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dispelling a rumor

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

dispelling a rumor

I wanted to talk and clear up a rumor I have heard from a few people and received emails about recently related to cancer.  I have heard, from many different people, that you shouldn't get an operation for cancer because it makes it spread (i.e. once cancer is open to air to spreads.)  Mostly because they have heard about people going in for an operation to have a tumor removed but more is found, leading to subsequent operations, chemo, radiation, etc.

So, this is completely not true!  Cancer being exposed to air does not spread the cancer.  Cancer can be "seeded" if an encapsulated tumor sac is opened, as in during a biopsy, for example.  All that means is that the tumor is opened and the cancer cells can spread and possibly affect other areas of your body.  But, operations that are performed to remove a tumor, are for just that purpose.  Many are done laparoscopically (a few small port holes are placed and the surgeon operates using small tools and a camera inside of you) by skilled surgeons, so they aren't even exposed to the air until removed.  But, even if you have an open operation (area is completely exposed) it does not spread the tumor.

Now, during your work-up to find out if you have cancer, and when you are getting ready for surgery, you will have many different tests like x-rays, CT scans, possibly MRI's, which are all to help locate the tumor, its source, and possible metastases.  It may be thought that you have one tumor based on imaging, but when your surgeon goes in to operate, a whole new picture may arise for you...they may find metastases or that the tumor starts/ends somewhere else making subsequent operations, or a different treatment plan necessary.  Modern medicine and imaging is really advanced and amazing, but it is not always 100% accurate, and it doesn't take the place of human touch and interaction with your body.

The only ways we currently have scientific proof of, to remove cancer from your body is through surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation.  And, while radiation and chemo can cause various side effects during their treatment, surgical removal of a tumor does NOT spread the cancer.  So, if you are told you need an operation to remove a tumor, always get a second opinion, but don't fear that the operation will make it spread!

Yours in Good Health!

B

2 Comments:

At June 3, 2010 at 1:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bridg, what have you heard about the "new" breast cancer vacceine?

 
At June 3, 2010 at 2:13 PM , Blogger Nurse Bridgid said...

So, the breast cancer vaccine has been studied pretty thoroughly for the past few years in mice and it is shown to prevent breast cancer cell growth. They will be starting human trials within the next few months and I will be interested to see the results. If this trial works, and breast cancer becomes preventable by a vaccine, it will be HUGE! But, I am concerned because we don't know what always causes it, and the side effects of the vaccine...I am interested, excited, but also very cautious!!

 

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