Showing posts with label blood test. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blood test. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Being told that you have prostate cancer can be a frightening experience. When you are told of your condition, it's common to be so overwhelmed that you neglect to ask important questions, only to think of them once you've gotten home. Understanding your illness is often the first step on the road to recovery. Here's what you need to know about your diagnosis and how the cancer is staged:

1.Diagnosing Stages

Once a man has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his physician will perform one or more additional tests to determine the stage of cancer. These tests may include a digital rectal examination, a blood test, an MRI of the prostate or skeleton, a CT of the pelvis and abdomen, or a surgical procedure to examine lymph nodes. While not all men will need each test, most men will undergo at least one of these tests in order for their physician to better stage the cancer.

2.Stage I

If you are diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer, this means that your cancer is microscopic and only located in the prostate. Your cancer will not be large enough for your doctor to manipulate digitally. Additionally, the cancer will not be able to be detected on any digital imaging of the prostate gland. Stage I cancer of the prostate will be discovered by a needle biopsy or in tissue that is removed during other surgical procedures.

3.Stage II

In stage II prostate cancer, the cancer is still located solely in the prostate. The cancer may be found in one-half or less of one lobe of the prostate, in more than one-half of one lobe or in opposite sides of the prostate gland. As in stage I prostate cancer, stage II cancers cannot be felt during digital rectal exams, nor will the cancer be visible on any type of imaging.

4.Stage III

In stage III prostate cancer, the cancer has spread outside of the prostate to nearby tissues. The prostate specific antigen, or PSA, score can be at any level and the Gleason score will range between two and ten. Your doctor may choose to treat you with external-beam radiation therapy, hormone therapy or suggest you for a clinical trial of new therapies. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest no treatment at all and, instead, adopt a watch and see approach to your cancer.

5.Stage IV

When your prostate cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other areas of your body, you are diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Your cancer may be found in your bones, liver, lungs or lymph nodes. Stage IV prostate cancer, like other cancers that have reached the fourth stage, is considered to be the most serious. Without immediate treatment, this type of cancer will likely prove fatal. Your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or a radical prostatectomy combined with other therapies.

The better you understand your diagnosis and the stage of prostate cancer that has been discovered, the better equipped you will be to partner with your oncologist to aggressively tackle your disease. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, do not hesitate to approach your doctor with any questions that you may have. Your gained knowledge may just save your life.

Friday, October 05, 2012

REMEMBER when we used to lie out in the sun for hours covered in coconut oil?

If you can, you're pre-skin cancer warnings now appear regularly on our TV and billboards.

Slip, slop, slap is the message we've being given.

But, with vitamin D deficiency more common, many people are also wondering if the sun protection message is affecting their health in other ways.

The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best source of vitamin D, according to the Cancer Council Australia.

"We need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels," it says.

"Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency."

Why we need vitamin D and how we get it

Vitamin D keeps bones and muscles strong, as well as keep our immune system robust.

Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children and cancer.

Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D forms in the skin when it is exposed to UV from sunlight.

It can also be obtained from some foods such as fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy and grain products.

Who's most at risk from vitamin D deficiency

Naturally dark skinned people, people who cover their skin for religious or cultural reasons, the elderly and people who are housebound or in institutional care, babies and infants of vitamin D deficient mothers, people with osteoporosis and those who suffer from milk allergies or adhere to a strict vegetarian diet may all be short on vitamin D.

Certain medical problems, including Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can also affect your ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.


Measuring Vitamin DThe most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.  

How much sun is enough?

A study by St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney; the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and the University of NSW suggests that exposure of 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight four to six times a week, outside of the hours of 10am - 2pm, is the best way to boost vitamin D.

By Helen Hawkes

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tests commonly recommended to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer do more harm than good and should not be performed, a panel of medical experts said Monday.

The screenings -- blood tests for a substance linked to cancer, and ultrasound scans to examine the ovaries -- do not lower the death rate from the disease, and they yield many false-positive results that lead to unnecessary operations with high complication rates, the panel said.

"There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths," said Dr. Virginia Moyer, chairwoman of the expert panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. "In fact, a high percentage of women who undergo screening experience false-positive test results and consequently may be subjected to unnecessary harms, such as major surgery."

The advice against testing applies only to healthy women with an average risk of ovarian cancer, not to those with suspicious symptoms or those at high risk because they carry certain genetic mutations or have a family history of the disease.

Other tests rejected, too
The recommendations are just the latest in a series of challenges to cancer screenings issued by the panel, which has also rejected routine PSA screenings for prostate cancer in men and routine mammograms in women younger than 50. The task force is a group of 16 experts, appointed by the government but independent, that makes recommendations about screening tests and other efforts to prevent disease. Its advice is based on medical evidence, not cost.

The recommendations against screening for ovarian cancer were published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine. The warning is not new -- the panel is reaffirming its own earlier advice.

Although the task force has sometimes drawn fire in the past, particularly with its stand on mammograms, in this case it has plenty of support. Other medical groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have for years been discouraging tests to screen for ovarian cancer.

But some doctors continue to recommend screening anyway, and patients request it, clinging to the mistaken belief that the tests can somehow find the disease early enough to save lives. A report published in February in Annals of Internal Medicine, based on a survey of 1,088 doctors, said that about a third of them believed the screening was effective and that many routinely offered it to patients. "We are fueled by hope," Moyer said.

Ovarian cancer is among the more rapidly fatal forms of cancer. This year, 22,280 new cases and 15,500 deaths are expected in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

In most cases, ovarian cancer is already advanced by the time it is diagnosed. Doctors say the only advice they can give women is not to ignore symptoms that may be the first warning of the disease: persistent bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, feeling full early while eating and needing to urinate frequently.

For its latest recommendations, the panel relied heavily on a large study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 78,216 women from ages 55 to 74. Half were screened and half not, and they were followed for 11 to 13 years. The screening consisted of ultrasound exams and blood tests for elevated levels of a substance called CA-125, which can be a sign of ovarian cancer.

Many false positives
The death rate from ovarian cancer was the same in the two groups. But among the women who were screened, nearly 10 percent -- 3,285 women -- had false positive results. Of those women with false positives, 1,080 had surgery, usually to remove one or both ovaries. Only after the operations were done was it clear that they had been unnecessary. And at least 15 percent of the women who had surgery had at least one serious complication.

To find one case of ovarian cancer, 20 women had to undergo surgery.

By DENISE GRADY @ New York Times