Monday, May 6, 2013


Christine's Story

During high school, Christine wanted to fit in, so she began smoking at age 16. She became addicted and continued smoking for 28 years.


In 2007, at age 44, Christine’s life would change forever. A biopsy of a growth inside her cheek revealed oral cancer. After 35 radiation treatments and chemotherapy, she seemed to be cured. But the cancer returned in 2008; this time surgery was her only option. Her third bout with oral cancer in 2009 was even more serious. She learned it had spread to her jawbone, classifying it as stage IV. Doctors had to remove half of her jaw. Today, at age 49, Christine has been smoke-free for 5 years.


How Is Smoking Related to Cancer?

Smoking can cause cancer and then block your body from fighting it:
  • Poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it harder to kill cancer cells. When this happens, cancer cells keep growing without being stopped.
  • Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage or change a cell"s DNA. DNA is the cell"s "instruction manual" that controls a cell"s normal growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.
Doctors have known for years that smoking causes most lung cancer. Nearly 9 out of 10 men who die from lung cancer are smokers. And about 3,000 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.4
Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body, including the:4
  • Mouth, nose, and throat
  • Larynx
  • Trachea
  • Esophagus
  • Lungs
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys and ureters
  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Bone marrow and blood
Smokeless tobacco also causes cancer, including cancers of the:
  • Esophagus
  • Mouth and throat
  • Pancreas

How Can Smoking-Related Cancers Be Prevented?

Quitting smoking lowers the risks for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, and larynx.
  • Within 5 years of quitting, your chance of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
  • Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half.
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

How Is Cancer Treated?

The treatment for cancer depends on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease (how severe the cancer is and whether it has spread). Doctors may also consider the patient's age and general health. Often, the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer. In other cases, the goal is to control the disease or to reduce symptoms for as long as possible. The treatment plan for a person may change over time.7
Most treatment plans include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Some plans involve hormone therapy (a treatment to keep cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow). Other plans involve biological therapy (a treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer).
Some cancers respond best to a single type of treatment. Other cancers may respond best to a combination of treatments.7
For patients who get very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant, may be recommended by their doctor. This is because high-dose therapies destroy both cancer cells and normal blood cells. A stem cell transplant can help the body to make healthy blood cells to replace the ones lost due to the cancer treatment. It’s a complicated procedure with many side effects and risks.

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