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posted by Irish Cancer Society
08 October 2008

What is leukaemia and how is it treated?

What is leukaemia and how is it treated? Leukaemia is a cancer of white blood cells .This occurs in the bone marrow where all the blood cells are made. Sometimes young white blood cells grow rapidly but do not mature properly. Other times old white cells do not die off naturally. These young or old abnormal cells build up in the bone marrow and prevent normal blood cells from growing. All the various types of blood cells are made by the bone marrow .The bone marrow is the spongy material that fills the middle of some bones and produces cells called stem cells. These cells mature into white cells, red blood cells and platelets. red blood cells carry oxygen to all the cells in the body white blood cells are essential for fighting infection platelets help the blood to clot and so control bleeding. All these cells normally stay inside the bone marrow until they are fully developed (mature). They are then released into the blood to circulate around the body and perform their functions Leukaemia's are divided into two main groups acute and chronic and then further divided by the type of white blood cell which is affected. Acute leukaemia's come on suddenly, often within days or weeks, progressing quickly and need to be treated urgently. Chronic leukaemia's develop more slowly often over many months or years. Some of the signs of leukaemia may include tiredness and some people become anaemic and need blood transfusions. They may be more vulnerable to infection because their immune system fails or they may bleed and bruise more easily because the little bits of blood cell called platelets, which make blood clot, aren't produced. Some types of leukaemia can be managed very well for long periods of time and many others are potentially curable. There are four main types of leukaemia: chronic myeloid (CML) acute myeloid (AML) chronic lymphocytic (CLL) acute lymphoblastic (ALL) Another type of leukaemia is the less common hairy cell leukaemia Each disease has its own characteristics and treatment. Because there are different types of leukaemia each type behaves differently and responds to different types of treatment. The main treatment for most types of leukaemia is chemotherapy. Other treatments that may be used include: Bone marrow and stem cell transplants ( Treatment of high doses of chemotherapy to kill off the blood cells and leukaemic cells in your bone marrow donated from a suitable donor, so that you are able to produce new healthy blood cells) Radiotherapy (A treatment for cancer using high energy x- rays) Monoclonal antibodies (A treatment where you receive special protein drugs that attach to the surface of the abnormal white cells and cause the cells to die) Targeted therapies (drugs to stop the growth and spread of cancer) The aim of the treatment is to stop the bone marrow producing abnormal white blood cells. Often, it is necessary to start treatment as soon as possible but sometimes, for some types of leukaemia, it is better to put off treatment. For some people this can mean not needing to start treatment for months or years until symptoms appear.
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posted by Niamh3
09 August 2008

Thank you

I wanted to write something in memory of my Nanny who passed away on the 30th July 2008.To anyone who has lost someone to cancer you have my condolences.To watch someone be taken away right in front of your eyes is so hard.With the help of The irish cancer society we were provided with a night nurse who's name was Fiona.She was such a great help and support.Thank you to anyone who donates to the Irish Cancer Society.They really do make a difference.Fiona was an angel, so normal but such a blessing to have.I hope that other people in our situation have the blessing of a night nurse so keep donating people! Thanks -Niamh x
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posted by Irish Cancer Society
25 July 2008

What is secondary cancer in the liver?

This is cancer that has started somewhere else in the body and has spread to the liver. The most common types of cancer that spread to the liver start in the bowel,breast,pancreas,stomach,lung, ovary, or skin (melanoma) Sometimes, secondary cancer is found in the liver and yet, even with thorough medical tests, it is not possible to find out where the cancer started. This may be because the primary tumour is too small to detect and is causing no symptoms. This is sometimes called unknown primary cancer or tumour. For more information more information or to talk to a specialist nurse in confidence, please contact: Freefone 1800 200 700 or email helpline@irishcancer.ie
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posted by Bran
11 July 2008

Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer

My brother has the above and it is terminal. He was operated on in March but the tumour is wrapped around his blood vessels and there was nothing they could do. He never got his health since that day. 8 weeks of chemo did not do a thing and three weeks ago he was told that was it. Yesterday he took a bad turn and was put on a pump of cocktail drugs and doctors are worried about a rattle in his chest. Has anyone any experience of this? Our other brother is getting married next week and he really wants to be there as it will be the last family gathering.
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posted by Irish Cancer Society
12 May 2008

Mole Changes

We all have moles somewhere on our skin and almost always these will remain innocent (benign) and harmless throughout our lives. Very occasionally a mole can change and turn into a cancer - a malignant melanoma. If this does happen, it is so important to see your family doctor for a check up as it is very important that a cancerous mole is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If a mole or freckle shows the following changes, then it is recommended that you see a specialist (dermatologist) . It is getting bigger It is changing shape It has an irregular shape It is changing colour It has a mixture of different colours An ulcer ( a sore or raw area ) has formed on its surface It is red or sore Moles or freckles have started to bleed or are itchy Most doctors can tell whether the mole is benign or malignant straight away but if in doubt, a small piece of tissue at the mole site is removed ( biopsy) to find out if cancer cells are present. What happens next depends on the result of the biopsy. The biopsy will show if you have melanoma and if it has all been removed. It will also show how deep it extends under the skin surface and if you need further tests and treatment. If the melanoma has been completely removed and if it is not too deep then no further management is necessary. However, you will have regular appointments with the doctor to have your skin examined as melanoma can recur. He/she will also show you how to inspect your skin. If you have been treated for melanoma you are more at risk of developing it at the same place, or elsewhere in the body.
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posted by Irish Cancer Society
17 April 2008

How do I get screened for cancer?

There isn't any one test for cancer. If you are worried about a symptom or if you would like an overall check, go to your GP. He / she can refer you on to an appropriate specialist if neccessary. The European code against cancer has a useful guide to staying healthy, which includes: -Don't smoke. -Drink moderate amounts of alcohol. -Eat a healthy diet, high in fibre and low in fat. -Avoid becoming overweight. If you already are, plan to lose weight. -Take regular exercise. -Be sunsmart, wear sunscreen and cover up. Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm. -If you notice anything wrong with your body, eg. a new lump, unusual bleeding or a symptom that wont go away, go to your GP.
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posted by Irish Cancer Society
10 April 2008

I have abnormal cells in my cervix - does this mean cancer?

Abnormal cells on the cervix can be detected during a smear test. Many women feel anxious when they are told after a smear test that they have abnormal cells on their cervix. They often assume that this means cancer. Abnormal cells means a condition known as CIN. CIN is not a cancer but may develop into cancer in some women and so is often described as 'pre-cancerous' changes. The initials CIN stand for cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia. there are three types: CIN 1, CIN 2 and CIN 3. The abnormalities in CIN 1 are quite minor and will often disappear of their own accord without requiring any treatment . The risk of CIN 1 becoming cancerous is considered to be very small. Doctors therefore advise that the smear test be repeated in six months. If changes in the cervix continue, then further treatment may be suggested. In CIN 2 and 3, the abnormal cells cover more of the cervix and are more likely to develop into cancer if treatment is not given. The treatment for CIN 2 and 3 is usually very simple and can often be done as an out-patient. Treatments include a procedure called LETTZ, which stands for large loop excision of the transformational zone, Other treatments also available are laser therapy, cryotherapy (freezing the cells) or cold coagulation (removing the cells using heat). National Cancer Helpline 1800 200 700 (Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm, Fri 'til 5pm)
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posted by Irish Cancer Society
01 April 2008

GPs should discuss prostate cancer risk with their patients

Action Prostate Cancer is launching its inaugural Prostate Cancer Awareness Week by revealing results of a national survey of 1,000 men (aged 50+ years) to further establish awareness and understanding of prostate cancer. One of the key findings from the survey was that overall, only 37% of respondents claim that their GP is taking action and opening discussions with them on the risk of developing prostate cancer and merits of screening and early detection of prostate cancer. More information on the Action Prostate Cancer website: http://www.cancer.ie/prostate
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