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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Cancer

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Hodgkin's Disease  [posted 11/25/98]
Question: My daughter is 26 diagnosed with HD in Aug 97.She has had chemo and r therapy. was given the all clear in May98 . She now has a large lump appear over the last 6 weeks, it is in the area of the last biopsy, her blood results show she is fighting an infection, the lump is painful . Is it possible the cancer has returned so quickly, could it be anything else. If it has returned what further treatment can she have and what is the prognosis. Thank you .

Answer: Painful lumps are rarely cancer especially Hodgkins. Probably a bacterial infection somewhere.

Rare Abdominal Sarcoma [posted 11/24/98]
Question:  My mother 64 years old last year had a large mass taken out of her abdomin and early this year was told she has a rare form of cancer. A sarcoma in her abdomine and liver. She has gone under 2 chemo's. She is to try a new drug in about ten days, that I only know as TPC11. Do you know what it is and what it will do?.They told her this cancer is terminal. Any suggestions?

Answer:  I know nothing of this drug. I suspect it is experimental since sarcoma is so difficult to treat. You'll need to discuss it with her physician. 

Can Post Cancer Treatment with Doxepin Cause Eye Problems [posted 10/30/98]
Question: I have been taking doxepin for post cancer treatment pain. Is it possibile that it would cause pain in one eye, or have any other such side effect?

Answer: Shouldn't.

Can Chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Cause Memory Loss? [posted 10/13/98]
Question: I have had trouble remebering things. I am in chemothrapy ABVD regimen. I have heard this refered to as Chemo-Brain by present patients. Is this for real? Is there a link between chemotherapy and memory loss. If so, what exactly causes it?

Answer: Sometimes, did you get any radiation. The important part is to see if it persists once the chemo is over.

Mouth Cancer [posted 7/27/98]
Question: What is mouth cancer all about? What is the normal treatment? Can it be terminal?

Answer: There are lots of different types of mouth cancer. The most common is squamous cell. Thought to be induced by tobacco (especially chewing, sucking) and or alcohol. This cancer needs to be surgically removed when found. Radiation and chemotherapy will not cure this one and death results if it cannot be removed completely.

Cancer and Electrical Lines [posted 7/17/98]
Question: To what extent is true the idea that electrical lines cause cancer? If so, under what circumstances?

Answer: Seems debunked, but still being researched.

Pain Medication for Cancer [posted 7/17/98]
Question: I have a relative who has severe pain from cancer. He has been given Numorphan suppositories, Dilaudid Pills (4 mg) and MSIR at different times for severe pain. The Dilaudid seems to be most effective. Can you please tell me the difference between these 3 medicines and which one is most effective (potent) for severe pain.

Answer: Numporphan is oxymorphone hydrochloride, dilaudid is hydromorphine hydrochloride, MSIR is time released morphine sulfate. They are all narcotics released in different manners. The dilaudid tends to hit higher peaks earlier but, they are similar medications. Effectiveness is individual and some patients will really respond to one type of narcotic and less so to another, which is pretty common. In general the numporphan and dilaudid would have similar effects in large groups, but there is wide individual variation probably depending on metabolism variations.

Cancer Screening
Question: A 36 year white female has a positive FH of breast cancer. I felt a lump and the biopsy proved interductal CA. I had lumpectomy and rad/chemo. Now 2 years out, there has been no evidence of disease. She recently had a BRCA1 genetic test that was positive. Now she is asking for a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with implants and TAH/BSO. I have seen no recommendations for screening much less treatment options for women with positive BRCA1. Any help?

Answer: Nor does anyone else, but if I had that history, I'd proceed with the surgery.

Skin Cancer
Question: What are some of major draw backs and obstacles hindering us in the pursuit of finding a cure for skin cancer?

Answer: I presume you mean melanoma? Squamous and basilar carcinoma of the skin is usually about 99%+ curable. I think the problem is the general lack of understanding of the problem at the cellular level. This research has really only been technically do-able for the last 8-10 years. I think the lack of money at basic research is the problem. Federal money for research is extremely tight.

Question: what exactly is metastatic adenocarcinoma rectosigmoid?

Answer: This refers to spread of the cancer (originally in the rectosigmoid colon) to other parts of the body. Spread occurs by local spread and by hemotologic/lymphatic spread. This is usually called metastatic spread and refers to the cancerous cells being spread to other parts of the body by the blood/lymphatic system. Once transported, they usually start to grow, causing local pain and dysfunction of the organ that they spread to.

Cancer Drugs
Question: I have been told that there is a cancer drug made up of ground up shark bones called Caipledge available on the market. However, I have been unable to find out any information about this drug. Do you have information on availability, and success of the drug?

Answer: This product does exist and is touted as a treatment for several types of cancers- particularly those like melanoma which have poor medical regimens. Currently, it has not been studied in double blind fashion. This usually means that someone is trying to capitalize prior to effective studies being performed. However, there is insufficient evidence to comment on its effectiveness.

Question: My husband's family has a history of renal carcinoma(brother) and breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone(mother). His father has heart disease and diabetes. His uncle also has cancer although I am not sure which kind it is. My question is, what are his risk factors and how significant is heredity with regards to these diseases? I would appreciate any help you can give.

Answer: Breast cancer has a clear genetic association. The more women in your family and the closer the relationship-the higher the risk. Renal carcinoma is minimal if present at all. Heart disease does run in families and can also be associated with familial hypercolesteremia. Diabetes(Adult variety or Type II has a family association. Have his cholesterol checked regularly as well as his sugar. The breast cancer won't be a risk in him; but, could be transmitted to daughters.

Spinal Scrape/Chemo
Question: What is a spinal scrape? Is the procedure done through the anus? Can you have chemotherapy and not loose you hair? My brother's girlfriend was diagnosed in June this year of having cancer on the brain and masses in her back and was telling us she had only 6 months to live. Now she is saying she is cured. That's not possible, is it?

Answer: Many types of chemotherapy do not cause hair loss. Hair loss depends on the chemicals used and the doses of the chemicals used. Concerning her "cure", I'd have to know the type of cancer and the stage of the cancer.

Hydrazine Suphur
Question: I'm look for inf. regarding a drug by the name of "Hydrazine Suphur" that has been recommended as a treatment for cancer. Haven't found any info yet. Are you familiar with this drug and have you heard anything in reference as to it being a treatment for cancer? Appreciate any help you can give.

Answer: There is a physician in Syracuse, Dr. Gold 315-472-6618 who has done a lot of the research on this and most are on the web(www.ngen.com\hs~cancer). Recently, Penthouse's publisher's wife was treated with this drug and there was an extensive article in Penthouse discussing the drug. More emotional than factual; but, it is well written.

Leading Cause of Cancer
Question: 1. What is the leading cause of cancer? 2. What disease is most often caused by smoking?

Answer: Environmental exposure to carcinogens is probably number one. The Disease most often caused by smoking is probably coronary artery disease.

Question: Which kinds of cancer are treated best by cisplatin? It seems that there are many side effects caused by cisplatin. Are there any substituents?

Answer: The listed indications for cisplatinum are testicular, ovarian and bladder cancer. In reality, we use it for numerous types of tumors due to its activity. There is no substitute;but, there are alternatives depending on the cancer.

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