If you would like to be in a clinical trial, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital takes part in clinical trials. Clinical trials are one way to get the newest cancer treatment. They are the best way for doctors to find better ways to treat cancer. And if you do sign up for a clinical trial, you can always stop at any time. When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Even when cancer never comes back, people still worry about it. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask about symptoms, do physical exams, and may do tests to see if the cancer has come back. Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways.
You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at or talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life — making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Cancer that starts in the gland cells that line certain organs and make and release substances into the body, such as mucus, digestive juices, or other fluids. Taking out a small piece of tissue to see if there are cancer cells in it.
Carcinoma CAR-sin- O -muh: Cancer that starts in the lining layer of organs. Most cancers are carcinomas. Lymph nodes limf nodes: Small, bean-shaped collections of immune system tissue found all over the body and connected by lymph vessels; also called lymph glands. Cancer that starts in the immune system cells called lymphocytes LIM-fo-sites , which are a kind of white blood cell. Cancer cells that have spread from where they started to other places in the body. We have a lot more information for you. Or, you can call our toll-free number at to talk to one of our cancer information specialists.
September 12, Last Revised: For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy. Are there different kinds of cancer?
What are signs and symptoms?
Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have. Questions to ask the doctor Why do you think I have cancer? Where do you think the cancer started? Would you please write down the kind of cancer you think I might have? What will happen next? How does the doctor know I have cancer? Tests that may be done If signs are pointing to cancer, tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need: Grading cancer The cancer cells in the biopsy sample might be given a grade. Questions to ask the doctor What tests will I need to have? Who will do these tests? When will they be done? Who can explain them to me?
How and when will I get the results?
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
Who will explain the results to me? What do I need to do next? How serious is my cancer? Questions to ask the doctor Do you know the stage of the cancer? If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer? Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case? Am I going to die? What kind of treatment will I need? The main types of treatment for cancer are: The exact type of cancer The stage and grade of the cancer Where the cancer is The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way Your age and overall health Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it Surgery Surgery is often used to take out the tumor and a margin or edge of the healthy tissue around it.
Side effects of surgery Any type of surgery can have risks and side effects. Radiation treatments Radiation uses high-energy rays like x-rays to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, both types of radiation are used. Side effects of radiation treatments If your doctor suggests radiation treatment, talk about what side effects might happen. Common side effects of radiation are: Skin changes where the radiation is given Feeling very tired Most side effects get better after treatment ends.
Chemo Chemo KEY-mo is the short word for chemotherapy, the use of drugs to fight cancer. Side effects of chemo Chemo can make you feel very tired, sick to your stomach, and cause your hair to fall out. Targeted drugs Targeted drugs are made to work mostly on the changes in cells that make them cancer. Side effects of targeted drugs Side effects depend on which drug is used. Side effects of immune therapy drugs Side effects depend on which drug is used. Clinical trials Clinical trials are research studies that test new drugs or other treatments in people.
What about other treatments that I hear about? Questions to ask the doctor Will I need to see other doctors? Think about which approach works best for you. Let your health care team know what you'd prefer. Maintain honest, two-way communication with your loved ones, doctors and others after your cancer diagnosis. You may feel particularly isolated if people try to protect you from bad news or if you try to put up a strong front. If you and others express emotions honestly, you can all gain strength from each other. Now — after your cancer diagnosis and before you begin treatment — is the best time to plan for changes.
Prepare yourself now so that you'll be better able to cope later. Ask your doctor what changes you should anticipate.
If drugs will cause hair loss, advice from image experts about clothing, makeup, wigs and hairpieces may help you feel more comfortable and attractive. Insurance often helps pay for wigs, prostheses and other adaptive devices. Members of cancer support groups may be particularly helpful in this area and can provide tips that have helped them and others. Also consider how treatment will impact your daily activities. Ask your doctor whether you can expect to continue your normal routine. You may need to spend time in the hospital or have frequent medical appointments.
If your treatment will require a leave of absence from your normal duties, make arrangements for this. This can improve your energy level. Choose a healthy diet consisting of a variety of foods and get adequate rest in order to help you manage the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment. Exercise and participating in enjoyable activities also may help. Recent data suggest that people who maintain some physical exercise during treatment not only cope better but also may live longer.
Often friends and family can run errands, provide transportation, prepare meals and help you with household chores.
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Learn to accept their help. Accepting help gives those who care about you a sense of making a contribution at a difficult time. Also encourage your family to accept help if it's needed. A cancer diagnosis affects the entire family and adds stress, especially to the primary caregivers. Accepting help with meals or chores from neighbors or friends can go a long way in preventing caregiver burnout.
Determine what's really important in your life. Find time for the activities that are most important to you and give you the most meaning. If needed, try to find a new openness with loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings with them. Cancer affects all of your relationships. Communication can help reduce the anxiety and fear that cancer can cause. Maintain your normal lifestyle, but be open to modifying it as necessary. Take one day at a time.
Being told you have cancer - Maggie's Centres
It's easy to overlook this simple strategy during stressful times. When the future is uncertain, organizing and planning may suddenly seem overwhelming. Many unexpected financial burdens can arise as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Your treatment may require time away from work or an extended time away from home. Consider the additional costs of medications, medical devices, traveling for treatment and parking fees at the hospital.
Many clinics and hospitals keep lists of resources to help you financially during and after your cancer treatment.
Talk with your health care team about your options. Since my personal breast cancer diagnosis, 16 years ago, cancer advocacy has changed dramatically. For patient advocates, now including me, visiting San Antonio has become a December ritual. We learn what's happening in the field, network and see old friends.
What Research Says About Receiving “the News”
We hug and stroll the River Walk. We cry, remembering acquaintances who've died. For a growing number of patients living with metastatic breast cancer, learning has become a priority. As more clinical trials and new options for testing and treatment are becoming available, patients are educating themselves in the hope of saving themselves. And they are voicing their needs. The San Antonio symposium was one of the first medical conferences to include patient advocates.
However, members of the local Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation recall the days when they weren't invited to the sessions. Sandi Sanford, 74, runs the advocacy program for the group, which she joined in In , she and other "Alamo" women staffed an information booth during the symposium, then held in a downtown Marriott ballroom. In , the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation started a grants program for advocates to help them travel to the San Antonio meeting; it expanded. Money for the Alamo educational programs comes mainly from industry. Doctors attending the symposium value the patients' participation.