Archive For "April, 2013"

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Dr. Kris Gast~ Ask the Pros

Radiation Oncologist at Fort Smith Radiation OncologyQ: My son has pleomorphic sarcoma.  What kind of cancer is this?

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.

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Dr. Kris Gast~ Ask the Pros

Radiation Oncologist at Fort Smith Radiation OncologyQ: Can you catch cancer from someone else?

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.

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Dr. Kris Gast ~ Ask the Pros

Radiation Oncologist at Fort Smith Radiation OncologyQ: Is colon cancer passed on in families? If my mom had colon cancer, am I more likely to develop this cancer?

A: Colon cancer covers the entire large bowel from the end of the small bowel to the rectum.  When combined with rectal cancer, it is often referred to as colorectal cancer.  Yes, risk for colon cancer may increase based on family history of colon cancer by a first degree relative, such as mom, dad, brother, sisters.  Additionally, if several family members are affected, or if they were diagnosed with colon cancer at an early age, risk increases.  If at risk because of family occurrence, what actions should be taken? Most colon cancers develop from polyps slowly over several years. In fact, it can take over ten years for a polyp to turn into a cancer.  Colonoscopy is one screening tool that does decreases the risk of getting colon cancer by 90% since during this procedure polyps are removed, thus, eliminating the possibility of their developing into cancer. Also, some studies have shown that aspirin or ibuprofen use can decrease risk as well.  The best action to take is to talk to your medical doctor about when you should start the screening process based on your family history.

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