“Was my cancer caused by stress?” For many people, increased stress levels go hand-in-hand with becoming ill. That a shock or prolonged stress has a huge impact on the immune system is well known. Major stressors can be the death of a spouse or family member, marriage, divorce, financial troubles, and a cancer diagnosis.
Responding to stress is a normal physiological process. Most people know this process as the fight or flight response. This response occurs rapidly without thought whenever “danger” is sensed. The changes in hormone levels increase blood pressure and heart rate so that a response to the “danger” by fight or flight happens. We also know that chronic illness can result in an imbalance of certain hormones and a decrease in the body’s ability to fight infection. This imbalance of hormones can stimulate breast and prostate cancer cells and encourage them to spread. Several studies have tried to link life’s major stressors with illness. Unfortunately, how each individual person handles stress is impossible to evaluate. However, one published long-term study of breast cancer patients did show that reducing stress during the treatment process can improve survival rates.
So, how can patients reduce their stress level during the treatment process? Reducing stress is obviously extremely important, not just for cancer patients, but everyone. Choosing a trusted physician, who has a friendly staff and provides a calm, relaxing atmosphere for treatments is of utmost importance. Also, having a supportive family who is there when needed is another integral part of reducing stress. Even massage therapy can be extremely beneficial at helping a patient relax. So many things to think about, but first and foremost, patients must take care of themselves. If they are uncomfortable, stressed or unhappy, then a change is definitely in order for the betterment of their health.
A: Pleomorphic sarcomas are cancers that come from the supporting tissue of the body, such as bone, muscle, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. This cancer is different from carcinomas, which arise from the lining of organs, and cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which are called leukemia or multiple myeloma. A pleomorphic sarcoma can also be called a malignant fibrous histocytoma, a name given to a sarcoma when no more accurate identification is possible. Affecting males more than females, pleomorphic sarcomas occur mostly in extremities. When this type of cancer is detected in its early stages, a combination of surgery and radiation treatments is usually effective at eradicating the cancer from the body.
A: Cancer is unique to each person. It is the individual’s cells that have become cancerous cells. Cancer cells from one person are generally unable to live in the body of another healthy person. A healthy person’s immune system recognizes foreign cells and destroys them, including cancer cells from another person. A few cancers are caused by certain viruses. The human papilloma virus (HPV) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are two examples of viruses that are linked to certain types of cancer. You can “catch” the virus from another person but the viral infection alone usually does not lead to cancer. A weakened immune system, other infections, risk factors (such as smoking), and other health problems allow cancer to develop more readily. But, the bottom line is—cancer is not contagious.