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June 18, 2008 > Are You Afraid of the C Word?

Are You Afraid of the C Word?

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Common Cancers

Not that long ago, a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence. But thanks to better screening and more effective treatments, survival rates for many cancers have drastically improved over the last two decades.
"Breast and prostate cancer, if detected early, are highly survivable," said Dr. Michael Bastasch, a radiation oncologist at Washington Hospital. "With lung cancer, however, 10-year survival rates are still very low."
Bastasch will present an upcoming seminar on the most common cancers - breast, prostate and lung. "Most Common Cancers and How They are Treated" is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Conference Center adjacent to the Nakamura Clinic, 33077 Alvarado Niles Road, in Union City. To register, call (800) 963-7070.
The seminar will cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of these three types of cancer. Bastasch will also answer any questions you may have about these cancers.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer kills more women than any other cancer except lung cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 182,500 women in this country will be diagnosed with the disease in 2008 and more than 40,480 will die from it. While uncommon among men, nearly 2,000 males will be diagnosed with the disease this year and about 450 will die from it.
The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown. Doctors often can't explain why one woman develops breast cancer and another does not. Research has shown, however, that women with certain risk factors are more likely to develop breast cancer, including over age 60, a personal or family history of breast cancer, abnormal breast cells, obesity, lack of exercise, and reproductive factors such as never having children and taking estrogen after menopause.
There have been many advances in the treatment of breast cancer over the years, especially when it is caught early.
"It used to be that the standard treatment was to remove the entire breast," Bastasch said. "In most cases today, preservation of the breast is possible if detected early enough."
Regular Mammograms, which take an X-ray of the breast tissue, are the key to early detection, along with self-examinations to determine if there is a lump. Mammograms are important because they can often show a breast lump before it can be felt.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer affects a gland in men's reproductive systems called the prostate. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 186,300 men will be diagnosed with the disease in 2008 while more than 28,660 will die from it.
Like breast cancer, it is not clear what causes prostate cancer, although studies show the following risk factors are involved: over age 65, family history of the disease, abnormal prostate cells, and a diet high in animal fat or red meat.
Two screening tests can help doctors diagnose the disease before there are symptoms. A digital rectal exam allows a physician to feel if there are any hard or lumpy areas that could signal a problem. A PSA blood test can also indicate cancer may be present.

Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, killing more than 161,000 people each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 215,020 new cases are expected in 2008.
The number one risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. About 87 percent of people diagnosed with the disease smoked at some point in their lives, although many have already quit by the time they are diagnosed, according to the American Lung Association.
"That said, there is an emerging trend in people who have never smoked being diagnosed with lung cancer," Bastasch said. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos and air pollution.
Unlike breast and prostate cancer, there is no standard screening for lung cancer. Symptoms include a cough that gets worse and does not go away, shortness of breath, constant chest pain, coughing up blood, a hoarse voice, frequent lung infections, weight loss and fatigue. Sadly, these symptoms only occur when the disease has progressed.
To learn more about breast, prostate and lung cancer, call (800) 963-7070 to register for the upcoming seminar.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit

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