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Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer

Living With Cancer: What is it, diagnosing cancer recurrence, treatment and palliative care. | KKH

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - What it is

The Challenge Of Living With Cancer

To be diagnosed with cancer can be very frightening. There is the fear that the cancer treatment will not be successful. There is the fear that the cancer will return. There is the fear of pain. And there is the fear that you may not survive this disease. All these feelings are normal and very understandable.

The information below gives some suggestions for coping with these feelings.

Fear That Cancer Will Recur

After the completion of the treatment, there is always fear that the cancer will return. Any new symptom makes you worry that the cancer has come back. These feelings are more likely to occur just before your next follow-up visit with your doctor and especially if you know that x-rays, scans or blood tests may be ordered to check your progress.

It can also be very worrying if you hear about other cancer patients who are not doing well. Stories told by friends and family members, even television programmes, can increase your anxiety about what is happening to your body. It is important for you to realise that these fears are normal and are to be expected.

Family members also worry about these things. They will suggest foods, herbs or medicines to build up your immunity. This can be very confusing especially if your family's advice conflicts with your doctor's instructions. If you are planning to try a special diet or herbal medicines, discuss these with your doctor so that you can make a decision based on as much accurate information as possible.

If you do have symptoms which are troubling you, you should seek medical attention early so that your doctor can examine you and reassure you if nothing is wrong. It is also important to remember that, even if cancer does recur, the treatment can be successful. Many patients survive following further treatment.

Assisting Your Own Recovery

It will assist your recovery if you have a positive attitude towards your diagnosis and treatment. Some people find that prayer or meditation is helpful. Others enjoy the company of others with whom they can share their feelings and explore the meaning underlying the experience of illness. All agree that what matters most is love, laughter and taking pleasure in the simple things of life.

Why And Where Does Cancer Recur?

Your treatment is meant to destroy the original cancer cells. However, a small number of cancer cells sometimes survive and continue to multiply. If the body's natural defences do not detect and destroy these cells, tumours may develop from these cancer cells. These tumours are made up of the same type of cells as the original cancer, no matter where the new tumours are found. For example, if cancer of the ovary recurs in the lung, this is not lung cancer, but cancer of the ovary that has spread to the lung.

Cancer can recur in 3 places -- local, regional or distant. Local recurrence means that the cancer has come back in the same place as the original cancer. Regional recurrence means that the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes or tissues near the site of the original cancer.

Distant spread, also called metastases, means that the cancer cells have spread to organs or tissues some distance from the original cancer site. For example, if cancer of the cervix has spread to the bones, the tumours in the bone are called bone metastases.

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