Browsing the Cancer category...

Cervical Cancer
The number of women this disease killed in the United States dropped from 8,487 in 1960 to 4,627 in 1990. A major cause was early detection with the help of Pap tests and treatment with surgery. There is controversy about the effectiveness of Pap tests, but deaths from cervical and uterine cancers have fallen more than 70 percent since the introduction of the tests in the 1950s, reports the College of American Pathologists. Sexually active women (especially those with more than one partner) would do well to have three successive yearly Pap tests. If each test result is negative, a test every three years is then advised.
Genital warts (papilloma) warn women to get a Pap test. The warts are caused by viruses that may also cause cervical cancer. Prompt removal of these warts is urged for men and women.

Ovarian Cancer
Can screenings detect ovarian cancer early enough to remove it? Dr. Eyre says researchers are trying to determine that answer: “We are testing the effectiveness of pelvic exams, a blood test for a substance called CA 125, as well as a sonar examination of the ovaries.”

Too much calcium in the blood usually means that your cancer has spread to the bones, especially if your cancer started in the breast. However, the reverse is not true—in general, cancer does not usually cause excessive release of calcium when it spreads to the bones. Some particular types of cancer can also cause high calcium levels in the blood without spreading at all, but this is unusual. The ones that can do it include squamous cancer of the lung and cancers of the kidney and ovary.

Too much calcium in the blood can sometimes be treated by getting the responsible cancer into remission. Of course this may either be impossible or so costly that you decide that it is not worth trying. The main alternative is to work on reducing the high calcium levels, either instead of attacking the responsible cancer, or while you are waiting for anti-cancer treatment to work. Some of the ways of reducing high calcium levels include flushing the calcium through the system with a lot of intravenous fluids, or by using mithramycin, phosphate mixtures taken by mouth or corticosteroids.




Radiotherapy is used as an adjuvant to surgery following radical or local mastectomy if malignant cells have spread to the auxiliary lymph nodes. The radiation treatment is aimed at the breast and the remaining lymph nodes under the arm, above the collar bone, and along the breastbone.

Radiotherapy can also help to alleviate the pain of extensive breast cancer which cannot be cured, particularly where there is spread of cancer to the bones. It may be the treatment of choice for women who are unfit for surgery and for those in whom secondary tumours have developed in the bones and skin. The X-ray beam can be directed onto the tumour itself, making it shrink and helping to relieve any pain it was causing. If radiotherapy causes the breast tumour to shrink enough, a mastectomy may be feasible later.

Radiotherapy is given externally, or, more rarely, via an internal implant of radioactive material.


This treatment is used increasingly as an adjuvant to surgery, for all forms of breast cancer as well as for advanced cancer, for widespread metastases, and for extensive local invasion such as ulceration or fixation of the tumour to the overlying skin.

Chemotherapy is given after surgery, either alone or in conjunction with radiotherapy when cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit as it can reach any malignant cells which may be hidden in other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy agents, such as 5-fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide and methotrexate, are anti-cancer drugs which act directly on cancer cell growth and division. However, they have potentially harmful side-effects and their use needs to be carefully monitored.

For extensive breast cancer, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be given first. If the tumour shrinks sufficiently, the smaller lump can then be removed surgically.

Hormone therapy

The most commonly used drug for hormone therapy is an anti-oestrogen agent called tamoxifen. It has proved over the last 20 years or so to be an effective treatment, particularly for tumours which contain oestrogen receptors, as it acts by suppressing the effects of oestrogen on breast cancer cells.

Other drugs have been used for hormone therapy, such as stilboestrol for women who are well past their menopause, but these can cause side-effects such as vaginal bleeding and masculinisation.