If I had the power to remove only one thing in the world, it would be cancer. It can affect an individual and a family. Not only does it take a loved one away but it also causes a lot of financial, emotional, and psychological struggles to the people and parties involved.
However, no matter how much we want to eradicate this terminal illness, it’s just really inevitable that someone gets the illness each day. At least 4,700 people receive cancer diagnoses each day according to the American Cancer Society. This news is very saddening because, given the facts and figures, it seems like we are still far from eliminating the illness.
But not to worry because despite it being possible to happen to anyone, there are many ways to reduce the risks of getting the said disease.
Introducing Anal Cancer
Generally, most people know that cancer is a deadly disease. However, what many people don’t know is that there are many types and kinds of cancer. The term “cancer” is just somewhat an umbrella term given to a group of related diseases since it can affect cells of varying organs.
One of the least known types of cancer is anal cancer. Anal cancer is basically when existing cancer cells transform into benign or malignant tumors situated in the anus. It can be very dangerous because the anus is a regularly used body part needed to excrete body wastes such as stool from the body.
The sad thing about anal cancer is that no one talks about it. There is a stigma that goes with the illness since it is commonly sexually transmitted, but that’s not always the case. Thus, it’s essential to make the disease known to break the stigma.
Causes & Symptoms
Many anal cancer patients learned about their disease at a very critical stage already. In some cases, even if the person is healthy and generally well, they may still acquire the said disease. Given this, it’s essential to be on the lookout for possible symptoms to lessen the risks of getting the disease.
Anal cancer is known to be caused by HPV or human papillomavirus which is passed on through sexual intercourse. However, besides sexual intercourse, this can also be caused by unsafe anal sex, old age, smoking, and other abnormal openings in the anal area.
“Symptom management is critical during the entire process of discovery, diagnosis, and treatment phases for the anal cancer patient.” says Thomas R Dekoj, MD.
For the common symptoms, these may include:
- Bleeding of anus
- Constant itchiness or irritation in the anus
- A lump in the anus or rectal opening
- Vast changes in bowel movement
- Unusual discharge (besides blood) from the anus
- Painful feeling in the anal area
Once you feel any of the said or related symptoms, make sure to consult with a doctor immediately to have it checked and lessen the risks of it progressing.
“Surgical treatment has been relegated to cases of persistent or recurrent disease, or when a patient has a contraindication to chemotherapy or radiation.” says Deborah Nagle, M.D.
In treating anal cancer, we have to consider many factors. The doctors still have to assess where the lump is situated in, the type and stage of the disease, as well as the tumor size and impact. In looking into these factors, the medical team assigned to you can point out which treatment is the best and most effective for your condition.
Possible treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
- Use of radiosensitizers
These are viable options for different cases, and it is up to your doctors to decide which one will suit you best.
Prevention Is Key
However, just like any illness, before it comes to the worst case scenario, there are several ways to prevent it and keep you from other possible dangers. Besides being educated, it’s essential to take effort in staying protected and healthy to keep yourself away from acquiring the disease.
With this, here are a few prevention tips to lessen the risks of getting anal cancer:
Since we have discussed that human papillomavirus or HPV can cause anal cancer, scientists have developed a vaccine for it. These vaccines can protect you from HPV infections that can vary depending on the subtype. However, we have to keep in mind that this vaccine works best before acquiring the disease. So if you’re planning to get sexually active any time soon, better to have yourself vaccinated now than to regret anything in the future.
- Protected Sex
One way to have protected sex is through condom use. Although it does not entirely protect you from getting the infection, it can still reduce the risks of doing so.
- Avoid Smoking
Not only sexually active people can get anal cancer. The disease can also affect smokers. To minimize the possibility of contracting anal cancer and other types of cancer, refrain from smoking.
Join Support Groups
Living with anal cancer is not easy, but know that you’re not alone. If it’s too late, you can get extra support and help from families who are going through the same by joining anal cancer foundations. In doing so, you can help yourself, or a loved one who is going through this struggle. Have a little hope that nothing is impossible with the higher beings.
Always remember that protection and prevention can help save a life. Tell us about your cancer concerns today.
“Individuals can do much to prevent cancer. Yet human biology – particularly the pleasure principle – and large, politically powerful industrial forces stand arrayed against us. Saving money and lives may be most effectively accomplished by changing the economic incentives of food and energy production,” says Matthew J. Edlund M.D.
Being diagnosed with colon cancer can result in a range of emotions and an array of different reactions. Some initially have a feeling of disbelief. Those in denial may even think that it was just some kind of a joke. There are others who immediately fell into depression, worrying about what’s going to happen.
Despite all those mixed emotions, one thing is for sure, to have colon cancer is painful and stressful, and so are the tests, surgery, chemo, and the fear of recurrence.
“Well-meaning family and friends tell patients to ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘just be positive’ and it can be a real source of stress for [patients] when they’re not feeling that way.” Devita Streva, LISW-S says.
Struggle With Treatment
The challenges brought by treatment is incomparable to that moment when you heard you got cancer. This time, you can really say it’s for real and so is the pain and the side effects.
The next morning after my first chemo session, I feel nauseated, and then I vomit non-stop as if I want to take my gut out. For days, I had this queasy feeling that I almost don’t wanna get out of my bed. I’m not in the mood to see anyone. Not to mention the sores that pop up in my mouth days after.
After almost two weeks post chemo, I woke up seeing hair all around my bed and pillow. The sight of those hairs made me cry and feel frustrated. It seemed that I was slowly losing my life and the will to live. Every strand that falls is every bit of hope taken away from me.
I always regard my hair as my crowning glory. And it pains me a lot to know that I’m losing them because of this dreadful disease.
First, cancer take away your health, then your life, your hair, next could be your sanity.
Be Psychologically Well
Cancer does not only ruin the body. It can also destroy your spirit the moment it puts you to shame.
My oncologist recommended that I attend a support group and undergo therapy to maintain my mental wellness. It can help me become more comfortable with the disease and the situation.
Treatment has a higher probability of going well when you know you are still 50% in control. With that is the fact that you can cope with anxiety and depression. The moment you did, life will be happier.
How To Be In Control
Have A New Outlook
Taking on a new perspective on life and your colon cancer will put you in control in some aspects of your new life. Cancer could have entered your body without your permission, but it hasn’t defeated you. You still are very much alive and can do so much.
“Cognitive reframing is simply changing the way you look at a situation or think about a thought. The situation doesn’t change, but you do. Inlay terms, it means finding a way of shifting your perspective so that instead of seeing the glass half empty, you can see the glass half full.” says Lynne Eldridge, MD.
There are clinical treatment trials you can try. Who knows, it might work on you. It’s better than sulking in your room, doing nothing about your situation.
Not all who have colon cancer have the same experiences. Each has its uniqueness. Yours is different from someone in your support group. Not because one person ends up with poor prognosis means you’ll also be given a poor prognosis. Your body and health status are not on the same level, and so is your reaction to treatments.
Do Talk Therapy
Talk about what you feel when you think you need to. Don’t just keep it in. Talking it out is the best therapy. Call a friend, invite a relative, reach out to a church leader, or whoever you feel comfortable talking with. You’ll never know, the stranger sitting next to you could be the one who’s going to put a smile on your face today.
Change To A Healthier Style Of Living
Decide on a drastic lifestyle change. You need to take care more of your body now. Be aware that you need more rest, nutritious food, active social life and other healthy activities, and of course a “me time.”
Try Other Forms Of Therapy For Mental Wellness
There are various therapies you can try to boost your mental health. Laughter therapy, energy therapy, stress management intervention, CBT, meditation, and more are proven effective in assisting cancer patients in handling their emotional distress.
“Investigators explain that patients diagnosed and treated for a long-term potentially fatal disease, such as cancer, can accumulate distressing and traumatic experiences along the way. For some cancer survivors, the memories and physical effects of their experience can last long after their final treatments.” says Rick Nauert PhD.
Cancer Is Giving Us A Second Chance
I thought having colon cancer is the end, but it’s not. In fact, it signaled a new beginning for me. My wakeup call to start living the life I want. It’s another chance to spend more time with my family and friends. I travel as much as I could, laugh with people, do good, and do the job not anymore because of the high pay, but because I love doing it. I never waste any moment. I live each day as if it was my last.
In short, cancer has given me a second chance to live, to enjoy it to the fullest by living in the now. I’m hopeful I’ll still be here tomorrow, but I don’t wait for another day to check one item on my bucket list. I’m lucky to be still given a chance to do the things I should have done long ago before I leave this earth.
Polyps are growths of abnormal tissue that latch onto the linings of the organs. They are mostly associated with cells that make and release mucus and other liquids. Polyps may differ in size and shape. They can look like little flat bumps, small mushroom-like stalks, or like a grape. Colon polyps are the most common type of polyps, but it can develop in various parts of the body like:
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer is a type of cancer that manifests on a person’s anus. The anus is the body part wherein your wastes are released. It is connected to the rectum. Yes, the anus is also susceptible to cancer, and it can form lumps or tumors. There are tumors though in the area that can be benign or non-cancerous.
You just came home from your doctor’s office and heard the awful news that you have anal cancer. The reality would not sink in at first. You feel confused and full of disbelief. According to Dorina Stern, LMFT, “Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of your emotional state that may leave you feeling stunned or dazed.” What happened and what has gone wrong? You start to question yourself and the choices you made leading to this day. Although cancer is very common in our society, it’s something we do not wish for ourselves – not even to our worst enemies. So after the diagnosis, what does a patient with anal cancer expect?
Referral to a Specialist
The doctor will refer you to a specialist called an oncologist. An oncologist is a physician who specializes in the treatment and management of cancer. The next thing that you can expect is a series of diagnostic tests to determine the stage of cancer you have. Then the oncologist will offer treatment options that will work for your condition such as chemotherapy or the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, surgery or the removal of tissues or organs believed to be afflicted with cancer cells, and the use of radioactive materials to eradicate the cells and prevent from proliferating neighboring tissues and organs. The medical provider can either use a single course of therapy or a combination of these treatments. The specialist will also explain the expectations, outcomes, and prognosis along with this.
The Treatment Process
Once you’ve already chosen the treatment option that will work for you, the series of tests along with the management and treatment regimen will continue. This is to make sure that it is working and you are responding well. Medical evaluation and succeeding medical follow-ups will also determine if the treatments are not working, or if the cancer has already progressed. Depending on the results, the dosage of the chemotherapy medications can be adjusted or surgical procedures can be repeated until the patient is relieved and can function optimally at the present condition. That is why the support system that surrounds you during this times is very important. According to Bobbi Jankovich, LMFT, “Most of us have developed a community — our own personal support system. These are people — family and friends — who care about us, and listen, and help us through difficult times.”
Side effects and adverse complications from treatments are expected. Your doctor will inform you of all this prior to the start of treatment. However, experiencing the real thing can be surreal.
Chemotherapy medications may cause loss of appetite leading to excessive weight loss or also known as body wasting. A severe form of nausea and vomiting can happen after chemotherapy sessions. Most patients also suffer from hair loss. Once this sets in, problems like body image disturbance can lead to low self-esteem and other psychological problems. According to John Preston, PsyD, “Self-esteem, to put it simply, is a measure of how we feel about ourselves, our sense of our own value as human beings and our understanding of what we bring to the world.”
Management of Side Effects
There are several strategies to manage and curtail the side effects of the treatment procedures. The following are some helpful tips:
- You can have ice chips during the chemo sessions to prevent nausea. The doctor usually administers medications that will help control the symptom prior and after chemotherapy sessions.
- Don’t eat much prior to a procedure. You can eat toast or crackers early in the morning.
- If you are feeling well, make sure that you eat with gusto. Coordinate with your nutritionist or dietician on what foods are allowed or prohibited while you are in therapy.
- In order to address hair loss, you may use wigs, scarfs, or hats that will improve your self-worth. The good news is these are an all-year fashion thing and will never go out of style.
Get Diagnosed Early And Don’t Lose Hope
There are many instances that the cancer is treated properly especially if it is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. However, it is crucial that relapse must be prevented. Therefore, continual monitoring must still be conducted. Coordinate with your specialist as to how often you need to be checked and tested.
If you have been recently diagnosed with anal cancer or any type of cancer, it would be best to consult your physician and see a specialist right away. It is also recommended that you see a therapist and discuss the expected cost for treatment. BetterHelp (an affordable therapy option) has a good article on how you can assess the management of your condition. Early detection and prompt treatment is the key to early recovery and effective cure.
Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer and Anal Cancer are types of cancer that are often interchanged. But medical experts are very particular in its definition and these three are not the same at all. Colon Cancer is different from Rectal Cancer and Anal Cancer. To be sure of what these cancers are really all about, this article will define each and briefly provide some facts as well as the importance of support, both personal & professional with online therapy.
A valuable old saying reminds us that “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. True enough, we only learn its value when we are already sick, agonizing in pain and full of resentment reaping the consequences of the abuse we made to our body and physical health. One of the most common types of cancer is colon cancer which includes rectal cancer. Like any other diseases, there are various ways that we can practice to prevent the development of cancer and for this article, we will focus on the prevention of a specific type which is Rectal Cancer.
Anal cancer develops in the anus. Anal cancer is not to be mistaken for colorectal cancer which is much more common. The anus is the end part of the large intestines which is usually about four centimeters long. This is where the solid wastes come out from the body. Anal cancer is very rare, and it occurs mostly to women than men. Abnormal changes that occur in the anus are oftentimes harmless in the early stages but may eventually develop into cancer. According to Cheyenne Corbett, LMFT, “Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are a rare breed in cancer care settings. However, their skill set lends itself perfectly to working within this environment.”
No one ever wants to hear the word cancer from their doctor and yet it’s one of the most common illnesses affecting millions today. Cancer is a tricky condition because there are lots of forms and sometimes you honestly think you’re healthy when, in reality, there is something wrong. When you suspect there is something wrong and go to the doctor, you need to be prepared for the tests that may come. Read on to find out a little more about cancer and what you might face.
When there is a lump or unusual tissue on the body, doctors may decide it looks serious enough to get it checked. Now, for women, breast screening can often be a simple task. If a woman finds a lump on her breast or even under her armpit and the doctor believes it needs to be checked out further, they will understand what it is better with a scan. Cancer has specialized screenings and scans that can focus in on the lump and doctors can determine if it’s a cancerous growth. If that is the case, further tests may be conducted.