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Cancer FAQs

Information about Cancer FAQs

We Have to Know about the General Cancer FAQs

Q- What is cancer?

A- Cancer is uncontrolled and continuous growth and division of defective cells.

Q- Is cancer a communicable disease?

A- No, cancer is not a communicable disease. There are no chances of the disease to be transferred from one person to another.

Q- What is lymph?

A- Lymph is a colorless liquid which can be seen coming out during minor scratches on the skin. It is the main part of our body’s defense system.

Q- What are lymph nodes?

A- Lymph nodes are small knot-like structures present in the lymphatic system. They work to filter the lymph and also have lots of defense cells to protect the body when needed.

Q- What function does the lymph hold in the body?

A- The main function of lymph nodes is to remove foreign material from the body. Their main work is to provide protection to the body.

Q- What is cancer?

A- Cancer is uncontrolled and continuous growth and division of defective cells.

Q- Is cancer a communicable disease?

A- No, cancer is not a communicable disease. There are no chances of the disease to be transferred from one person to another.

Q- What is lymph?

A- Lymph is a colorless liquid which can be seen coming out during minor scratches on the skin. It is the main part of our body’s defense system.

Q- What are lymph nodes?

A- Lymph nodes are small knot-like structures present in the lymphatic system. They work to filter the lymph and also have lots of defense cells to protect the body when needed.

Q- What function does the lymph hold in the body?

A- The main function of lymph nodes is to remove foreign material from the body. Their main work is to provide protection to the body.

Q- Do all the tumors cause cancer?

A- No, benign tumors are not the cause of cancer. The cancer is mainly caused by malignant tumors only.

Q- What are carcinogens?

A- Carcinogens are the agents that are responsible for a cancerous growth.

Q- How do cancer cells spread?

A- Cancer cells spread by breaking up the primary tumors and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. These cells go and damage other normal cells and form new tumors.

Q- What is primary cancer?

A- The place of origin of cancer is called primary cancer or primary tumor. It is usually named for the part of the body or the type of cell in which it begins.

Q- What is a metastatic disease?

A- The disease which spreads from one location to another in the body is called distant or metastatic disease. The cells of such kind of disease travel through the bloodstream and target other parts of the body.

Q- Can a person get metastatic cancer without having primary cancer?

A- No. metastatic cancer develop from primary cancer.

Q- What is DNA?

A- DNA is genetic material and it is present in every cell and directs all activities of life.

Q- What is a gene?

A- Gene is a part of our cells which carry information from one generation to the next. Our body has got a large number of genes. Each gene is responsible to carry only one character.

Q- What do you mean by metastatic cancer?

A- Metastatic is a scientific word, the process in which cancer cells those travel along with the bloodstream and infect distant located organs are called metastasis and this type of cancer is called metastasis cancer.

Q- What is recurrent cancer?

A- cancer which comes back after a time duration is called recurrent cancer. This type of cancer can come back in the breast wall of can occur in other parts of the body such as bone, liver, lungs etc.

Q- What is monoclonal antibody?

A- Monoclonal antibodies are those antibodies which target specific antigen.

Q- What is antibody/immunoglobulin?

A- Antibodies are high molecular weight protein particles. These are the molecules of our defense system that protect our body from the antigens (disease-causing agents). In general, we can say they are the soldiers of our body protection force to keep us healthy.

Q- What is antigen?

A- Antigen is a molecule that stimulates the defense system of our body. In general language, these are the particles which attack our defense system and in reverse action, our body attacks them back for protection.

Q- What is the immune system?

A- Immune system is the defense mechanism of the body which protects us from the disease-causing organisms.

Q- What are estrogen and progesterone?

A- These are hormones of women body.

Q- What is hormone?

A- Hormone is a chemical substance which is produced in the body and affects activities of our body.

Q- What is prognosis?

A- Prognosis is chance of recovery of a person from a disease.

Q- What do you mean by mucinous carcinoma?

A- Mucinous carcinoma is a cancer formed by mucus-producing cancer cells.

Q- What are antiperspirants?

A- A subgroup of deodorants is called “antiperspirants”. These products reduce body odor and reduce sweat produced by parts of the body.

Q- What are oncogenes?

A- Certain genes that promote proliferation/increment in the number of cancer cells are called oncogenes.

Q- What is meant by tumor suppressor genes?

A- A tumor suppressor gene is that which decreases the cell division or cause the cells to die at the right time so that they do not accumulate to create a tumor.

Q- What is genetic counseling?

A- Genetic counseling is to provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions.

Q- Who can be a genetic counselor?

A- Genetic counselor is a health professional with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling.

Q- How genetic counseling is helpful in cancer?

A- Genetic counseling will be helpful by telling you how much are you on cancer risk.

Q- Where can I get genetic counseling?

A- You may get genetic counseling at some selected centers in India. Ask your doctor for further information.

Q- Is the counseling facility available in major cities only?

A- Yes. It is available in selected major cities of India.

Q- Is the counseling available in all major hospitals?

A- No. it is available in some selected hospitals.

Q- What is Chemoprevention?

A- The use of drugs to reduce the risk of cancer is called chemoprevention.

Q- What type of drugs are used in chemoprevention?

A- Anti-estrogen drug, tamoxifen etc are used in chemoprevention.

Q- What is angiogenesis?

A- Cancers cells need blood vessels to grow, which are nourishing the cancer cells. This process is called angiogenesis

Q- What is anti-angiogenesis?

A- Anti-angiogenetic agents are those which prevents the formation of new blood vessels and by this manner, they prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

Q- What do you mean by clinical trials?

A- The studies which are done to introduce a new treatment are called clinical trials.

Q- Why do we go for clinical trials?

A- To know the success rate and safety of the new treatment we go for clinical trials. If the results are satisfactory, we go for further studies and finally the treatment is approved to be used for the patients.

Q- What is meant by phase in a clinical trial?

A- Phases are the systematic steps of a clinical trial. Generally, there are 3 phases in a trial.

Q- What is the phase I clinical trial?

A- The best way to give a new treatment and how much of it can be given safely. It tests the safety of the drug.

Q- What does phase II clinical trial decide?

A- Phase II trials decide whether the drug works properly or not.

Q- What are phase III clinical trials?

A- These trials are done to compare the currently available standard treatment with the new treatment.

Q- What are persistent tumors?

A- Persistent tumors are those which never disappear even after treatment.

Q- What factors affect prognosis (chances to recover) of cancer?

A- The stage of cancer, type of cancer, size of the tumor and patient’s general health are the factors that affect prognosis.

Q- Is it possible for cancer to transfer from one person to other during sexual intercourse?

A- No. it’s a rumor. Cancer is not a contagious disease.

Q- How exercise can help to cope with cancer?

A- Exercise improves your circulation and strengthens the heart, reduces fatigue, lowers anxiety and depression, makes you feel happier and better.

Q- What is meant by survival rate?

A- Survival rate show the percentage of people who live a specific length of time after they know, they have cancer.

Q- What is anemia?

A- Anemia is the reduction of Red-Blood-cells than normal count. Anemia can come as a side effect of chemotherapy.

Q- What is the reproductive system?

A- Reproductive system is a group of organs used in reproduction.

Q- What is carcinoma?

A- Any cancer which develops from the upper layer of an organ called epithelial layer is called carcinoma. This can later spread or get invasive to affect surrounding parts.

Q- What is a balanced diet/proper nutrition?

A- Balanced diet/Proper nutrition which contains everything required for our body to maintain in a healthy condition.

Q- Where can I get genetic counseling?

A- You may get genetic counseling at some selected centers in India. Ask your doctor for further information.

Q- Is the counseling facility available in major cities only?

A- Yes. It is available in selected major cities of India.

Q- Is the counseling available in all major hospitals?

A- No. it is available in some selected hospitals.

Q- What is Chemoprevention?

A- The use of drugs to reduce the risk of cancer is called chemoprevention.

Q- What type of drugs are used in chemoprevention?

A- Anti-estrogen drug, tamoxifen etc are used in chemoprevention.

Q- What is angiogenesis?

A- Cancers cells need blood vessels to grow, which are nourishing the cancer cells. This process is called angiogenesis

Q- What is anti-angiogenesis?

A- Anti-angiogenetic agents are those which prevents the formation of new blood vessels and by this manner, they prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

Q- What do you mean by clinical trials?

A- The studies which are done to introduce a new treatment are called clinical trials.

Q- Why do we go for clinical trials?

A- To know the success rate and safety of the new treatment we go for clinical trials. If the results are satisfactory, we go for further studies and finally the treatment is approved to be used for the patients.

Q- What is meant by phase in a clinical trial?

A- Phases are the systematic steps of a clinical trial. Generally, there are 3 phases in a trial.

Q- What is the phase I clinical trial?

A- The best way to give a new treatment and how much of it can be given safely. It tests the safety of the drug.

Q- What does phase II clinical trial decide?

A- Phase II trials decide whether the drug works properly or not.

Q- What are phase III clinical trials?

A- These trials are done to compare the currently available standard treatment with the new treatment.

Q- What are persistent tumors?

A- Persistent tumors are those which never disappear even after treatment.

Q- What factors affect prognosis (chances to recover) of cancer?

A- The stage of cancer, type of cancer, size of the tumor and patient’s general health are the factors that affect prognosis.

Q- Is it possible for cancer to transfer from one person to other during sexual intercourse?

A- No. it’s a rumor. Cancer is not a contagious disease.

Q- How exercise can help in to cope with cancer?

A- Exercise improves your circulation and strengthens the heart, reduces fatigue, lowers anxiety and depression, makes you feel happier and better.

Q- What is meant by survival rate?

A- Survival rate show the percentage of people who live a specific length of time after they know, they have cancer.

Q- What is anemia?

A- Anemia is a reduction of Red-Blood-cells than normal count. Anemia can come as a side effect of chemotherapy.

Q- What is the reproductive system?

A- Reproductive system is a group of organs used in reproduction.

Q- What is carcinoma?

A- Any cancer which develops from the upper layer of an organ called epithelial layer is called carcinoma. This can later spread or get invasive to affect surrounding parts.

Q- What is a balanced diet/proper nutrition?

A- Balanced diet/Proper nutrition which contains everything required for our body to maintain in a healthy condition.

STAGES OF GENERAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is meant by staging?

A- Staging is the process of finding out how far cancer has spread.

Q- What is local/early stage cancer?

A- Cancer may be confined to the ovary or spread only to spots nearby. If so, it is called local or early-stage cancer.

SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is a gene test?

A- It is a diagnosis that finds out the relation of genes with the disease.

Q- Can I go for a gene test voluntarily?

A- Before getting a gene test you should consult your doctor and health counselor. Try to collect all the information about the benefits, risks, limits, success rate and future effects of the test.

Q- What is biopsy?

A- Biopsy is a medical test for diagnosis. In this process, a small part of the affected region of the body is removed for examination.

Q- What is a core biopsy/ needle biopsy?

A- In the core biopsy, a thick needle is used to remove cells from the suspected area. These are later checked for the presence of any abnormality or cancer.

Q- What is a surgical biopsy?

A- A small part of the breast is removed by surgery. This part is further checked for the presence of cancer.

Q- What is incisional biopsy?

A- It is a type of surgical biopsy. In this process, a small sample of an abnormal area is taken for diagnosis of breast cancer.

Q- What is excisional biopsy?

A- It is a type of surgical biopsy. In this process, the whole area of an abnormal area is taken for the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Q- What is MRI and how does it work?

A- MRI is magnetic resonance imaging. It is similar to a CT scan, but here magnetism is used instead of x-rays. In this technique, a powerful magnet is connected with a computer which makes pictures of the area. By viewing it your doctor will tell whether you have breast cancer or not.

Q- How MRI is done?

A- Patients have to lie inside a tube and they are scanned, The machine also makes a buzzing noise that you may find disturbing. MRIs are very expensive.

Q- Why earplugs and headphones are used during MRI?

A- MRI machine produces a lot of noise, to reduce it and to make the patient feel comfortable earphones or earplugs are used.

Q- What is CAD?

A- Computer-aided detection and diagnosis (CAD) are called CAD.

Q- What are estrogen and progesterone test?

A- This is a test to measure the level of estrogen and progesterone. This test is performed to check whether hormonal therapy can prevent the growth of cancer or not.

Q- What are screening tests?

A- These tests and exams are used to find a disease such as cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms.

Q- What are the available diagnostic imaging studies for cancer?

A- Ultrasound, CT scan, Barium enema x-ray, colonoscopy, MRI, chest x-rays, PET (positron emitting tomography) are some of the available diagnostic methods used to identify cancer.

Q- What is PET (positron emission tomography)?

A- PET is a diagnostic tool to detect if cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes.

Q- How PET test is done?

A- In PET glucose (a form of sugar) mixed with a radioactive, is used. Cancer cells in the body absorb large amounts of the radioactive sugar and a special camera can detect it.

Q- What is the CT scan and how does it work?

A- CT scan is Computed Tomography. It works on the principle of x-rays. An x-ray beam to take a series of pictures of the body from many angles. A computer combines the pictures to form a detailed image.

Q- Why in some cases a special drink or injection is given before a CT scan?

A- The special drink is given to allow particular areas to be seen more clearly.

Q- Do I need to hospitalize during CT scan?

A- No. it’s an outdoor patient procedure.

Q- Can I go home alone after CT scan?

A- Yes.

Q- Should I get someone with me, if I am going for CT scan?

A- No, it’s not compulsory. You can get it done going alone.

Q- What is tissue sampling?

A- Removal of tissue from a suspected part of the body is called tissue sampling. This is the only way to tell for certain if a growth in the pelvis is cancer. Tissue sampling is also called a biopsy.

Q- Why a person is asked to drink plenty of liquids before the ultrasound?

A- Before pelvic ultrasound, you will be asked to drink plenty of fluids so that your bladder is full. This helps to give a clearer picture. In vaginal ultrasounds taking fluids is not compulsory.

Q- Why a gel is applied before the ultrasound?

A- gel is spread onto the area which is to be scanned to avoid air entrapment between the probe and the body. Air can disturb the sound waves and quality may be reduced. The gel also reduces the friction while moving the probe on the body.

Q- What is abdominal fluid aspiration?

A- In this screening process fluid is taken out of the affected area through needle and syringe and examined for cancer.

Q- How can I identify the disease if symptoms do not appear?

A- Nowadays screening methods are available which are efficient enough to make out disease before the symptoms appear.

Q- What are the symptoms?

A- Symptoms are the abnormal changes in health which indicate the onset of a disease.

TREATMENT FOR GENERAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is biological therapy/immunotherapy?

A- To increase the defense power of the body to fight against cancer and to lower down the treatment side effects come under biological/immunotherapy.

Q- What is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)?

A- When treatment is taken along with standard treatment is called complementary medicine. When treatment is taken in place of the standard treatment then it is called alternative treatment.

Q- Are the complementary and alternative medicines safe?

A- In many cases, CAM support the standard medication and improve the condition of the patient but in others, it may suppress or interfere with the action of the standard medication. Some CAMs may be harmful if used alone (without standard treatment).

Q- Why do people with cancer choose CAM?

A- There are many reasons behind choosing CAM. It causes the cancer patient feel better and relieves the stress. Patients think that they are doing something additional along with the standard treatment, this feeling switches them on to positive thoughts and they feel recovered faster. CAM also helps in minimizing the side effects caused by cancer treatment.

Q- What is integrative medicine?

A- Integrative medicine is a combination of standard medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This is the most promising type of treatment against cancer.

Q- Is it safe to take vitamin during cancer treatment?

A- Taking too much of vitamin is not safe even for healthy persons. High dose of vitamins can interrupt/ affect the chemotherapy and radiation therapy to act properly.

Q- Is there any special food to be taken during treatment?

A- Its a common question asked by the cancer patients. There is no food till date that has been proven to control cancer. Ask your doctor for more details.

Q- Can I take an herbal supplement during the treatment?

A- The herbal supplements can interfere/ disturb the action of the drugs which you are taking for the cancer treatment. So it is always better to inform your doctor about what herbal supplements you are taking.

Q- What things should I keep in mind before selecting a CAM practitioner?

A- Always go to a registered and experienced CAM practitioner. Don’t forget to take opinion from your cancer specialist before going to a CAM practitioner.

Q- What is chemotherapy?

A- Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals as drugs, to treat diseases. Generally it is taken in terms with cancer treatment but in reality, use of chemicals to treat any kind of disease comes under chemotherapy, but it is often referred for cancer.

Q- What is adjuvant chemotherapy?

A- If the surgeon feels there is a high risk of tiny (microscopic) cancer cells having been left behind. This is known as adjuvant chemotherapy.

Q- What is neoadjuvant chemotherapy?

A- Chemotherapy may be given for a few months before the operation. This aims to shrink cancer and make the operation easier and more effective. It is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Q- What is radiation therapy/radiotherapy?

A- Use of radiations to treat a disease comes under radiation therapy or radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is applicable to treat cancer. It is a local targeted treatment therapy.

Q- How does radiotherapy work to treat cancer?

A- Radiations kill the defective cancer cells that may present after surgery. Radiations are given at the part where the cancer was started or where it has spread. It minimizes the recurrence chances of cancer.

Q- Does radiation therapy cause hair loss?

A- No, it does not cause hair loss until it is given to your head.

Q- What changes may I have after getting radiotherapy?

A- The area where you get radiation may turn red or tan. You may feel irritated and sensitive.

Q- What is palliative radiotherapy?

A- Radiotherapy which may also be used to reduce bleeding, feelings of pain and discomfort is known as palliative radiotherapy.

Q- What is the adjuvant treatment?

A- Adjuvant treatment is the treatment which is given with the main treatment. The main aim is to enhance the activity of the main drug.

Q- How does chemotherapy work?

A- Cancer chemotherapy acts by destroying cancer cells and stop them from growing. Most of the anticancer drugs work as poison for the cells which are continuously growing.

Q- Why there is a need for chemotherapy in cancer treatment?

A- Based on the type and stage of the cancer chemotherapy is used to:

Ø  Treat cancer

Ø  Stop cancer from spreading

Ø  Slow down the growth of cancer

Ø  Relieve symptoms which may cause cancer

Q- What are the ways to administer/give chemotherapy?

A- Chemotherapy can be given

Ø  Orally (by mouth)

Ø  By intravenous injections

Ø  By intramuscular, subcutaneous injections

Ø  Topical application

Q- When do we get chemotherapy?

A- Chemotherapy may be given either before, after or during surgery and radiotherapy. The doctor has to finalize about it.

Q- What are the possible side effects of radiation therapy?

A- Tiredness, rashes on the treated area, redness or tan color of the treated area, irritation, reduction in blood count, even radiotherapy can destroy healthy cells.

Q- What are the effects of chemotherapy on other body parts?

A- The normal fast-growing cells of the body can be damaged because of chemotherapy, like cells of bone marrow, sperms, egg cells, hair follicle cells etc. It can also disturb the cells of heart, kidney, liver, lungs etc.

Q- How long do the side effects of chemotherapy last?

A- Most of the side effects last by the end of the treatment but some of them take time to disappear completely. This feature varies from person to person according to their defense power, type of cancer and strength of chemotherapy dose they get.

Q- What are the common side effects of chemotherapy?

A- Some common side effects are:

Ø  Nausea and vomiting

Ø  Hair loss

Ø  Fatigue/ tiredness

Ø  Infection

Ø  Bleeding

Ø  Fever/chills

Ø  Loose motions/constipation

Ø  Burning urination

Ø  Cough and sore throat

Ø  Unusual vaginal discharge

Ø  Redness, swelling, and pain around the wounds

Ø  Emotional changes

Q- What should I do if I feel nausea or vomit?

Ø  Eat little and frequent instead of heavy meals

Ø  Eat and drink slowly

Ø  Avoid smells that trouble you

Ø  Consult the doctor

Q- What can be done in case I start losing hair?

Ø  Use mild shampoos

Ø  Comb your hair softly

Ø  Don’t use harsh detergent or soaps for your hair

Ø  Wear a wig or scarf on your head

Ø  Consult your doctor

Q- What should be done if I feel tired during the treatment?

Ø  Take sufficient rest

Ø  Do only the important works

Ø  Eat nutritious food

Ø  Consult the doctor

Q- Why do we have increased chances of infection during chemotherapy?

A- Chemotherapy decreased the formation of white blood cells which are an important part of our defense system. Due to lack of them, the person may have increased chances of infection.

Q- How can I reduce the chances of getting the infection?

A- The following tips may help you in this regard:

Ø  Wash hands frequently with soap

Ø  Stay away from the infected people

Ø  Take a warm bath or sponge the body

Ø  Get the wounds treated immediately

Ø  Eat healthy and nutritious food

Q- What can be done in case I get loose motion problem?

Ø  Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol etc

Ø  Drink plenty of liquids sip by sip

Ø  Avoid milk if it worsens the problem

Ø  Take a light and nutritious diet

Ø  Consult the doctor

Q- What cautions should I take if I get constipation?

Ø  Take more fibrous food

Ø  Drink sufficient liquids and lukewarm water

Ø  Do some daily exercise

Q- What are the possible skin problems due to chemotherapy?

A- You may feel burning sensation, redness, itching, drying and peeling of skin.

Q- How to overcome these skin problems?

Ø  Daily clean the body with mild soap and warm water

Ø  Apply moisturizer if u feel dryness

Ø  Pat dry the skin after bathing

Ø  Consult the doctor

Q- What kind of urination problems can be caused by chemotherapy?

Ø  Painful and burning urine

Ø  Frequent urination

Ø  Reddish and blood clots may appear

Ø  Fever/chills

Q- What sexual effects are caused by chemotherapy?

A- In males it can cause a quantitative and qualitative reduction in sperm cells, causing temporary or permanent infertility. In the female, it can disturb the menstrual cycle or can cause menopause, flashes, itching or dryness of vagina, damage of ovaries, temporary or permanent infertility and birth defects or pregnancy loss.

Q- What sort of emotional changes can be caused by chemotherapy?

A- Patient may feel that he/she will never recover, change in daily routine and behavior, change in personal relations, mental tension, fear of death etc can be noticed.

Q- Does chemotherapy require hospitalization?

A- No, generally it’s an outpatient procedure, but some cases may require a few days hospitalization.

Q- How to overcome the emotional changes/ side effects?

A- There are many ways to overcome like:

Ø  Always be positive

Ø  You can discuss with the doctor about your problem

Ø  Meet the counselor/ psychologist

Ø  Get encouragement from your friends and family members

Ø  Support groups

Ø  Talk to the patients who have already received chemotherapy

Ø  Read survival stories of patients

Q- Can I continue working during chemotherapy?

A- Yes, in most of the cases you can continue to work and live a normal life with slight modifications in your daily schedule. Domestic work, exercise, swimming social activities etc can be continued during chemotherapy. Consult your doctor for more details on it.

Q- How to prepare mentally to receive cancer treatment?

A- There are some tips:

Ø  Keep a positive attitude

Ø  Discuss with the survival patients

Ø  Don’t think more about it

Ø  Try to keep yourself busy

Q- What is hormone therapy and how does it work?

A- This is a type of cancer treatment. It removes or blocks the action of hormones and prevents the growth of cancer cells.

Q- What is brachytherapy/internal radiation?

A- It is also known as internal or intestinal radiation, a way to deliver radiations inside the body.

Q- What is external radiation?

A- The radiations are given from outside the body (like x-rays). The person is treated as an outpatient.

Q- Why drips are used during surgery?

A- Drips are used to maintain fluids in your body until you start eating or taking liquids in a normal way

Q- What is estrogen replacement therapy?

A- The use of estrogen hormone after menopause to maintain femininity is called estrogen replacement therapy.

Q- What kind of surgery should a person have?

A- The type of surgery will be decided by the doctor according to her health, stage of her cancer, is she still willing to have children etc.

Q- What is combined chemotherapy?

A- Using of platinum compounds like cisplatin or carboplatin, and a taxane, such as paclitaxel or docetaxel, with standard chemotherapy, is called combined chemotherapy.

Q- What should I do if the treatment is not working?

A- You can change the treatment if it is not working on you. Ask your doctor about it.

Q- How will I get to know that chemotherapy is working?

A- You will be called for follow up examinations during chemotherapy. That time your doctor will see your health improvement and you can feel changes by yourself. On that basis, you will get to know that the treatment is working or not.

Q- What should I do if I feel I am gaining weight due to chemotherapy?

Increase your daily exercise.

Eat a balanced, low-calorie diet.

Increase the number of fruits and vegetables in the diet.

Drink more water.

Consult your doctor

Q- What is fluid build-up?

A- A large amount of fluid collects in the belly. It makes a person feel the heaviness. It can be a symptom of cancer or side effect of chemotherapy.

Q- What should I do if I get fluid build-up?

Try to eat pertinacious and high-calorie foods.

Eat frequent and small meals than a heavy diet.

Notice for pain and report to the doctor.

if you’ve had your ovaries removed or due to chemotherapy and hormone therapy or during menopause.

Q- What should I do if I feel hot flushes?

A- You can try the following tips

Limit the intake of hot drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods.

Avoid vigorous exercise.

Don’t stay out in very hot places.

Sponge the body with cold water.

Ask your doctor about relaxation training or acupuncture.

Ask your doctor about medications.

Urination, or any sores or redness.

Q- What is insomnia?

A- A problem of not getting sleep is called insomnia. There are many reasons for getting insomnia but it can also happen as a side effect of chemotherapy.

Q- How to cope up insomnia?

A- Try these tips to cope up insomnia:

Go to bed at a regular time daily.

Use the bed only for sleeping, not watching TV.

If you don’t fall asleep, get up, engage in some other activity, and try again later.

Avoid coffee, tea, tobacco etc. especially before bedtime.

Avoid long naps during the day.

Exercise regularly

Q- What is mucositis?

A- Mouth sores are called mucositis. It can also happen as a side effect of chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy may cause mouth sores, but they aren’t common from treatment for ovarian cancer. Mouth sores may hurt and make eating an unpleasant experience.

Q- How can I prevent mouth sores?

A- Try the following to avoid mouth sores:

Brush your teeth and clean your tongue after meals and before bedtime.

Keep your mouth and lips clean.

Drink plenty of water.

Use sugar-free candies or gums to increase moisture in your mouth.

Q- What is brachytherapy?

A- Brachytherapy is a kind of radiation therapy which involves internal applications of radiation (radiations given from inside the body).

Q- How safe is brachytherapy when compared with traditional radiation therapy?

A- Brachytherapy has got fewer side effects compared to the traditional radiation therapy.

Q- What are the drawbacks of brachytherapy over traditional radiation therapy?

A- Brachytherapy treats only a small area of the body while traditional radiation therapy can work over a large part of the body.

Q- What is synthetic progestin?

A- Synthetic progestin is a form of progesterone hormone, which is used in hormone therapy. It stops cancer from growing and spreading to other parts of the body.

Q- Do I need someone as caretaker/attender during chemotherapy?

A- It is always better to have someone for support.

Q- Do I need to get admitted in hospital during chemotherapy?

A- Yes you will have to be hospitalized on the day of chemotherapy.

Q- Would I have some restrictions during chemotherapy?

A- Yes, you have to follow some restrictions on diet. The doctor will tell more about what you have to follow.

Q- How should I prepare myself for chemotherapy?

A- Make up your mind for chemotherapy and be emotionally strong.

Q- Will I be able to go home alone after getting chemotherapy?

A- No. please get someone to support you as you may get side effects from the treatment.

Q- What are the drawbacks if I don’t get chemotherapy?

A- Your disease may become severe and left untreated if you don’t get chemotherapy done on time as suggested by your doctor.

Q- What is dose-dense chemotherapy?

A- Giving chemotherapy more than the normal schedule dosage is called dose-dense chemotherapy. It is a better way to prevent the recurrence of cancer.

Q- What kind of medicines will I get during hormone therapy?

A- Some common medicines given in hormone therapy are tamoxifen, forest on, Arimidex, Aromasin, Femara, and Zoladex.

Q- How will I get to know that hormonal therapy is benefiting me?

A- Your recovery performance will show that you are getting benefited with hormone therapy.

Q- What are the side effects of hormone therapy?

A- You may feel vaginal dryness and/or itching, irregular menstrual periods, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, skin rash, fatigue, fluid retention, and weight gain.

Q- How long do I need to continue hormone therapy?

A- It will be decided by the doctor according to your stage of the disease.

Q- Will I need care after hormone therapy?

A- Yes. You should ask your doctor what care you should take.

Q- What is Chemo-brain?

A- It is a side effect of chemotherapy. Some women who had chemotherapy for breast cancer can experience a slight decrease in mental functioning. There may also feel difficulty in concentrating.

Q- Is chemo-brain a permanent side effect?

A- No, generally the effects of chemo-brain reduce as the time passes, and it generally disappears after 1-2 years.

Q- How is brachytherapy given?

A- Radioactive seeds/material or pellets are placed directly into the breast tissue next to the cancerous cells to add an extra “boost” of radiation to the tumor site.

Q- What is supportive care/ symptom management/ palliative care?

A- At any stage of cancer, the treatment which is given to control pain, to reduce side effects and to minimize emotional problems is called supportive care/ symptom management/ palliative Q- How laser can treat cancer?

A- Laser can shrink or destroy the tumors.

Q- How laser is given?

A- Laser therapy is often given through a flexible, thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues inside the body. It is inserted through an opening in the body, such as the mouth, nose, anus, or vagina. Laser light is then precisely aimed to cut or destroy a tumor.

Q- What type of lasers are used in cancer treatment?

A- Three types of lasers are used to treat cancer: carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, argon lasers, and neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG) lasers.

Q- What are the advantages of laser therapy?

A- Lasers are more precise, so they do less damage to normal tissues. It reduces pain, bleeding, swelling, and scarring. The process is shorter; mostly it is an outpatient procedure and minimizes hospitalization. It takes less time to heal and reduces the chances of infections.

Q- What are the limitations of laser therapy?

A- Surgeons must have specialized training before they do laser therapy, and strict safety precautions must be followed. Laser therapy is expensive and requires bulky equipment. In addition, the effects of laser therapy may not last long, so it needs repetition for a patient to get the full benefit.

Q- What is dysplasia?

A- Dysplasia is a term used to describe abnormal cells. It is not cancer but can develop in the very early stage of cervical cancer.

Q- What is meant by chemoradiation/radiosensitization?

A- When chemotherapy is used in combination with radiation therapy during cancer treatment, it is called chemoradiation/radiosensitization.

Q- What should I ask my doctor before starting chemotherapy?

You may ask the following questions:

Ø  Why do I need this chemotherapy?

Ø  What drugs will I be taking? How often? For how long? What will they do?

Ø  How and where will I take the drugs?

Ø  How will I feel during the treatment?

Ø  What can I do about side effects?

Ø  How long will I be on this treatment?

INFORMATION ABOUT BREAST CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is breast cancer?

A- cancer which affects breast cells is called breast cancer. It develops especially in the tubes that carry milk to the nipples and in the parts where milk is made.

Q- What are the breasts?

A- Breasts are muscles that are located on the ribs. In females, breasts are the milk-secreting organs used to feed the young ones.

Q- What is a nipple?

A-The nipple is a part of the breast, located in the center of the front, dark area of the breast, called areola. The nipple is the part which secretes the milk.

Q- Does tension cause breast cancer?

A- No, tension has nothing to do with breast cancer.

Q- Can any injury to the breast cause breast cancer?

A- No, injuries do not cause breast cancer.

Q- How many types of tumors can be there?

A- Tumors are of two types:

  1. a) Benign tumor b) Malignant tumor

Q- What are benign tumors?

A- Benign tumors are not cancers and they are hardly dangerous to life. These tumors can be removed easily and they do not grow back. Cells of benign tumors are not harmful to the other cells present nearby. They do not circulate or spread in other parts of the body.

Q- What are malignant tumors?

A- a Malignant tumor is a group of cancerous cells that may attack the cells present nearby (spreading nature). It can also travel to distant areas of the body. Malignant tumors can grow back after removal. They are life threatening also.

Q- Do all the tumors cause cancer?

A- No, benign tumors do not cause cancer. Cancer is caused mainly by malignant tumors.

Q- Is there any possibility of males getting breast cancer?

A- Yes, breast cancer can develop in both males and females but it is very rare in males. Female are at a higher risk of getting this disease.

Q- Can breast cancer spread in other parts of the body?

A- Yes, breast cancer can spread in other parts of the body.

Q- In which parts of the body breast cancer can spread?

A- Breast cancer can spread to any part of the body, but the most sensitive parts to be affected are the bones, the lungs, the liver, and the brain.

Q- Why women are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer?

A- Women have many more breast cells than men, and their breast cells are constantly exposed to growth. So, women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Q- What should I do if I suspect myself at risk?

A- If you feel yourself at risk you should contact your doctor immediately. He will suggest you the right way.

Q- What causes breast cancer?

A- The exact cause of breast cancer is not known. The researchers and doctors, to date, are not able to explain why some women develop breast cancer and others do not.

Q- What is calcification/micro calcification?

A- Deposition of tiny white calcium spots in the breasts is called calcification. These can be seen in a mammogram or biopsy.

Q- What is ductal carcinoma?

A- Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the cells of the ducts (milk carrying tubes) of the breast.

Q- What is Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC)?

A- This is the most common breast cancer. It starts in the milk passage of the breast and invades the fatty tissues of the breast. Once it has invaded, it can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system.

Q- Does a woman with breast cancer have chances of developing other cancers?

A- Yes, a woman with breast cancer may develop ovarian cancer and some other types of cancers.

Q- What is adenocarcinoma?

A- Almost all breast cancers start in the ducts (milk carrying tubes) or lobules (milk storage chambers) of the breast. Since these are glandular tissues, they are called adenocarcinomas.

Q- What are the types of adenocarcinomas?

A- There are mainly two types of breast adenocarcinomas, ductal carcinomas, and lobular carcinomas.

Q- What is meant by DCIS?

A- DCIS is ductal carcinoma in situ. It is a type of breast cancer where the cancerous cells are found only in the ducts (milk carrying tubes) of the breast.

Q- How DCIS can be identified?

A- DCIS can be identified effectively by mammogram.

Q- What is meant by comedocarcinoma?

A- The term comedocarcinoma is often used to describe DCIS with necrosis.

Q- What is tumor necrosis?

A- When DCIS is diagnosed; the doctor will look for an area of dead or degenerating cancer cells, called tumor necrosis, within the tissue sample. If necrosis is present, the tumor is considered more aggressive.

Q- What is meant by LCIS?

A- LCIS is lobular carcinoma in situ. It is a type of breast cancer in which the cancer cells are found in the lobes (milk storage chambers) of the breast.

Q- What is Invasive (or infiltrating) lobular carcinoma (ILC)?

A- Invasive lobular carcinoma starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules). It can spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Invasive lobular carcinoma may be hard to detect by a mammogram.

Q- Can a woman continue breastfeeding during cancer treatment?

A- No, breastfeeding should be stopped immediately if you are planning for surgery or chemotherapy.

Q- Is there any risk to the unborn baby from a mother with breast cancer?

A- There is no evidence of breast cancer passing from a mother to her child. But some doctors suggest 2 years gap between the treatment of breast cancer and planning for pregnancy. Ask your doctor for better suggestions.

Q- How can exercise help in reducing the chances of breast cancer?

A- 4 or more hours of exercise per week is sufficient to lower down the risk of breast cancer.

Q- What is the effect of lifestyle on breast cancer?

A- The effect of lifestyle on breast cancer is not well known, but a person is always recommended to live a healthy lifestyle.

Q- What are papillomas?

A- Papillomas are benign breast tumors and they are important because women with these conditions have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Q- What is atypical hyperplasia?

A- Atypical hyperplasia is a benign breast tumor and they are important because women with these conditions have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Q- What is meant by medullary cancer?

A- Medullary cancer has some special features, including the large size of the cancer cells and the presence of immune system cells at the edges of the tumor. These are often hard to distinguish from invasive ductal carcinoma and are treated in the same way.

Q- What are mixed tumors?

A- Mixed tumors contain a variety of cell types, such as invasive ductal with invasive lobular breast cancer.

Q- What are metaplastic tumors?

A- Metaplastic tumors include cells that are normally not found in the breast, such as cells that look like skin cells or cells that make bone.

Q- What is medullary carcinoma?

A- It is a type of invading breast cancer which forms a boundary/separation between cancer cells and normal healthy cells.

Q- What is Paget disease of the nipple?

A- Paget disease of the nipple is a type of breast cancer starts in the ducts carrying breast milk and spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the dark circle around it.

Q- Explain the symptoms of Paget disease of the nipple?

A- In Paget disease of the nipple the skin of the nipple and surrounding dark circle often appears crusted, scaly, and red with bleeding or oozing. Burning or itching can also be felt.

Q- What do you mean by phyllodes/phyllodes tumor?

A- Phyllodes/phyllodes tumor is a very rare breast tumor which develops in the milk-carrying ducts or milk storage chambers of the breast. These tumors are usually benign but on rare occasions may become malignant.

Q- What are tubular carcinomas?

A- Tubular carcinomas are another special type of invasive ductal breast carcinoma. It was named tubular because the affected cells looked like tubes.

Q- What is angiosarcoma?

A- Angiosarcoma is cancer which rarely occurs in the breasts. It is usually seen as a complication of radiation to the breast.  It tends to develop about 5 to 7 years after radiation treatment. However, this is a rare side effect of breast radiation therapy.

Q- What role oral birth control tablets play in breast cancer?

A- There is no certain evidence that oral birth control pills cause breast cancer, but some recent studies showed that women using oral birth control pills are somewhat at higher risk than those who have never used them. You can consult your doctor for more information.

Q- Does postmenopausal hormone therapy (PHT)/ hormone replacement therapy cause breast cancer?

A- It is clear now that use of PHT for several years or more increases the risk of breast cancer.

Q- How does breastfeeding affect breast cancer?

A- Some studies suggest that breastfeeding can reduce the chances of breast cancer and it is good for the child’s health as well.

Q- What is the relationship between obesity and breast cancer?

A- Obesity (being overweight) has been found to be a great risk factor for breast cancer, especially for women after menopause.

Q- What role can exercise play in breast cancer?

A- Evidence shows a reduced risk of breast cancer in people who regularly perform exercises.

Q- Can antiperspirants cause breast cancer?

A- There was an internet rumor suggesting that chemicals in underarm antiperspirants are taken in through the skin, where they interfere with lymph circulation, cause toxins to build up in the breast, and eventually lead to breast cancer. There is very little experimental or epidemiological evidence to support this rumor. More evidence is needed to satisfy this query.

Q- Can underwired bra cause cancer?

A- It was an internet rumor that bra causes breast cancer by blocking the lymph flow. There is no scientific or clinical basis for this claim.

Q- What role induced abortion can play in breast cancer?

A-Induced abortion (miscarriage) does not show any risk of causing breast cancer.

Q- What role spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) can play in breast cancer?

A- Most of the studies that have been published do not show any evidence of a direct relationship between breast cancer and spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).

Q- Can the breast implants/silicone breast implants cause breast cancer?

A- Studies report that breast implants do not increase breast cancer risk although silicone breast implants can cause scar in the breast’s tissues.

Q- Does environmental pollution cause breast cancer?

A- Currently there is no data available to show environmental pollutants being risk factors for breast cancer.

Q- Does working at nights cause breast cancer?

A- Several studies have suggested that women, who work at night, may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. But this has not yet been proven.

Q- What is lymphedema?

A- The lymph nodes located underarms can get some changes after surgery or radiation therapy of the breast. This can cause swelling in the arms. This condition is known as lymphedema.

Q- Which are the tumor suppressor genes for breast cancer?

A- The BRCA genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) and CHEK-2, or p53 are tumor suppressor genes. Changes to these genes cause breast cancer.

Q- What kind of diet and nutrition should be followed?

A- Generally, diets for cancer patients are higher in protein, which provides the building blocks for your body needs. They may be higher in calories. Your diet may be modified if you are gaining weight during the treatment, which sometimes happens with breast cancer patients.

Q- What is the possible effect of breast cancer on sexual behavior?

A- Some treatments for breast cancer, like chemotherapy, can change hormone levels of a woman, and may negatively affect sexual interest and/or response.

Q- Will I be able to feel natural after breast reconstruction?

A- No, reconstructed breasts don’t have natural feelings.

Q- What are breast forms and when are they used?

A- Breast forms are the alternative for the mastectomy and can be used by women who don’t want breast reconstruction.

Q- What is prosthesis?

A- Prosthesis is a synthetic material which looks like natural breast in all the ways. It can be used by the ladies who have undergone mastectomy and are not willing to undergo breast reconstruction.

Q- For how long should I avoid pregnancy after breast cancer treatment?

A- You should avoid it for at least 2 years.

Q- Which guidelines are followed by doctors to get updated information on breast cancer?

A- For more details on treatment options doctors generally refer – the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) are good sources of information. Some important websites are also there like www.cancer.org, www.cancer.gov along with them they can refer latest journals and medical magazines and much more resources are there. But everything depends on the choice and experience of a doctor.

Q- What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

A- Age, familial or personal history of breast cancer, changes in the breast, changes in genes, menstrual history, race, breast density, obesity, lack of physical activities, alcoholism, smoking are some of the well-known risk factors of breast cancer.

Q- Can we limit the risk of getting breast cancer?

A- Yes, the chances can be decreased by avoiding the risk factors. You can avoid some of the possible risk factors but not all.

Q- Which of the risk factors can be avoided?

A- Some environmental factors and a few of the habits that can cause cancer can be changed like smoking, drinking, diet, and lifestyle.

Q- Which are the risk factors that cannot be avoided?

A- Gender, age, and genetic factors are some of the risk factors that can not be changed.

Q- If a woman has risk factors, is it compulsory for her to get cancer?

A- No, it is not compulsory, but she has more chances than others who do not have the risk factors.

Q- How does a previous history of radiation affect the chances of getting breast cancer?

A- Women who as a child or young adult have undergone radiation therapy on the chest area are significantly at an increased risk of getting breast cancer.

Q- How is age related to breast cancer?

A- The chances of getting breast cancer increases with age. There are more chances of getting the disease after menopause or after 60 years of age.

Q- A woman is having breast cancer in one of the breasts; does she have the chance to develop it in the other breast?

A-These kind of cases come under the personal history of breast cancer but such persons are at an increased risk of developing the disease in the other breast.

Q-What do you mean by family history?

A- If any of the blood relatives of the person has got the disease throughout their life period, it is called family history.

Q- What role does family history play in breast cancer?

A- If a person has a family history of breast cancer, means if any of her mother, daughter, sister, maternal or paternal grandmother has got the disease in their life, she is at an increased risk of getting the same. The risk is higher if any of the family members have got breast cancer before 40 years of age.

Q- You have mentioned certain breast changes as risk factors, what are those changes?

A- Some women can have defective cells in their breasts. These cells look different and abnormal than the other normal cells. Such cells increase the chances of getting breast cancer.

Q- What role does ATM gene play in breast cancer?

A- ATM stands for ataxia-telangiectasia mutation. The gene is responsible for repairing the damaged DNA. Defects in this gene can hamper the repair mechanism which may result in cancer.

Q- How is breast cancer related to reproductive history?

A- Those women who get their first child in older age or never had children in life are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

Q- How is breast cancer related to menstrual history?

A- The women who had their first menstrual period before the age of 12, those who get menopause after 55 and those who take menopausal hormone therapy are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

Q- How does race affect breast cancer?

A- Breast cancer is found more commonly in European population as compared to Asian and African population. People with white complexion have more chances of getting it when compared to people having a dark or wheatish complexion.

Q- How does pregnancy affect the chances of breast cancer?

A- Women who have had no pregnancy or who have had their first child after 35 years of age are slightly at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Q- Can abortion add to the risk of breast cancer?

A- The effect of abortion on breast cancer is not known.

Q- Does environment play any role in adding to the risk of breast cancer?

A- The effect of the environment on breast cancer is not known.

Q- Can cholesterol play any role in breast cancer?

A- The effect of cholesterol on breast cancer is not known.

Q- Does smoking increase the risk of breast cancer?

A- The effect of smoking on breast cancer is not known, but smoking is considered under the risk factors.

Q- Does second hand/passive smoking increase the risk of breast cancer?

A- There is still controversy on this issue and no clear data is available to satisfy this query.

Q- If no one in my family has had breast cancer, can I still get it?

A- Yes you can. In only 30% of the women who develop breast cancer have a family history of the disease. The other 70% have what is called a sporadic occurrence, meaning there is no family history of the disease.

Q- What role does consuming alcohol play in breast cancer?

A- Alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer.

Q- How obesity can increase the risk of breast cancer?

A- Fat tissue generates a little amount of estrogen hormone. More fat tissue can increase the estrogen level in the body and thereby, increase the chances of developing breast cancer.

SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS FOR BREAST CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the common symptoms of breast cancer?

A- A change in how the breasts and nipples look and feel, liquid discharges from nipples are the main symptoms of breast cancer.

Q- What changes can be felt in breast and nipples in case of breast cancer?

A- You can feel thickening in the breast or underarm, tenderness of nipples, a change in size and shape of the breast, turning of nipple inwards to the breast and also scaly, swollen or redness of the breast’s skin can be observed. Do not panic, since all these symptoms do not confirm breast cancer. Meet the doctor for better suggestions.

Q- How a gene test can help in breast cancer?

A- Gene tests show the chances of developing breast cancer due to some inherited genes.

Q- What are the diagnosis/examination/screening processes available to detect breast cancer?

A- There are three kinds of examination/screening processes available to detect breast cancer:

  1. a) Screening mammogram
  2. b) Clinical breast exam
  3. c) Breast self-exam

Q- What is a mammogram?

A- Mammogram is a picture of the breast taken by X- rays, or in simple words mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is helpful in finding out the early and growth stages of breast cancer.

Q- How frequently women should take mammogram?

A- Generally it is suggested that mammogram should be taken every 1 or 2 years for the ladies older than 40 years of age. Those women having the risk factors and are younger than 40 years should consult the doctor for a mammogram

Q- How mammogram helps in identifying breast cancer?

A- Mammogram follows the X-ray process and takes a photograph of the breast. It generally shows a lump in the breast before you can feel its presence. Mammogram also shows specks of calcium in the breast which can also be a cause of cancer.

Q- Can mammogram be considered as the final diagnosis of breast cancer?

A- No, the only mammogram cannot finalize the breast cancer. Once the mammogram shows abnormal growth you have to consult your doctor. He will suggest you for some more X-rays and if needed biopsy also.

Q- What is biopsy?

A- Biopsy is a medical test done for the diagnosis of cancer. In this process, a small part of the affected tissue from the body is taken for examination.

Q- Can biopsy reports tell finally that the woman has breast cancer?

A- Yes, biopsy test is reliable and it is the only way to confirm that a woman has breast cancer.

Q- Can a mammogram miss some cancer?

A- Yes, mammograms are not the perfect tools to diagnose breast cancer. They can miss some of the cancers.

Q- What are “false negative” and “false positive” in a mammogram?

A- If a mammogram misses cancer, it is called a false negative and if it shows things other than cancer then it is called a false positive.

Q- Is mammogram harmful?

A- In mammogram very little dose of X-ray radiation is used, so the risk is also less unless and until undergoing X-ray radiations repeatedly, which may cause problems. But, the disease is more dangerous than the X-ray, so it is always better to opt for the risk.

Q- What is clinical breast exam?

A- In clinical breast exam a doctor checks the breasts manually. He observes the differences in size and shapes between the breasts. Rashes, dimples, liquid discharge or any other abnormality is also observed. The doctor also examines the entire breast for any lump.

Q- What is breast self-examination (BSE)?

A- To examine the breasts by yourself, it is called BSE. It should include examining any lump, abnormality or liquid discharge. The process can be performed once a month. Ask your doctor if you discover anything abnormal.

Q- Can ultrasound/sonography be used to diagnose breast cancer?

A- Yes, ultrasound can also be used to detect breast cancer.

Q- How ultrasound detects breast cancer?

A- Ultrasound sends sound waves which can not be heard by the people. The waves strike the tissue and bounce. A computer records these wave bounces and creates pictures. On the basis of these pictures, your doctor will decide whether it is breast cancer or not.

Q- Can MRI be used to identify the breast cancer?

A- Yes, it can be used. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and is a non-invasive method used to render images of the inside of an object. So it is used as a device to diagnose breast cancer.

Q- Is MRI more effective method of diagnosis than a mammogram?

A- Yes, MRI is more sensitive than a mammogram.

Q- What is ductogram / galactogram?

A- It is a test to find out the causes of unusual nipple discharge.

Q- How ductogram / galactogram is done?

A- A fine plastic tube is inserted into the opening of the duct at the nipple. A small amount of contrast medium is injected, which outlines the shape of the duct on an x-ray image, which will show if there is any mass inside the duct.

Q- What is a hormone receptor test?

A- If a lady is diagnosed with breast cancer, she may be asked to go for further tests like a hormone receptor test. In this test, doctors try to find out whether the tissue has certain hormone receptors or not. These type of tissues need some hormones to grow.

Q- What is FFDM?

A- Full field digital mammogram is called FFDM. It is similar to a standard mammogram.

Q- How FFDMs are different from the standard mammogram?

A- Standard mammograms are recorded on large sheets of photographic film, while digital mammograms are recorded and stored on a computer. These digital images can also be sent electronically to another site for a remote consult with breast specialists.

Q- What is CAD?

A- Computer-aided detection and diagnosis are called CAD. It is used to diagnose cancer.Q- How CAD helps in breast cancer diagnosis?

A- CAD systems help radiologists diagnose more early-stage cancers than mammograms alone.

Q- What is HER-2 test?

A- This is an advanced test done to identify whether the tissue has a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor-2. Too much amount of this protein causes cancer.

Q- What is mammotome?

A- Mammotome is a diagnostic procedure used to detect breast cancer. Mammotome is also known as a vacuum-assisted biopsy.

Q- How mammotome is performed?

A- In this procedure, the skin is numbed and a small cut (about ¼ inch) is made. A probe is inserted through the cut into the abnormal area of the breast. A part of the tissue is suctioned into the probe then a rotating knife within the probe cuts the tissue sample from the rest of the breast.

Q- Do I need to get myself admitted to the hospital for mammotome?

A- The mammotome procedure is done as an outpatient procedure. No stitches are needed and there is minimal scarring.

Q- How is mammotome different to core biopsy?

A- Mammotome usually removes about twice as much tissue as core biopsies.

Q- Do frequent X-rays increase the chances of breast cancer?

A- Yes, frequent exposure to X-rays and radiation in the area of the chest, especially in early age, increases the chance of breast cancer.

Q-Does mammograms prevent the breast cancer?

A- Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by detecting breast cancer as early as possible.

Q- Does every woman need a mammogram?

A- Yes. Although we are aware of risk factors related to breast cancer, we do not know the cause. Approximately 75% of the women who develop breast cancer have no significant risk factors. Therefore, every woman should undergo screening for breast cancer.

Q- I’ve heard many conflicting reports about the benefits of screening mammography. I’m over 40. What should I do?

A- If you are 40 or older, get screened for breast cancer with mammography every one to two years. Other leading organizations recommend screening every year after the age of 40Q- If I perform breast self-exams regularly, why do I need a mammogram?

A- Mammograms can help discover abnormalities as small as the head of a pin. Something this tiny cannot be felt during a self-exam. The sooner breast abnormalities are detected, the easier and more successful is the treatment.

Q- How should I prepare myself for a mammogram?

A- Wear comfortable clothes and avoid jewelry, deodorants, powders, and creams metallic objects may interfere with the accuracy of the test.

Q- When should the mammogram be scheduled?

A- For a more comfortable exam, schedule mammograms for the week after the onset of your periods. And bring previous mammograms for comparison. Changes in the breast are important indicators of potential problems.

Q- How long a mammogram takes?

A- The complete procedure can take around 20 minutes.

Q- How mammogram is taken?

A- For a mammogram, the breast is pressed between 2 plates to flatten and spread the tissue to produce a good, “readable” mammogram. The compression only lasts only for a few seconds. The entire procedure for a screening mammogram takes about 20 minutes. This procedure produces a black and white image of the breast tissue on a large sheet of a film like an x-ray.

Q-Should women are concerned about radiation dose during mammography?

A- No, the risk of harm from radiation is very small when compared to the benefits of early breast cancer detection. There has been much improvement in mammography that women receive 50 times less radiation than they received 20 years ago, with the risk of long-term effects being almost zero.

Q- Should a patient with breast implants have a mammography exam to look for breast cancer?

A- Yes, patients with breast implants who are in an age group for which routine screening is recommended can effectively have mammograms. Those who have had implants as reconstruction after breast cancer surgery on both breasts should ask their doctors whether mammograms are still necessary. When she schedules her appointment, she should do two things:

Inform the facility that she has breast implants; and

Ask if the facility has personnel with training and experience in implant imaging and interpretation.

Skilled personnel will use special techniques that expose as much breast tissue as possible.

If the facility has no personnel trained in implant imaging, ask to be referred to another facility.

Q- Who reads/analyses the mammogram reports?

A- The mammo graphs are read by a radiologist or by a doctor who has specialized in analyzing images from x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, and related tests.

Q- Is mammogram a painful procedure?

A- During mammogram breasts are compressed between two plates for a few seconds. The process may be a bit uncomfortable, but the overall mammogram is not a painful process.

Q- Can radiations harm the breasts?

A- With modern equipment, the amount of radiation exposure is little and the risk of breast cancer is much, much greater than any risk of exposure to radiation.

Q-Is it safe to have a mammogram at the pre-ovulatory part of my menstrual cycle? Or could the radiation have any effect on my developing follicles that could adversely affect a pregnancy if I become pregnant in this cycle? Do I need to be shielded when I have the mammogram done?

A- It is safe to have a mammogram and in fact, it is usually performed after the menstrual period at early to mid-cycle. Though the radiation exposure in a mammogram is quite low, it is likely to be little scattered with modern equipment and techniques. The use of a shield is always recommended.

Q- How long after mammogram I can get the report?

A- Depending on who your referring doctor is, it might be possible to have your results on the same day. The results otherwise take 2 – 3 days.

Q- Where Can I get a mammogram done?

A- Mammogram can be done at any radiological center.

Q- How much do I need to pay for a mammogram?

A- The cost of a mammogram is 2000-2500 rupees.

Q- Would I get some sedative or local anesthesia during mammography?

A- No, sedatives or local anesthesia are not given during mammography.

Q- How would I feel after mammography?

A- It is a very simple process. You will be normal as usual.

Q- Do I need to follow any caution after mammography?

A- No.

Q- Does mammography make any change in breast shape?

A- No.

Q- Do I need to take any medicine after mammography?

A- No.

Q- Can I get mammography done during pregnancy?

A- No, you should avoid it during pregnancy.

Q- Do I need to get admitted in the hospital for mammography?

A- No. It is an outpatient procedure.

Q- Can I eat something before getting mammography done?

A- You can eat light foods, ask your doctor for more suggestions.

Q- What sort of food should I eat after mammography?

A- There is no restriction on eating after mammography.

Q- How often do I require mammogram to be done?

A- Depending on your family history or current medical state, it might be necessary to have a mammogram done every year. Ladies who require routine screening can have mammograms every 18 months to 2yrs.

STAGES OF BREAST CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is staging?

A- Staging is a process to find out if cancer has spread within the breast or to other parts of the body. It decides the stages of the disease.

Q- How many stages of breast cancer are there?

A- There are five stages of breast cancer.

Stage 0

Stage I

Stage II

Stage III

Stage IV

Stage III is again divided into three types, stage III A, stage III B and stage III C.

Q- What are stage 0 cancers?

A- Zero stage cancer is just the beginning of cancer. This stage cannot be felt as there are no noticeable symptoms.

Q- What is Stage I cancer?

A- It is an early stage of cancer. In this stage, the size of the tumor is not more than 2 centimeters and cancer does not spread over other parts of the body.

Q- What is Stage II cancer?

A- In stage II the size of the tumor can be between 2 to 5 centimeters or larger. The tumor can spread in the underarms area but, it is not a compulsory condition.

Q- What is Stage III cancer?

A- In stage III cancer the tumor size is very large but these tumors are not spread beyond the breast or areas closer to the breast.

Q- What is Stage III cancer?

A- In this stage of breast cancer the size of the tumor may be more or less than 5 centimeters (2 inches). The tumor can spread in the underarms area but, it is not a compulsory condition.

Q- What is Stage III B cancer?

A- In this stage, the tumor grows into the wall of the chest or on the skin of the breast. This can also spread to lymph nodes behind the breast bones.

Q- What is inflammatory breast cancer?

A- It is also a type of Stage III B breast cancer, but very rarely noticed. In this type of cancer, the breast appears red and swollen because of the blockage of the lymph nodes. The affected breast may become larger or firmer, tender, or itchy. Inflammatory breast cancer is often mistaken for an infection in its early stages.

Q- What is Stage III C cancer?

A- In this stage of cancer the size of a tumor is not fixed. It spreads into the lymph nodes behind the breast bone and underarm or it can spread to the lymph nodes located under and above the collar bone.

Q- What is Stage IV cancer?

A- This is the most dangerous stage of cancer as in this stage the tumor spreads in all other parts of the body. The cells of the tumor travel with the bloodstream and infect the other healthy parts of the body. It is also called metastatic cancer.

TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the treatments available for breast cancer?

A- The treatment of breast cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.

Q- Which of the above-mentioned treatment is best and what should I follow?

A- There is nothing like best or worst but all treatments are having their own significance. You should consult your doctor. He will prescribe you the best treatment according to your stage of disease and other conditions.

Q- What is mastectomy?

A- Surgical removal of a breast is called mastectomy.

Q- What alternatives can be used to replace the breast removed by mastectomy?

A- Some women prefer breast reconstruction and some like to wear a prosthesis, which is an artificial breast like structure. There is another group of women who do not use any of these alternatives.

Q- Among breast reconstruction, prosthesis or nothing… which one should I opt after mastectomy?

A- Breast reconstruction, prosthesis and not doing anything, all of them have they are own negative and positive effects. Ask your doctor for better suggestions.

Q- When should I undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy?

A- Breast reconstruction can be done the same day of mastectomy or it can be performed later according to the wish and need of the patient. You need to consult a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.

Q- What is breast reconstruction?

A- Breast reconstruction is to rebuild a breast that is lost due to surgery.

Q- How the breasts are reconstructed?

A- Breasts are reconstructed by implantation. There are many types of implants available. Some like to get silicone or saline implants and others like to have implants taken from their own body parts.

Q- Which type of breast construction should I prefer?

A- The construction of the breast is highly related to the age of the patient, her body type and the kind of surgery she had undergone. Your doctor will suggest you better in this matter.

Q- Is silicon implantation safe?

A- The safety of silicon implantation is under the observation of FDA (Food and Drug Administration). You should consult your doctor before you finalize to get silicone breast implantation.

Q- What are the available complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) available for breast cancer?

A- Some available CAM for breast cancer is acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal therapy, special diets, vitamins, visualization, spiritual healing, and meditation. Consult your doctor which one should be followed by you.

Q- What is breast-conserving/ breast preservation surgery?

A- The type of surgery that removes only a part of the breast is considered “breast-conserving” or “breast preservation” surgery

Q- What is lumpectomy?

A- This is a type of surgery in which the lump/ tumor of the defective cells is removed.

Q- What is hormonal therapy/ anti-estrogen therapy for breast cancer?

A- Hormonal therapy is a type of treatment given to reduce the risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The main aim of the therapy is to eliminate all the cancer cells in the body those might have been left behind after surgery.

Q- Which monoclonal antibody is used in the treatment of breast cancer?

A- Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody used to treat breast cancer.

Q- On what factors prognosis/chances of recovery depend on breast cancer?

A- Chances of recovery in breast cancer depends on the stage and type of breast cancer, estrogen and progesterone receptor level in the tumor, health status, menopausal and menstrual history, the age of the patient and the stage when cancer was diagnosed along with recurrence of cancer.

Q- What type of surgeries are available for breast cancer?

A- The following are the types of surgeries available for breast cancer:

  1. Breast conservative surgery
  2. Partial mastectomy/segmental mastectomy/quadrantectomy
  3. Total mastectomy
  4. Modified radical mastectomy
  5. Radical mastectomy

Q- What is modified radical mastectomy?

A- It is a surgery to remove the whole breast which has cancer along with many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and part of the chest wall muscles if needed.

Q- What is radical mastectomy?

A- This is a surgery in which the breast that has cancer is removed and along with it, chest wall muscles under the breast and all of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed.

Q- What are the possible side effects of mastectomy/lumpectomy?

A- Possible side effects of mastectomy and lumpectomy are wound infection, accumulation of blood in the wound, and accumulation of clear fluid in the wound.

Q- Does radiation therapy increase the chances of breast cancer?

A- There is no particular evidence of it. The use of radiation therapy to treat cancer in one breast does not increase the chances of getting cancer in another breast.

Q- What is prophylactic mastectomy?

A- Surgical removal of both the breasts to reduce the chances of breast cancer is called prophylactic mastectomy. It is done before the onset of breast cancer.

Q- What is prophylactic oophorectomy?

A- Surgical removal of both the ovaries to reduce the amount of estrogen to minimize the chances of breast cancer is called prophylactic oophorectomy?

Q- How benign phyllodes/phyllodes tumors are treated?

A- Benign phyllodes tumors are treated by removing the tumor along with a narrow margin of the normal breast tissue.

Q- How malignant phyllodes/phyllodes tumors are treated?

A- Malignant phyllodes tumors are treated by removing the tumor along with a wider margin of normal tissue, or by mastectomy.

Q- Can breast cancer be prevented?

A- Yes, it can be prevented by changing the risk factors.

Q- How lymphedema can be treated?

A- You may get arm pump, arm massage, dressing of the arm and you have to concentrate on your diet. Consult the doctor for more details.

Q- Is there any permanent treatment of lymphedema?

A- No. There is no permanent treatment of lymphedema. But for prevention can make you feel better.

Q- What are the risks if I don’t get my breast cancer treated?

A- Breast cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of the disease. If not treated you may go in advanced stages- metastases and fatal outcomes

Q- If I would have to undergo mastectomy, can I have my breast reconstructed?

A- After a mastectomy, doctors can sculpt a new breast. The choice to get breast reconstruction surgery done is the patient’s personal choice. Breast reconstruction can be done right after a mastectomy while you are still under anesthesia, or later.

Q- Should I consult the plastic surgeon before or after surgery?

A- Only if you are planning for breast reconstruction

Q- Will I get local or general anesthesia during surgery?

A- No. Mastectomies can be done under local anesthesia, but still, it depends on your condition. Your doctor has to decide about it.

Q- On which parts of the body would I get scar marks?

A- You would get scars in the underarm part.

Q- After surgery how long do I need to stay at the hospital?

A- After a mastectomy, you may need to stay for 3-7 days.

Q- Do I need post-operative care?

A- Yes.

Q- If yes what advice I should follow?

A- Follow all the advice of your doctor.

Q- Would I need any physiotherapy exercises after surgery?

A- The women with breast cancer who exercised during treatment felt like they had more energy and did not gain as much weight as patients who did not. Swimming, movement, dance and other programs can offer a physical and emotional boost. Ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise physiologist or program for people with cancer.

Q- What are the benefits of the exercises?

A- Exercise for breast cancer survivors usually includes physical therapy and moderate aerobic exercise, like walking for about 30 minutes, three or more times a week to improve strength and range of motion in the arm(s).

Q- What kind of works should I avoid after surgery?

A- Avoid heavy weight lifting after the first few days of surgery.

Q- How should I prepare myself for surgery?

A- Make up your mind for the surgery and be ready to face whatever comes in the future.

Q- What things should I know from the surgeon after surgery?

A- Know about the things what you may face in future and know about how you should take care of yourself after surgery.

Q- What are the benefits of radiation therapy?

A- It will prevent the spreading of cancer and will also help in killing the defective cells of the body.

Q- What are the risks/side effects of radiation therapy?

A- The main side effects of radiation therapy are swelling and heaviness in the breast, sunburn-like skin changes in the treated area, and fatigue.

Q- How should I prepare myself for radiation therapy?

A- Its, not a painful process, just be mentally prepared for the therapy.

Q- When should I start radiation therapy after surgery?

A- Your doctor will decide it according to your conditions.

Q- How long do I need to protect myself from sunlight after radiotherapy?

A- Ask your doctor for better suggestions.

Q- How my breasts will look after radiation therapy?

A- They will look normal as they were before radiation.

Q- Would I need care after radiotherapy?

A- You should avoid exposing the treated skin to the sun because it can make the skin changes worse. For more details consult your doctor. Radiotherapy should be avoided during pregnancy.

Q- What are the drawbacks if I don’t get radiotherapy?

A- If you are suggested for the radiation and don’t get it, your cancer may come back.

Q- What care should I take during radiation therapy?

A- You should avoid using lotions, powders, deodorants, and antiperspirants until treatments are complete as they can interfere with external beam radiation therapy. In some women, the breast becomes smaller and firmer after radiation therapy.

Q- Why do I need Chemotherapy?

A- To treat your cancer in a better way.

Q- Is chemotherapy a successful treatment for breast cancer?

A- Yes. It is a good treatment for breast cancer.

Q- How long will I be on chemotherapy?

A- It will be decided by your doctor according to your health and stage of breast cancer.

Q- Which treatment is better, hormone therapy or removal of breasts?

A- All these treatment methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. Your doctor has to decide which is better for you, according to your health, age, and stage of your disease.

Q- Is tamoxifen a safe drug?

A- Tamoxifen has side effects that include increased risks of uterine cancer and blood clotting. Consult the doctor before using it.

Q- What is Chemo-brain?

A- It is a side effect of chemotherapy. Some women who had chemotherapy for breast cancer can experience a slight decrease in mental functioning. There may also feel difficulty in concentrating.

Q- What is mammosite?

A- IT is a new method to administer radiation therapy directly inside the body.

Q- What is the procedure of mammosite?

A- A balloon is attached to a thin tube. The balloon is inserted into the lumpectomy space and filled with a salt water solution. Radioactive material is then temporarily placed into the balloon through the tube. The radioactive material is inserted and removed twice daily for 5 days. The balloon is then deflated and removed.

Q- How do radiation therapy and surgery of breast affect the sexuality of a woman?

A- Breast surgery or radiation does not physically affect a woman’s sexual desire but these may change the emotional feelings of a woman that may cause a decrement in sexuality.

Q- What kind of lifestyle changes should I make during and after chemotherapy?

A- Make healthy choices both physically and emotionally. Co-operate with the health care provider and continue taking medicine and other treatment until you are asked to stop. Follow all the precautions in a proper manner.

INFORMATION ABOUT CERVICAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is cervix?

A- The cervix is a part of a woman’s reproductive system. It is lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina. In general terms, it is called the birth canal.

Q- What is endocervix?

A- Endocervix is the part of the cervix which is closest to the uterus (womb). It is the birth canal.

Q- What is ectocervix?

A- Ectocervix is the part of the cervix which is closest to the vagina (female outer genital organ).

Q- What are the functions of the cervix?

A- Cervix is a passage of blood during menstrual periods. It produces mucus which is helpful for the sperms to move from vagina to uterus. It is closed tightly during pregnancy to hold the baby inside the womb.

Q- What is cervical cancer?

A- cancer that develops in the cervix is named as cervical cancer.

Q- What are the types of cervical cancer?

A- There are mainly two types of cervical cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma.

Q- Does any injury to the cervix cause cervical cancer?

A- No. It’s a myth.

Q- By what means the cervix can be injured?

A- The most common way by which the cervix can be injured are forced delivery and manual opening (dilatation) of the cervix.

Q- Does tension cause cervical cancer?

A- No. It’s a myth.

Q- Can cervical cancer spread to other parts of the body?

A- Yes. Cervical cancer can spread to other parts of the body in its advanced stages.

Q- What is HPV?

A- HPV is Human papillomavirus, a group of virus which infect cervix. It is the main risk of cervical cancer. This virus can cause genital warts, cervical cancer, and other sexual problems.

Q- How HPV infections?

A- HPV passes from person to person during sexual contact.

Q- What is DES (Diethylstilbestrol)?

A- DES (Diethylstilbestrol) is a synthetic non-steroidal estrogen drug, used to prevent miscarriage and other pregnancy problems.

Q- What is LSIL?

A- LSIL is a low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion.  These are mild cell changes on the surface of the cervix, caused by HPV infections. LSILs are common, especially in young women. LSILs are not cancer. Even without treatment, most LSILs stay the same or go away. However, some turn into high-grade lesions, which may lead to cancer.

Q- Are LSILs cancer?

A- Generally they are not cancer. They can go away or do not go a worse event without treatment. In some cases, some of these LSILs can grow and form cancer.

Q- What is HSIL?

A- HSIL is a high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. They are not cancer, but without treatment, they may lead to cancer of the cervix.

Q- What is recurrent cervical cancer?

A- This type of cervical cancer comes back after treatment. Cancer can appear back in the cervix or in other parts of the body.

Q- Why do doctors suggest for chest x-rays in cervical cancer?

A- Chest x-rays are suggested to check if cervical cancer is spread into the lungs.

Q- How nutrition can help me to cope up with cervical cancer?

A- Eating enough food with good nutrition, maintaining ideal weight and proper energy level will help to improve your strength to fight with the disease.

Q- Does cervical cancer affect children?

A- It is a very rare and unusual disease in children.

Q- What are tumor markers?

A- Tumor markers are produced by tumor cells or by other cells of the body in response to cancer or certain noncancerous conditions. These substances can be found in the blood, urine, tumor tissue, or in other tissues.

Q- How are the tumor markers used in cancer care?

A- Tumor markers are used in the detection, diagnosis, and management of some types of cancer.

Q- What if a woman gets cervical cancer during her pregnancy?

A- If a woman gets cervical cancer during her pregnancy, she should immediately contact her doctor who will suggest whether to continue or discontinue the pregnancy according to the stage of cancer and your general health.

Q- What should I tell to my partner if I have HPV infection?

A- You should tell your partner that it is a very common virus and not a serious problem. Apart from it, you should take precautions to prevent the infection from spreading to your partner.

Q- Can male also be tested for HPV?

A- No. there is no such facility available for males to get tested for HPV.

Q- Does a positive HPV test mean cervical cancer for sure?

A- No. Positive HPV and negative Pap test don’t mean that you have cervical cancer for sure. There is only 4% risk of having cervical cancer. You should talk to your doctor about the possibilities

Q- How common is HPV?

A- It is so common that at least 8 women out of 10 get HPV, who have ever had sex in their lives.

Q- Will HPV affect my pregnancy?

A- No. it doesn’t have an effect on pregnancy or the chances of getting pregnant.

Q- Can HPV affect my children?

A- Its very rare that HPV infection passes from a mother to her children, and the type of HPV can also differ from those which cause cervical cancer.

Q- Does HPV infect men also?

A- Yes. It infects men also but it is not easy to be diagnosed in men. It causes anal and penile cancer in men.

Q- How HPV can be prevented?

A- The only sure shot way to prevent HPV is to stop all sexual activities. A number of sexual partners should be limited and sex should be avoided with people who have had many sexual partners, can reduce the risk of exposure to HPV.

Q- Will I be able to have children after my cervical cancer treatment?

A- It depends on the stage of cancer. Usually, in the early stages, the surgery is performed. In advanced stages, intervention would be the only palliative.

Q- Can cervical cancer be prevented without a vaccine?

A- Yes it can be prevented by avoiding risk factors also.

Q- How cervical cancer spreads to the other parts of the body?

A- Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix and in its advanced stages these cancer cells travel to the other parts of the body through the bloodstream. Thus cervical cancer spread to other body parts

Q- What are birth control pills?

A- Birth control pills are medicine in the form of tablets which are used to avoid pregnancy.

Q- What are genital warts?

A- Genital warts are a highly infectious sexually transmitted disease. It spreads through skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse.

Q- What cause genital warts?

A- Genital warts are caused by some of the sub-types of HPV.

Q- Does cervical cancer cause any physical abnormality?

A- Usually, cervical cancer does not cause physical abnormality.

Q- What is the difference between precancerous conditions and cancer of the cervix?

A- Cells on the surface of the cervix sometimes appear abnormal which can lead to cancer years later. This condition is called precancerous. If these abnormal cells spread deeper into the cervix or to other tissues or organs, the disease is then called cervical cancer, or invasive cervical cancer.

Q- What is a smear test?

A- The sample of cells is ‘smeared’ on to a slide which is sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope. It is also called a Pap smear test.

Q- What is LBC?

A- Liquid-based cytology (LBC) is a new way to prepare cervical samples for examination in the laboratory

RISK FACTORS OF CERVICAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

A- Studies have found a number of factors that may increase the risk of cervical cancer. Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) infection, lack of regular Pap tests, weak immune system, age, sexual history, smoking cigarettes, using birth control pills for a long time, having many children, Diethylstilbestrol (DES) and diet without proper nutrients.

Q- What role does diet play in cervical cancer?

A- Women who are at low nutrient diet are at more risk of getting cervical cancer. It is always suggested to have food rich in vegetables and fruits to keep the body’s defense system active.

Q- What should I do if I feel I am at risk of cervical cancer?

A- If you think, you are at risk for cancer of the cervix; you should discuss this concern with their doctor. You may need to ask about a schedule for checkups.

Q- How age is related to the risk to get cervical cancer?

A- Cervical cancer is more often in women above 40 years.

Q- How sexual history is related to cervical cancer?

A- Women who have had many sexual partners have a higher-than-average risk of cervical cancer. Women who have had sexual relation with a man, who has had many sexual partners and those who had their first sexual intercourse in early age may be at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

Q- Does smoking increase the risk of cervical cancer?

A- Women with an HPV infection who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of cervical cancer than nonsmoker women with HPV infection.

Q- Do having more children increase the risk of cervical cancer?

A- Yes. Some studies suggest that having many children increase the chance of cervical cancer in women with HPV infection.

Q- What is the effect of birth control pills on cervical cancer?

A- Long time use of birth control pills (>5 years) may increase the chances of getting cervical cancer in women with HPV infection.

Q- Is DES a risk factor for cervical cancer?

A- DES may increase the risk of a rare sort of cervical cancer and certain other cancers of the reproductive system in daughters, whose mothers used DES before their birth.

Q- What are risk markers?

A- Some people have a greater chance of developing certain types of cancer because of genetic reasons. The presence of such a change is sometimes called a risk marker.

Q- How will I come to know that I am at risk of cervical cancer?

A- It is important that you asses the risk you carry for developing cervical cancer.

Q- How to reduce your risk of cervical cancer?

A- You can reduce the risk if you get regular Pap test and follow up abnormal Pap tests, limit your number of sexual partners, by quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoking, get HPV vaccination done.

Q- What are my prognosis/chances of recovery of cervical cancer?

A- Chances of recovery depend on the stage of cancer, type of cervical cancer and the size of the tumor. If cervical cancer is detected in early stages, then the prognosis for 5-year survival rate is almost 100%. The overall 5-year survival rate average for all stages is 73%.

STAGES OF CERVICAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- How many stages are there for cervical cancer?

A- There are 5 stages of cervical cancer named as 0 to IV stage.

Q- What is stage 0 cervical cancer?

A- Stage 0 cervical cancer is the beginning of cancer. In this stage, cancer is present in the top layer of cells. It is also called carcinoma in situ.

Q- What is stage I cervical cancer?

A- In this stage cervical cancer start spreading beneath the upper layer of cells. But still remains in the cervix. This stage is further divided into stage IA and IB.

Q- What type of cervical cancer comes under stage IA?

A- A very small amount of cancer that can only be seen with a microscope is found in the cervix. Stage IA is divided into stages IA1 and IA2, based on the size of the tumor.

Q- Tell about stage IA1 cancer?

A- In stage IA1, the cancer is not more than 3 millimeters deep and not more than 7 millimeters wide.

Q- Tell about stage IA2 cancer?

A- In stage IA2, the cancer is more than 3 but not more than 5 millimeters deep, and not more than 7 millimeters wide.

Q- What is stage IB cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer that can be seen without a microscope. Based on the size of the tumor, it is divided into stages IB1 and IB2.

Q- What type of cervical cancer comes under stage IB1 cancer?

A- In stage 1B1, cancer can be seen without a microscope and is not larger than 4 centimeters.

Q- What type of cervical cancer comes under stage IB1 cancer?

A- In stage 1B2, cancer can be seen without a microscope and is larger than 4 centimeters.

Q- What is stage II cervical cancer?

A- In this stage cancer starts spreading to the nearby organs. It also starts spreading into the vagina. It is further divided into stage IIA and stages IIB.

Q- What comes under stage IIA cervical cancer?

A- In stage IIA cancer has spread beyond the cervix to the upper two-thirds of the vagina but not to tissues around the uterus.

Q- What comes under stage IIB cervical cancer?

A- In this stage cancer has spread beyond the cervix to the upper two-thirds of the vagina and to the tissues around the uterus.

Q- What is stage III cervical cancer?

A- In stage III cervical cancer, the infection spreads into the urethra. It may affect the pelvic walls and closely located lymph nodes. This is also divided into stage IIIA and IIIB.

Q- What comes under stage IIIA cervical cancer?

A- In stage IIIA cancer has spread to the lower third of the vagina but not to the pelvic wall.

Q- What comes under stage IIIB cervical cancer?

A- In this stage cancer has spread to the pelvic wall and/or the tumor has become large enough to block the ureters (the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder). This blockage can cause the kidneys to enlarge or stop working. Cancer cells may also have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis.

Q- What is stage IV cervical cancer?

A- This is the most advanced stage of cervical cancer, in which cancer may spread into the bladder, rectum and other distant parts of the body. This cancer is further classified into stage IVA and IVB.

Q- What is stage IVA cancer?

A-  Stage IVA cancer has spread to the urinary bladder or rectum wall and may have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis.

Q- What is stage IVB cancer?

A- Stage IVB cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and pelvic lymph nodes to other places in the body, such as the belly, liver, intestine, or lungs.

SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS OF CERVICAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

A- Cervical cancer doesn’t have early stage symptoms, so it is very hard to find it out in early stages. Some general symptoms of cervical cancer are

Ø  Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Ø  Bleeding between regular menstrual periods

Ø  Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam

Ø  Longer and heavier menstrual periods

Ø  Bleeding after menopause

Ø  Increased vaginal discharge

Ø  Pain in the pelvic region

Ø  Pain during sexual intercourse

Consult the doctor for more information about these symptoms.

Q- What are the available diagnostic methods for cervical cancer?

A- Pap smear test, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, colonoscopy, and biopsy are done to identify cervical cancer.

Q- How screening is helpful to find out cervical cancer?

A- Screening is the process in which a disease is identified before its symptoms appear. Finding abnormal cells in cervix gives an idea of the disease and the person gets alert in time.

Q- What is pap test/pap smear?

A- The Pap test is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix. The main purpose of the Pap test is to detect cancer or abnormal cells that may lead to cancer.

Q- How Pap test is performed?

A- A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.

Q- How Pap test is helpful to users to find out cervical cancer?

A- The separated cells are studied under a microscope to find out whether there are abnormal cells in the cervix. This helps to find the cancer of the cervix.

Q- When should women get Pap test done?

A- Women should start having Pap tests 3 years after started having sexual intercourse, or at the age of 21 (whichever comes first). Pap test is recommended once every three years.

Q- I have already undergone hysterectomy (surgical removal of uterus and cervix); do I still need Pap test?

A- If you had your uterus and cervix removed (hysterectomy), you need not to have cervical cancer screening.

Q- What should be followed before going for prepare for a Pap test?

A- A women should not douche, should not have sexual intercourse before 48 hours of the test. She should also not use vaginal medicines (except suggested by the doctor), birth control foams, gels, creams etc before 48 hours of the pap test. Doctor’s advice should also be followed.

Q- What is a pelvic exam?

A- This is a procedure to examine the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum to find out any abnormalities.

Q- How pelvic exam is performed?

A- The doctor inserts one or two lubricated, gloved fingers into the vagina and places the other hand over the lower abdomen to feel the size, shape, and position of the uterus and ovaries, as well as to find out any abnormality.

Q- How Pap test and pelvic exams are important?

A- A Pap test and pelvic exam are important parts of a woman’s routine health care because they can detect abnormalities that may lead to invasive cancer of the cervix.

Q- Who performs a Pap test?

A- Doctors and other specially trained health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, may perform Pap tests and pelvic exams.

Q- How often should a woman get Pap test done?

A- Usually it is suggested for a woman to get a Pap test done every 3 years.

Q- When should a woman get Pap test done?

A- A woman should have this test when she is not having periods; the best time is between 10 and 20 days after the first day of the last period.

Q- How accurate is the Pap test to detect cervical cancer?

A- It is reported that Pap test has only 6% abnormalities, and it has got 94% accuracy. What are the false positive and false negative results?

Q- What cause false negative tests?

A- False-negative tests can occur for many reasons. The abnormal cells may not have been contained in the sample. There may have been too many or too few cells to detect. An infection could also cover up abnormal cells.

Q- What is the false negative and a false positive result in a Pap test?

A- A false positive pap test is finding of abnormal cells, but the cells are actually normal. A false negative Pap test is called when a pap result misses out a significant abnormality.

Q- After how long will I get the report of Pap test?

A- Generally it takes three weeks to get Pap test results.

Q- Can I get the Pap test done voluntarily?

A- Yes, there is no need for a doctor’s prescription for it. You can get it done voluntarily.

Q- How much does Pap test cost?

A- This depends from place to place.

Q- How long does a pap test take?

A- A Pap smear only takes a few moments and is a part of a routine pelvic examination.

Q- What are the other methods of diagnosing cervical cancer?

A- Apart from the above-mentioned diagnosis tool we have some more techniques to improve the efficacy of screening. These are cervicography, acid test, fluorescence spectroscopy, and some immunological techniques.

Q- What is cervicography?

A- In this technique, a photograph of the cervical region is taken which is later magnified and examined for the presence of cancer. it is a highly sensitive tool for screening.

Q- Will cervicography hurt me?

A- No, it is a painless procedure.

Q- What is an acid test?

A- A diluted solution, similar to vinegar is applied to the cervix. When viewed through a special green lens, this solution makes abnormal cells look white, whereas normal cells appear pink. It is an inexpensive method of screening.

Q- What is Fluorescence Spectroscopy?

A- In this method, a small probe is inserted into the surface of the cervix to detect cancer. One probe emits laser light. The head of the probe catches the return signals from the woman’s cervical cells and analyzed for the presence of cancer.

Q- What is colonoscopy?

A- Colonoscopy is a diagnostic method used to examine.the large colon and the distal part of the bowel with a CCD camera or a fiber optic camera. It is also used to examine the cervix.

Q- What types of biopsies are used to detect cervical cancer?

A- Punch biopsy, LEEP, endocervical curettage and conization are some of the biopsy methods used for cervical cancer detection.

Q- How colonoscopy is done?

A- The colposcope attached with bright light with a magnifying lens is inserted into the vagina. It takes clear pictures of the part and these pictures are examined for the presence of cancer. A colonoscopy is usually done in the doctor’s office or clinic.

Q- What is punch biopsy?

A- This is a diagnostic method to identify cervical cancer. in this method the doctor pinches off a small cervical tissue, using a sharp hollow device. The tissue is further screened for cancer.

Q- What is LEEP?

A- This is a diagnostic method for cervical cancer. In this, the doctor uses an electric wire loop to slice off a thin, round piece of tissue. This issue is further studied to find out cancer.

Q- What is Endocervical curettage?

A- Endocervical curettage is a biopsy to detect cervical cancer. In this method a small spoon-shaped instrument (curette) to scrape a piece of tissue from the cervix.

Q- What is conization/cone biopsy?

A- In this diagnostic procedure a cone-shaped sample of cervical tissue is removed. Pathologists do the further study to find out the cancer cells.

Q- Will I be awake during conization?

A- Yes, conization is done under general anesthesia.

Q- Will I feel pain during the biopsy?

A- Removal of tissue from the cervix can cause bleeding and similar pain which you feel during menstrual cramps. Medicines are helpful to relieve the pain.

Q- Do I need hospitalization for a biopsy?

A- No

Q- Which out of above-mentioned biopsies; will be better for me?

A- Your doctor has to decide about which biopsy will be better for you, according to your stage and health.

Q- How long the biopsy procedure takes?

A- Approximately it takes 5-10 min

Q- What are the chances of bleeding and infection after the biopsy?

A- Generally no problems, but very rare < 0.1%

Q- Will biopsy affect the chances to get pregnant?

A- No

Q- When can I collect reports after the biopsy is done?

A- After 48 hours you will be able to get the report.

Q- Does a positive biopsy report finalize cervical cancer?

A- yes.

Q- What is the HPV test?

A- It is a diagnostic procedure to find out HPV virus infection. It is done in case Pap test results are not clear.

Q- How HPV test is done?

A- The HPV test is just like a pap test, it can be done along with the Pap test with a second swab. Women older than 30 can get this test done.

Q- Do I need to be tested for HPV when I get a pap test?

A- It is not compulsory, the choice is yours. If you want to know that you have HPV infection or not, you can go for an HPV test.

Q- When can I stop Pap test?

A- If you are more than 65 and had three or more negative Pap test continuously. You can discuss with your doctor about stopping having a pap test.

Q- Does a woman who is not having sexual intercourse for a long time, need Pap test?

A- Yes.

Q- How tumor markers are measured?

A- The doctor takes a blood, urine, or tissue sample and sends it to the laboratory, where various methods are used to measure the level of the tumor marker.

Q- Can tumor markers be used as a screening test for cancer?

A- Most tumor markers are not sensitive or specific enough to be used for cancer screening.

Q- What is HPV DNA test and how it is performed?

A- It is a test for the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer by looking for pieces of their DNA in cervical cells. The test is done in a similar way to the Pap test and sometimes it is performed on the same samples taken for the Pap test.

Q- In what conditions HPV DNA test can be done?

A- A woman should be above 30 and she can also be recommended for this test if she has her pap test results abnormal.

Q- What are the other tests I can have if not satisfied with Pap test results?

A- If your Pap test results are abnormal or not satisfactory you can go for an HPV DNA test, colposcopy, and biopsy, and sometimes an endocervical scraping. Consult your doctors before you proceed.

Q- What is LEEP biopsy?

A- It is a method of diagnosis to identify cervical cancer. In this procedure, a thin wire loop is used. This loop that is heated by electrical current and acts as a scalpel blade. For this, a local anesthetic is used. It takes only about 10 minutes. You may have mild cramping during and after the procedure, and mild to moderate bleeding may persist for several weeks.

Q- What complications can I feel after LEEP?

A- You may have mild cramping during and after the procedure, and mild to moderate bleeding may occur for several weeks.

Q- Tell something about cold knife cone biopsy?

A- A surgical scalpel or a laser is used to remove tissue. It is done under general anesthesia and is done in a hospital, but no overnight stay is needed. After the procedure, cramping and some bleeding may persist for a few weeks.

Q- What is Intravenous urography?

A- Intravenous urography is also known as intravenous pyelogram or IVP. It is a useful method to find abnormalities of the urinary tract, such as changes caused by the spread of cervical cancer to the pelvic area, which may compress or block the urinary tube. This test is rarely used.

Q- How intravenous urography/intravenous pyelogram, or IVP is done?

A- IVP is an x-ray of the urinary system taken after injecting a special dye into a vein. This dye is removed from the bloodstream by the kidneys and passes into the bladder. You will not usually need an IVP if you have already had a CT or MRI.

Q- Are there any symptoms of HPV?

A- No, HPV doesn’t show any symptoms. The abnormality in cervical cells caused by the HPV can be seen in pap test results.

Q- What is the difference between the Pap test and HPV test?

A- A Pap test is used to detect the abnormality in the cells of the cervix. HPV is a virus that can cause cell changes in the cervix, while HPV test checks the presence of HPV.

Q- I had HPV infection but it went off by itself, do I need to get diagnosed for HPV?

A- There are many types of HPV. You might have one type that went off easily, others may persist for long. It is always better to get is diagnosed completely. Consult the doctor for more details.

Q- If I have both pap and HPV test negative, why should I repeat it again after 3 years?

A- The changes in cells occur in a very slow manner. Sometimes it takes 10 years for cells to change, so a woman should repeat the test for prevention purpose.

Q- Is cervical screening effective?

A- There is no 100% surety for any screening tool but we can prevent the disease if we get screened in time.

Q- Will the women, already had a vaccination against HPV, need to have pap test?

A- Yes they need pap test since vaccination will not protect from all types of HPV. Moreover, vaccination is a preventive method, not a cure. So pap test is always recommended.

Q- How Pap test save from cervical cancer

A- Pap is a diagnostic test which gives information about HPV infection. Getting informed a person can start treatment and cervical cancer can be prevented.

Q- How can I detect cervical cancer early?

A- Most precancerous conditions of the cervix could be detected and treated before cancer develops if all women had pelvic exams and Pap tests regularly.

Q- What is my doctor checking when he/she does my pelvic exam?

A- In a pelvic exam, the doctor examines the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and bowel. The doctor feels these organs for any abnormality in their shape or size to find out any kind of abnormality.

Q- Why are women under 20 are not recommended for Pap test?

A- Cervix keeps growing before the 20s, so diagnosis may interrupt and cause unnecessary abnormalities. That is why younger women are not recommended for screening.

Q- What about women who are not sexually active?

A- In this case, the chances of getting cervical cancer are very low but we can’t say 100% no risk. Consult your doctor for more details.

Q- How does my doctor know I have cervical cancer?

A- If you’re having symptoms and risk factors that are like those of cervical cancer, your doctor will suspect that you have cervical cancer and he will get it confirmed by recommending screening tests.

Q- Can I get checked for cervical cancer before I have symptoms?

A – Yes. Screening tests are available to check for signs of cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms. These screening tests are really very effective to find out the disease before having symptoms.

TREATMENT FOR CERVICAL CANCER FAQ’S

Q- Which treatment option should I opt for the treatment of cervical cancer?

A- Your treatment options depend on your stage of cancer, size of the tumor, your age and the willingness to have children.

Q- What is the treatment for stage 0 cervical cancer?

A- The treatment of stage 0 cervical cancer may include LEEP, laser surgery, conization, cryosurgery, removal of uterus and cervix, and internal radiation.

Q- What is laser surgery?

A- The word ‘Laser’ stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” In laser surgery, the doctor uses a focused beam of high-energy light to burn off the abnormal tissue. This is done through the vagina, with local anesthesia. It is an outpatient procedure.

Q- What is meant by cryosurgery?

A- Cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue.

Q- What types of cancer can be treated with cryosurgery?

A- Retinoblastoma (a childhood cancer that affects the retina of the eye), early-stage skin cancers, precancerous growth of skin, precancerous conditions of the cervix.

Q- Does cryosurgery have side effects?

A- Cryosurgery has negligible side effects; the effects depend on the location where cryosurgery is used. But it can cause cramping, pain, or bleeding.

Q- Will a woman be able to get pregnant after cryosurgery of cervical cancer?

A- Yes. Cryosurgery does not have any adverse effect on the fertility of a woman.

Q- How cryosurgery is done?

A- A cryoprobe is inserted into the body through a small invasion to treat the infected area.

Q- What are the benefits of cryosurgery over other surgical methods?

A- Cryosurgery needs lesser invasions than surgery, pain, bleeding, and other complications of surgery are less, recovery time is also reduced. It is less expensive, very short or no hospitalization.

Q- What are the disadvantages of cryosurgery?

A- There is no long term surety of effectiveness in cryosurgery, it can miss microscopic cancer spread.

Q- Where is the facility of cryosurgery available in India?

A- Yes.

Q- What are the available treatment modalities for stage IA cancer?

A- Treatment of stage IA cervical cancer may include removal of uterus and cervix, with or without removal of ovaries, conization, removal of lymph nodes, internal radiation therapy.

Q- What are the treatments available for stage IB cancer?

A- Treatment of stage IB cervical cancer may include, A combination of internal radiation therapy and external radiation therapy, Radical hysterectomy, and removal of lymph nodes. Radical hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes followed by radiation therapy plus chemotherapy. Radiation therapy plus chemotherapy, or a clinical trial.

Q- What is the treatment options for stage IIA cervical cancer?

A- Treatment of stage IIA cervical cancer may include the following:

  • Combined internal and external radiation therapy.
  • Radical hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes.
  • Radical hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes followed by radiation therapy plus chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy plus chemotherapy.
  • A clinical trial of high-dose internal radiation therapy combined with external radiation therapy.

Q- How stage IIB cervical cancer is treated?

A- Stage IIB cervical cancer can be treated with internal and external radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.

Q- How stage IIB cervical cancer is treated?

A- Stage IIB cervical cancer can be treated with internal and external radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.

Q- How stage III cervical cancer is treated?

A- Stage III cervical cancer can be treated with internal and external radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.

Q- How stage IVA cervical cancer is treated?

A- Stage IVA cervical cancer can be treated with internal and external radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.

Q- What is the treatment for stage IVB cervical cancer?

A- Treatment of stage IVB cervical cancer may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy and clinical trials of new drugs.

Q- What are the treatment options for recurrent cervical cancer?

A- Treatment Options for Recurrent Cervical Cancer are:

Pelvic exenteration followed by radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy, Chemotherapy as palliative therapy, Clinical trials of new drugs or combinations.

Q- What are the available treatment modalities for cervical cancer?

A- Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the available treatment modalities for cervical cancer.

Q- What is radical hysterectomy?

A- Radical hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina. Both fallopian tubes and ovaries can also be removed. In this procedure, lymph nodes suspected for cancer are also removed.

Q- How long will I have to stay in the hospital after cervical cancer surgery?

A- for 7-10 days.

Q- Will I be able to have children after cervical cancer surgery?

A- No.

Q- How cervical cancer surgery will affect my sex life?

A- Surgery of cervical cancer can affect the sexual life by changing her physical and emotional fronts. The effect may be for a short term or may last longer.

Q- What type of radiations are given to treat cervical cancer?

A- Either external radiation or internal radiation or both are used to treat cervical cancer.

Q- How external radiations are given?

A- External radiations are given from outside of the body using a large machine. It is a similar process to x-rays. There is no need for hospitalization for external radiation.

Q- How internal radiations are given?

A- Internal radiations are called intracavitary radiations. In this process thin tubes containing a radioactive substance are left in the vagina for a few hours or up to 3 days.

Q- Do I need to be hospitalized during internal radiation?

A- Yes, you may be asked to stay at the hospital during this process.

Q- Will radiation therapy for cervical cancer affect my sex life?

A- No.

Q- What side effects would I get after surgery of cervical cancer?

A- You would get cramps, pain, bleeding or watery discharge along with general chemotherapy side effects.

Q- Will I be able to get pregnant after hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)?

A- You will not be having menstrual periods anymore and you will not be able to get pregnancy also.

Q- What are the side effects of radiation therapy of cervical cancer?

A- You may get nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness or urinary problems. You may lose hair in your genital area. Also, your skin in the treated area may become red, dry, and tender. You may have dryness, itching, or burning in your vagina. The radiation may also make your vagina narrower. Ask your doctor for the ways to relieve the problems.

Q- What are the long term complications of radiation therapy?

A- Long term effects can include burning sensation in bowel and bladder, sexual difficulties and premature menopause in young women.

Q- Will I need follow up after the treatment of cervical cancer?

A- Yes, you should plan your regular visits to the doctor. Get all the suggested checkups on time. Continue the prescribed medicines without missing even a single dose. Contact your doctor immediately if you feel any problem.

Q- Do women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to have Pap tests?

A- Yes.

Q- Is there any vaccine available against HPV?

A- Yes. Vaccines are available against HPV infection.

Q- What is the right time for vaccination against HPV?

A- Vaccination against HPV should be done before a person becomes sexually active, and 3 subsequent dosages within one year. Ask your doctor more about this vaccine.

Q- Is HPV vaccine helpful for men also?

A- HPV vaccine showed improved immunity in men during its test. It is safe and protect men from warts and transmitting HPV to other people.

Q- What are the benefits of vaccination against HPV?

A- Vaccination against HPV protects a person getting infected from HPV, thus chances of cervical cancer and other HPV related diseases can be reduced.

Q- How long does HPV vaccine protect?

A- How long does an HPV vaccine protect and when a person should get booster dose is still under study.

Q- How is HPV treated?

A- There is no treatment for the type of HPV that causes cervix cell changes, but most HPV infections go away without treatment. Antibiotics or other medicines do not treat HPV.

Q- What care should I take after cervical cancer surgery?

A- You should schedule regular follow up visits with the doctor and follow all the advice.

Q- What are the 5-year survival rates for cervical cancer?

A- The 5-year survival rate for early invasive cancer is 92% and 72% for all stages combined.

Q- How HPV can be treated?

A- There is no treatment available against HPV which cause cervical cancer. Antibiotics and other medicines are not able to treat HPV infection. Generally, the infection goes off by itself.

Q- Is HPV vaccine safe?

A- HPV vaccine didn’t show any serious side effects during its tests in various countries, so it is safe and effective.

Q- What is the goal of radiation therapy for cervical cancer?

A- The goal is to kill cancer cells with high-energy X-rays. Generally, a low dose of chemotherapy is also given along with radiotherapy for better results.

Q- What is the goal of surgery for cervical cancer?

A- The main goal of surgery is to remove the infected cells from the cervix. If the complete removal is not possible that the surgeon tries to reduce the infected part as much as possible.

Q- What is the aim of chemotherapy for cervical cancer?

A- Chemotherapy is targeted mainly to kill or to stop the defected cells spreading.

Q- What is the treatment of invasive cervical cancer?

A- Radiation therapy and surgery are found effective in the treatment of invasive cervical cancer. Consult your doctor for more options.

Q- Which out of surgery and radiotherapy is a better treatment for early-stage cervical cancer?

A- Surgery leads to removal of the womb in almost all the cases while radiation therapy often blocks the ovarian function. Talk to your doctor for a better suggestion.

Q- How are precancerous conditions of the cervix treated?

A- Treatment for a precancerous lesion of the cervix depends on a number of factors, like the grade of the lesion is low or high grade, whether the woman wants to have children in the future, the woman’s age and general health etc.

Q- What complications can I face if I get precancerous cervical cancer treated?

A- Treatment for precancerous lesions may cause cramping or other pain, bleeding, or a watery discharge. In very rare cases a hysterectomy is performed to treat precancerous conditions of the cervix.

Q- Is a second opinion important?

A- Before starting treatment, you may want a second pathologist to review the diagnosis and another specialist to review the treatment plan. It may be important to finalize the disease.

Q- What should I ask my doctor before treatment?

You can ask the following questions:

Ø  What is the stage (extent) of my disease?

Ø  What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend? Why?

Ø  What are the chances that the treatment will be successful?

Ø  Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?

Ø  What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?

Ø  How long wills treatment last?

Ø  Will, it affects my normal activities?

Ø  What is the treatment likely to cost?

Ø  What is likely to happen without treatment?

Ø  How often will I need to have checkups?

Ø  Is there any dietary restriction?

INFORMATION ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER 

Q- What are ovaries?

A- Ovaries are the part of the female reproductive system which produces eggs. Ovaries are found in a pair, located both the side of the womb/uterus in the pelvis.

Q- What are germ cells?

A- These are the cells which make eggs inside the ovary.

Q- What works do the ovaries do?

A- Ovaries produce eggs and they are producing female hormones also (estrogen and progesterone).

Q- What are epithelial cells?

A- These cells are the covering of the ovaries. Most of the cancers start in these cells.

Q- What is epithelial ovarian cancer?

A- cancer which develops in the epithelial part of the ovaries is called epithelial ovarian cancer. This is the most common type of ovarian cancer.

Q- What are LMP tumors?

A- LMP tumors are Low malignant potential tumors. These tumors are less capable to spread in the other parts of the body.

Q- What do you mean by germ cell tumor?

A- Germ cell tumors are the outgrowth (tumor formation) in the germ cells. Mostly these are not cancers but some of them can be.

Q- What is meant by ovarian cyst?

A- Cysts are fluid-filled structures. If these are present in the ovary they are called ovarian cysts. Most of these cysts are harmless and not cancers

Q- What is the fallopian tube?

A- Fallopian tubes are the part of the female reproductive system. They are also present in a pair and each of them connects the ovary with a uterus.

Q- What is the status/ statistics of ovarian cancer in the world?

A- Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women. It stands fifth as the cause of cancer death in women.

Q- What do you mean by tubal ligation?

A- This is a birth control method performed surgically. In this method, fallopian tubes are joined together. This is done after having children. This method also helps to reduce the chances of ovarian cancer.

Q- What is oophorectomy?

A- Surgical process to remove one or both the ovaries are called oophorectomy.

Q- What changes would a lady feel after oophorectomy?

A- A woman’s periods stop after oophorectomy and she will get menopause before time.

Q- What is talc?

A- Talc is a magnesium trisilicate mineral; its natural form may contain asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen (the substance which can cause cancer). Talcum powder contains talc in it.

Q- What is stromal cell ovarian cancer?

A- This rare form of ovarian cancer develops in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovaries together and produce female hormones.

Q- What is the primary peritoneal/extra-ovarian carcinoma?

A- It is cancer-related closely to epithet

local ovarian cancer. It develops outside the ovary, in the covering layer of ovaries.

Q- What is dysgerminoma?

A- It is cancer of germ cells of ovaries. Though it is rare but affects young ladies only. It is not very fast growing cancer.

Q- What is dysgerminoma?

A- It is dysgerminoma related to one ovary.

Q- Is it possible to prevent ovarian cancer?

A- Yes. If you are aware of the risk factors, just try to avoid them as possible. In this way, you may keep ovarian cancer away.

Q- What is recurrent ovarian cancer?

A- Recurrent ovarian cancer is the type of cancer which comes back after it is cured.

Q- What causes ovarian cancer?

A- The cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown. Some ladies having a family history are also not sure to get it, but on the other hand, the one who doesn’t have any risk factor can also get the disease.

Q- Can we prevent ovarian cancer?

A- Ovarian cancer can’t be prevented, but chances to get ovarian cancer can be reduced.

Q- What is primary peritoneal cancer?

A- This is a type of cancer that is similar to epithelial ovarian cancer, but it starts outside the ovaries. It grows from the cells that line the pelvis and abdomen, called the peritoneum.

Q- What is fallopian tube carcinoma?

A- This is an extremely rare type of cancer that starts outside the ovaries. It is found in one or both of a woman’s fallopian tubes. It is treated like ovarian cancer.

Q- How ovarian cancer spreads?

A- The place cancer is found in the body is called the primary site or primary tumor. If cancer spreads from the ovary, it often first goes into the nearby lymph nodes, the uterus, or the vagina. It can, however, spread to the colon, Liver and other parts of the pelvis also. In its later stages, ovarian cancer may spread to the lungs or other distant organs.

Q- On what factors my survival/prognosis of ovarian cancer depends?

A- Your chance of recovery depends on the type, location, and stage of cancer, how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread, age, general health and your response to treatment.

  1. Does ovarian cancer run in families?
  2. Yes, some genes are responsible to carry ovarian cancer generation to generation and increase the risk of the disease, like BRCA1, BRCA2, HNPCC etc.

RISK FACTORS OF OVARIAN CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the risk factors of ovarian cancer?

A- Some of the risk factors of ovarian cancer are age, obesity, menstrual history, fertility drugs, family history, breast cancer, talcum powder, estrogen replacement therapy, smoking, alcohol drinking etc.

Q- What role age factor plays in ovarian cancer?

A- Ovarian cancer is mostly a disease of senior age. It generally affects the women more than 60 years.

Q- Does obesity play any role in ovarian cancer?

A- Obese ladies are at higher risk of getting ovarian cancer.

Q- How menstrual history affects the chances of getting ovarian cancer?

A- A woman who starts menstruation before the age of 12 and the ladies those continue menstruation when they are more than 50 are at high risk of ovarian cancer.

Q- Can the use of fertility drugs cause ovarian cancer?

A- According to some studies, long term use of fertility drugs, especially in pregnancy can increase the chances/risk of ovarian cancer.

Q- How family history is a risk for ovarian cancer?

A- Ovarian cancer is at high risk among women whose close blood relatives (mother, sister, daughter) have (or had) it. The relatives can be from either the mother’s or father’s side of the family.

Q- Does ovarian cancer has any connection with breast cancer?

A- Breast cancer increases the risk of getting ovarian cancer.

Q- How the use of talcum powder causes ovarian cancer?

A- Studies have shown a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who use talcum powder on the genital area or on sanitary napkins.

Q- How estrogen replacement therapy affects ovarian cancer?

A- The estrogen replacement therapy increases the chances of having breast cancer.

Q- Does smoking increases the risk of getting ovarian cancer?

A- Yes.

Q- Does drinking increases the risk of getting ovarian cancer?

A- Yes.

Q- What are the things which can reduce chances of getting ovarian cancer?

A- Birth control pills, tubal ligation/ hysterectomy, pregnancy, breastfeeding, healthy diet, aspirin, and acetaminophen are some agents which can reduce the chances of getting ovarian cancer.

Q- How birth control pills can reduce the chances of ovarian cancer?

A- Birth control pills, if taken for several years may reduce the chances of getting ovarian cancer due to hormonal effects.

Q- Does the removal of uterus surgically reduce the chances of ovarian cancer?

A- Yes.

Q- Can I go for uterus removal to reduce the chances of ovarian cancer?

A- This kind of surgeries should be done for a legal reason, not just to reduce the chances. Consult your doctor for more detailed suggestions.

Q- Can pregnancy/ bearing children affect ovarian cancer?

A- Yes. Women who had been pregnant during their life are at low risk of getting ovarian cancer, compared to those who have never been pregnant.

Q- What role breastfeeding plays in ovarian cancer?

A- Breastfeeding for a year or longer time may reduce the chances of getting ovarian cancer.

Q- What kind of diet can prevent ovarian cancer?

A- A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, reduction in fats and non-veg can prevent the risk of ovarian cancer.

Q- What role do analgesics play in the prevention of ovarian cancer?

A- According to some studies these drugs reduce the chances of ovarian cancer. But still, we need more researches to prove it completely. One should not start taking these drugs thinking they prevent ovarian cancer. Speak to your doctor before taking any kind of drug.

Q- Does breast cancer genes cause ovarian cancer?

A- Yes, genes responsible for breast cancer also act as a risk factor of ovarian cancer. The person with these genes is also at a higher risk to get ovarian cancer.

  1. Does being overweight increase the risk of ovarian cancer?
  2. There is some evidence that being overweight can increase your risk of ovarian cancer.

Q- Does vitamin intake decreases the risk of getting ovarian cancer?

A- Some research has suggested that proper vitamin and nutrition in the diet can reduce the risk of this cancer, although this finding has not yet been confirmed.

STAGES OF OVARIAN CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is a stage?

A- Stage is the word doctors use to communicate where and how far cancer has spread. Your stage of ovarian cancer has to decide what treatment to be recommended. The stage is based on these things.

Ø  Extent of your tumor

Ø  Number of lymph nodes involved

Ø  How far cancer has spread

Q- What is transvaginal sonography and how is it helpful in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer?

A- Transvaginal sonography is helpful in finding a mass in the ovary, but it does not accurately detect which masses are cancers and which are benign diseases of the ovary.

Q- What are “T” categories for ovarian cancer?

A- To symbolize the different types and stages of ovarian cancer using the letter “T” is called T category.

Q- What are “N” categories for ovarian cancer?

A- To symbolize the different types and stages of ovarian cancer using the letter “N” is called N category.

Q- What are “M” categories for ovarian cancer?

A- To symbolize the different types and stages of ovarian cancer using the letter “M” is called M category.

Q- What does Tx show?

A- It shows no description of the tumor’s extent is possible because of incomplete information.

Q- What does T1 show?

A- It shows the cancer is confined to the ovaries either in one or both.

Q- What is meant by T1a in T category?

A- It means that the cancer is in one ovary and doesn’t penetrate outside the ovary and is not in fluid taken from the pelvis.

Q- What is meant by T1b in T category?

A- T1b means the cancer is in both ovaries but doesn’t penetrate outside them and is not in fluid taken from the pelvis.

Q- What is meant by T1c in T category?

A- T1c shows the cancer is in one or both ovaries and has penetrated outside them or is in fluid taken from the pelvis.

Q- What is the T3 category of ovarian cancer?

A- T3 category is when the cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to the abdominal lining outside the pelvis.

Q- Which type of ovarian cancer comes under T3a category?

A- The spread of cancers are very small and can not be seen except under a microscope, come under T3a category.

Q- Which type of ovarian cancer comes under T3b category?

A- In this category, the spread cancers can be seen but are smaller than 2 centimeters (0.8 inches).

Q- Which type of ovarian cancer comes under T3c category?

A- In this case, the spread of cancers are larger than 2 centimeters (0.8 inches).

Q- What does N category of ovarian cancer indicate?

A- N categories indicate whether or not cancer has spread to regional (nearby) lymph nodes and, if so, how many lymph nodes are infected.

Q- What does Nx show in N category?

A- Nx shows that there is no explanation of lymph node involvement in ovarian cancer since the information is not sufficient.

Q- What does No show in N category?

A- It shows that there is no lymph node involvement in ovarian cancer.

Q- What does N1 indicates in N category?

A- It indicates the presence of cancer cells in regional lymph nodes close to the tumor.

Q- What does M category of ovarian cancer indicate?

A- M categories indicate whether cancer has spread to distant organs or not, such as the liver, lungs, or distant lymph nodes.

Q- What does Mx show in M category?

A- Mx shows that there is no explanation of the distant spread of ovarian cancer since the information is not sufficient.

Q- What does Mo show in M category?

A- It shows that ovarian cancer has not spread to the distant parts of the body.

Q- What does M1 indicates in M category?

A- It indicates the presence of cancer cells in a distant area of the body.

Q- What is the grading system to categorize ovarian cancer?

A- To divide cancer according to their spread is the grading system. There are 3 grades available.

Q- What type of cancer comes under grade 1/low grade?

A- Well differentiated cancer that is similar to normal ovarian tissue come under grade 1.

Q- What type of cancer comes under grade 2/moderate grade?

A- In this grade cancer is not very much differentiated and it looks less like ovarian cancer.

Q- What type of cancer comes under grade 3/high grade?

A- Poorly differentiated cancer which does not look like ovarian tissue come under this grade.

Q- What is stage grouping in ovarian cancer?

A- After determination T, N, and M categories of a patient, this information is combined.  This process is called stage grouping to determine the stage. Stages are expressed in Roman numbers.

Q- How many stages of ovarian cancer are present?

A- There are four stages of ovarian cancer starting from stage l to stage lV.

Q- What does Stage l of ovarian cancer indicate?

A- This stage indicates that the cancer is still in the ovaries and has not spread anywhere outside the limitations. This stage is further divided into 3 sub-stages.

Q- What is shown by stage lA?

A- It shows that cancer has developed in one ovary, and the tumor is still present inside of the ovary, and there is no cancer on the outer surface of the ovary.

Q- What is stage lB ovarian cancer?

A- In stage lB, cancer has developed in both ovaries but there is no cancer on the outer surface of ovaries.

Q- What is stage LC ovarian cancer?

A- In this stage cancer is present in both the ovaries and cancer can be found on the outer surface of at least one of the ovaries or if it is a cystic tumor (fluid-filled tumors), the outer wall of the tumor can burst or laboratory examination found cancer cells in fluid or washings from the abdomen. Either one or more above mentioned conditions can be present in the patient.

Q- What is stage ll cancer?

A- The cancer is in one or both ovaries and has involved other organs nearby, such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, urinary bladder, colon, or rectum. Stage ll has also divided into three sub-stages.

Q- What type of ovarian cancer comes under type llA?

A- In stage IIA cancer has spread to or has actually attacked the uterus or the fallopian tubes, or both. Laboratory examination of washings from the abdomen did not find any cancer cells.

Q- Give some idea about type llB ovarian cancer?

A- The IIB type of cancer spreads to other nearby body parts such as urinary bladder, colon or rectum. Laboratory examination of fluid from the abdomen did not find any cancer cells.

Q- What comes under stage IIC cancer?

A- cancer has spread to pelvic organs as in stages IIA or IIB and laboratory examination of the washings from the abdomen found evidence of cancer cells.

Q- Tell the symptoms of stage III cancer?

A- One or both ovaries are involved, and either or both of the following conditions are present:

(1) Cancer has spread to the distant area.

(2) Cancer has spread to lymph nodes.

It has also further divided into three substages

Q- What are the symptoms of stage IIIA ovarian cancer?

A- It can’t be seen without using a microscope (equipment used to see very tiny objects) in the abdomen and cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. However, when biopsies are checked under a microscope, tiny deposits of cancer are found in the lining of the upper abdomen.

Q- What are the symptoms of stage IIIB ovarian cancer?

A- This is present in one or both ovaries, and is large enough for the surgeon to see, but smaller than 2 cm. Cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.

Q- What are the symptoms of stage IIIC ovarian cancer?

A- The cancer is in one or both ovaries, and one or both of the following are present. Either this cancer has spread to lymph nodes or deposits of cancer larger than 2 cm (about 3/4 inch) across are seen in the abdomen or both.

SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS OF OVARIAN CANCER FAQ’S

Q- Will genetic testing be helpful in ovarian cancer?

A- Yes. It will help you to know how much you are at risk.

Q- Why it is not easy to find out ovarian cancer in an early stage?

A- Since ovaries are deep in the body so it is not easy to feel them easily, that’s why it is not easy to find out ovarian cancer in early stages.

Q- What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

A- Person may have the following symptoms-

Ø  swelling of the stomach or bloating caused by a buildup of fluid

Ø  pelvic pressure or stomach pain

Ø  trouble eating or feeling full quickly

Ø  having to urinate often or feeling like you have to “go” right away tiredness

Ø  upset stomach

Ø  back pain

Ø  constipation

Ø  menstrual changes

Q- What is PET and how it works?

A- PET is Positron emission tomography. PET uses a special kind of radioactive sugar (glucose). Cancers use sugar at a higher rate than normal tissues. The radioactivity will collect in cancer which will make it visible on the scan. This test is sometimes useful to find ovarian cancer that has spread.

Q- What is laparoscopy?

A- It is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through a small cut/hole.

Q- How laparoscopy is useful in ovarian cancer?

A- This technique lets the doctor take pictures of the ovaries and other pelvic organs and to identify cancer.

Q- Do I need to hospitalize for laparoscopy?

A- Yes, for a short period (almost a day).

Q- What are the ways to find out ovarian cancer early?

A- Regular health examination, visiting to doctor if symptoms are suspected and screening of ovaries are the ways to find out ovarian cancer in early stage.

Q- What is the CA125 test?

A- It is a screening test to find out ovarian cancer. CA125 is a protein that most women have in their blood. The level may rise in women with ovarian cancer. However, CA125 is not specific to ovarian cancer, and the level may rise because of other reasons.

Q- Why I am asked for a blood test and chest X-ray for ovarian cancer diagnosis?

A- Chest X-rays and blood tests are done to check your general health.

Q- What are the types of ultrasounds/sonography used to diagnose ovarian cancer?

A- There are generally two types of ultrasounds, one is an abdominal/pelvic ultrasound and the other is transvaginal/vaginal ultrasound.

Q- What is an abdominal/pelvic ultrasound?

A- This is a technique to find out ovarian cancer. In this technique, scanning is done rubbing the probe gently on the belly/abdomen. This probe produces sound waves which are converted into pictures.

Q- What is a vaginal/transvaginal ultrasound?

A- In this technique, a probe with a round end is entered through the vagina. The probe produces sound waves, which are then converted into a picture by a computer and scanned for ovarian cancer.

Q- Is abdominal fluid aspiration useful is a diagnosis of ovarian cancer?

A- Yes. This process is also used to diagnose ovarian cancer.

  1. Can we screen for ovarian cancer?
  2. There is no reliable method of screening for ovarian cancer. However, both the CA125 blood test and vaginal ultrasound are currently being tested as possible methods for screening women for ovarian cancer.

TREATMENT FOR OVARIAN CANCER FAQ’S

Q- How are LMP tumors treated?

A- To treat LMP tumors, the ovary with the tumor and the fallopian tube on the affected side are usually removed by surgery. In certain cases, just the ovarian cyst with the tumor is removed.

Q- How germ cell tumors of the ovary are treated?

A- Women with benign germ cell tumors are cured by removing part or all of the ovary and the fallopian tube on the affected side, depending upon the condition and stage of cancer.

Q- What are the main treatments for ovarian cancer?

A- The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. In some cases, 2 or even all 3 of these treatments will be used.

Q- Will a woman be able to be pregnant after oophorectomy?

A- If both the ovaries have been removed, there is no chance for a woman to get pregnant. But in case only one ovary has been removed, the chances are there.

Q- Will a woman be able to be pregnant after removal of the uterus?

A- There is no chance of getting pregnant after removal of the uterus.

Q- Do I need to be hospitalized for the surgery of ovarian cancer?

A- Yes.

Q- How long I have to stay in the hospital for surgery?

A- Generally a person has to be in the hospital for 3 to 7 days after surgery.

Q- How long it takes for a person to recover after surgery of ovarian cancer?

A- Generally it takes 4 to 6 weeks.

Q- What is meant by debulking/cytoreduction?

A- If a surgeon is not able to remove all the tumors during surgery, he will remove as much as possible. This process is called debulking/cytoreduction.

Q- How is stromal cell ovarian cancer treated?

A- Stromal cell tumors are treated by removing the ovary with the tumor. If the tumor returns, more surgery and chemotherapy may also be used. Rarely, radiation therapy may be used.

Q- How is dysgerminoma treated?

A- Dysgerminoma is treated through surgery.

Q- What is hysterectomy?

A- Surgical removal of the uterus is called hysterectomy.

Q- What is meant by bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy?

A- Surgical removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes is called bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

Q- What is meant by salpingectomy?

A- Removal of the fallopian tube is called salpingectomy. If both the fallopian tubes are removed then it is called bilateral salpingectomy

Q- How intraperitoneal chemotherapy is given?

A- For intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy a thin tube or catheter is placed through the skin into the abdomen/belly and the drugs are injected directly through it. The tube can be placed at the time of surgery or after surgery.

Q- What are the common chemotherapy drugs used to treat ovarian cancer?

A- The most commonly used drugs to treat ovarian cancer in the first instance are Carboplatin or Cisplatin, which may be given with Taxol (paclitaxel). Other drugs that may be used are Gemcitabine, Topotecan, Doxorubicin, and Liposomal Doxorubicin.

Q- Will a lady be able to have children after ovarian cancer treatment?

A- You may still be able to become pregnant if you have only one ovary taken out to treat cancer. You may be infertile if both of your ovaries are taken out, chemotherapy and radiation at pelvis area affect the ability to produce a mature egg.

Q- Do I need follow up care after treatment?

A- Yes, you should follow up regular visits to the doctor and carefully follow the advice.

Q- How to cope up fatigue after the treatment?

A- Fatigue, that too not ordinary fatigue but bone-weary fatigue, is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Exercise can help in reducing this problem. Ask your health provider for exercises.

Q- What is omentectomy?

A- Removal of part of the omentum, which is fatty tissue from the upper part of the abdominal cavity near the stomach and intestine, is called omentectomy.

Q- How are stage IA and stage IB ovarian cancer treated?

A- Surgery is the first step to treat stages IA and IB ovarian cancer. The surgery can involve removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, both ovaries, and part of the omentum, which is fatty tissue near the stomach and intestines. Lymph nodes may also be sampled. Chemotherapy is also given after surgery.

Q- How is stage IC ovarian cancer treated?

A- For stage IC cancer, surgery is the main treatment of choice. However, chemotherapy will be added, usually 3 to 6 courses of treatment with carboplatin and paclitaxel.

Q- What is the treatment followed for stage II ovarian cancer?

A- Debulking is done to remove the tumors as many as possible. An additional (adjuvant) treatment can also be given as chemotherapy or, less often, radiation therapy.

Q- What are the treatments for stage III and IV ovarian cancer?

A- For stages III and IV, surgical is usually the same as for stage II. The uterus, both fallopian tubes, both ovaries, and fatty tissue from the upper abdomen near the stomach and intestines are removed. The tumor also will be debunked. After surgery, combination chemotherapy will be used, usually for 6 cycles.

Q- What are the effects of cancer treatment on female sexual desire and response?

A- There may be some changes like lack of sexual desire, pain, premature menopause etc.

Q- How epithelial ovarian cancer is treated?

A- The treatment for epithelial ovarian cancer depends on its stage. Usually, the first option is surgery to remove one or both ovaries. Chemotherapy is often given after surgery.

Q- Are there clinical trials available for ovarian cancer treatment?

A- Yes. Clinical trials are available to know the performance of new treatment.

Q- What care should I take after ovarian cancer surgery?

A- You should start moving as soon as possible or if you can’t move, just start leg moving exercise. Avoid all heavy works like lifting weight or climbing on the stairs at least for 3 months. Consult your physiotherapist for exercises. Follow your doctor’s advice.

Q- Will I feel pain after ovarian cancer surgery?

A- You may feel pain for a few days after surgery, but it can be controlled using effective painkillers.

Q- How many days would I have to stay in the hospital after ovarian cancer surgery?

A- Generally it takes 8-10 days to remove the stitches. After that, you can go home. But your stay at hospital depends on your condition. Your doctor will decide finally about your discharge.

Q- Can I go home independently after ovarian cancer surgery?

A- You would feel exhausted of energy after surgery, so it is better to get support.

Q- When is it safe to have sexual intercourse after having surgery (hysterectomy/oophorectomy)?

A- In these cases, intercourse should be avoided for almost 6 weeks. This time interval will help you to recover well.

Q- What symptoms would I feel if I get premature menopause after surgery?

A- You may feel hot flushes, dry skin, dryness of the vagina, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable, reduced sexual desire etc.

Q What are the possible side effects of radiation therapy of ovarian cancer?

A- Radiotherapy, done in the pelvic area can cause some additional problems like diarrhea and discomfort around the back passage, pain while passing urine, feeling sick, loss of appetite and weight, premature menopause etc.

Q- Does radiotherapy of ovaries cause infertility?

A- Yes, it can cause temporary or permanent infertility.

Q- Is there any vaccine available to treat ovarian cancer?

A- Cancer vaccines, which trigger the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells, are currently being tested for ovarian cancer.

Q- What kind of allergic problems can a woman get during ovarian cancer treatment?

A- Some women may be allergic to the medications used during treatment for ovarian cancer. Some common reactions are red face and skin (flushing), warm feeling, trouble breathing etc. Consult your doctor immediately if you have such problems.

Q- What should be done if I get mood swings after ovarian cancer treatment?

A- It’s very common to get mood swings during treatment. You can follow these tips:

Ø  Explain your fears to the loved ones.

Ø  Exercise, sleeping, and eating well can greatly improve moods.

Ø  Consult with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another counselor.

Ø  Get help from cancer support groups.

Q- How to cope with the pain which comes after ovarian cancer surgery?

A- There are some tips to reduce pain like:

Ø  Rest and massage

Ø  Put heat on the sore area

Ø  Take your pain medications regularly

Ø  Involve yourself in listening music, funny videos, or computer games.

Ø  Practice yoga or meditation, or guided imagery exercises.

Q- How to overcome the sexual changes after ovarian cancer therapy?

Ø  Talk with your partner about changes in your desire to have sex.

Ø  See a counselor

Ø  Discuss it with your doctor and other members of your healthcare team.

Q- How to overcome the urinary problems after ovarian cancer treatment?

A- After ovarian cancer surgery, you may have frequent urination, pain or burning Do these things for comfort.

  • Report to your doctor.
  • Try emptying your bladder regularly.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about special products to reduce discomfort.

Q- What can be done to reduce pre-menopausal symptoms which occur after treatment?

  • Use vaginal moisturizers and lubricants.
  • Before sexual activity, use water-soluble lubricants
  • Apply vitamin E oil to the area to ease irritation and burning.
  • Ask your doctor about products that may help replace estrogen
  • As relief for infections, try over-the-counter antifungal creams
  • See your gynecologist for symptoms that do not go away.

INFORMATION ABOUT UTERINE CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What is uterus?

A- Uterus is a part of the woman reproductive system where babies grow during pregnancy. Generally, it is called womb.

Q- What is uterine cancer?

A- It is cancer which develops in the cells of uterus/womb.

Q- What is uterine sarcoma?

A- Uterine sarcoma is a different type of cancer which develops in the muscle and supporting tissues of the uterus (womb).

Q- What does sarcoma mean?

A- Sarcomas are cancers that start from tissues such as muscle, fat, bone, and fibrous tissue (the material that forms tendons and ligaments).

Q- How common is uterine cancer among women?

A- It is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in women. It comes after breast, lung and colon cancer.

Q- What is uterine leiomyosarcoma?

A- It is a name of cancer which starts from the muscular walls of the womb.

Q- What is endometrial hyperplasia?

A- Endometrial hyperplasia is a condition of excessive proliferation of the cells of the endometrium which is the inner lining of the uterus.

Q- What is endometrium?

A- Endometrium is the inner covering of uterus.

Q- What is endometrial cancer?

A- cancer which develops in the cells of endometrium part of the womb is called endometrial cancer.

Q- What is the difference between endometrial cancer and uterine cancer?

A- Endometrium is a part of the uterus and sometimes endometrial cancer is called uterine cancer, while uterine cancer includes cancer of other cells of a womb.

Q- Is uterine cancer contagious?

A- No, it’s not contagious. It can’t spread from one person to another.

Q- What are the common benign tumors of the womb?

A- The common benign tumors of the womb are Fibroid, Endometriosis and Endometrial Hyperplasia.

Q- What are fibroids?

A- These are common types of benign tumors, which do not lead to cancer. They develop in the muscles of the womb. Fibroids are very common in the 40s.

Q- Does a woman need treatment for fibroids?

A- Generally fibroids do not develop into cancer and they disappear at the age of menopause and need not be treated. In some cases, there is a need for the fibroids to be treated. Consult your doctor for suggestions.

Q- What is endometriosis?

A- It is a type of benign tumor of the womb, which affects women between their 30s and 40s, especially those who have never been pregnant.

Q- What is endometrial hyperplasia?

A- This is a benign tumor of the womb and it occurs when the number of cells is increased in the wall of the womb. Generally, it’s not cancer but in some conditions, it can develop into cancer. It is common after the age of 40.

Q- At what age, a lady can get uterine cancer?

A- There is no fixed age of getting uterine cancer; it can happen at any age. Generally, it comes at the age of menopause or after menopause.

Q- What is the cause of uterine sarcoma?

A- There are no exact causes found yet which cause uterine sarcoma.

Q- Can uterine sarcoma be prevented?

A- In most of the cases uterine sarcoma cannot be prevented.

Q- How uterine cancer is prevented?

A- Uterine cancer can be prevented by taking hormone therapy with progestin, use of birth control pills can also reduce the risk for about 10 years, and the one who maintains an ideal/healthy weight can also keep uterine cancer away.

Q- What are complications of uterine cancer?

A- Women with uterine cancer may lose blood and get anemia. They can also feel fatigue and shortness of breath.

Q- What causes uterine cancer?

A- The exact cause of uterine cancer is still unknown but some factors are there which increases the chances of getting the disease.

RISK FACTORS OF UTERINE CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the risk factors for uterine sarcoma?

A- Obesity, estrogen replacement therapy, use of hormonal drugs as breast cancer treatment and breast cancer risk reduction, infertility, diabetes, menstrual history, previous history of pelvic radiation therapy and race are some of the risk factors for uterine carcinoma.

Q- What are the risk factors for uterine cancer?

A- Age, Endometrial hyperplasia, Hormone replacement therapy, Obesity, Endometrial hyperplasia, Race, History of colorectal cancer are some of the risk factors for uterine cancer.

Q- How does age relate with the risk of uterine cancer?

A- Cancer of the uterus occurs mostly in women over age 50, and it is most common in the age between 50-59.

Q- How Tamoxifen is related to uterine cancer?

A- Women who are taking Tamoxifen, a treatment for breast cancer, are at the high risk of getting uterine cancer.

Q- Does history of colorectal cancer affect the chances of getting uterine cancer?

A- Yes, some studies show that women who have had a family history of colorectal cancer are at high risk of getting uterine cancer.

Q- How menstrual history is a risk for uterine cancer?

A- The women who get menstrual periods started before age 12 and continue menstruation after age 52 are at high risk of uterine carcinoma?

Q- How does race affect the chances to get uterine carcinoma?

A- This disease is more common in white people while women with black or wheatish complexion are comparatively safe. The reason is unknown.

Q- How hormone replacement therapy (HRT) acts as a risk to get uterine cancer?

A- Taking estrogen hormone stimulates thickening of the inner wall of the womb (endometrium). Replacement of estrogen alone after menopause may increase your risk of endometrial cancer.

Q- How being overweight is a risk for uterine cancer?

A- Excess fat tissue can increase the levels of estrogen hormone in the body which increases the chances of getting uterine cancer.

Q- Do diabetes and high blood pressure cause uterine cancer?

A- Some studies show that high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of getting uterine cancer.

STAGES OF UTERINE CANCER FAQ’S

Q- How many stages of endometrial cancer are present?

A- There are 4 stages of endometrial cancer.

Q- What is a stage?

A- Stage is a category of disease. When a disease is classified in segments on the basis of its severity and symptoms, it is called staging.

Q- What is stage I endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer remains in the uterus only and does not spread anywhere else. It is further divided into 3 sub stages named stage IA, IB, and IC.

Q- What is stage IA endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer remains in the inner wall of the uterus only.

Q- What is stage IB endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer spreads into the inner half of the muscle layer of the womb.

Q- What is stage IC endometrial cancer?

A- Cancer spreads into the outer half of the muscles of the womb.

Q- What is stage II endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer has spread from the body of the uterus to the cervix.

Q- What is stage IIA endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer spreads into the glands of the junction of the cervix and womb.

Q- What is stage IIB endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage cancer spreads into the cervix part.

Q- What is stage III endometrial cancer?

A- cancer has spread outside the uterus, but not outside the pelvis area. Lymph nodes in the pelvis may contain cancer cells. It has been categorized into 3 subdivisions i.e. stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.

Q- Explain about stage IIIA endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer spreads either in the outer layer of the womb or in the organs located just behind the womb or in both.

Q- What comes under stage IIIB endometrial cancer?

A- In this stage, cancer spreads beyond the womb and cervix and start infecting the birth canal (vagina).

Q- Say about stage IIIC endometrial cancer?

A- In IIIC stage cancer spreads into the lymph nodes located near the womb.

Q- What is stage IV endometrial cancer?

A- This is the most advanced stage of uterine cancer in which cancer spread too far away organs like lungs, liver, kidney etc. this stage is again further divided into 2 sub stages named IVA and IVB.

Q- What kind of condition of endometrial cancer is put under IVA stage?

A- In IVA stage cancer spreads either into the bladder or in a bowl or in both.

Q- Say about stage IVB endometrial cancer?

A- This is the most advanced stage of endometrial cancer in which cancer spreads into the far located organs like lymph nodes in the abdomen or other organs like kidney, lungs etc.

Q- What is recurrent endometrial cancer?

A- Recurrent endometrial cancer comes back after it is completely treated. It can come back at any time and in any of the parts of the body.

SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS OF UTERINE CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the symptoms of endometriosis tumors?

A- Endometriosis can cause painful periods, abnormal bleeding sessions and in some cases, it may cause infertility but it does not cause cancer.

Q- What are the symptoms of endometrial hyperplasia?

A- Heavy and painful periods, bleeding between periods and after menopause are the main symptoms of endometrial hyperplasia.

Q- What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?

A- Abnormal bleeding is the most common symptom of uterine cancer. Bleeding may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood, painful urination; pain during sexual intercourse and persistent pain in the pelvic area are the common symptoms of uterine cancer. Consult the doctors if you have such problems.

Q- Can uterine sarcoma found in early stages?

A- If a person is aware of the signs and symptoms, uterine sarcoma can be found early.

Q- What are the available diagnostic methods for uterine cancer?

A- Pelvic exam, Pap test, ultrasound, and biopsy are the available diagnostic tools to find out uterine cancer.

Q- What is a pelvic exam?

A- Pelvic exam is a diagnostic tool in which a doctor or nurse check the vagina, uterus, bladder, and rectum manually to find out if there is any abnormality in their normal size and shape.

Q- What is a Pap test?

A- This diagnostic method can also be used to find out uterine cancer. In this technique, cells are collected from the uterus through a small wire loop, inserted into the vagina. These cells are later tested in the laboratory for any abnormality.

Q- How does transvaginal ultrasound use to diagnose uterine cancer?

A- A probe which produces high-frequency sound waves, is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. The high-frequency sound waves take a photograph of the womb which is further analyzed for any abnormality.

Q- How biopsy helps to find out uterine cancer?

A- Biopsy is a diagnostic method in which a sample of tissue is removed from the womb and examined in the laboratory for any disorder.

Q- What is endometrial biopsy?

A- Removal of cells from the inner side of the womb is called endometrial biopsy. These cells are further checked for cancer.

Q- What complications can I get after the biopsy?

A- In some cases, women may get cramps and bleeding.

Q- How soon will I know the results after the biopsy?

A- it takes about 2-3days.

TREATMENT FOR UTERINE CANCER FAQ’S

Q- What are the available treatment modalities for uterine cancer?

A- Surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and combined therapy are the available treatment for uterine cancer.

Q- Which treatment is better, hormone therapy or removal of the uterus?

A- All these treatment methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. Your doctor has to decide which is better for you, according to your health, age, and stage of your disease.

Q Which is the most commonly followed treatment for uterine cancer?

A- The most commonly followed treatment is surgery.

Q- Can I take a clinical trial for uterine cancer treatment?

A- Yes, you can offer yourself as a volunteer for clinical time. During the trial, you will be observed closely for the effects of a new drug. Discuss with your doctor about it.

Q- At what stage of uterine cancer can I join a clinical trial?

A- Clinical trials can be joined at any stage of the disease. Speak to your doctor for suggestions.

Q- How should I decide what treatment should I go for?

A- The treatment choice depends on the size of the tumor and stage of the disease. Consult your doctor for more information.

Q- How endometriosis tumors are treated?

A- These types of tumors can be easily treated through hormone therapy or surgery.

Q- What type of surgery is expected in case of uterine cancer treatment?

A- During the uterine cancer treatment, a surgeon removes the tumor and defective cells from the womb. Depending on the stage of the disease you may get your womb removed or surgeon can remove your ovaries, fallopian tubes and other affected area along with womb.

Q- Will I be able to get pregnant after removal of the womb?

A- No, after removal of the womb you can’t get pregnant.

Q- Will I get back to normal periods after removal of the womb?

A- No. your periods will stop permanently once your womb is removed.

Q- What is the treatment of stage I endometrial cancer?

A- Treatment of stage I endometrial cancer includes surgery, lymph nodes which are located nearby can also be removed. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be used.

Q- How stage II endometrial cancer is treated?

A- It can be treated by combined chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Q- How stage III endometrial cancer is treated?

A- It can be treated by combined chemotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy and radiation (internal and external radiation can be used)

Q- Can Raloxifene (a drug used for osteoporosis) cause uterine cancer?

A- Use of Raloxifene increases the chances to get uterine cancer. ask your doctor for more information about it.

Q- How is recurrent endometrial cancer treated?

A- Here radiation therapy can be used as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and to make the patient feel better. Hormone therapy is also used and clinical trials of chemotherapy can also be used.

Q- How long should I stay at the hospital after uterine cancer surgery?

A- Hospitalization totally depends on your recovery speed. Generally, a woman has to stay at the hospital from several days to one week.

Q- Do I need post-operative care?

A- yes.

Q- What follow-ups should I do after surgery?

A- Schedule regular visits to your doctor and get follow up checkups. Follow the guidelines and all the suggestions of your doctor.

Q- Will I have any long term effect of uterine cancer surgery?

A- Usually the incidence of complications is very less.

Q- Will I be able to go home alone after uterine cancer surgery?

A- Yes.

Q- How long will it take for me to be normal after surgery?

A-  You will become normal within a few days to 15 days. It is similar to any other major surgery.

Q- Will uterine cancer surgery affect my sex life?

A- No it will not affect your sex life but for some time it can pause it.

Q- What is brachytherapy and how is it useful in uterine cancer treatment?

A- Brachytherapy is a kind of radiation therapy which involves internal applications of radiation, usually to give from the inner sides of the womb.

Q- How is synthetic progestin helpful in uterine cancer treatment?

A- Yes. Progestin can be used to treat uterine (endometrial) cancer, but in this case, progestin is used at a high dose compared to hormone replacement. Progestin treatment can be used to treat early endometrial cancer.

Q- How chemotherapy works to treat uterine cancer?

A- You may be recommended for chemotherapy to treat uterine cancer. You may receive chemotherapy drugs by mouth in the form of tablets or capsules or through injections. These drugs enter into your blood and then travel to kill cancer cells outside the uterus.

Q- What is the survival rate for stage I uterine cancer?

A- Survival rate for stage I uterine cancer is 75% to 90%.

Q- What is the survival rate for stage II uterine cancer?

A- Survival rate for stage I uterine cancer is 50%.

Q- What is the survival rate for stage III uterine cancer?

A- Survival rate for stage I uterine cancer is 30%.

Q- What is the survival rate for stage IV uterine cancer?

A- Survival rate for stage I uterine cancer is less than 5%.

Q- What complications can I have after removal of the womb (hystA- After a hysterectomy, women usually have some pain and general fatigue. In some cases, patients may have nausea and vomiting following surgery, and some women may have problems returning to normal bladder and bowel function.

Information about Cancer FAQs
            Information about Cancer FAQs