.
 

Additional Information

Cancers that are diagnosed with the greatest frequency in the United States are listed below.


The risk of developing many types of cancer can be reduced by practicing healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking. Also, the sooner a cancer is found and treatment begins, the better the chances are that the treatment will be successful.
 


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

BLADDER CANCER

Topics


Bladder cancer affects your bladder, which is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine, the liquid waste made by the kidneys.

Symptoms

Bladder cancer may cause these common symptoms:

  • Finding blood in your urine (which may make the urine look rusty or darker red)
  • Feeling an urgent need to empty your bladder
  • Having to empty your bladder more often than you used to
  • Needing to strain (bear down) when you empty your bladder
  • Feeling pain when you empty your bladder


These symptoms may be caused by bladder cancer or by other health problems, such as an infection. People with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

If you have symptoms that suggest bladder cancer, your doctor will try to find out what's causing the problems.

You may have a physical exam. Also, you may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Urine tests: The lab checks your urine for blood, cancer cells, and other signs of disease.
  • Cystoscopy: Your doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (a cystoscope) to look directly into your bladder. It may be done at your doctor's office. This test can be uncomfortable because the doctor will insert the cystoscope into the bladder through your urethra. You may need local anesthesia for this test.
  • Biopsy: Your doctor can remove samples of tissue with the cystoscope. A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope. The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present.


For a small number of patients, the doctor removes the entire area with cancer during the biopsy. For these patients, bladder cancer is diagnosed and treated at the same time.
 

Treatment

Treatment options for people with bladder cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment. The treatment that's right for you depends mainly on the following:

  • The location of the tumor in the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or tissues outside the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body
  • The grade of the tumor
  • Your age and general health
     

Eating Well

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Learning that you have bladder cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities. Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
  • Organizations that offer support:

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

BREAST CANCER

Topics


Tumors in the breast can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors are usually not harmful. Breast cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes near the breast. The cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.


Symptoms

Early breast cancer usually doesn't cause symptoms. But there may be signs caused by breast cancer and other conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Discharge (fluid) from the nipple, especially if it's bloody
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin at the center of the breast). The skin may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange.
     

You should see your health care provider about any symptom that does not go away. Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Another health problem could cause them. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your health care provider so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated.


Tests

Your doctor can check for breast cancer before you have any symptoms. During an office visit, your doctor will ask about your personal and family medical history. You'll have a physical exam. Your doctor may order one or more imaging tests, such as a mammogram.

Doctors recommend that women have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms to find breast cancer early. Treatment is more likely to work well when breast cancer is detected early.


Clinical Breast Exam

During a clinical breast exam, your health care provider checks your breasts, nipples, and under your arms for any abnormal changes. Ask at what age and how often you should have this exam. 

Your health care provider looks for differences in size or shape between your breasts. The skin of your breasts is checked for a rash, dimpling, or other abnormal signs. Your nipples may be squeezed to check for fluid.

Using the pads of the fingers to feel for lumps, your health care provider checks your entire breast, underarm, and collarbone area. A lump is generally the size of a pea before anyone can feel it. The exam is done on one side and then the other. Your health care provider checks the lymph nodes near the breast to see if they are enlarged.

If you have a lump, your health care provider will feel its size, shape, and texture. Your health care provider will also check to see if the lump moves easily. Benign lumps often feel different from cancerous ones. Lumps that are soft, smooth, round, and movable are likely to be benign. A hard, oddly shaped lump that feels firmly attached within the breast is more likely to be cancer, but further tests are needed to diagnose the problem.


Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of tissues inside the breast. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They can also show deposits of calcium:

  • Macrocalcifications look like small white dots on a mammogram. They are common in women over 50 years of age. These spots are not related to cancer and usually don’t need additional testing.
  • Microcalcifications look like tiny white specks on a mammogram. They are usually not a sign of cancer. But if they are found in an area of rapidly dividing cells, or grouped together in a certain way, you may need more tests.
     

There are two types of mammograms. Screening mammograms are used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. Diagnostic mammograms are used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign of the disease is found. The technician may magnify an area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make a diagnosis.

Getting a high-quality screening mammogram and having a clinical breast exam on a regular basis are the most effective ways to find breast cancer early.
 

Other Imaging Tests

If an abnormal area is found during a clinical breast exam or with a mammogram, the doctor may order other imaging tests:

  • Ultrasound: A woman with a lump or other breast change may have an ultrasound test. An ultrasound device sends out sound waves that people can't hear. The sound waves bounce off breast tissues. A computer uses the echoes to create a picture.
  • MRI: MRI uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer. It makes detailed pictures of breast tissue. These pictures can show the difference between normal and abnormal tissue.
     

Biopsy

A biopsy is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if cancer is present.


Lab Tests with Breast Tissue

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may order special lab tests on the breast tissue that was removed:

  • Hormone receptor tests: Some breast tumors need hormones to grow. These tumors have receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both. If the hormone receptor tests show that the breast tumor has these receptors, then hormone therapy is most often recommended as a treatment option.
  • HER2/neu test: HER2/neu protein is found on some types of cancer cells. This test shows whether the tissue either has too much HER2/neu protein or too many copies of its gene. If the breast tumor has too much HER2/neu, then targeted therapy may be a treatment option.
     

It may take several weeks to get the results of these tests. The test results help your doctor decide which cancer treatments may be options for you.
 

Treatment


Women with breast cancer have many treatment options. The treatment that's best for one woman may not be best for another. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.

The treatment that's right for you depends mainly on the stage of the cancer, the results of the hormone receptor tests, the result of the HER2/neu test, and your general health.

Your doctor can describe your treatment choices, the expected results, and the possible side effects. Because cancer therapy often damages healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects, how to prevent or reduce these effects, and how treatment may change your normal activities.

You may want to know how you will look during and after treatment. You and your health care team can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical and personal needs.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat breast cancer include surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. You also may be referred to a plastic surgeon or reconstructive surgeon. Your health care team may also include an oncology nurse and a registered dietitian.


Eating Well and Staying Active

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well and staying as active as you can.

You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy. Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. On the other hand, some women treated for breast cancer may have a problem with weight gain.

Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.

Many women find that they feel better when they stay active. Physical activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer may be beneficial in improving quality of life, reducing fatigue, and assisting with energy balance. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know.


Support

Learning that you have breast cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that such a diagnosis can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups also can help. In these groups, women with breast cancer or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group. Women with breast cancer often get together in support groups, but please keep in mind that each woman is different. Ways that one woman deals with cancer may not be right for another. You may want to ask your health care provider about advice you receive from other women with breast cancer.
  • Information specialists at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) and at LiveHelp (https://livehelp.cancer.gov) can help you locate programs, services, and publications. They can send you a list of organizations that offer services to women with cancer.
     

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

COLON AND RECTAL CANCER

Topics


Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer, and cancer that begins in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Cancer that starts in either of these organs may also be called colorectal cancer.
 

Symptoms

Common symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Having a change in bowel habits: diarrhea, constipation, feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, and stools that are narrower than usual
  • Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  • Frequently having gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
  • Have a change in appetite
  • Losing weight with no known reason
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Having general abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps)
  • Having nausea or vomiting
     

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Other health problems can cause the same symptoms. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.
 

Tests

Screening tests help your doctor find polyps or cancer before you have symptoms. Finding and removing polyps may prevent colorectal cancer. Also, treatment for colorectal cancer is more likely to be effective when the disease is found early.

To find polyps or early colorectal cancer:

  • People in their 50s and older should be screened regularly.
  • People who are at higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests before age 50, what tests to have, the benefits and risks of each test, and how often to schedule appointments.
     

The following screening tests can be used to detect polyps, cancer, or other abnormal areas. Your doctor can explain more about each test:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): Sometimes cancers or polyps bleed, and the FOBT can detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool. If this test detects blood, other tests are needed to find the source of the blood. Benign conditions (such as hemorrhoids) also can cause blood in the stool.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: Your doctor checks inside your rectum and the lower part of the colon with a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope. If polyps are found, the doctor removes them. The procedure to remove polyps is called a polypectomy.
  • Colonoscopy: Your doctor examines inside the rectum and entire colon using a long, lighted tube called a colonoscope. Your doctor removes polyps that may be found.
  • Virtual colonoscopy (colonography): a series of x-rays is taken of the colon. A computer puts the pictures together to create detailed images. The images may show polyps and anything else that seems unusual on the inside surface of the colon.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: You are given an enema with a barium solution, and air is pumped into your rectum. Several x-ray pictures are taken of your colon and rectum. The barium and air help your colon and rectum show up on the pictures. Polyps or tumors may show up.
  • Digital rectal exam: A rectal exam is often part of a routine physical examination. Your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
     

Treatment

The choice of treatment depends mainly on the location of the tumor in the colon or rectum and the stage of the disease. Treatment for colorectal cancer may involve surgery, radiofrequency ablation, cryosurgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted therapy. Some people have a combination of treatments. 

Your doctor can describe your treatment choices and the expected results. You and your doctor can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Because cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effects depend mainly on the type and extent of the treatment. Side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next. Before treatment starts, your health care team will explain possible side effects and suggest ways to help you manage them.
 

Eating Well and Staying Active

It is important to eat well and stay as active as you can.

You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight during and after cancer treatment. You also need enough protein, vitamins, and minerals. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Eating well can be hard. Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods do not taste as good as they used to. You also may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth sores. Your doctor, registered dietitian, or other health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.

Many people find they feel better when they stay active. Walking, yoga, swimming, and other activities can keep you strong and increase your energy. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
 

Support

Living with a serious disease such as colorectal cancer is not easy. You may worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy also can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.

Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
 


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

ENDOMETRIAL CANCER

Topics


Cancer that forms in the tissue lining the uterus (the small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis in which a fetus develops) is called uterine cancer or endometrial cancer.
 

Symptoms

The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. It may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood. After menopause, any vaginal bleeding is abnormal.

These are common symptoms of uterine cancer:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
  • Pain or difficulty when emptying the bladder
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvic area
     

These symptoms may be caused by uterine cancer or by other health problems. Women with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

These symptoms may be caused by uterine cancer or by other health problems. Women with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

  • Pelvic exam: Your doctor can check your uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound device uses sound waves that can't be heard by humans. The sound waves make a pattern of echoes as they bounce off organs inside the pelvis. The echoes create a picture of your uterus and nearby tissues. The picture can show a uterine tumor. For a better view of the uterus, the device may be inserted into the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).
  • Biopsy: The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is a biopsy. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina into your uterus. Your doctor uses gentle scraping and suction to remove samples of tissue. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present.
     

Treatment

Treatment options for people with uterine cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.

The treatment that's right for you depends mainly on the following:

  • Whether the tumor has invaded tissues outside the uterus
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body
  • The grade of the tumor
  • Your age and general health


You may have a team of specialists to help plan your treatment. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat uterine cancer include gynecologists, gynecologic oncologists (doctors who specialize in treating female cancers), medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Your health care team may also include an oncology nurse and a registered dietitian.

Your health care team can describe your treatment choices, the expected results of each, and the possible side effects. Because cancer therapy often damages healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. You and your health care team can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
 

Eating Well

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so that you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well.

Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Learning that you have uterine cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with cancer and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
  • Your doctor or a sex counselor may be helpful if you and your partner are concerned about the effects of uterine cancer on your sex life. Ask your doctor about possible treatment of side effects and whether these effects are likely to last. Whatever the outlook, you and your partner may find it helps to discuss your concerns.
     

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

KIDNEY CANCER

Topics


Kidney cancer forms in tissues of the kidneys. Kidney cancer includes:

  • Renal cell carcinoma: cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products 
  • Transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis: cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects
  • Wilms tumor: a type of kidney cancer that usually develops in children under the age of 5
     

Symptoms

Common symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine (making the urine slightly rusty to deep red)
  • Pain in the side that does not go away
  • A lump or mass in the side or the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Feeling very tired
     

Most often, these symptoms do not mean cancer. An infection, a cyst, or another problem also can cause the same symptoms. A person with any of these symptoms should see a doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

If a patient has symptoms that suggest kidney cancer, the doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures:

  • Physical exam: The doctor checks general signs of health and tests for fever and high blood pressure. The doctor also feels the abdomen and side for tumors.
  • Urine tests: Urine is checked for blood and other signs of disease.
  • Blood tests: The lab checks the blood to see how well the kidneys are working. The lab may check the level of several substances, such as creatinine. A high level of creatinine may mean the kidneys are not doing their job.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): The doctor injects dye into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the body and collects in the kidneys. The dye makes them show up on x-rays. A series of x-rays then tracks the dye as it moves through the kidneys to the ureters and bladder. The x-rays can show a kidney tumor or other problems.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of the kidneys. The patient may receive an injection of dye so the kidneys show up clearly in the pictures. A CT scan can show a kidney tumor.
  • MRI: A large machine with a strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of your urinary tract and lymph nodes. You may receive an injection of contrast material. An MRI can show cancer in the kidneys, lymph nodes, or other tissues in the abdomen.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): The doctor injects dye into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the body and collects in the kidneys. The dye makes cancer cells show up on x-rays. A series of x-rays then tracks the dye as it moves through the kidneys to the ureters and bladder. The x-rays can show a kidney tumor or other problems. IVP is not used as commonly as CT or MRI to find kidney cancer.
  • Ultrasound test: The ultrasound device uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The waves bounce off the kidneys, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture. This picture can show a kidney tumor.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, the doctor may do a biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. The doctor inserts a thin needle through the skin into the kidney to remove a small amount of tissue. The doctor may use ultrasound or x-rays to guide the needle. A pathologist uses a microscope to look for cancer cells in the tissue.
  • Surgery: In most cases, based on the results of the CT scan, ultrasound, and x-rays, the doctor has enough information to recommend surgery to remove part or all of the kidney. A pathologist makes the final diagnosis by examining the tissue under a microscope.
     

Treatment

Many people with kidney cancer want to take an active part in making decisions about their medical care. They want to learn all they can about their disease and their treatment choices. However, shock and stress after the diagnosis can make it hard to think of everything they want to ask the doctor. It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment. To help remember what the doctor says, people may take notes or ask whether they may use a tape recorder. Some also want to have a family member or friend with them when they talk to the doctor—to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen.

The doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, or the patient may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat kidney cancer include doctors who specialize in diseases of the urinary system (urologists) and doctors who specialize in cancer (medical oncologists and radiation oncologists).
 

Eating Well

Patients need to eat well during cancer therapy. They need enough calories to maintain a good weight and protein to keep up strength. Good nutrition often helps people with cancer feel better and have more energy.

But eating well can be difficult. Patients may not feel like eating if they are uncomfortable or tired. Also, the side effects of treatment, such as poor appetite, nausea, or vomiting, can be a problem. Some patients find that foods do not taste as good during cancer therapy.

Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Living with a serious disease such as kidney cancer is not easy. People with kidney cancer may worry about caring for their families, keeping their jobs, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful to those who want to talk about their feelings or discuss their concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.

Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the internet about finding a support group. 


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

LEUKEMIA

Topics

Leukemia is cancer of the blood and bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.

Acute leukemia usually develops quickly. The number of leukemia cells increases rapidly, and these abnormal cells don’t do the work of normal white blood cells. A bone marrow test may show a high level of leukemia cells and low levels of normal blood cells.
 

Symptoms

The early signs and symptoms of acute leukemia are like the flu and other common diseases. Some of these may include: 

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Weight or appetite loss
  • Petechiae (flat pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding)
     

Chronic leukemia usually develops slowly. The leukemia cells work almost as well as normal white blood cells. But if not treated, the leukemia cells may later crowd out normal blood cells.

People may not feel sick at first. The first sign of chronic leukemia may be abnormal results on a routine blood test, which may show a high level of leukemia cells. When symptoms are present, some may include:

  • Feeling very tired
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs
     

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. An infection or other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Only a doctor can tell for sure.

Anyone with these symptoms should tell the doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

If you have symptoms that suggest leukemia, your doctor will try to find out what's causing the problems. Your doctor may ask about your personal and family medical history.

You may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor checks for general signs of disease, such as an enlarged spleen.
  • Blood tests: The lab does a complete blood count to check the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The lab also checks the amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells and the portion of the blood sample made of red blood cells.
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: Your doctor may remove some of your blood, bone marrow, or bone tissue to check for abnormal cells.
     

Your doctor may do other tests, based on these results.
 

Treatment

People with leukemia have many treatment options. The choice of treatment may depend on:

  • The type, phase, or stage of leukemia
  • Your age
  • Your general health
  • Whether leukemia cells were found in your brain or spinal cord
  • Whether the leukemia has been treated before or has come back
     

It also may depend on certain features of the leukemia cells. Your doctor also considers your symptoms and general health.

People with acute leukemia need to be treated right away. The goal of treatment is to destroy signs of leukemia in the body and make symptoms go away. Maintenance therapy may be given after signs of leukemia are gone.

If you have chronic leukemia without symptoms, you may not need cancer treatment right away. Your doctor will watch your health closely so that treatment can start when you begin to have symptoms. Not getting cancer treatment right away is called watchful waiting. When the disease gets worse, treatment can often control the disease and its symptoms. Then people may receive maintenance therapy. This helps keep the leukemia from coming back.

Some common treatments for leukemia are:

  • Chemotherapy: medicine that kills leukemia cells
  • Targeted therapy: medicine that blocks the growth of leukemia cells
  • Radiation therapy: high-energy rays that kill cancer cells
  • Stem cell transplant: receiving healthy blood stem cells to replace the normal blood stem cells that are destroyed during chemotherapy or radiation therapy
     

Your doctor can describe your treatment choices, the expected results, and the possible side effects. You and your doctor can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical and personal needs.

Before treatment starts, ask your health care team to explain possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. Because cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.
 

Eating Well and Staying Active

It's important for you to take care of yourself by eating well and staying as active as you can. You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy. Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods do not taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.

Many people with cancer feel better when they are active. Walking, yoga, and other activities can keep you strong and increase your energy. Exercise may reduce nausea and pain and make treatment easier to handle. It also can help relieve stress. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
 

Support

Learning you have leukemia can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to have new and confusing feelings to work through.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer many of your questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups can also help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

LUNG CANCER

Topics


Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

The cells of small cell lung cancer look small under a microscope. There are two types of small cell lung cancer. They are named for the kinds of cells found and how the cells look under a microscope:

  • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
  • Combined small cell carcinoma


The cells of non-small cell lung cancer are larger than the cells of small cell lung cancer. There are several types of non-small cell lung cancer. They are named for the kinds of cells found and how the cells look under a microscope:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Large cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Other less common types of non-small cell lung cancer are pleomorphic, carcinoid tumor, salivary gland carcinoma, and unclassified carcinoma
     

Symptoms

Sometimes lung cancer does not cause any symptoms and is found during a routine chest x-ray. Symptoms may be caused by lung cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have:

  • A cough that doesn't go away or gets worse over time
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Wheezing
  • Blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs)
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Feeling very tired
  • Swelling in the face and /or veins in the neck
     

Tests

Tests and procedures to detect, diagnose, and stage lung cancer are often done at the same time. The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of your body to check for general signs of health and disease; this may include a history of your health habits, past jobs, illnesses, and treatments.
  • Laboratory tests: Tests on samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body to help diagnose disease, plan and check treatment, or watch the disease over time.
  • Chest x-ray: An x-ray of organs and bones inside the chest.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest, taken from different angles.
  • Sputum cytology: A procedure in which a pathologist views a sample of sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs) under a microscope, to check for cancer cells.
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of the lung: The removal of tissue or fluid from the lung using a thin needle.
  • Bronchoscopy: A procedure to look inside the trachea and large airways in the lungs for abnormal areas.
  • Thoracoscopy: A surgical procedure to look at the organs inside the chest and to check for abnormal areas.
  • Thoracentesis: The removal of fluid from the space between the lining of the chest and the lung. A pathologist uses a microscope to look for cancer cells in the fluid.
  • Light and electron microscopy: Cells in a tissue sample are viewed under regular and high-powered microscopes to look for certain changes in cells.
  • Immunohistochemistry: A test that is used to tell the difference between certain types of cancer.
  • Mediastinoscopy: A surgical procedure to look at the organs, tissues, and lymph nodes between the lungs for abnormal areas.
     

Treatment

There are several types of treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
  • Cryosurgery
  • Electrocautery
  • Watchful waiting
     

There are also several types of treatment for patients with small cell lung cancer:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Endoscopic stent placement
     

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials. This is part of the cancer research process. For some people, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are taking place in most parts of the country for people with all stages of small cell lung cancer.
 

Eating Well

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well.

Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Learning that you have lung cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
  • Organizations that offer support:

 


 

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

MELANOMA

Topics


Melanoma is the most serious type of cancer of the skin. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than other types of skin cancer. Melanoma begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye.
 

Symptoms

Often, the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. Melanoma also may appear as a new mole.

Thinking of "ABCDE" can help you remember what to watch for:

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other.
  • Border: The edges are often ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline; the pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Color: The color is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue also may be seen.
  • Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea (1/4 inch or 6 millimeters).
  • Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormalities in only one or two of the ABCDE features. In more advanced melanoma, the texture of the mole may change. The skin on the surface may break down and look scraped, become hard or lumpy, ooze or bleed, or become itchy, tender, and painful.

If you have a question or concern about something on your skin, see your doctor.
 

Tests

If a mole or pigmented area of the skin changes or looks abnormal, you will have a skin exam and a biopsy. A doctor or nurse checks the skin for moles, birthmarks, or other pigmented areas that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture. If the doctor suspects that a spot on the skin is melanoma, you will have a biopsy. A biopsy is the only way to know if the spot is melanoma. In this procedure, the doctor removes the abnormal tissue and a small amount of normal tissue around it. This is an excisional biopsy. The doctor will never "shave off" or cauterize a growth that might be melanoma because cancer cells that remain may grow and spread.

A biopsy can usually be done in the doctor's office using local anesthesia. A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Sometimes it is helpful for more than one pathologist to check the tissue for cancer cells.
 

Treatment

The doctor can describe treatment choices and discuss the results expected with each treatment option. The doctor and patient can work together to develop a treatment plan that fits the patient's needs. Treatment for melanoma depends on the type and stage of the disease, the size and place of the tumor, and the patient's general health and medical history.
 

Eating Well

People with melanoma may not feel like eating, especially if they are uncomfortable or tired. Also, the side effects of treatment, such as poor appetite, nausea, or vomiting, can be a problem. Foods may taste different. Nevertheless, patients should try to eat well during cancer therapy. They need enough calories to maintain a good weight and protein to keep up strength. Good nutrition often helps people with cancer feel better and have more energy.

Your doctor, registered dietitian, or other health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Living with a serious disease such as melanoma is not easy. Some people find they need help coping with the emotional and practical aspects of their disease. Support groups can help. In these groups, patients or their family members get together to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Patients may want to talk with a member of their health care team about finding a support group. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet.

People living with melanoma may worry about caring for their families, keeping their jobs, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills also are common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful to those who want to talk about their feelings or discuss their concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
 


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

NON-HODGKIN LYMPHOMA

Topics


Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system.

The lymph system is part of the immune system and is made up of the following:

  • Lymph: Colorless, watery fluid that travels through the lymph system and carries white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes protect the body against infections and the growth of tumors.
  • Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
  • Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph nodes are located along the network of lymph vessels found throughout the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm, pelvis, neck, abdomen, and groin.
  • Spleen: An organ that makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
  • Thymus: An organ in which lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
  • Tonsils: Two small masses of lymph tissue at the back of the throat. The tonsils make lymphocytes.
  • Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue in the center of large bones. Bone marrow makes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.


Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body. Cancer can spread to the liver and many other organs and tissues.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in pregnant women is the same as the disease in nonpregnant women of childbearing age. However, treatment is different for pregnant women. This summary includes information on the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both adults and children. Treatment for children, however, is different than treatment for adults.
 

Risk Factors

  • Being older than 60 years of age, male, or white
  • Having one of the following medical conditions:
    • An inherited immune disorder (for example, hypogammaglobulinemia or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
    • An autoimmune disease (for example, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or Sjögren syndrome)
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Human T-lymphotrophic virus type I (HTLV-1)or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
    • A history of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
    • Hepatitis C virus
  • A weakened immune system (from an inherited condition or from taking immunosuppressant drugs after an organ transplant)
  • Being exposed to certain pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals
  • A diet high in meats and fat
  • Past treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma
     

Tests

Tests that examine the body and lymph system are used to help find and diagnose adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history: Your doctor checks for swollen lymph nodes in your neck, underarms, and groin, as well as for a swollen spleen or liver.
  • Blood and urine immunoglobulin studies: A procedure in which a blood or urine sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain antibodies.
  • Blood viscosity test: A sample of blood is checked for thickness. Blood thickens in one type of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Flow cytometry: A lab test that measures the number of cells in a blood sample, the percentage of live cells, and certain characteristics of cells, such as size, shape, and the presence of tumor markers on the cell surface.
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: The removal of bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone by inserting a needle into the hipbone or breastbone. Local anesthesia can help control pain. A pathologist views the bone marrow, blood, and bone under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
  • Lumbar puncture: A procedure to collect fluid from the spinal column. A pathologist views the fluid under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
  • Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of a lymph node. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
     

Treatment

Different types of treatment are available for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment). Some are being tested in clinical trials (research studies where people volunteer to take part). Clinical trials find out whether promising approaches to treatment are safe and effective. Talk with your doctor to find out more about clinical trials.

Four types of standard treatment are used:

  • Radiation therapy: Uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and keep them from growing.
  • Chemotherapy: Uses medicine to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
  • Targeted therapy: Uses medicine or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.
  • Plasmapheresis: Removes extra plasma and antibody proteins from the blood.
  • Biologic therapy: Substances made by the body or in the lab are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer.
  • Watchful waiting: Closely watching your condition without giving any treatment until signs or symptoms appear or change.


New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials. This is part of the cancer research process. For some people, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are taking place in most parts of the country for people with all stages of small cell lung cancer.
 

Eating Well and Staying Active

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy. Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.

Many people with cancer feel better when they are active. Walking, yoga, swimming, and other activities can keep you strong and increase your energy. Exercise may reduce nausea and pain and make treatment easier to handle. It also can help relieve stress. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
 

Support

Learning that you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups can also help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
  • Organizations that offer support:

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

PANCREATIC CANCER

Topics


Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the ducts that carry pancreatic juices. It is also called exocrine cancer.
 

Symptoms

Early cancer of the pancreas usually doesn't cause symptoms. When the cancer grows larger, you may notice one or more of these common symptoms:

  • Dark urine, pale stools, and yellow skin and eyes from jaundice
  • Pain in the upper part of your belly
  • Pain in the middle part of your back that doesn't go away when you shift your position
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float in the toilet
     

Also, advanced cancer may cause these general symptoms:

  • Weakness or feeling very tired
  • Loss of appetite or feelings of fullness
  • Weight loss for no known reason
     

These symptoms may be caused by pancreatic cancer or by other health problems. People with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

If you have symptoms that suggest cancer of the pancreas, your doctor will try to find out what's causing the problems.

You may have blood or other lab tests. Also, you may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor feels your abdomen to check for changes in areas near the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and spleen. Your doctor also checks for an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Also, your skin and eyes may be checked for signs of jaundice.
  • CT scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of your pancreas, nearby organs, and blood vessels in your abdomen. You may receive an injection of contrast material so your pancreas shows up clearly in the pictures. Also, you may be asked to drink water so your stomach and duodenum show up better. On the CT scan, your doctor may see a tumor in the pancreas or elsewhere in the abdomen.
  • Ultrasound: Your doctor places the ultrasound device on your abdomen and slowly moves it around. The ultrasound device uses sound waves that can't be heard by humans. The sound waves make a pattern of echoes as they bounce off internal organs. The echoes create a picture of your pancreas and other organs in the abdomen. The picture may show a tumor or blocked ducts.
  • EUS: Your doctor passes a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) down your throat, through your stomach, and into the first part of the small intestine. An ultrasound probe at the end of the tube sends out sound waves that you can't hear. The waves bounce off tissues in your pancreas and other organs. As your doctor slowly withdraws the probe from the intestine toward the stomach, the computer creates a picture of the pancreas from the echoes. The picture can show a tumor in the pancreas. It can also show how deeply the cancer has invaded the blood vessels.
     

Treatment

Treatment options for people with cancer of the pancreas are surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy.  You may receive more than one type of treatment.

The treatment that's right for you depends mainly on the following:

  • The location of the tumor in your pancreas
  • Whether the disease has spread
  • Your age and general health
     

At this time, cancer of the pancreas can be cured only when it's found at an early stage (before it has spread) and only if surgery can completely remove the tumor. For people who can't have surgery, other treatments may be able to help them live longer and feel better.
 

Eating Well

Nutrition is an important part of your care. Getting the right nutrition can help you feel better and have more strength. However, pancreatic cancer and its treatment may make it hard for you to digest food and to maintain your weight. You may not feel like eating for a variety of reasons, such as feeling tired or feeling full soon after eating.

You may find it helpful to work with a dietitian. A dietitian can help you choose foods and nutrition products that will meet your needs and can make you feel more comfortable with eating. Your health care team will check you for weight loss and ask whether you are having problems with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your nutrition problems do not get better quickly enough, you may be offered another way of getting nutrition, such as a feeding tube.
 

Support

Learning that you have cancer of the pancreas can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups can also help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
     

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

PROSTATE CANCER

Topics


Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the prostate. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder (the organ that collects and empties urine) and in front of the rectum (the lower part of the intestine). It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The prostate gland produces fluid that makes up part of the semen.
 

Symptoms

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by prostate cancer or other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have:

  • Weak or interrupted (“stop-and-go”) flow of urine
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Trouble starting the flow of urine
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
  • Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, fast heartbeat, dizziness, or pale skin caused by anemia
     

Tests

Tests that examine the prostate and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose prostate cancer.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): If the tumor in the prostate is large enough to be felt, your doctor may be able to examine it. Hard or lumpy areas may suggest the presence of a tumor.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: A test that measures the level of PSA in the blood.
  • Transrectal ultrasound: A procedure in which a probe that is about the size of a finger is inserted into the rectum to check the prostate.
  • Transrectal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A procedure that uses a strong magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures inside the body; this test is done to find out if cancer has spread outside the prostate into nearby tissues.
  • Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist.
     

Treatment

Different types of treatment are available for patients with prostate cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment). Some are being tested in clinical trials (research studies where people volunteer to take part). Clinical trials find out whether promising approaches to treatment are safe and effective. Talk with your doctor to find out more about clinical trials. 

Several types of standard treatment are used:

  • Active surveillance: putting off treatment until test results show that your prostate cancer is growing or changing (with regular check-ups every 3 to 6 months).
  • Surgery: there are several kinds of surgery to treat prostate cancer. Usually, the surgeon will remove the entire prostate and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Radiation therapy: uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells; it affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated.
  • Hormone therapy: keeps prostate cancer cells from getting male hormones, which can cause prostate cancers to grow.
  • Chemotherapy: uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs for prostate cancer are usually given directly into a vein through a thin needle.
  • Immunotherapy: stimulates the immune system to kill cancer cells.
     

The treatment that’s right for you depends on:

  • Your age
  • Gleason score (grade) of tumor
  • Stage of prostate cancer
  • Your symptoms
  • Your general health
     

Eating Well

It's important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after prostate cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don't taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well.

Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.
 

Support

Learning that you have prostate cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.

Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups can also help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.


Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.

DRUGS & CONDITIONS

THYROID CANCER

Topics

Thyroid cancer is cancer that forms in the thyroid, a gland at the front of your neck beneath your voice box. The thyroid makes hormones that affect heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. It also makes calcitonin, a hormone the helps keep a healthy level of calcium in the body.
 

Symptoms

Early thyroid cancer often does not have symptoms. It is sometimes found during a routine physical exam. But as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:

  • A swelling or lump in the neck
  • Hoarseness or voice changes
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing


Check with your doctor if you have these symptoms. Most often, they are not due to cancer. Other conditions may be the cause of these signs or symptoms. Anyone with symptoms that do not go away in a couple of weeks should see a doctor to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
 

Tests

If you have symptoms that suggest thyroid cancer, your doctor will help you find out whether they are from cancer or some other cause. Your doctor will ask you about your personal and family medical history. You may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor feels your thyroid for lumps (nodules). Your doctor also checks your neck and nearby lymph nodes for growths or swelling.
  • Blood tests: Your doctor may check for abnormal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. Too much or too little TSH means the thyroid is not working well. If your doctor thinks you may have medullary thyroid cancer, you may be checked for a high level of calcitonin and have other blood tests.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound device uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The device aims sound waves at the thyroid, and a computer creates a picture of the waves that bounce off the thyroid. The picture can show thyroid nodules that are too small to be felt. The doctor uses the picture to learn the size and shape of each nodule and whether the nodules are solid or filled with fluid. Nodules that are filled with fluid are usually not cancer. Nodules that are solid may be cancer.
  • Thyroid scan: Your doctor may order a scan of your thyroid. You swallow a small amount of a radioactive substance, and it travels through the bloodstream. Thyroid cells that absorb the radioactive substance can be seen on a scan. Nodules that take up more of the substance than the thyroid tissue around them are called "hot" nodules. Hot nodules are usually not cancer. Nodules that take up less substance than the thyroid tissue around them are called "cold" nodules. Cold nodules may be cancer.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose thyroid cancer. A pathologist checks a sample of tissue for cancer cells with a microscope.
     

Treatment

You’ll probably receive more than one type of treatment. Options for people with thyroid cancer are:

  • Surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid
  • Thyroid hormone treatment
  • Radioactive iodine therapy
  • External radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

The choice of treatment depends on:

  • The type of thyroid cancer (papillary, follicular, medullary, or anaplastic)
  • The size of the nodule
  • Your age
  • Whether the cancer has spread

You and your doctor can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
 

Support

Learning that you have a serious disease such as thyroid cancer is not easy. You may worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common.

It may help to share your feelings with family, friends, a member of your health care team, or another person with cancer. Here's where you can go for support:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
  • Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
  • Support groups can also help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
     

Source and originator of this content is the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this topic see www.cancer.gov.