Myth 1 : Electronic devices like cell phones cause cancer
Reality : Studies have shown that cell phone users do not cause higher risk of getting cancer.
Myth 2 : Cancer is infectious
Reality : Cancer does not spread from one person to another. It is not infectious.
Myth 3 : If I get cancer I will die
Reality : Cancer is curable if diagnosed at an early age. Early Detection Saves Lives
Myth 4 : Undergoing cancer treatment means you can't live at home, work or go about your usual activities
Reality : In most of the cases patients get outpatient treatment and can go home, join work etc. depending on their personal physical health. A great deal of research is going on to help people live a normal life during cancer treatment.
Myth 5 : If a lump hurts it is not cancer
Reality : If a lump is found in any part of the body, it needs to be diagnosed properly. Whether a lump hurts or not, it can be cancerous.
Myth 6 : If I lead a healthy life I will not get cancer
Reality : Cancer cells are present in every person’s body. They start growing when triggered due to some factors. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle cannot always stop a person from getting cancer.
Myth 7 : If my mother had breast cancer I will have it too
Reality : No. Even if there is a strong family history, 40-80% may get breast cancer in their lifetime, while 20-60% will not get it. Many other factors also play a vital role in getting the disease. Therefore it is not necessary that breast cancer will be transferred from mother to daughter.
Myth 8 : If I get breast cancer, mastectomy is the only solution
Reality : If breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated by lumpectomy i.e. by removing only the lump. Mastectomy is not always required.
Myth 9 : If I have no family history, I exercise, eat right and don’t smoke then I will not get cancer
Reality : The above factors definitely reduce the risk of cancer but they cannot stop its occurrence completely.
Myth 10 : An injury can cause cancer
Reality : Bruise or injury on any body part can never be a reason for any kind of cancer.
Myth 11 : Underwire bras and breast implants cause breast cancer
Reality : Studies have shown that underwire bras and breast implants do not cause breast cancer.
Myth 12 : Products like shampoos, deodorants, antiperspirants etc can cause cancer
Reality : These products are tested properly before they are marketed. Their use does not cause any kind of cancer.
Myth 13 : Use of sunscreen once a day prevents skin cancer
Reality : Sunscreen shields the UV rays thereby reducing the risk of getting skin cancer. Moreover it has to be used a number of times during the day. But it cannot completely prevent skin cancer.
Myth 14 : Household bug spray can cause cancer
Reality : Household pesticides like bug spray can be harmful if the precautions for their use are not followed. But there is no link between cancer and these sprays.
Myth 15 : Breast cancer can be transferred from mother to daughter during pregnancy or during breast feeding
Reality : Breast cancer cannot be transferred during pregnancy or during breast feeding.
Myth 16 : Cancer is my fate
Reality : Cancer can happen to anyone. No one should feel guilty about getting this disease. If such negative thoughts pass one’s mind, it is best to share with someone or to join a support group that may help sort out many conflicts of mind.
Myth 17 : Breast cancer skips a generation
Reality : If any one of the parents has cancer gene, then there are 50% chances of the next generation to get it and 50% of not getting it.
Myth 18 : There is nothing one can do to prevent cancer
Reality : About 35% of cancers can be prevented. Even if someone has a strong family history, there are ways to reduce the risk of cancer as in : eat healthy, control your weight, stay away from tobacco in any form, understand your genetic risk, exercise and be physically active.
Myth 19 : I am too young to get Lung Cancer
Reality : Lung cancer has been diagnosed in age groups below 20 years as well, though it is very less in number
Myth 20 : Only smokers get Lung Cancer
Reality : Though smokers have a higher risk of getting lung cancer, non-smokers may also get it. Passive smoking can also be a cause of lung cancer to non-smokers.
Myth 21 : A positive attitude is all you need to beat cancer
Reality : Positive attitude helps to keep one active during the treatment and have a good quality of life. It may give one the strength and courage to deal with the disease but it cannot replace the actual treatment of cancer.
Myth 22 : There is restriction of food for cancer patients
Reality : Cancer patients can eat any kind of food. There is no restriction of food for them, though it is advisable to eat healthy food, including green vegetables, sprouts and fruits.
Myth 23 : Men do not get breast cancer
Reality : Male breast cancer is less common but also happens sometimes.
Myth 24 : Designer Lipsticks Contain Lead that Cause Cancer
Reality : If a lipstick contained an ingredient that is sure to cause cancer, it would be pulled from the shelves immediately.
Myth 25 : Hair dye causes brain cancer
Reality : There has been a lot of speculation about hair dye and cancer. It has been thought that hair dye caused several different types of cancers like bladder and breast cancer, but there is no evidence of it causing brain tumors. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hair dye does not increase the risk of developing cancer.
Myth 26 : Cancer patient should be kept in isolation
Reality : Cancer patient feels the needs of sharing more than anyone else, thus he should never be kept in isolation unless there is some health issue.
Myth 27 : Biopsy spreads cancer
Reality : Biopsy is important for diagnosis of cancer. It does not spread cancer
Myth 28 : Cancer treatment is better in western countries
Reality : Cancer treatment in India is at par with that of western countries. All the standards are maintained
Myth 29 : Alternative therapy is enough for cancer treatment
Reality : Alternative therapy can be taken after proper and full treatment
Myth 30 : Patient should not be told about the disease
Reality : Patient should be aware of his disease and line of treatment
Cancer cells can be starved to death by the following :
- Oxygen kills cancer cells
- Milk and Sugar are cancer feeders
- Tobacco in any form is injurious to health
- Avoid Red meat intake
- Regular Sleep Wake Cycle [Inherent Circadian Rhythm] produces Melatonin, a hormone, which acts as an Internal Biological Clock regulating body temperature, endocrine function, cancer and many other diseases.
- Pomegranate, Stewed apple with few cloves, sprouts, beetroot, wheatgrass, tulsi, garlic and dry fruit help to increase immunity, thereby reducing the risk of cancer
- Stay active- 45 minutes of brisk walking at least thrice a week alters oestrogen metabolism
Every cancer is different. Early Detection dramatically improves the survival rates. Unfortunately, in India mortality rate due to cancer is on the rise. We all can take a step for its reduction by staying vigilant about our body changes, sharing and visiting the doctor without hesitation. Some of the cancer screening tests that can be done regularly are:
- Digital rectal exam and PSA test for men
- Breast Self Examination should be started at the age of 20-25 yrs. It is important for women to be familiar with their breasts and stay vigilant. If any changes are observed then the doctor should be consulted immediately.
- Breast Clinical Examination should be done between the age of 30-40 years at least once a year.
- Pap Smear Test 3 years from the time of first sexual intercourse. It is to be done for three consecutive years and stopped if the results are negative.
- Mammography: Between ages 40-50 years women should schedule a mammogram every two years, whereas after 50 years it may be done once a year.
- Chest X-Ray, Ultrasound, Pet Scan, MRI etc may be done only if recommended by the doctor.
A message therapist will manipulate the skin, tendons and muscles to reduce tension and stress and induce relaxation.
There are several types of massage that exist, some are light and some are deeper, using more pressure.
Scientific research has discovered that certain types of massage can help cancer sufferers who experience pain, anxiety, fatigue and stress.
With the help of a licensed, certified massage therapist, a patient can experience relief from any number of side effects that occur as a result of cancer treatment.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils either infused into the air or applied to the skin to relieve the pain, nausea and stress that comes from receiving chemo. Scents like lavender or vanilla have been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and provide a cancer patient with an overall sense of calm and peace.
Aromatherapy can be practiced with the help of a practitioner, or on your own. The treatment is safe, though it is important to note that some essential oils can cause an allergic reaction if placed directly on the skin.
Walking is the easiest way to remain active. Some of the benefits of regular walking:
- Reduces Cancer Reccurence
- Burns Off Calories
- Refreshes The Mood
- Eases Anxiety And Reduces Depression
- Gives A Chance To Share Thoughts With Peer Group
Chemo drugs make you so weak that you may not be able to balance yourself while walking. The balancing exercises given below will help you gain stability while walking.
- Stand straight, Move your left leg towards left and stand with legs app 1 ft apart.
- Cross your left foot with the right one.
- Step out with your left foot.
- Cross again with your right foot.
- Continue 5 times. Repeat the same way in the opposite direction.
- Increase the number of steps after a week or 10 days as you feel better.
- Balance yourself with every step.
- Focus on your posture. You should stand straight.
- Look straight in front during the exercise, NOT downwards.
- Relax your arms at your sides.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, app 1 ft apart.
- Place your arms on the floor at your sides with palms facing upwards.
- Squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips up.
- Hold and count up to 3. Lower your hips and count up to 3.
- Lift up only as high as you easily can.
- Keep your spine (back) straight.
- Do this exercise comfortably.
- Do Not perform this exercise if you have a back ache.
Single Leg Stance
- Stand straight.
- Stand straight.Lift one foot slightly off the floor.
- Hold for 5-20 sec.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- Look straight in front during the exercise.
- In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.
Overhead Clasped Hands Stretch
- Stand or sit with your feet slightly apart.
- Clasp your hands in front with palms facing outwards.
- Slowly lift your arms upwards, up to the point of tightness.
- Hold for 5-10 sec. Slowly return to the starting position.
- Look straight in front during the exercise.
- In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.
Full Body Stretch
- Lie on your back with your arms relaxed at your sides. Bend your knees.
- Place your feet flat on the floor app hip width apart.
- Slide your legs forward as far as they extend comfortably.
- Slowly lift both the arms overhead.
- Lower your arms behind your head until they touch the floor.
- Hold the stretch for 5-20 sec. Slowly return to the starting position.
- Look straight in front during the exercise.
- In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall.
Single Arm Overhead Stretch
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep the feet apart by app 1 ft.
- Hold your affected arm near the wrist with the other hand.
- Slowly lift the affected arm up reaching over the head as far as possible.
- Hold for 5 – 20 sec at the point of tightness.
- Perform 2 – 4 times and then repeat with the other arm.
- Breathe normally throughout.
- Perform once or twice a day.
- If you face trouble with affected arm then you may place pillow near that shoulder. Try to remove the pillow after a few days.
Supine Torso Rotation
- Lie on your back. Keep your knees bent and feet together, flat on the floor.
- Open your arms on the sides below shoulder level with palms up
- Gently pull in your stomach and lower both knees together on one side of the floor. Move your head in the opposite direction simultaneously and hold for 5-20 sec.
- Slowly bring your head and legs back to the centre
- Lower the legs to the other side and head to the opposite side. Hold for 5-20 sec.
- Slowly return to the starting position
- Keep your shoulder relaxed
- Stretch only up to the point of tightness
- Breathe normally during the exercise
Crunch With Leg Extended And Rotation
- Lie on your back. Bend your right knee with foot flat on the floor
- Keep your left leg straight
- Place your right hand on your right thigh
- Slowly move your head up and slide your left hand towards the bent knee
- Hold and count up to 5. Slowly return to the starting position
- Repeat with your left knee bent and right leg extended
- Lift your head and move your hand slowly only as much as you can
- Pull your belly button in
- Lift yourself from your abdominal muscles
- Increase the number of crunches after a week or 10 days
- stand with feet apart
- Lift your heels. Balance and hold this position up to 5 counts
- Bring your heels down and hold up to 3 counts
- While lifting your heels try to balance yourself evenly on both feet
- In case of difficulty hold on to a chair or wall
- Breathe normally throughout
Opposite Arm & Leg Raise
- Kneel on all fours (both knees and elbows)
- Align your head straight with the spine
- Simultaneously (at the same time) take your left arm in front
- Try to get your arm and opposite leg parallel to the floor
- Slowly return to the starting position
- Repeat on the other side
- If you find it difficult then begin with right arm, then left arm and then with each leg separately
- Do not move your head during the workout
- While stretching yourself think that someone is pulling your arm and leg
Laugh And Defeat The Beast
Author : Rosemary Kelly
[Rosemary Kelly LLi/t, CLYL has been working with cancer patients for about a decade now, educating them about Lymphedema. Please visit her websites www.rosemarykelly.ca and www.laughing-lymphercise.com, She is based in Ontario, Canada, but is willing to work anywhere!]
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part as a result of fluid accumulation due to damage to the Lymphatic system. It is a chronic, progressive, disfiguring condition that if left untreated, can lead to changes in the skin and its underlying tissues, causing deterioration and infection. Lymphedema can affect anyone: men, women or children. Lymphedema is more commonly seen in the limbs but can also occur in the face, neck, back, groin or chest wall (which may be difficult to treat if there has been breast reconstruction).
There is no cure, but it is treatable and manageable. Early stages are reversible, which means that the swelling can be brought down, but there is always a risk for progression, so it must be monitored and managed all the time.
Lymphedema is classified in two ways: Primary or Secondary. Primary Lymphedema is a condition that you are born with and it can manifest at birth or appear later during puberty, for example, or it might be triggered by pregnancy. It occurs when lymph vessels are too few, non-functioning or absent.
Secondary Lymphedema is a disruption of lymphatic flow caused by surgery, radiation (the major causes in North America) also by trauma, tumors, immobility / paralysis, obesity, chronic venous insufficiency. In tropical countries it is most often caused by infection / filariasis caused by a parasite.
In either case, when the amount of lymphatic fluid exceeds lymphatic transport capacity, protein-rich fluid collects in interstitial tissue (the tissue between the cells). Disrupted vessels create blockages and reduce lymph transport capacity.
This gives rise to pain, disfigurement, swelling, degree of loss of functionality, high risk for infection on the affected side/quadrant of the body. Subsequently, oxygen availability is reduced to the tissues. Wound healing is compromised, providing a ‘welcoming’ culture medium for bacteria, there is a risk of cycle of infection: lymphangitis / cellulitis.
This is why it is so important to avoid overloading an already weakened system by having blood drawn or blood pressure taken from the affected side. Use your unaffected side (arm) for these procedures or, in the case of a double mastectomy, you may wish to have blood drawn from your leg.
Sometimes, because of a similar sounding name, Lymphedema is confused with Lymphoma, but they are not the same. Lymphoma is a cancer of the Lymphatic System.
The Lymphedema & Cancer treatment link
How are these two linked?
In North America we are seeing the highest incidences of Secondary Lymphedema resulting as a side effect of life saving cancer treatment: risk occurs with removal of lymph nodes and increases if radiation is part of the treatment course.
Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped, soft nodules. They cannot usually be seen or easily felt. Lymph nodes produce immune cells that help the body fight infection. They also filter the lymph fluid and remove foreign material such as bacteria and cancer cells. When bacteria are recognized in the lymph fluid, the lymph nodes produce more infection-fighting white blood cells, causing the nodes to swell. There is no specific number of nodes, it varies with every individual.
[Controlled Arm Lymphedema a patient (breast cancer survivor) wears her compression sleeve in order to keep the swelling down]
If a person has had lymph nodes removed and undergone Radiation Therapy, he or she is at lifetime risk of Lymphedema.
[Controlled Leg Lymphedema This Ovarian Cancer survivor is an active walker & swimmer. She wears her compression stocking to help control her Lymphedema]
Some will never show signs of Lymphedema, others will experience signs and symptoms within weeks, months or years after surgery or radiation.
Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices
The National Lymphedema Network, www.lymphnet.org is an American based organization and website that is filled with excellent information. This is their position paper on ‘Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices’.
Position Statement Of The National Lymphedema Network
[By NLN Medical Advisory Committee; Approved by the NLN Board of Directors]
- Avoid trauma/injury and reduce infection risk.
- Keep extremity clean and dry.
- Apply moisturizer daily to prevent chapping/chaffing of skin
- Attention to nail care: do not cut cuticles. Protect exposed skin with sunscreen and insect repellent
- Use care with razors to avoid nicks and skin irritation.
- If possible, avoid punctures such as injections and blood draws. www.g-sleeve.com
- Wear gloves while doing activities that may cause skin injury (i.e., gardening, working with tools, using chemicals such as detergent)
- If scratches/punctures to skin occur, wash with soap and water, apply antibiotics, and observe for signs of infection (i.e. redness)
- If a rash, itching, redness, pain, increased skin temperature, fever or flu-like symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately
Activity / Lifestyle
- Gradually build up the duration and intensity of any activity or exercise
- Take frequent rest periods during activity to allow for limb recovery
- Monitor the extremity during and after activity for any change in size, shape, tissue, texture, soreness, heaviness or firmness
- Maintain optimal weight.
Avoid limb constriction
- If possible, avoid having blood pressure taken on the at risk arm. www.g-sleeve.com
- Wear loose fitting jewelry and clothing.
- Should be well-fitting
- Support the at risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity (i.e. weight lifting, prolonged standing, running)
- Wear a well-fitting compression garment for air travel. (sleeve/glove(gauntlet) unit)
Extremes of Temperature
- Avoid exposure to extreme cold, which can be associated with rebound swelling, or chapping of skin
- Avoid prolonged (> 15 minutes) exposure to heat, particularly hot tubs and saunas
- Avoid immersing limb in water temperatures above 102° F
Additional practices specific to lower extremity lymphedema
- Avoid prolonged standing or sitting or crossing legs
- Wear proper, well-fitting footwear & hosiery
- Support the at risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity except in patients with open wounds or with poor circulation in the at risk limb
*** You may choose to wear a Lymphedema medical alert bracelet or necklace
Lymphedema is too often mis-diagnosed. Many doctors are unfamiliar with the lymphatic system and dismiss symptoms as “just swelling” until the condition is so severe it cannot be reversed.
Patients themselves must be their own advocates: informed, vigilant, perseverant and ready to educate fellow patients and medical professionals.
The people you might consult regarding your concerns around Lymphedema are vascular surgeons and well trained MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) massage therapists.
Lymphedema prevention and management exists within Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which is led by highly trained MLD therapists. There are many schools of MLD and you may have heard of the original Vodder Schule in Austria or others that followed: Norton, Upledger, Klose, Academy of Lymphatic Studies, Chikly, Casley-Smith, Földi and Leduc and others.
Though officially, Nutrition is not part of CDT, correct diet and maintaining a good PH balance will take the strain off your lymphatic system. There are distinct health advantages to consuming mainly vegetables and fruits for a huge variety of health concerns. Many people advocate a Raw Vegan diet for optimum health. You will have to do your own research and decide what is best for you and your own medical conditions. You may wish to visit this website: www.cancer-proofyourlife.com
Lymphedema prevention strategies and management follow a five point plan of CDT, beginning with:
- Skin and Nail Care, because of the risk of infection as detailed in the Lymphedema Risk Reduction Practices list.
- MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) - this massage technique is very effective in reducing swelling. It differs from ordinary massage as it is very gentle and encourages movement of lymph. The aim of the massage is to stimulate or move the excess fluid away from the swollen area so that it can drain away normally. MLD massage also encourages and improves drainage in the healthy lymphatics. As this is a specialized form of massage, it should be given only by an accredited therapist who has completed a minimum of 135 hours of training.
- Bandaging / Wrapping and Compression - Very simply put: in order to help reduce the swelling in an arm (for example) affected with Lymphedema, the MLD therapist will massage and then bandage the arm from the fingers all the way up, in order to assist the lymphatic system move the lymph towards the heart. Eventually, once the swelling is reduced, the patient will be fitted with a compression garment (sleeve & gauntlet for arm or stocking for leg) which should be worn every day to keep the swelling down.
- Correct remedial Exercise, Deep Breathing / Laughter - The Lymphatic system relies on muscle expansion (movement) and deep breathing to propel the lymph fluid towards the heart. The lymphatic system does not have a pump, like the heart, to move the lymph through the system, instead the lymphatic system works on inertia.The thoracic duct, located behind the lungs, is the largest organ in the lymphatic system and is best stimulated by laughter which augments deep breathing and uses the stomach muscles to create the healthy pressure and release that moves the lymph fluid, thus strengthening your immune system.
- Exercise, done soon after surgery, must balance the need for movement and gentle limited stretching with the caution of not overloading or fatiguing an already weakened system. It is important to follow an exercise program post surgery that has been modified or created specifically for the cancer patient at risk from Lymphedema. If you are planning to do Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Zumba, anything, please inform your teacher about your medical history and ask them what they know about Lymphedema. It is important that your exercise program is modified to reduce your Lymphedema risk.
- Research has shown that diaphragmatic (deep) breathing creates a negative pressure within the thorax, literally sucking lymph into the duct which is then shot out into the rest of the body at up to 15 times the normal flow of lymph. The idea is to MOVE….move your body, move your breath. Any muscular movement will stimulate the flow of lymph, but laughter augments it. Dr Michael Foldi, the world’s leading Lymphologist, based in Germany, says that the best exercise for Lymphedema patients and for those at risk, if they could only do one is deep breathing.
- In India, Dr Guruprasad Aggithaya M.D. ( Ayu.) has developed a comprehensive and inspirational Lymphedema program that is enjoying wonderful results through the Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD) www.indiandermatology.org
Deceptively simple and disarmingly fun, LL is a program that focuses on Lymphedema education, prevention and management. It consists of movement set to music, done safely with chairs always used for rest and balance. Props are used for most exercises bringing an element of fun to each routine. Participants are encouraged to go at their own pace and to stay within their own Range of Motion, in order to avoid pain and injury. Laughter exercises are incorporated into the routines, based on India's own Dr Madan Kataria’s Laughter Yoga. There is no sequence to memorize, which is always a boon for anyone suffering from chemo brain. There is no anxiety if you miss a class.