Coping with shortness of breath

shortness of breathShortness of breath is something that we’ve all experienced. Typically this occurs when we exert ourselves, like running up a few flights of stairs. The feeling subsides quickly with rest. However, for many, shortness of breath is a daily struggle. It is estimated that 15%-55% of cancer patients experience shortness of breath, or dyspnea (the medical term.)

Dyspnea is described as an inability to get enough air, a feeling of smothering, tightness or suffocation. In cancer patients, it can be caused by the cancer or cancer treatment, or:

  • anemia
  • fluid build- up in the space between the lungs
  • tumor blocking the airway
  • radiation pneumonitis (inflammation of lungs caused by radiation therapy)
  • pneumonia
  • anxiety and stress

Continue reading

Young men and the testicular cancer self-exam

testicular self-examWhile testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35, according to the Testicular Cancer Society. Generally men in this age group are robust and healthy, so cancer may be something they think only happens to other people. Educating men on the importance, as well as the technique, of testicular self-exam may help to reduce the incidence of this cancer.

Unlike the recommendations for breast self-exams beginning at age 20, and colon cancer screening beginning at age 50, neither the American Cancer Society nor Continue reading

Cancer and the crystal ball: How long do I have to live?

how long do I have to liveThis is perhaps the hardest question we are asked at the Cancer AnswerLine: “How long do I have to live?” This is not the most pleasant of conversations we encounter, but the nurses at the Cancer AnswerLine don’t dodge this question. Simply, we don’t always have an accurate answer to this important question and cannot provide callers with an exact time frame for life expectancy. Your physician may not be able to answer this question, either – sometimes there is no concrete answer.

When asked this question, we consider the following:

Continue reading

Cancer prehabilitation

Steps you can take to prep for cancer treatment

cancer prehabilitationCancer prehabilitation, or prehab, is the process of improving a patient’s emotional and physical health in anticipation of upcoming treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Although not a new concept to medicine, it’s becoming an emerging component in cancer care. Preparing for the physical and emotional aspects of cancer treatment can improve outcomes and minimize side effects associated with cancer treatment. Continue reading

Fertility options for women with cancer

women fertilityAs many as 15% of all couples have difficulty becoming pregnant or meet the definition for infertility, but for those undergoing treatment for cancer the number can be even higher. This post discusses fertility options for women with cancer. Men, you haven’t been left out, my September blog discussed your fertility options, so you haven’t been left out.

For women who are undergoing cancer treatments, experts recommend they wait at least one year after treatment ends to have a fertility evaluation. This time is needed to allow the body to recover and readjust to Continue reading

Is the flu bug out to get you?

fluThe FLU virus is thought to be spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu viruses may also spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Patients with cancer and immune-compromised patients are NOT at an increased risk for getting the flu, but they are at an increased risk for complications from the flu. But there are steps you can take to stop the flu bug from getting to you.

According to FLU.gov, a website managed Continue reading