Friday, October 9, 2009

Cancer awareness

I have such a great urge to *do* something, to volunteer, to be an advocate, anything. And I don't know what I can do, since I'm leaving in less than 3 days. So here's me being a tiny bit of an educator:

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:
* Every 4 minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.
* That adds up to an estimated 139,860 new diagnoses in 2009. My mom's one of those.
* An estimated 53,240 blood cancer survivors will lose their fights this year. That's around 146 per day.
* Stem cell treatment is a common tool for these patients to try to spark the creation of new blood cells after chemotherapy.

Lymphoma
* An estimated 601,180 people in the US are living with lymphoma - cancer of the lymphocytes - either Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin's.
* Hodgkin lymphoma is considered one of the most treatable and "curable" of all blood cancers - with 5-year survival rates currently at around 92%.
* Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in young adults in the 20s and 30s.
* Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is actually a catch-all term for approximately 20 different kinds of lymphoma.
* Lymphoma symptoms include the swelling of a lymph node, but most other symptoms are common to many other, minor illnesses (like fever, weight loss, & weakness) and it can be difficult to realize that something is truly wrong.

Myeloma
* Myeloma is the cancer of plasma cells, and most often leads to bone deterioration.
* Myeloma is difficult to "cure," with 5-year survival rates only just recently moving up to a high of between 37-40%.
* For reasons researchers don't understand, myeloma is much more common in the African American community than any other. Males near or over age 70 have the highest incidence rates.
* Myeloma begins with damage to the DNA of one lymphocyte cell destined to create plasma. Doctors do not know what the potential causes are.
* Myeloma cells secrete a substance that triggers other cells to dissolve bone and triggers others to grow in its place.
* Myeloma patients often present with no symptoms, but bone pain is usually the first sign of any problem. [Definitely true for my mother.]

And since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, some facts courtesy of the Susan G. Komen Foundation:
* Both men and women can get breast cancer. It is not a women's disease alone.
* In women, 85% of breast cancers begin in mammary ducts.
* The primary symptoms of breast cancer are:
--- A lump, hard knot or thickening
--- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
--- Change in breast size or shape
--- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
--- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
--- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
--- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
--- New pain in one spot
* This year, an estimated 192,370 women and 1,910 men will have received a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer.
* This year, an estimated 40,170 women and 440 men will lose their battles with breast cancer.

Know your body. Do self-exams. Know when your body changes. Get tested. Get treated.

And support cancer research wherever possible.

Fin.

1 comment:

More Than Science said...

This is a great first step to doing something great. I know when I wentto the doctor last year, a diagnosis of Lymphoma was the last thing I thought I would have heard. I'm praying for your family,but there is hope.
Have a safe trip!!