Monthly Archives: February 2012

What is Breast Cancer?

A Definition of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a malignant, canceorous tumor that lives in breast tissue. The malignant tumor starts to grow in the cells of the breast. As the cells of the tumor grows it can break through the breast tissue, invade the surrounding breast tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is more likely to be found in women and is classed as the second most common cancer that causes death amongst them.  In the USA it is estimated that 1 in 8 women has breast cancer and 200,000 are diagnosed each year. But it is not only women who get breast cancer, men are affected too. Every year approximately 2000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and the numbers are rising.

The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness

Regardless of age (18+over) shape and size it is important that all women are breast cancer aware. As mentioned above breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the USA that causes death, so it’s important to take care of  breasts.
Being breast aware is part of looking after your body. It means you get to know how your breasts look and feel, which enables you to know what is normal for you. This can empower you and give you confidence to notice any unusual changes.
However, so as not to stress you unnecessarily, you should bear in mind that not all lumps or changes you notice will turn out to be breast cancer, but if it is cancer, the earlier you get it diagnosed the more effective any treatment will be.

As men also get breast cancer  they need to be breast aware too.


Touch – Look – Check

No one knows your body better than you so you should touch, look and check your breasts regularly. There are no special techniques but it is recommended that you follow the 5 point breast plan, which can be done when you are having a shower or getting dressed.  You can carry out an examination standing up or lying down, it’s up to you.  Whatever way you choose the important thing is to make sure you know how your breasts look and feel normally, so that you can notice any changes.

Tip: Check the whole area of the breast including your upper chest and under your arms right in the pits.


Further Reading:

The 5 Point Breast Cancer Awareness Check

What Breast Cancer Symptoms Should I look For

The 4 Stages of Breast Cancer


Signs & Symptoms of Cancer – How Do You Know If You Have Cancer?

How Do You Know if You Have Cancer?

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

A sign or unusual symptom you have not experienced before could be an indication that something is not right with your body.  Although not all signs or abnormal symptoms mean that you have cancer.

The signs and symptoms as a result of cancer will depend on where the cancer is, the size of any tumor, and how much organs and tissues are affected. If a cancer has spread (metastasized), signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body.

As a cancer develops, it can begin to press on nearby organs, blood vessels, and nerves. It is this pressure that causes some of the signs and symptoms of cancer to appear.

What Are Some of The General Signs and Symptoms of Cancer?

In the event that you experience any of the symptoms listed below for a long time or they get progressively worse, please go and see your doctor who can carry out various tests to determine whether or not you have cancer.

Unexplained weight loss

One of the more specific signs of cancer is weight loss. If you start losing weight for no known reason, and you are not dieting then it is time to be concerned.  Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more in a short period of time, say 1-2 weeks, may be the first sign of cancer.  This symptom usually occurs in cancers of the kidney, pancreas, stomach, lungs or esophagus.


Having a fever or night sweats is a common symptom with cancer.  It usually occurs when the cancer has spread from where it started from.  Most patients with cancer will experience fever at some time or other.  In a few cases fever may be an early sign of cancer, such as blood cancers like leukemia.


Extreme tiredness that does not improve after rest may be a symptom that manifests itself as cancer grows. Fatigue usually occurs later on as the cancer develops, but in some cancers such as leukemiait may happen early. In some cancers such as colon, kidney or stomach there may be blood loss, which is another way cancer can cause  fatigue.


Pain is another early symptom seen in cancers like bone or testicular cancer. Also, a headache that does not go away or get better with medication may be a symptom of a brain tumor, back pain may be a symptom of bowel, bone or ovarian cancer.  However, any pain due to cancer usually means that the cancer has spread (metastasized)  from where it started.

Skin changes

As well as skin cancer, there are some other cancers, such as breast cancer that causes skin changes.  These changes may appear as:

  • Darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Reddened skin (erythema)
  • Itching (pruritis)
  • Excessive hair growth


Further Reading On Cancer:

What Happens After They Tell You ‘You Have Breast Cancer?
The 4 Stages of Breast Cancer Explained In Detail

New Treatment for Kidney Cancer Proves Successful

New Treatment for Kidney Cancer Proves Successful.

New Kidney Cancer Drug

Research into designing a drug that targets kidney cancer cells has been carried out at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and results so far have been very promising, whereby the new drug kills kidney cancer cells.

New Treatment for Kidney Cancer Proves Successful

New Kidney Cancer Drug

Research into designing a drug that targets kidney cancer cells has been carried out at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and  results so far have been very promising, whereby the new drug kills kidney cancer cells.


What Causes Cancer?

Cancer occurs as a result of changes to the structure or activity of key genes that control how cells operate, divide and die. Because of  these changes cells begin to multiply rapidly in an uncontrolled manner, forming a cancerous tumour.

New Kidney Cancer Treatment

It has been found that in most kidney cancers, the von Hippel landau (VHL) gene has been turned off, and as a result kidney tumours seem to develop.

At the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Associate Professor Michael Hay has found a group of small molecules that can kill kidney cancer cells.

The Professor’s team started by testing a large number of molecules, in a process known as a high-throughput screen.  The molecule that worked best was then selected, and investigated further. They found two ways to make these molecules cause cancer cells to die, first by enabling them to ‘eat’ themselves and second by stopping them from getting enough ‘food’ to survive.  The molecules literally caused the kidney cancer cells to commit suicide.

However, exactly how the two processes work to kill cancer cells is not clear. Nonetheless, Associate Professor Hay continues to use state of the art computer programs to create inhanced chemicals with improved shapes that “slot” into the targets more efficiently. With this revolutionary technique potential new drugs can be assessed far more quickly than if they were hand made in a lab.

The chemicals that have the best fit will be made and tested to assess their capability to kill kidney cancer cells. As part of his remit he will also try to ascertain the actual targets in cells which these potential anti-cancer drugs act on.

The team at Auckland University continue to work on the molecules and hope to design improved versions of them with the intent to target processes unique to cancer cells that will fight cancer with very little side effects.


Association for International Cancer Research (AICR). Designing Drugs for Kidney Cancer. Professor Michael Hay.  2011.

How Did You Feel When They Said ‘You Have Cancer?’

Do you remember the day and time you were told you had cancer? In this blog I want to share stories of that fateful day and help those who have just been diagnosed on how to deal with the news and what happens next.

How Did You Feel When They Said ‘You Have Cancer’ ?.

How Did You Feel When They Said ‘You Have Cancer?’

I remember the moment so well; it is a time that anyone who has been touched by cancer will remember, even if at the time their minds are clouded and the fateful word didn’t actually register.

I was sitting there in the consultant’s office, my husband had come along for moral support, and we were both anxious.  Before Mr Scott-Coombes opened his mouth to give me the diagnosis, I still held on to the hope that everything was going to be alright.

But very soon my world came crashing down and my hope broken. “I’m sorry Mrs Grant but the results of the biopsy was not very good.” I noticed he couldn’t look at me directly. There was no eye to eye contact, he was hesitatant and cleared his throat before I heard real words “(cough) erm was not very good. They showed that the lump in your right breast is indeed cancerous. I’m so sorry.” The silence was deafening. I looked at Courtney (my husband) with a fixed, wide eyed look and he looked at me shocked, in disbelief. Still no words had been spoken.

The tears trickled down my facte as it sunk in that I was going to die.  In fact in my mind I was dead already. The tears turned into a whimper and then to a full scale weeping. Courtney gripped my hands with a squeeze that silently spoke “I feel your pain, what are we going to do?”

The consultant began talking again but I do not remember a word he said after telling me the lump was cancerous. Although it seemed like I was in his office for an eternity in reality it was about 20 minutes. I do remember his parting words though “I’ll see you in two weeks’ time for the lumpectomy”

‘I’m a breast cancer survivor of 12 years’


Please share your stories and how you dealt with being told ‘You have cancer’

What Is Colon Cancer?

What Is Colon Cancer?.

What Is Colon Cancer?

Cancer of the colon which is sometimes referred to as colon or colorectal cancer begins life, initially as a small benign polyp in the digestive tract, that over a period of time mutates and becomes a cancerous tumor.  As the cancer cells multiply they invade and destroy surrounding tissues, eventually breaking away to form new tumors in other organs of the body; this migration of cells is known as metastasis. For example; a cancerous colon cell may break away and develop in either the lungs or the liver.


The Colon

Is made up of three sections, the ascending, transverse and descending (also known as the sigmoid colon) colon. These parts and the rectum make up the body’s gastrointestinal system that digests, processes and eliminates food, through a muscular tube over 5 feet long.  The majority of  colon cancers start in the sigmoid colon just above the rectum.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is extremely prevalent in the western world. It is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year over 140,00.00 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 die from the disease.

However, if there is anything good that can be said about cancer,  it is that colon cancer amongst all other cancers is one of the most preventable and treatable if detected early.  It is just a case of changing your diet and lifestyle to one that involves regular exercise and consumption of foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, processed foods, meats and alcohol.


Early Screening & Detection

However, despite the fact that it can be prevented there is still a high death rate from colon cancer because most people are asymptomatic for many years. The reason for this is that precancerous polyps can take up to 10 years before they change from benign to malignant. They key to survival is early detection and screening. Statistics show that more than 90% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer in the early stages survive more than five years.


Can Colon Cancer Be Cured?

It appears from patient records that colon cancer in the very early stages can often be cured by removing the polyp during a colonoscopy, which is a simple screening procedure that looks into the colon or large intestine as it is sometimes called.

More advanced cancerous tumors usually require surgical removal followed by chemotherapy in many cases.



Dubois D. (2011). Learn the facts about colon cancer symptoms as early detection saves lives –
Ricci-Vitiani, DG Lombardi, E Pilozzi, M Biffon.  (2006) Identification and expansion of human coloncancer-initiating cells –
Wilkinson J. (2011) ‘What is Colon Cancer?’ guide

Could Diet Stop Colon Cancer?

Bowel cancer is a disease that begins as a small growth on the lining of the bowel. This growth, called a polyp can be easily removed through surgery, but if it is not it can develop into a cancerous tumour, which can then grow through the bowel wall and spread to other organs nearby.

Every year over 140,00.00 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 die from the disease. These are very high numbers for a disease that can virtually be prevented by diet and lifestyle. In fact 35% of bowel cancers could be prevented through diet and lifestyle changes.

Diet And Colon Cancer

According to Professor James Varani at the University of Michigan, a diet low in fiber but high in red and processed meats increases the risk of bowel cancer. It is also known that a diet high in saturated fat puts a person at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, as well as being overweight.

Fruit and vegetables provides the most fiber, vitamins and minerals in the western diet today, and consuming a diet rich in these types of foods appears to be associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer.

There have been studies that have suggested that fiber intake, in particular, ones from whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk.

Another dietary risk to developing colorectal cancer is increased alcohol intake, especially among men. In several studies it was found that there was a 19% increase in risk for an increase of 100g/week. There was an increase in colon cancer risk in men and women separately at this level of consumption, and an increase in rectal cancer for the same intake in men only.

Vitamins, calcium, and magnesium

In some studies it has been suggested that taking daily multi-vitamins containing folic acid, or folate, may lower colorectal cancer risk. However, there is a word of caution on these results as other studies have stated the reverse and showed that folic acid might help existing tumors to grow.  However, more research is required in this area.

Also, there are some studies that suggest increasing calcium intake to lower colorectal cancer risk. But because increased levels of calcium may be a possible risk of prostate cancer in men, it is not recommended that men increase their calcium intake in order to prevent colon cancer.

Whilst calcium and vitamin D may work together to reduce colorectal cancer risk, some studies have not found that these supplements reduce risk.

In a few studies it has been found that a diet high in magnesium reduced colorectal cancer risk especially in women.

Obesity And Colorectal Cancer

Most studies have found that there is a risk factor of colon cancer and being overweight or obese. This applies to both men and women but the link is stronger in respect to men.

Among men, a higher BMI is strongly associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. It appears that the distribution of body fat is the important factor, with abdominal obesity, showing the strongest association with colon cancer risk.

The larger waist size is associated with increased colon cancer risk in men (33% risk increase per 10cm waist circumference increase) and women (16% risk increase per 10cm waist circumference increase).

A number of reasons have been put forward for the association of obesity with increased colon cancer risk. One reason is that high levels of insulin in obese people may increase or promote colon cancer development.

What You Should Do To Prevent Colon Cancer

It is well documented that people who eat a diet high in fiber can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer. Therefore, the best advice about diet to possibly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to:

  • Limit or eliminate your intake of red and processed meats.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.

Further Reading:

Learn the Facts About Colon Cancer Symptoms As Early Detection Saves Lives



Moskal, A., et al., Alcohol intake and colorectal cancer risk: A dose-response meta-analysis of published cohort studies. Int J Cancer, 2007. 120(3):664-71ferences: