Together We Can -- Newsletter of the Joan Karnell Cancer Center

Winter 2007

Creating a Healthy Life
Message From the Administrator
Top 5 Cancer Diagnoses
for Women
Top 5 Cancer Diagnoses for Men
Using Nutrition to Fight Cancer
Favorite Recipes
Recent Events
Featured Artwork
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Top Five Cancer Diagnoses for Women

The earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chance for cure. Please use this guide to help you and your loved ones to know your risk factors and to learn more about screenings that could help detect cancer in its earliest stages.


Risk factors:

  • Age: Women 50 and older
  • Family history: If a family member (grandmother, mother, sister) had breast cancer
  • Breast tissue density: Women with higher breast tissue density
  • Radiation: Women who have had high-dose radiation to the chest area from medical procedures
  • Never giving birth or giving birth later in life
  • Physical inactivity and/or obesity


  • Mammography: Women should schedule a mammography every three years in their 20s and 30s and once a year when 40 and older
  • Clinical breast exam: Women should have a clinical breast exam as part of their annual physical
  • Self examination: Women should perform self-exams on a regular basis and report any changes to your doctor immediately


Risk factors:

  • Smoking: Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of lung cancer
  • Genetics: Certain gene mutations and family history of lung cancer
  • Exposure to radon and asbestos


Lung cancer is difficult to detect because most symptoms do not appear until late stage. Screening (chest X-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used for high-risk individuals to detect abnormal areas in the lung.

If you notice the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Coughing that does not go away
  • Chest pain, often made worse by deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Bloody or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that keep coming back
  • Wheezing


Risk factors:

  • Age: 90 percent of cases occur over age 50
  • Family history: If a family member has had colorectal cancer you are at greater risk
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Diet high in red or processed meat


Beginning at age 50, women who are at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have one of the following:

  • Fecal occult blood test: Have a fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test once a year and a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema: You can choose to have a doublecontrast barium enema every 5 years instead of a fecal occult blood test
  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years


Risk factors:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)
  • Early menstruation (before age 12)
  • Late menopause
  • History of infertility or never having given birth
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome


Most uterine cancer is detected at an early stage due to post-menopausal bleeding. Women should report irregular bleeding or spotting to their doctor. For women considered to be high risk, an annual screening with biopsy should begin at age 35.


Risk factors:

  • Age: Most cases found in people over age 60
  • Reduced immune function
  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Suppressed immune systems
  • Exposure to herbicides, chlorinated organic compounds and other chemicals
  • Family history


Presently, there is no formal screening process for this disease. However, if you notice the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Swelling in lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, in the underarm or above the collarbone
  • Painful or swollen stomach area that causes nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting
  • Feeling of pressure on the windpipe causing shortness of breath


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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