September is Cancer Awareness Month For Five Cancers. . .

September is Cancer Awareness Month for: Gynecologic cancer, Ovarian cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma, Prostate cancer, and Thyroid cancer. Know the facts about each, and think about taking some of the suggested actions to support awareness.

As the infographic shows–Cancer touches everyone. It’s important that we take the opportunity these Awareness months offer to learn what preventative measures can be taken, find out more about the illnesses,  and discover what we can do to further the causes of the illnesses that affect so many. And here we’re lucky enough to have a month five-deep in awareness.

  • Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Gynecologic cancers start in a woman’s reproductive organs. There are five main types:

  1. Cervical. This can be found through routine screening with Pap test checks, which are quite effective in both prevention and in finding cancer early enough to cure it.
  2. Uterine. This is sometimes called Endometrial cancer because the most common type of uterine cancer occurs in the inner lining, known as the endometrium. This usually occurs after menopause, with vaginal bleeding as its most common symptom. See other symptoms to watch for.
  3. Vaginal–An uncommon cancer, it represents only 1% of the gynecologic cancers. That doesn’t mean it’s not something to look out for, though. Its five-year survival rate is only around 50%. [Note that that number goes up to 84% if it’s found before it has spread.]  Early vaginal cancer isn’t too symptomatic, but as it progresses these are some signs to look out for.
  4. Vulvar–An uncommon cancer, it mainly affects women over 50–and is almost never found in females under 20. This occurs on the outer surface of the female’s genitalia, usually forming as a lump or sore on the vulva that might lead to itching or pain. You can be alert to the cancer’s presence by looking out for these signs.
  5. Ovarian–Of these 5 cancers, ovarian–the eighth most common cancer in the US., is the deadliest–and very difficult to detect. It is separated out from the other 4 in having its own name attached to the month.

Note: The CDC’s site “‘Inside Knowledge’: About Gynecologic Cancer” has downloads with details of each of the cancers.

In honor of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, consider:

1. Donating to the Women’s Cancer Network.
2. If you haven’t had your screening recently, book an appointment with the gynecologist–today.

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

Leukemia is that affects the blood and bone marrow, the spongy center of bones where our blood cells are formed.

It is estimated that by the end of 2012 there will be 41,150 new cases of leukemia in the U.S., and there will be 23,540 deaths from the disease.

Lymphoma affects the lymphatic system, which is the network of vessels that transports the infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes, throughout the body.

It is the third most common childhood cancer.

Lymphomas are usually divided into two types: Hodgkin’s lymphomas (formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease) and  non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma can frequently be cured or controlled for many years in the majority of cases. The five-year relative survival rate for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is about 85 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are more difficult to treat, and the course of the cancer can vary widely from person to person. Overall, the 5-year relative survival rate for patients with non-Hodgkin’ s  lymphoma is 63% and the 10-year relative survival rate is 51%.

A Canadian-based organization called the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers resources and information on their website.

For Awareness month you might decide to:

1. Volunteer for LLS (help is needed in areas as wide-ranging as the following:fundraising events such as Team In Training, Light The Night Walk and School & Youth Programs, office support, donor development, patient services and family support groups, education programs, advocacy to local legislators, corporate sponsorships, and expos and health fairs.
2. Advocate for funding for research (the site provides the resources to make this process seamless).
3. [This one seemed easy enough, so I snuck it in here:]  Shop the LLS e-Store, where 20% of your purchase price is donated to LLS.

  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of all the gynecologic cancers. The National Cancer Institute estimated 22,280 new cases in the US in  2012, with 15,500 deaths.

However, if it is detected early and treated properly, survival rates increase to over 90 percent.

There are very few ways to decrease your chances of getting ovarian cancer, although having had children or using birth control pills for more than 5 years may help. And the symptoms are frequently easily confused with numerous other disorders. Being aware of them is critcal.

See the NCI’s “ovarian cancer” home page for details on types of ovarian cancer, research trials, treatments, literature, and statistics.

Ideas for what to do for ovarian awareness?

1. Join the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund  (OCRF) on their facebook page
2. Visit www.lorealcolorofhope.com to learn about L’Oréal Paris Color of Hope, OCRF’s long-time corporate partner.  Buy special Color of Hope products, share your stories, and learn more about their commitment to fighting ovarian cancer. 
3. Call or write to a friend suffering from ovarian cancer, telling her you’re thinking of her, and asking if there’s something you can do to help.
4. Donate to OCRF to help funding of research to find a method of early detective (and one day a cure) for ovarian cancer.

    • Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate cancer is the single most common cancer in American men. Unfortunately, there are no warning signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. Once a malignant tumor causes swelling in the prostate gland, or the cancer metastasizes, the following symptoms, listed by WebMD, may be present as a result of tumor blockage:

  • A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
  • A weak or interrupted urinary stream
  • Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
  • Inability to urinate standing up
  • A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen

The most well-known prostate screening test, the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) is supposed to look for signs of cancer, but its usefulness has been debated. The subject should be addressed with your health care professional, as there are pros and cons on each side of the issue.

In fact, prostate cancer is probably the most controversial cancer overall, both in diagnosis and in treatment–a dubious distinction, I’d say

According to the most recent data, when including all men with prostate cancer, those with the disease have a:

  • Relative 5-year survival rate of nearly 100%
  • Relative 10-year survival rate of 98%
  • 15-year relative survival rate of 91%

However, it is important to keep in mind its potential risk.  If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the relative 5-year survival rate drops to a devastating 29%.

Due, though, to the late age at which it occurs, and positive survival rates, most people die with the cancer, rather than from it.

In honor of prostate cancer awareness month, consider doing the following:

1. If you haven’t been screened for prostate cancer, make an appointment to do so–today!
2. Educate yourself about prostate cancer treatment options–hopefully long before you use that information.
3. Visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation site for important information on the disease, the latest in the news, new developments in prostate cancer research–and more.

    • Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women. Thyroid cancer starts in the thyroid gland, located in the front of your lower neck. It can occur at any age, but if detected early most treatments will work.

Ironically, it is one of the few cancers with increased incidence rates of death in recent years.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 56,460 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. in 2012. Of these new cases, about 43,210 will occur in women and about 13,250 in men. About 1,780 people (1,000 women and 780 men) will die of thyroid cancer in 2012.

Signs of thyroid cancer include coughing, difficulty swallowing, swelling of the neck and trouble breathing.

The Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association’s website provides a host of useful information. Just to name a few services they provide: you can find support groups, get detailed information on the types, stages and overview of treatment recommendations, locate current clinical trials, locate a whole host of links that provide information, support, resources, etc, and download a low iodine cookbook.

Ideas for Awareness month?

1. Become a member of the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association.
2. Volunteer for the organization.
3. Raise awareness–and the site provides numerous resources to help in this endeavor.

It’s time for awareness–in any way that works for you. Visit a friend, write a letter to an editor, write a post, re-blog a post, talk about an experience. You’ve got a month–don’t let it pass you by.

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