Tag Archives: Cancer

Breast Cancer Symptoms, Stages and Inflammatory Breast Cancer Information

Breast cancer infects thousands each year and a large segment of the population find out too late. Like any other cancer, breast cancer typically forms as a tumor, ranging from one to five centimeters. This is most often felt as a lump. A complex staging system defines the severity of the tumor and doctors determine the stage by examining variables such as tumor size, location, and the speed of multiplication and spread. There are five stages broken into sub-stages which are crucial in determining the aggressiveness of treatment needed.

In its early stages, breast cancer is easily treatable and not considered a life threatening disease. Stage 0 or ductal carcinoma in situ is a precancerous condition when abnormal cells are found in the lining of the breast (Stages of Breast Cancer). They have not yet spread to other tissues in the breast but possess the potential to do so. The abnormal cells normally do not become invasive cancer, but increase the chance of developing more complex cancer in later years. Stage I is also simply analyzed as a tumor that is 2 centimeters or smaller and has not spread beyond the breast. A lumpectomy to remove the tumor and a round of chemotherapy eliminates the threat of cancer.

As breast cancer advances into stages II and III, severity of treatment rises. In stage IIA, the cancer has spread to the auxiliary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm) or the tumor is 2 centimeters and smaller and has spread, or the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters. In stage IIB, cancer has spread to the auxiliary lymph nodes and is larger than 5 centimeters (“Stages of Breast Cancer”).

Stage III is when treatment begins to delve into surgical methods such as mastectomies with much more serious repercussions. In stage IIIA and B, cancer has spread beyond the breast to lymph nodes or tissues and muscles within the chest wall (“Stages of Breast Cancer”). Stage IIIC is divided into operable and inoperable stages. The breast cancer is still operable if cancer is found in lymph nodes beneath the arm or collarbone, but is inoperable if cancer has spread above the collarbone and into the neck. It is important to note that while Stage III is intensely advanced, treatment options are still available such as chemotherapy and drug cocktails. The only stage of cancer that is virtually untreatable is stage IV cancer, or metastatic breast cancer. In this instance, cancer has spread to distant organs in the body, beginning with the bones and eventually invading the lungs and liver (“Advanced (Metastatic) Breast Cancer”). Treatment for this stage consists of lessening pain for the patient and prolonging their life rather than ridding the body of cancer.

While most breast cancers take the form of tumors and are organized according to the staging system, in recent years a deadly variance has emerged. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an extremely rare but deadly form of breast cancer that kills 60% of its victims within five years of diagnoses (Ackerman 10). This high death rate can be attributed to the absence of a tumor or lump and so is not caught by routine self-examinations or mammograms. This lack of overt evidence has baffled doctors and researchers in recent years. Several symptoms include redness, swelling and warmth in the breast, which many attribute to natural occurrences during the menstrual cycle, and so do not think to question their doctor about possible symptoms (Ackerman 10). The most obvious warning flag is the presence of a rash or bruised skin that does not heal. Las Vegas school teacher Pat Wintermute thought she had a simple breast infection and wanted to deny her symptoms. After the rash grew larger and did not respond to treatment with antibiotics, she was diagnosed with IBC in 2005 and is currently still undergoing treatment (“Inflammatory Breast Cancer Becoming More Common”). Wintermute admitted that she had never heard of this form of breast cancer before her condition.

If losing one’s health and sense of infallibility was not enough, many women associate breast cancer with a loss of femininity, especially if they undergo a mastectomy and lose their breasts. Breasts are associated with attractiveness and sexuality in the Western culture, and many women fear they will appear grotesque or unattractive following surgery (Breast Cancer). The easiest way to alleviate these fears is to talk to a counselor or family.

Much of the population may wish to persist in its belief that breast cancer is a strictly post- menopausal women’s disease, but the truth is, it affects everyone. Husbands lose their wives, children lose their mothers, and the emotional devastation reaches far beyond the patient. Because the public largely still connects breast cancer with older women, many misconceptions exist about the disease. The lack of clear information can lead many to assume false fear or hope.

Sources

Ackerman, Todd. “Trial in Breast Cancer Therapy Proves Success.” Houston Chronicle 3.15.Dec. 2006: 10A. TCR Collection. NewsBank Inc. Gilbert School Lib., Gilbert, AZ. 26 Sept. 2007 .

“Advanced (Metastatic) Breast Cancer.” Imaginis: The Women’s Health Resource. 2007. Imaginis Corporation. 13 Nov. 2007 http://www.imaginis.com/breasthealth/metastatic2.asp>.

“Stages of Breast Cancer.” National Cancer Institute. 19 July 2007. U.S. National Institutes of Health. 26 Sept. 2007 .

My Experience with Cancer

Whether it be yourself, a friend, or a relative, many people have had experiences with cancer. Some are more serious than others, but they are always painful. Struggling yourself or watching someone else struggle to hang on to life is not the way we like to spend our time. This is my story, and how I dealt with everything that came with it.

Sadly, my younger sister was one of those more serious cases. She ended up being diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a pretty uncommon cancer found mostly in children, at almost three years old. After that she relapsed twice. Before she was ten years old, she went through a feeding tube, trach, and losing her left eye. It wasn’t an easy battle, but she fought until soon after she turned ten years old.

My sister then went into a coma a couple weeks after her birthday, and she passed away a few days later. Luckily we were able to be with her the whole time, and she was able to be at home instead of in the hospital.

The grief wasn’t easy though, and I’ll tell you how I handled it. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, nor am I training to be one. This is only my personal experience and how I handled it.

Be Positive

Not everyone passes away from cancer. In fact, technology has evolved, and so has medicine. Therefore, you, or your loved one, have a very good chance of surviving, and living a great, full life. You won’t get anywhere without the will to fight, or the positive outlook on life. Things may be bad now, but if you fight your hardest and make the best out of everything, you’ll have an even better chance of making it. Anyways, if you’re always a grump because you think you have a horrible life, how are you going to make friends that actually understand what you’re going through? Remember, you’re not the only one, so be positive for yourself and others.

Make The Best Out Of The Time You Have

If the cancer you’re experiencing is one of those more serious types, think of the song, “Live Like You’re Dying.” This goes right back to being positive, but it also involves doing those activities that you might not have otherwise done if you weren’t diagnosed with your disease. For example, there is the Make A Wish Foundation that grants the wish of kids that are diagnosed with a life threatening illness. You can ask for a shopping spree, or to meet one of your favorite singers, and they will do their best to make your wish come true.

My sister asked to go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This was probably one of the best parts of her life. I will always be thankful to Make A Wish because they gave her something that she might not have got before she passed away.

Just keep in mind that every minute is a blessing, and you need to make the most out of it. You don’t want to regret anything.

Be Supportive

I don’t regret any of those hour trips to the hospital to spend time with my sister. I’m happy to say I spent as much time as I could with her, and I know that I supported her. If you are a family member or friend of someone going through cancer, be supportive. Treat them like they were never diagnosed with cancer. Most cancer victims don’t like being treated differently because they have a disease, and they will appreciate it if you could be the same person towards them.

The point is to do whatever you can to make them happy. That means supporting them, and being what they need: a real friend.

Grief

The worst part is that some people don’t make it through the battle. I had the privilege of watching my sister take her last breath, and I will never forget it. I will also never forget how much I struggled with just that single memory let alone all the others.

Grief is definitely not easy, easy being an understatement, but you can make it through all of the challenges losing someone brings.

First, talk to people. Don’t lock yourself in your room. It is healthy to have alone time when you need it, but it is more healthy to get out and talk to people. It will not help to hold everything in, so vent to whoever you trust, and cry when you need to.

Next, find activities that help. I found writing to be very helpful. I could get all of my feelings out by writing poetry. You may find music, drawing, or exercise helpful. Just find what works for you, and use it. Nothing is going to be easy during this time, but some things will get your emotions out and make the weight on your shoulders less.

Finally, don’t forget. You may want to forget them, or you may not. The key thing is that moving on is not forgetting. It’s just remembering them in a positive way, and living your life the way they would want you to. I love to sit down and think of all of the memories I have of my sister, but I also make sure not to dwell on it, and let it hold me back. That isn’t what she would want. Think of what your loved one would want for you, and try to fulfill that.

Cancer is not a word that anyone wants to hear, but it does happen, and you need to know how to handle it. These are the ways that I found helpful during my personal experience with cancer.

(In remembrance of all of those people who lost their lives to cancer.)

How to Detect Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a common cause of cancer death in the United States and Western world. Current estimates place it as the second leading cause of cancer death. Sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, up to one third of people diagnosed with colon cancer will die from it. Because of this very high mortality rate, extensive screening guidelines have been developed in an effort to detect colon cancer as early as possible. The earlier you can detect colon cancer, the more effective the treatments will be.

Aggressive screening for colon cancer allows for early detection of the disease, often before symptoms appear. In addition, some screening procedures can double as minor treatments. An example of this is the removal of benign polyps, some of which can eventually turn cancerous. Current guidelines recommend that all people begin screening for colon cancer at the age of 50. Up to 90% of all cases of colon cancer develop after age 50. In select high risk populations, screening procedures should begin as young as age 40.

Several factors go into making an effective screening test for detecting colon cancer. The test must have a high degree of sensitivity. This means that the test must be able to detect a majority of cases of potential colon cancer. A test which misses most many potential cancers is useless. In addition, the test must be specific. A test which gives a positive result in a wide range of different diseases is not as accurate or useful as a test which is positive for only colon cancer.

A good screening test must also entail as little risk to the patient as possible. Lastly, the screening test must also be able to detect the potential cancer at a very early stage, when something can still be done to effectively treat it.

Because most cases of colon cancer take many years to develop, early detection of a potential colon cancer can be quite effective in lowering a person’s risk of dying from this disease. Some colon cancer detection techniques have been shown to lower risk of developing colon cancer by up to 90%.

There are currently four major tests used to detect colon cancer. Each of these tests has advantages and disadvantages. This article is meant to be a quick introduction to each test. For more detailed information about each screening test, and its appropriateness to your health, you should speak with your doctor.

Fecal occult blood testing

The method used to detect colorectal cancer is fecal occult blood testing. Bleeding is a common symptom of colorectal cancer. Often this blood and can be hard to see by looking at your stool in the toilet. The fecal occult blood test is a way to detect very small amounts of blood in your stool which would otherwise be impossible to see.

The fecal occult blood test is relatively simple to administer. You are given a set of three credit card size, chemically treated paper cards. Each card has room for two small stool samples. Each stool sample is very small – a mere smudge on the paper. The cards are then folded up, sealed tightly, and sent to a lab for testing.

Fecal occult blood testing will give a very high number of false positive results. This means that only about 3-5% of positive results will actually lead to colon cancer in the future. This is because there are many possible causes of blood in the stool, not just colorectal cancer. If you have a positive fecal occult blood test, it does not mean you have, or ever will have, colon cancer. A positive fecal occult blood test will usually be followed up by your doctor with further testing.

Barium enema

A barium enema is another test used to detect colon cancer. The most commonly done version of this test is actually known as a double-contrast barium enema.

This test involves taking an x-ray of the entire colon and rectum. Before this is done, you will have a liquid solution containing barium injected in to your rectum. This liquid will cover the inside of your bowels. It is drained out before the x-ray is taken. The barium solution which coats the lining of the bowels shows up nicely on the x-ray, allowing the doctor to have a good look at the structures of your bowels.

A double-contrast barium enema is able to detect about 40 to 50% of precancerous polyps in the tested area. The test is a bit uncomfortable for the patient, but it is safe. Much like a fecal occult blood test, a barium enema which shows a potential cancerous area is usually followed up with a colonoscopy (discussed below).

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy is the first of two tests to detect colon cancer that allows a doctor to get a direct look of the inside of your bowels. The test involves the insertion of a small, flexible fiber-optic tube into the lower part of your colon. The test is often referred to by doctors as a “flex sig”.

There is a small camera on the end of the tube which is hooked to a TV monitor. This camera allows the doctor to take video and pictures of the inside of your bowels during the test.

A disadvantage of a flexible sigmoidoscopy is that it does not look at the entire large intestine. A doctor is only able to see about half of the total area of the colon and rectum. Flexible sigmoidoscopy involves little risk to the patient. In very rare cases, the camera can cause a small puncture or tear in the lining of the intestine.

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a very similar test to a sigmoidoscopy. A major difference is that it is somewhat more invasive and allows the doctor to see the entire large intestine. In some cases, a colonoscopy will allow a doctor to remove small polyps. Some types of polyps can be pre-cancerous. Colonoscopy uses a similar camera to the flex sig, but it is a little larger and longer.

A colonoscopy can be somewhat uncomfortable for the patient. Because of this, a mild sedative is given to calm and relax the patient during the exam.

Colonoscopy has an excellent ability to detect many lesions which may be cancerous. The doctor is able to see the entire colon and rectum during this exam. There is some increased risk with a colonoscopy compared with some of the other tests used to detect colon cancer. The tube used to do the exam can puncture the wall of the bowel, although this is still quite a slim possibility.

You should work with your doctor to develop a screening plan and assess your risk for colon cancer. Each of these tests are important in the process of early detection for colon cancer, however you must work with your doctor to determine which of them may be most appropriate for you. If you have specific questions about the details of any of these exams, speak with your doctor.

Why is the Threat of Cancer Not Enough to Stop People Smoking?

Cancer, a word the majority of the human race fears. If you smoke, the chances of developing Cancer is a lot higher than if you didn’t. Why then, do smokers still smoke?

In 2005 I had the misfortune of losing a very close aunt to Lung Cancer. I had reached the grand old age of 40 and had been lucky enough to never have experienced a death in the family.

My aunt had smoked since she was 17. Was she naive? No. Did she not understand the possible consequences of smoking? Hardly, she had been a nurse for over 35 years. So why then, did she continue to smoke, especially as she worked in a field where she came face to face with cancer patients on a day to day basis?

When she was first diagnosed with cancer it came as a big shock to all of us, as I expect it is to most people that get given this devastating news. The year previously she had been very ill with TB, and we all thought that her deteriorating health was down to a reappearance of that, how wrong we were. She gave up smoking straight away, and as she went through the grueling process of doctors, tests, scans and specialists, the rest of us smokers in the family continued to smoke. Oh not around my aunt of course, but continue we did. We had been dealt a terrible blow, we had up close and personal proof that smoking can lead to cancer. It’s not that we didn’t know that anyway, but when it never affects you directly it’s easy to shrug off the threat with excuses.

My aunts cancer was diagnosed as too far gone to be treatable, nothing could be done. She started smoking again. Three months later she was gone. Her funeral was the first one I had ever attended, I hoped is was my last.

And still we smoked.

Towards the end of that terrible year, November to be precise, we where yet again given bad news. My father had prostate cancer, and even though, he too was a smoker, we still managed to make excuses for the reasons he developed this disease, excuses like “a lot of men his age get prostate cancer, it’s quite common and easily treatable.”

Luckily, his cancer was treatable and he was cured. My father gave up smoking.

We, did not.

Three months later, after a routine blood test, my father was told he needed more tests, that something was wrong with his blood. A visit to the hospital revealed that the prostate cancer was back, but if that was not bad enough it had spread, he now had bowel cancer as well. I think for a brief period we all went into a state of shock followed by denial. This couldn’t be right, he doesn’t smoke anymore. It’s amazing how stupid you act when given bad news. A week later he’s in the hospital having an operation to remove his prostate and part of his bowl. My father had always looked young for his age, at 65 he looked more like 50, now, he looked awful, he lost over 2 stone in weight within a matter of weeks, he went from looking 50 to looking 90. He now looked like a little wizened old man, not my father at all. And during this terrible time, we still smoked.

A week after surgery the consultant met with both my parents to give them the news that not only did my father have cancer of the prostate and bowel, but that it had spread to his lungs and liver. The only thing that they could do for him now was to offer him chemotherapy, not as a means to a cure, but a way of giving him some more time, how much time, they couldn’t or wouldn’t say.

It’s now 2007 and luckily for us, my father is still here. He has his good days where you would never believe that there was anything wrong with him, then he has his bad days and you wished it was all over, just so he wouldn’t suffer anymore.

My father still doesn’t smoke.

We still do.

So why is it, even after two very painful experiences of the consequences of smoking, do we still smoke? What will it take to prove to myself and the other members of my family who smoke, that we need to quit. We have witnessed at firsthand the horror and pain cancer causes, we have felt the devastation and loss, but still it is not enough. Do we all believe that it will never happen to us, if so, why do we believe that. Why is it that certain members of the human race, a species that has evolved, adapted and developed into what it is today, simply refuse to believe what is in front of their eyes.

I’ve read all the warnings. I’ve seen all the advertising. I’ve been advised by doctors. I know all the dangers, an yet I still smoke.

I Have Thyroid Cancer

It’s a fairly rare cancer, or so I am told. But I have it. I didn’t know anything was wrong. I had no idea anything was going wrong in my body. I felt great. I still do. But I have thyroid cancer. My story started at my yearly physical exam with my doctor. I love my doctor. I have always liked her, but I have an entirely new admiration for her now. She found my cancer. We were chatting like we usually do about kids and summer and life. She was feeling of my throat with her fingers when she said, “Hush and swallow”. I did both. “What?” I asked. “Hush and swallow again”, she said.

“You have a nodule on your thyroid,” she told me. “No I don’t.” I said.

She put my fingers to the spot and told me to swallow again. Yes I did. I did have a nodule. Even I could feel it. She asked me if I had been having trouble swallowing. I had not. I asked her what this meant. I asked if I had a goiter. “Yuck”, I thought. She told me I had better hope it was a goiter, because the alternative was cancer. Ouch. The thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck that has sort of a butterfly shape to it. It makes thyroid hormone which regulates your metabolism.

She booked me an appointment for an ultrasound of the suspicious nodule. That was easy and painless. Yes I had a nodule. As a matter of fact I had several. I have since found out that women over 40 commonly have nodules on their thyroids. Great. Just turned forty and my parts are wearing out. Okay, so the ultrasound confirmed what my doctor already knew. What now? She wanted me to have the nodule biopsied.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that means a needle in my neck?” I asked.

I was right. Back to the radiology department at the hospital for me. They had me to lie down on a table with a rolled up towel behind my neck. The doctor came in and located the nodule in question with another ultrasound. Then he used some medication to numb the lower middle part of m neck. Okay, it burned some. Well quite a bit, but only for a few seconds and then the burning was gone. Next he stuck a really small needle into the same area and thanks to the numbing medication I felt no pain. It did, however, feel like someone was standing on my throat. I could breath just fine, but still that feeling was there.

He did this two times and decided he had enough cells to make a determination for me. He said I should know something in two or three days, but that most of the time these things are nothing. Great. I liked that. They placed a band aid over my neck and off I went.

Three or four days later I receive a call from my doctor. Confident she was calling with good news, I did not ask my son to leave the room. A decision I would soon regret. She read me the pathology report and told me it meant that I had thyroid cancer. Unfortunately they were not able to differentiate what kind of thyroid cancer it was from the tissue they had. She kept asking me if I was all right and if I had any questions. To be quite honest the entire conversation is a bit of a blur. I do remember her telling me that if I had to have cancer this would be the kind to pick because with surgery this was a curable cancer. She referred me to a surgeon in town who specializes in thyroid surgery. My doctor was going to let this surgeon make the decision for my next step.

I hung up the phone in a bit of shock. I had done my homework on thyroid nodules and discovered that only 5% of them are cancerous. I had conveniently placed myself in that larger, 95% group. I had fully expected my doctor to be calling with news to confirm this. But rational thinking would later remind me that your doctor rarely calls with good news. Usually the office staff has this privilege. Only when the news is not so good do they feel the need to call themselves.

My son had been sitting in the room and hearing the entire conversation. When I got off the phone he asked me what was wrong with me. I lost it then. Right in front of him. Not good. I called my husband who was thankfully on his way home anyway.

I was scheduled to see the surgeon a week later. By then I had gotten myself together and realized that this truly was a curable cancer when treated. The surgeon shared lots of information with my husband and me that day. I learned that she planned to take out my entire thyroid through a small incision on my neck. I learned that she would not know until the surgery just what kind of cancer I had. There are a few different kinds of thyroid cancer. I learned that depending on the kind of thyroid cancer she found, she may need to remove some lymph nodes in my neck, too.

I also learned that there was a possibility that I would need to take a few radiation pills if the kind of cancer warranted it. These pills are radioactive iodine or I-131. The thyroid gland is the only part of your body that uses iodine. It needs it to make the thyroid hormone that helps to regulate your body’s metabolism. So the radiation in the pill goes right to any thyroid tissue that’s left after surgery and destroys it. The only snafu with this treatment is that for the duration of the treatment (4-5 days) the patient is not allowed close contact with children (Due to the shedding of radiation), is not able to prepare food for or eat with others, and must sleep alone.

Following the surgery the surgeon told me I could expect to have a sore throat from the breathing tube that would be placed during surgery, and a moderate amount of pain at the surgery site. I would need to take one or two weeks off from work, and I would not be allowed any housework for at least six weeks. This was said tongue in cheek for my husband’s benefit. I like this surgeon.

So now I’m waiting a month for my surgery. For something that’s supposed to be so rare, I have talked to many people who have known someone with thyroid cancer. I am happy to report that I have heard of only great outcomes. Although I suppose no one would tell me the bad stories, if there are any. But I am encouraged. I have had lots of hugs and lots of prayers said on my behalf.

If you are over 40, and especially if you are female, let me encourage you to have a yearly check up. Have your doctor check for nodules on your thyroid and then if anything shows up, have it checked out. Most likely it will be just fine, but untreated thyroid cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, and the bones. Like with everything else, early detection and early treatment is best.

Risk Factors and Causes of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer may not have as high a profile as some other forms of cancer but it is one of the most lethal forms of cancer. Most people do not survive beyond a year after being diagnosed with it. A peculiar fact about liver cancer is that its risk factors are mostly related to lifestyle choices and behavior such as alcohol use, sexual behavior, drug abuse, and occupation.

The most common risk factor/cause of liver cancer is spread from other cancer sites in the body (metastasis) but this causes Secondary liver cancer. The risk factors that are discussed here are those that result in Primary liver cancer which is cancer that originates in the liver.

Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

Sex: Liver cancer occurs more in males than females. This could be attributed to the fact that males are more likely to engage in behavior that predispose to developing liver cancer such as excessive alcoholic intake and use of anabolic steroids. (1) (2)

Age

Cancer of the liver is more common in older people in developed regions of the world. In contrast, it occurs more in younger persons in developing areas like Africa and Asia. (2)

Hepatitis

Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) both lead to cirrhosis and consequently, liver cancer. HCV infection is more likely to become chronic and is the more common cause of liver cancer in developed areas like the United States. HBV is the more prevalent risk factor in developing regions. Both viruses are transmitted through such means as unprotected sex, sharing needles (drug abusers) and contaminated blood transfusions. (1) (2) (3) (4)

Excessive Alcohol Intake

Prolonged alcohol abuse leads to irreversible liver damage and consequently, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. (2) (4)

Aflatoxins

These are substances produced by fungi which grow on food such as wheat, corn, rice, peanuts, etc. Eating food contaminated with aflatoxins over a long period of time increases the risk of liver cancer. (1) (2) (3) (4)

Prolonged Use of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are hormones used to increase muscle bulk by athletes and body builders. Long-term use increases the risk of liver cancer. (1) (3) (4)

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

In this condition, fats called triglycerides accumulate in the liver. It is seen in diabetic patients and obese people and leads to cirrhosis. It is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer. (1) (2) (4)

Exposure to Chemical Compounds:

Certain chemical compounds greatly increase the risk of liver cancer. They include vinyl chloride which is used in making plastics and arsenic which is found in water from some wells. Prolonged exposure to these compounds increases the risk of developing liver cancer. (1) (3) (4)

Liver Cirrhosis

Liver cirrhosis is the end result of several types of insult to the liver and is one of the most important risk factors for liver cancer. In this condition, damaged liver cells are replaced by non-functioning scar tissue. Cirrhosis can be caused by obesity, alcohol abuse, hepatitis infection, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune diseases, and metabolic diseases of the liver. (1) (2) (3)

Smoking

This has not been totally proven but some scientists say there is a link between smoking tobacco and an increased risk of liver cancer. The effect of smoking is seen to be more pronounced in people who have hepatitis or abuse alcohol. (1) (3) (4)

Immunosuppression

Depressed immunity such as in people who suffer from HIV/AIDS or in transplant patients who take immunosuppressive medication can lead to an increased risk of developing liver cancer. This may be because they are more likely to be infected with hepatitis viruses. (3)

Contraceptive Pills

That contraceptive pills increase the risk of developing liver cancer is still a controversial issue. Contraceptive pills have been found to cause benign liver tumors called hepatic adenomas but it is not clear if this increases the risk of liver cancer. (1) (3)

Obesity

Studies have shown that liver cancer occurs more in overweight and obese people. This could be because obesity can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis which are both risk factors for liver cancer. It could also be related to diabetes as diabetic people are commonly overweight. (1) (2) (3) (4)

Family History

A history of liver cancer in other family members especially first-degree relatives like a parent or sibling increases the risk of a person developing liver cancer. Other forms of cancer e.g. prostate cancer in such a relative may also increase this risk. (3)

Diabetes

Research has shown that people who suffer from diabetes are more prone to developing liver cancer than those who do not. Diabetes increases the risk two- to threefold. Diabetes is also associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity. (1) (2) (3) (4)

Inherited Metabolic Diseases

These are rare diseases present at birth which cause an increased risk of liver cancer. An example is Hemochromatosis in which the body absorbs too much iron from food leading to liver cirrhosis. Other such conditions include Wilson’s disease, porphyria cutanea tarda, tyrosinemia, and glycogen storage diseases. (1) (2) (4)

Sources:

1. What the Risk Factors for Liver Cancer?

http://our.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_2X_What_are_the_risk_factors_for_liver_cancer_25.asp

2. Liver Cancer: Risk Factors

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/liver-cancer/DS00399/DSECTION=risk-factors

3. Risks and Causes of Liver Cancer

http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/liver-cancer/about/risks-and-causes-of-liver-cancer

4. Liver Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention

http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/271.cfm

Dear Cancer

Dear Cancer:

This is to let you know that I hate you. No, hate is not the right word, it’s more like detest. Yes, I detest you and all you stand for and all you have done and all you will ever do. You have no conscience, you do not discriminate and you always press forward with malice aforethought. It’s all about you, isn’t it? It’s about how much you can destroy in record time. And once you have started, you just don’t stop until everything and everyone around you is destroyed, or at the very least, changed for life.

You started out in my life as a nasty thorn in my Mother-In-Law’s side. She thought she was over you, she thought all was forgotten and that you would never come back, but that of course is not your way. You waited for her to have a life, to have children and a career and then you snuck back in and took it all away. She did do a number on you, though, she fought you. She fought you with everything she had and every tool imaginable. She was even going to let others study what you had done to see if they could find a way to stop you. But you were too strong. You were too knowledgeable in the ways of destruction. You won.

Next time I met up with you it was my Uncle you decided to attack. He was strong, in his prime of life, 50 years old also with kids and a family. I know, you don’t care, it doesn’t affect you, I don’t know why I even bring it up. But you got him where it hurts. This time, you not only took a life but made your victim suffer first by nearly crippling him. He had to use a cane and was in much pain towards the end of his life. Just so you know, he may have gone too soon, but he went quietly with his wife by his side.

Then, as if that were not enough, you picked on two other uncles almost in the same way. They both had to have operations and one of them got their larynx removed. That was cute. He had to spend the rest of his life talking with a microphone on the outside of his throat. You thought that was pretty clever didn’t you? You thought you were pretty smooth. You got what you wanted and moved on to other areas so they could continue suffering until they died. You unrelenting pig!

Last, but not least, you decide to go after my best friend. How could you? You just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you? No, you had to show me your truly ugly side. Good job. Well done. You took her way too young and you know it. You were coy this time. You didn’t show up until it was way too late to do anything about it. You were probably enjoying the fact that she already had something removed and thought she was in the clear. But no, you came back with a vengeance. You came back on top and didn’t give her a chance in hell. You wrapped yourself around so tightly, no one could get to you. I had to watch, you know, and I saw it all. I saw the way you took her hope away. I saw how you alienated her children with fear. I saw how you took away her speech. Oh, you’re good!

But I have news for you. Her family and I weren’t about to let her suffer by herself. We weren’t about to let you take over and destroy her slowly without a fight. Yes, we helped her cope, we comforted her, and we got her through the tough nights of no sleep and the rough days of no eating. We were right there by her side and we refused to let her face you alone. So you won, but you lost! We made sure everyone knew what you were doing and we fought you with love and understanding.

So, in the end, I want you to know that I still detest you, even more if that’s possible. I loathe the air in which you breathe and the cells in which you breed. I will celebrate the day they destroy you and if you ever dare to show your ugly face in my presence again, just be forewarned: I’ll be ready. I know what you did and I know where you live!

Signed, 
Your Sworn Enemy.