To Your Health: Understanding cancer diagnosis
By The American Cancer Society September 18, 2012 3:28PM
A cancer diagnosis almost always makes people feel they must get treatment as soon as possible but there is usually plenty of time to think through all the options available so you can make the best possible choice. | File Photo
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:13AM
Finding out a loved one has cancer can be overwhelming.
There may be many unanswered questions that can make the diagnosis hard to understand. Simply having answers to these questions can help you feel more in control and less worried about what lies ahead.
To help get through the fears and concerns about cancer and its treatment, we offer answers to some common questions.
What is cancer and who gets it?
Cancer is not just one disease. There are many types of cancer. Cancer can start in many different places in the body. It can start in the lungs, the breast, the colon or even in the blood.
Cancers are alike in some ways, but they also are different in the ways they grow and spread.
More than 1.6 million people in the United States get cancer each year.
Nearly half of all men and a little more than one-third of all women in the United States will have cancer during their lifetimes. Cancer can happen at any age; but more than three out of every four cancers occur in people age 55 and older. People of all racial and ethnic groups can get cancer. Today, nearly 12 million people are living with cancer or have survived the disease.
How should I make treatment decisions?
The number and kinds of treatment choices will depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer and other factors, including age, current health status and personal needs. Be sure to talk about what treatment choices work the best. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure to understand the options that are available.
A cancer diagnosis almost always makes people feel they must get treatment as soon as possible but there is usually plenty of time to think through all the options available so you can make the best possible choice.
What other resources do I have?
Your health care team will be the first source of support, but there are many places more help is available if needed. Hospital support services are an important part of the treatment process.
These might include nursing services, nutritional advice, rehabilitation or spiritual help.
The main thing to remember to understand a diagnosis is to know that you are not alone in this fight. There are many ways to get involved with other people who are going through the same thing. Depending on family and friends to help during the treatment process also is very important.
More information is at (800) 227-2543 or www.cancer.org.
The American Cancer Society is a member of the Southland Health Alliance.