The Saving Grace Of Cancer When It Comes To Marriage

  

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Whether cancer comes before or after marriage diversifies a patient’s reaction to the diagnosis. If it occurs when you are still single, for instance, the chances of taking it with a confident heart and mind are high. Once you receive the news when you are about to build a family, then various kinds of worry may become mainstays in your head.

For one, there is the nagging fear that your husband or wife will file for divorce after learning of your incurable disease. In case you are a guy, you might be anxious about not being able to provide the needs of your family during the recovery process. For women, it is possible to worry that the treatments are harsh enough to decrease your ability to bring a child to full term. Witht that, “In the lives of those experiencing anxiety, anxiety has almost always served a purpose as a survival function at some point. ” says Karin Draper, LMFT.

Despite that, making the cancer diagnosis known to you and your partner is a must. You cannot guarantee it immediately, but it may even strengthen or save your marriage in more ways than one.

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Research Says It All

If we speak of facts, a study reveals that single men have a 27% higher chance of dying from any cancer than a married man within the first three years of having the illness. The number is 19% when it comes to women, yet the scenario remains the same – bachelorettes have a low probability of surviving from the disease compared to married patients.

The reason, according to Scarlett Lin Gomez of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, is not just because of the better insurance plan that a spouse may extend to the ill husband or wife. It is also not solely due to having a more considerable amount of money to pool together when seeking a suitable treatment. Instead, the research suggests that cancer-laden individuals live longer than many since they get a stable support system through their significant other.

Source: defense.gov

Being Married Is Better Than Staying Single In The Face Of Cancer

You can imagine how accurate that claim is right now. When you are dealing with the condition for months, it is effortless to feel depressed if you are alone. Erica Thompson, LMFT, LPCC  explains that “Mental health struggles are real. They can be painful. You may feel alone. In some of the darkest times, you may feel like something is “wrong” with you to the core. ” You have no one to voice out your fears to or assure you that everything will go back to normal. Considering you hate burdening your friends and relatives regarding your meals or doctor’s appointments, you might push yourself to cook or drive to the clinic on your own, respectively.

In case you are with your better half, though, there is no need for you to request if he or she can do the latter. That is already a given, especially if your relationship has always been healthy even before the cancer news came. The constant trips to the hospital or check-ins with your partner’s emotions may, in fact, boost the bond that ties you to each other.

Likewise, not needing to oversee different aspects of life besides the medication relieves the stress of a patient as well. It allows healing to take place fast, which is quite an impossible feat when you cannot rely on anybody.

In Conclusion

Cancer itself is incapable of breaking a marriage. If the connection between the husband and wife is powerful, they will not split regardless of whatever disease one or both of them acquire over time. If anything, watching the ill spouse go through this condition may bring the couple together faster than any counseling method out there. Dana Baduna, PhD, LMFT believes that “Participating together as a couple gives the partners the opportunity to pay closer attention to one another and listen more intimately to their needs, wants, and dissatisfactions, thus establishing a closer bond and a more intimate connection.” And that is something.

Why Many Cancer Survivors End Up Staying Single 

In various posts throughout this website, you will see me talking about the benefits of having a spouse when you are a cancer patient. There’s someone who’ll never leave your side even if you are not blood-related; he or she already knows what you want or need before you even ask. Your better half can also serve as your anchor into this world when worse comes to worst. 

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How To Have A Healthy Marriage After Cancer Diagnosis 

Cancer is among the many incurable diseases that make people’s knees wobble. Anything will do except for that because it is an ultra-sensitive and expensive condition in comparison with the likes of diabetes, skin asthma, and much more. The survival rate varies as well, depending on which organs the cancer cells get activated. 

However, is it possible to keep your marriage healthy if you cannot escape a cancer diagnosis? 

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Radiation Therapy Goals And Adverse Effects

 

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Is the thought of radiation therapy giving you panic attacks or increased anxiety? If you are about to undergo radiation therapy, being oriented and knowledgeable about the procedure can ease your worries, making the process more bearable.

 

Radiation therapy is a kind of treatment utilizing proton beams or high energy x-rays targeting cancer cells to destroy or shrink them.

 

Radiation Therapy – Goals

Medical practitioners who supervise radiation therapy are called oncologists. Radiation oncologists are experts in using radiation treatment in slowing the growth of the tumor or destroying cancer cells while making sure that adjacent healthy tissues are not affected.

 

In most cases, the primary treatment given by oncologists to cancer patients is either chemotherapy or surgery with radiation therapy as the secondary treatment. Radiation therapy is then referred to as an adjuvant therapy that targets cancer cell residues that were not taken out during the primary treatment. On other occasions, physicians would advise radiation therapy as the primary treatment depending on the severity or status of the condition.

 

Majority of cancer patients receive a particular kind of radiation therapy because there are conditions wherein radiation therapy alone is enough to treat the illness. On the other hand, some cancers respond best when combining treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy.

 

Radiation Therapy – Side Effects

Every drug has positive and negative effects on the body. Though radiation therapy is a recommended effective treatment for various forms of cancer, like other treatment modalities, it also causes a wide range of side effects that may or may not be temporary. Adverse results vary on the type of cancer, the location, the dose, and the overall health of the patient.

 

The thing about radiation therapy is that it’s a localized treatment, which means that the only part that will be affected is the one where the cancer cells are brewing. But there are common adverse effects of radiation therapy regardless of location, and these are:

 

Source: wikimedia.org

 

  1. Fatigue

Chronic exhaustion or the feeling of being overly tired most of the time is one of the leading side effects of any cancer treatment, let alone radiation therapy. A cancer patient’s severity of fatigue will also depend if there are other treatments involved aside from radiation therapy.

 

  1. Skin Irritation

Some cancer patients who are receiving radiation therapy tend to experience skin peeling, blistering, dryness, or itching. However, these adverse skin reactions are confined to a particular area of the skin that was exposed to radiation therapy. Developing skin problems during treatment is normal and will ease away a couple of weeks after treatment is given.

 

  1. Lasting Effects

Though the majority of adverse effects are relieved in time after receiving treatment, there are those that persist or develop later on. Some of these lasting or late effects would include the development of another type of cancer, but the risk of that occurring due to radiation therapy is uncommon.

 

  1. Localized Side Effects

Aside from the general adverse effects, there are localized side effects that are entirely dependent on the location and type of radiation. If radiation therapy is given around the head and neck, the patient may experience gum sores, dryness of mouth, difficulty swallowing, tooth decay, and jaw stiffness. If radiation therapy is given at the chest, the patient may show breathing difficulties, the stiffness of the shoulders, fever, and cough, and fibrosis.

 

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Good news is, side effects caused by radiation therapy can be prevented or treated by palliative care. Managing and preventing adverse effects is a significant part of treating cancer.

 

 

Counseling For Cancer Patients: Alleviating Negative Responses Against The Illness

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For conflicted people who are having a hard time processing their chaotic emotions, counseling is always the best solution in controlling and responding to the demands of life in healthy, non-destructive ways.

But don’t expect counselors or therapists to solve your problems for you; it doesn’t work that way. Yes, “It’s true that therapy isn’t for everyone and it’s not a magic cure. You still must be proactive and be willing to do the work to improve your situation.” Daisy Chow, LPC, NCC said. They do, however, provide a safe space for people who are going through a rough time, who want to air out their concerns. Counseling is also finding a trained professional to provide unbiased feedback and suggest effective treatment modalities. For this reason, cancer patients are recommended to seek help from counselors who specialize in oncology cases.

Counseling Types

Cancer patients can choose from different forms of counseling based on their preferences, finances, and needs. The common counseling types are:

Source: defense.gov

  

  1. Individual Counseling

For cancer patients who want a more private conversation, individual counseling is the best option. Usually, there are those who are more comfortable sharing their grievances, situations, and emotions with just the counselor. But Elana Schechtman-Gil LMFT reminds everyone that “The foundation of therapy is based on the relationship you build with your therapist. When seeking someone out it’s important you feel comfortable with them ”

During individual counseling, the counselor will ask a couple of personal questions, then he or she would listen to what is being shared, express concern, and offer feedback. Feedbacks would also include suggesting treatment methods that can help with the person’s mental health.

  1. Group Counseling

Technically, group counseling consists of a number of people who have similar problems that meet together to share and discuss situations that pertain to that particular issue. Most of the time, counselors will initiate the discourse then after each member has aired out their thoughts and feelings, guidance and support will be provided. The good thing about group therapies is that cancer patients who feel lonely or are leaning towards depression would realize that they are not the only one fighting a difficult battle. Group counseling provides insight and comfort from its members. “By building a list of people that you trust, with whom you can talk to in times of need, you allow yourself a strong sense of not being alone.” David Klow, a licensed therapist explains.

  1. Family Or Couples Counseling

Cancer patients are not the only ones who are mentally and emotionally affected. People who are surrounding them, especially partners and family members, also suffer from the effects of the condition on their relationship and connection. During family or couples counseling, the counselor would allow everyone to speak up and share their experiences or whatever pent-up emotions they have. Counselors are keen on finding out specific reactions and thoughts that increase the level of stress and conflict between members of the family.

Issues Tackled During Counseling

People often wonder how counseling can help with their issues especially those who are struggling with the effects of cancer. Some of the problems or challenges that are tackled during sessions are:

  • Exploring what cancer has taught you
  • Determine ways on how to cope with the diagnosis to make patients feel in control and less overwhelmed
  • Contemplate on workplace strategies and issues
  • Manage symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment
  • Help develop coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression
  • Learn effective communication with the medical team
  • Address concerns about finances and relationships
  • Teaches the patient’s family how to adjust and understand routine changes caused by a cancer diagnosis

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When To Ask For Help

The feeling of despair and distress are normal reactions to the realization of a cancer diagnosis. But if the feeling does not go away after a couple of weeks, counseling must be taken into consideration. Seeking professional help is vital for cancer patients’ mental health and also necessary in learning effective ways to cope with the condition and not interfere with life’s routines.

Remember, you always have the option to ask for help especially if you feel hopeless and helpless. Living life with cancer is challenging, but if you know where to turn to, you’ll find comfort amidst the condition.

Cancer And Its Definitive Link To Psychiatry

 

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Any serious medical condition can severely affect a person’s mental health. Cancer patients are not the only those who suffer from their illness, but their situation also devastates the people around them like their loved ones and caregivers.

According to Lillian Harris LCPC-C, “So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” Receiving news of a potentially deadly diagnosis, coping with limitations, and going through regular treatment protocols can cause mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Dealing with mental health requirements is essential in the treatment procedure and, on certain occasions, the psychiatry of it all can impact prognosis.

The Impact Of Cancer On Psychiatry

Some cancer patients may lose their capacity to be confident and independent. Others may find that their energy levels have plummeted and activities once enjoyed can no longer be done. Optimum care must be provided to facilitate bearable activities that the patient can experience with minimal utilization of energy.

Majority of cancer patients will experience a system that is comparable to grieving after the diagnosis is given during the palliative stage or end-of-life care. There is data backing up the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with both cancer patients and survivors. This evidence is directly a result of traumatic encounters that are associated with the illness, and because of the high potential of poor prognoses.

Treatments for cancer also cause anxiety and depression. A significant adverse effect of chemotherapy referred to as “chemo brain” causes mental fog, depression, fatigue, and other types of cognitive deterioration. The American Cancer Society published an article that shows the connection between chemo brain and depression and has identified that both are to be considered when dealing with cancer treatments.

Source: wikimedia.org

Managing Mental Health

Special considerations are required when treating mental illnesses in patients who are struggling with cancer. Depending on the severity or prognosis given by the oncologist, encouragement to have a positive outlook and reminding the patient that eventually, his or her condition will get better may not be possible but this does not signify that treating patients with cancer who have a mental illness is not essential. And because mental health problems are considered as underdiagnosed in patients with cancer, it is advisable to make a proactive resolution in detecting such conditions. As Erica Thompson, LMFT, LPCC explains, “Mental health struggles are real. They can be painful. You may feel alone. In some of the darkest times, you may feel like something is “wrong” with you to the core. ”

Common Mental Health Conditions

The commonly diagnosed mental health problems that cancer patients experience are those disorders that fall under the adjustment scale, which includes depression, anxiety, and other different stress coping and adaptation conditions. Consulting a therapist for psychotherapeutic treatments that are primarily aimed at cancer patients provides extensive guidance and support. “Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.” Chris Corbett, PsyD said.

Source: defense.gov

Mental Health With Family Members

Caregivers and family members of patients also have increased chances of having anxiety and depression; therefore, proactive support and guidance must also be given to preserve their mental health and deal with stress. Usually, family members experience a similar grieving process experienced by the cancer patient, mainly if the condition is terminal.

Due to their inability to be productive, which is mostly caused by changes in their socioeconomic status, family members who take care of cancer patients have increased the risk of having depression. For this reason, it is vital that family members and caregivers seek professional support once a cancer diagnosis is realized. Treatment for mental illness should always be integrated into caring for both the cancer patient and the people surrounding them

How Positive Attitude Made Me A Cancer Survivor

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There are many things in my life that I am truly thankful for, and one of which is surviving cancer. To be honest, I thought that my situation was a lost cause. It never crossed my mind that my illness would be cured; because I believed that cancer is undefeatable. When I found out that I have a malignant tumor, it felt like my world turned outside down. I was frightened of all the adverse effects that it can bring in my life. Most importantly, I feared death. I do not want to die at a young age, especially when I am at a point in my life where I just started a family and took a significant leap in my career.

Just when I was about to give up, there was a sudden turn of events. I met someone who inspired me to keep fighting. This person helped me to believe that better things are coming in my life. He told me that if I want to kick cancer out of my life, I needed to make an effort to make it happen. According to him, I have to start by changing my views about life. He made it so convenient and easy for me to change my attitude and to become more positive. After years of living life in gratitude and happiness, I became a cancer survivor.

Now, allow me to share with you how a positive attitude changed my life:

 

  1. It Made Me Want To Get Better 

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At first, I was hesitant to undergo chemotherapy sessions. Aside from it was quite exhausting; it was also exhausting on my part. I lost interest in going to the hospital and participating in all the healing sessions. “Most people have a loud inner critic which makes their life more stressful.” David Klow, a licensed therapist. That perfectly describes my situation. However, things changed when my friend told me to become positive. Because of a positive mind and attitude, I got the courage to show up for all appointments with my doctor.

 

  1. More Happy Hormones

Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC once stated that “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” So my change in attitude also motivated me to exercise more. As such, I tried my best to become physically active. I started going to the gym or attending yoga classes. As you probably know by now, these activities can release endorphins all over the body. For this reason, I was always in a good mood. Whenever I exercise, I feel like there are helpful chemicals released all over the body. It was as if my cells are regenerated.

  1. I Started Eating Healthy 

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 Another great effect of a positive attitude is that it made me want to continue a healthy lifestyle. My doctor was happy with the development in the way I looked at my situation. I did everything I can to change my diet into a healthy one. I avoided soft drinks and junk foods. Instead, my daily diet consisted of vegetables and fruits. As the day goes by, eating greens became a part of my lifestyle. With this one change, I became a healthier individual. I strongly agree with Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT when she said, “Eating healthfully, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep are all important elements in a mentally and physically healthy life.”

I am forever grateful to that one friend of mine who helped me attract positivity in my life!

Understanding Chemotherapy And What To Expect

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Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases. Being diagnosed with cancer is often equated with palliative care and ultimately, death. More than ever, there is much research on different treatment and preventive strategies for cancer. In fact, many are seriously considering natural therapies, complementary and supplementary modalities, and Eastern medicine such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and acupuncture but the accepted treatment in Western medicine: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Undergoing chemotherapy is something an individual with cancer should prepare. The effect of chemotherapy can be debilitating to a person for days at a time which will leave his/her responsibilities hanging.

Chemotherapy is defined as a drug treatment that utilizes potent chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in the body. Treatment protocol of cancer will vary depending on the origin, size and the immune system of the patient. These drugs can be used alone or in conjunction with other chemotherapeutic agents. Though chemotherapy is accepted, it still poses risks and side effects. Also, it cannot differentiate cancer and healthy cells as well as unable to specifically target affected cells. Chemotherapy is often used in cancer cases, but it can be used in other disease condition such as bone marrow diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

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Preparation for the side effects of chemotherapy will vary depending on the drug administered; however, it is wise to expect to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, constipation, and bruising. These side effects might be felt immediately right after, days prior, or a few days after the treatment. Other than this, another concern to watch out for is long-lasting or delayed occurring effects like heart problems, damage to lung tissue, nerve damage, the risk for development of secondary cancer and kidney problems. In other words, it is like a double-edged sword. It has both risk and benefits.

Special Considerations

Since chemotherapy can disrupt daily living, it is wise to plan early on.  It is recommended to have a device to ensure easier access to the peripheral veins or implantation of central devices. Chemotherapy treatments are extremely damaging to the peripheral veins, and it is advisable to administer such drug through a central device.

The catheter or device will be surgically implanted into a large vein, and the most common site is in the chest. Blood tests will be prescribed, beforehand, to check for the liver and kidney function. Also, the status of the patient’s heart will also be crucial in determining the dosage of the drugs especially if the patient will use doxorubicin and epirubicin.

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Visit your dentist. You will need to check your dental health as well as check if there are signs of infection. Treatment of open cavities and existing infections will reduce the risk of complication during chemotherapy.

Before the start of the therapy, begin to have healthy eating habits. After the treatment, it might be helpful to share meals with family members or friends. Studies show that patients are more likely to eat when surrounded by people. When nothing seems appetizing, prepare soft, bland food like cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, and eggs.

On the first treatment, make sure you have enough sleep the night before and consume a light meal before going in the infusion unit. Ask family members or loved ones to accompany you to your first cycle.

The infusion will often take a few hours depending on the protocol. Bring a book, easy crafty projects, or laptop for movies, music, etc.

If it can add up to one’s well-being, consulting a spiritual advisor or counselor is also beneficial.

 

Cancer In Children: What Makes It Worse

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Cancer is reported as a rare health condition among children ages 0-19 years old. Nonetheless, it has been the leading cause of death by disease among children past infancy. In 2016, statistics reported that approximately 80,000 deaths of children worldwide were accounted for cancer. Childhood cancer differs from adult cancer due to various factors. One common ground is that most diseases are not due to the lifestyle element where adults’ cancer are linked. Cancer in children almost develops without any distressing symptom until it is detected, at most of the times, it is already in its advanced stage.

Researchers are still leaning towards heredity and genetics as the primary etiological agent for childhood cancer. The DNA mutations passed from the parent to the child increases the risk of a child to develop specific forms of cancer. Scientific investigations are still ongoing on finding other possible reasons for cancer development; because until now, there has not been a universal statement on its actual cause.

The Difference

Childhood cancer is not easy to take. Parents go to a cycle of grief and depression upon knowing the diagnosis. When the child undergoes a series of treatment, the financial aspect becomes a burden, and the after-effects of the surgery become a dark cloud whether the child survives or not.

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Compared to adults, cancer cells in children shows a good reaction to treatment showing good prognosis of survival. However, the side effects of the medication will take its toll after about several years later. Late-effects can occur to nearly 60% of childhood cancer survivors such as heart problem, hepatitis, sterility, sensory problems, and secondary cancers. Also, long-term medical follow-up is a significant concern to ensure that cancer processes are detected early if there are any.

Medical advancement in the treatment of childhood cancer has vastly improved its survival rate. Let’s take for example the case of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a most common childhood cancer that has dramatically increased its survival rate to 88% compared to less than 10% half-century ago. This is promising for this type of cancer. Other types of lymphoma, brain tumor, and soft tissue sarcoma remain to have a poor prognosis and low survival rates.

Other Effects

Experiencing cancer at an early age exposes the vulnerability of the child’s body. Cancer can be localized, or it can affect the whole-body system. If this happens, the child will have multiple medical problems to handle, and the ordeal of going through various treatments is not very welcoming. The different treatment modalities may also have some effects on the developmental stages of the child. Surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, complex medication administration, and transplantations can have some positive impact, but the adverse reactions can sometimes take years to be detected.

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The financial aspect can also be a significant factor in consideration of surviving cancer. Some cancers require the newest form of treatments, and these are way out of budget for some families. Some medications are only available in some countries thus acquiring them will require the family and the child to travel and stay there for a duration of time. All of these falls under the financial factor. So, it is easy to say that if you don’t have enough financial resources, the chances of survival become nil.

Cancer is not always a good thing – at any age. Getting cancer is like getting a death sentence. The human response is only limited to facing the challenges it brings. The worst thing about having children with cancer is not always a welcoming idea. As parents, we tend to rationalize that they don’t deserve to suffer this condition. But then again, as humans, we tend to fight the battle at any cost. Fighting cancer is still one’s most significant battle there is—especially with children. At this point, all we can is wait and hope that the next treatment or scientific discovery can bring positive outcomes in overcoming cancer.

 

Preventive Health Strategies In Women Prone To Cancer

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Cancer was once considered a rarity, but nowadays statistics show that the incidence of cancer is steadily increasing. These may be attributed to various factors such as genetics, exposure to carcinogens, lifestyle, hazardous environment, and immune system.

Cancer – despite its groundbreaking research and extensive studies on treatment modalities – remains to be dreaded by many. It is comparable to receiving a life sentence because the individual with cancer knows the death is just lurking in the corners. The anxiety and anticipated grief associated with cancer are believed to be more stressful than the treatment itself. It forces individuals especially in early adulthood and not only the patients, but the family and loved ones to confront the reality of death and how fleeting and fragile life is.

Set Your Battleground

If cancer runs in your family or you have loved ones who are fighting cancer or a cancer survivor, the idea of cancer happening to you is not farfetched. Having genetics susceptible to mutation does not mean 100 percent chance of developing cancer in the future. People with a family history or those under moderate-risk and high-risk category should not accept their fate sitting down.

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Preventive measures and screening tests are recommended by experts to prevent tumor growths or at least detect the cancer cells at the early stage. There are preventive programs available in different cancer centers.

In women, breast cancer is a prevalent type of cancer. While the incidence of this particular type of cancer is quite high as a comparison of the other types of cancer, the only consolation one ponders on is the fact that there is much research done explicitly for breast cancer and its treatment.

Also, the prognosis of breast cancer is high and the survivor rate quite favorable. High-risk women are often managed aggressively by oncologists. For instance, prophylaxis mastectomy and hysterectomy may be recommended for women who have a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. These mutations are linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Also, these women will be under strict surveillance with six months of general physical examination checkup and monthly breast self-examination regardless of the age. Also, annual mammograms might be performed for women with high risk as early as 25 years old or 10 years younger than the age of the relative with the earliest breast cancer diagnosis in the family.

Lastly, chemoprophylaxis may be prescribed. Chemoprophylaxis is regulation of the endocrine system which plays a crucial role in the reduction of the risk of invasive and in-situ breast cancer. Examples of the medications given are Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, and Anastrozole.

Other Strategies

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More than this management of high-risk cases, it is still advisable to follow the general guidelines for ensuring a healthy and manageable stress lifestyle. Maintaining weight might be neglected, but excess weight predisposes one’s self to different forms of cancer. Next to the neglect is having an active activity level. Exercise is not only a mood booster but also, prevents obesity and the development of cancer. Consumption of green leafy vegetables, as well as fruits, moves us away from diseases and that includes cancer. Avoidance of carcinogens is quite essential because exposure to these chemicals is established to lead to cancer. Therefore, no smoking and avoid second and third-hand smoke.