The Best in Cancer Care Across the Community

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Healthcare and access to quality healthcare is a critical issue for individuals whether healthy or recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  Most patients have experienced a private medical practice being merged into a large healthcare system and often don’t understand how that will impact their care.

While large specialized health centers can promise to offer the most advanced techniques, facilities and methods, they are usually located in large urban centers, often miles and driving hours from the patient’s home, requiring long and physically taxing commutes for frequent treatments. Although staffed with caring and competent professionals these mega centers can often feel overly clinical and crowded, giving the patient a sense of being just another number among many.

The best and most advanced treatment and care is becoming less centralized, allowing for advanced specialized care to be available within the patient’s own community, providing ease of care access and reducing the personal stresses often accompanying cancer therapy.

Gettysburg Cancer Center (GCC) has been a leader in Oncology Care in the Adams County region since 1989. For more than 25 years, the highly regarded and vastly experienced medical specialists have been committed to providing cancer care in a community-based setting close to their patient’s home. The all-encompassing oncology and hematology programs provide a complete range of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care in an environment that recognizes the importance of treating not only the disease but the individual person behind the disease.

With Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Imaging, access to the latest clinical trials as well as an onsite laboratory and pharmacy, Gettysburg Cancer Center truly offers comprehensive cancer care. Their compassionate and experienced staff takes pride in providing the best possible care and personal assistance to their patients and their patient’s families. Dr. Satish Shah, Principle Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at GCC says, “Our mission is to provide individualized treatment, utilizing the best technical approach.  We focus on providing the best treatment in the right environment so that our patients can focus on getting better.”

To learn more about how GCC’s is helping their cancer patients, click on

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Around the World

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Billed as the most common cancer in women, breast cancer is impacting the lives of one in eight women in the United States. The second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, breast cancer most commonly occurs in women 50 years of age and older. Breast cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in the DNA of breast cancer cells but how or why this damage occurs isn’t fully understood. Some mutations may develop randomly over time, while others are inherited or may be the result of environmental exposures or lifestyle factors. More than 3.5 million women are living in the U.S. with a history of breast cancer.

Early detection remains the most important factor in the successful treatment and survivability of breast cancer. Caught early when known treatments have the best chance of success, breast cancer is survivable. Successful treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. “Risk factors include being female, obesity, a lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, ionizing radiation, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all, older age, and family history.” With the clear lack of knowledge for its causes, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 by the American cancer Society and what is now known as AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Held each October, the event is an attempt to increase the awareness of breast cancer and to aid the solicitation of funds for research and treatment of the disease. NBCAM unites cancer organizations around the world in providing information and support for those suffering from the cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness is represented by the display of pink ribbons, first introduced by the Susan G. Komen Foundation at its New York City race for breast cancer survivors in 1991.

The effort by so many to bring worldwide attention to the disease appears to be having a positive impact. A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that death rates from breast cancer in the United States have dropped 39% between 1989 and 2015. The overall declines in breast cancer death rates have been attributed to both improvements in treatment and early detection by mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends women find breast cancer earlier when treatments are more likely to be effective. While there is a lack or definite agreement on when and how often screening is most effective, The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends annual screening beginning at age 40.

The professional team of oncologists and staff at Gettysburg Cancer Center supports the efforts of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in its world-wide goal to provide the latest information, research, treatment options and support for those who suffer from breast cancer.

Lung Cancer Fact Sheet

Lung Cancer Fact Sheet

Lungs are vital organs – we need our lungs to oxygenate every cell in our body so that they can each function harmoniously together. When our lungs are compromised by disease and poor health, the rest of our body suffers. That’s why lung cancer is such a devastating and deadly disease.


As the name suggests, this kind of cancer starts in the lungs. All cancers are the result of otherwise healthy cells mutating into cancerous ones. When the DNA of healthy cells becomes damaged, the cells no longer respond to normal growth and death signals. Instead, cancerous cells start to grow and divide quickly. Left unchecked, these cells will continue on a course of overgrowth and abnormal activity. Eventually, they no longer maintain healthy tissue function. Because cancer cells proliferate at abnormally fast rates, they can be hard to stop once they start.

As cancer cells grow, they clump together and form masses of cancerous tissue called tumors. As tumors grow bigger and bigger, they prevent whichever organ they’re affecting from functioning properly. Ultimately, the most significant risk with cancer is that individual cells will break loose from the tumor. When cancer cells break away, they risk entering the bloodstream or the lymphatic system—an immune system responsible for filtering harmful substances.

If cancer cells enter the blood or lymphatic systems, they can end up in other distant parts of the body. This process of cancer cells spreading throughout the body is called metastasizing. All end-stages of cancer, including lung cancer, are the result of cancer cells spreading to distant sites.

Lung Cancer Types

Like with most cancers, there are multiple types of lung cancer. The different types of lung cancers are based on how the lung cancer cells appear and behave under a microscope. Different cancer cell types and their subtypes have unique characteristics and behaviors that determine how quickly they spread, and subsequently, how difficult or easy they are to treat. Ultimately, this is what determines a lung cancer patient’s prognosis (disease outlook).

There are two primary types of lung cancer, each with cell subtypes. Here are the different lung cancer types:

1. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. NSCLS make up approximately 80-85% of all lung cancers diagnosed. Doctors consider NSCLC easier to treat than small cell lung cancer (SCLC) because these types of cells don’t grow or spread as quickly. This allows doctors more time to administer localized cancer treatments.


There are three NSCLC subtypes:

• Adenocarcinoma: Around 40% of lung cancers are diagnosed as adenocarcinoma subtype. These are lung cancer cells that originate in cells that secrete mucus or other substances. The majority of adenocarcinoma cases are attributed to current or former smokers. It’s also the most common type of lung cancer associated with non-smokers. Adenocarcinoma is more common in women than men and can occur more often in younger people than other lung cancers. Adenocarcinoma is more likely to be caught in its earlier stages compared to other lung cancer cell types.

• Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma is a lung cancer subtype that starts in the squamous cells of the lungs—flat cells that are found on the inside of the lung’s airways. Squamous cell carcinoma makes up 25-30% of lung cancer cases.

• Large Cell Carcinoma: Large cell carcinoma, also called undifferentiated carcinoma, can start anywhere in the lung. About 10-15% of lung cancer cases are large cell carcinoma. It grows more quickly than the other two NSCLC subtypes, which makes it harder to treat.

There are a few other NSCLC subtypes that are much less common. There are also other cancer types that spread to the lungs, which are considered different cancer types.

2. Small Cell Lung Cancer: Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) starts in the person’s breathing tubes (bronchi). It’s far less common than NSCLC. Up to 15% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed as small cell. SCLC spreads more quickly than NSCLC and is the most aggressive form of lung cancer. It creates large tumors and can quickly spread to distant areas, including the brain, bones and liver. Small cell lung cancer is slightly more common in men than in women and extremely rare in people who have never smoked.

The World Health Organization has two classifications for SCLC: pure and combined. Here are the differences between the two SCLC subtypes:

• Small Cell Carcinoma (Oat Cell Cancer): Most SCLC cases are considered pure, or small cell carcinomas. They’re also known as oat cell cancer. Small cell carcinoma forms in the tissue of lungs. These cells look oval shaped under a microscope, which is why they gave it the name “oat cell.”

• Combined Small Cell Carcinoma: There’s debate about whether combined small cell carcinoma should be considered a subtype of SCLC. However, some research shows that up to 28% of SCLC are considered combined small cell carcinomas. Combined small cell carcinoma means that a tumor contains both small cell carcinomas and at least 10% non-small cells such as adenocarcinoma cell, squamous cells or large cell carcinomas.

15 Lung Cancer Facts

In men and women, lunch cancer is the most deadly. Because of its prevalence, it’s important that all lung cancer patients and anyone at-risk of developing lung cancer be aware of the facts about lung cancer. Follow this lung cancer fact sheet to better understand how lung cancer affects lives.

1. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women, after skin cancer.
2. If you combine the number of deaths from colon, breast and prostate cancers, it still won’t surpass the number of deaths from lung cancer.
3. 1 in 4 cancer deaths is from lung cancer.
4. Lung cancer comprises 14% of new cancer cases.
5. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 222,500 new cancer cases and 155,870 lung cancer deaths in 2017.
6. 2 out of 3 lung cancer cases are in people 65 years or older.
7. Less than 2% of lung cancer cases involve people under the age of 45.
8. The average age of lung cancer patients at diagnosis is 70 years old.
9. 90% of lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking.
10. The lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is 1 in 14 in men and 1 in 17 in women (including smokers and non-smokers).
11. The overall lung cancer survival rate is 17%.
12. The survival rate for advanced cases of lung cancer is only 3.5%.
13. 15% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages.
14. The one-year lung cancer survival rate is 50%.
15. There are over 430,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and who are still alive today.


Lung Cancer Causes

It’s common knowledge that smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer in both men and women. However, many people may not be aware that there are other risks associated with developing lung cancer. In some cases, people develop lung cancer with no known history of tobacco use or other possible risk factors.

Risk factors are anything that may increase an individual’s risk of developing a disease. These can include certain behaviors, pre-existing conditions or substances. Having a risk factor does not mean that a person will develop the condition.

Here are the known causes and risk factors associated with developing lung cancer:

Smoking Tobacco: Cigarette smoke is full of carcinogens—substances that cause cancer. When a person inhales cigarette smoke, it causes immediate irritation and damage to the lining of the lungs. In many cases, the body can naturally repair this damage.

However, with consistent and prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, it becomes more and more difficult for the cells in the lungs to repair themselves. Cells can become so severely damaged that they mutate and start to behave abnormally, triggering the development of lung cancer.

Smoking combined with other environmental and genetic risk factors further increase a person’s chance of developing lung cancer.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure: Individuals who live with a smoker such as children, spouses or parents are also at a high risk of developing lung cancer. Breathing in cigarette smoke from a nearby person causes irritation and damage to the lungs. Over time and with consistent exposure, the chances of developing lung cancer by secondhand smoke exposure increase.

Radon Exposure: Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally occurs due to small amounts of uranium in the soil. In some homes and buildings, radon gas can accumulate making occupants susceptible to inhaling this substance. Unsafe levels of radon gas inhaled over an extended period can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Chemical Exposure: Many people, largely men, have an increased danger of developing lung cancer due to the nature of their work. In industrial workplaces, employees are potentially exposed to several different types of chemical and toxic substances. Some of the substances that increase the risk of lung cancer include asbestos, silica, arsenic, chromium, nickel and diesel exhaust. The continued exposure to these carcinogens over an entire career span can significantly put people at risk of developing lung cancer.

Air Pollution: Air pollution is another well-known cause of lung cancer. Continued exposure to contaminated air can damage the lungs and make it difficult for them to heal. This risk is much higher in high-density urban areas with high levels of exhaust or industrialized areas that emit coal or other smoke into the air. These pollutants cause tiny, carcinogenic particles to remain in the air increasing the susceptibility of inhalation by people in the area.


Family History and Genetics: Researchers feel that people with a family history of lung cancer (such as a parent or sibling) have a higher risk of developing it themselves. Inherited DNA mutations from parents can make a person pre-disposed to developing lung cancer when combined with other risk factors, such as smoking.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Lung cancer may be initially difficult to identify because its symptoms often mimic other common conditions like bronchitis or asthma. Additionally, symptoms typically don’t present themselves until the disease has advanced. Many people assume that all lung cancer symptoms are related to breathing and coughing. However, it’s important to know that there are other symptoms apart from respiratory symptoms that can help potentially identify lung cancer.

Here are the common respiratory-related symptoms of lung cancer:

• Persistent cough
• Painful cough
• Coughing up blood or colored mucus
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Wheezing
• Hoarse throat
• Chronic chest infections

In addition to breathing difficulties and coughing, other symptoms of lung cancer may include:

• Back pain
• Shoulder pain
• Headache
• Unintentional weight loss
• Fatigue
• Loss of appetite

When lung cancer has spread to distant sites, it may produce symptoms like:

• Numbness in arms or legs
• Dizziness
• Balance problems
• Seizures
• Jaundice (yellow skin) and liver problems
• Lumps near the skin’s surface, especially around neck and collarbones

While most of these symptoms are often associated with much more common and less severe conditions, it’s important to consider the whole picture of symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor so lung cancer can be ruled out or acted upon right away.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you may have lung cancer based on your symptoms, he or she will order a series of tests to look for signs of lung cancer and test for cancer cells. These tests also help doctors rule out lung cancer. Standard lung cancer diagnostic tests include:

• Imaging Tests: X-rays and CT scans help doctors look for abnormal tissue masses or lesions in the lungs.
• Sputum Cytology: Doctors will take samples of sputum produced by a productive cough and examine it under a microscope. In lung cancer patients, sputum may contain lung cancer cells.
• Biopsy: During a biopsy, doctors take a sample of tissue from the lungs to test for the presence of lung cancer cells. Doctors can use different methods to obtain a sample. A bronchoscopy passes a lighted tube through your throat and into your lungs. A mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure whereby doctors make an incision in the neck and remove samples from the lymph nodes. A needle biopsy uses imaging techniques to guide a needle into your lungs through the chest wall to collect cells.

If diagnostic tests return positive, your doctor will then stage your lung cancer diagnosis based on the test results. Staging is a way for physicians to categorize how advanced your case of lung cancer is. There are four stages of lung cancer:

• Stage 1: Cancer is localized within the lung and has not yet spread to the lymph nodes. The tumor is less than two inches in size.
• Stage 2: The tumor is now larger than two inches. Or the tumor has spread to other structures such as the chest wall, the lung lining (pleura) or the diaphragm.
• Stage 3: Cancer has now spread to other nearby organs or into the lymph nodes away from the lungs.
• Stage 4: Cancer has spread from the affected lung to the other lung or distant parts of the body such as the liver or brain.

Lung Cancer Treatments

After diagnosis and staging, your doctor will determine a prognosis (disease outlook). Based on your prognosis, your doctor will put together a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of survival or quality of life. Your treatment plan may include a multimodal approach, meaning more than one type of treatment is used.

Here are possible lung cancer treatments:


• Surgery: Doctors may recommend surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible from the lungs. Depending on how advanced your cancer is, doctors may remove part of the lung, an entire lobe of the lung and they may remove the affected lung completely.
• Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a cytotoxic (anti-cancer) drug that kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously or in pill form. Chemotherapy usually requires multiple rounds over a several week period. It’s often used after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to kill any remaining cells that the surgeon couldn’t remove.
• Radiation Therapy: Using high-energy beams, radiologists target the affected lung from outside the body. The radiation destroys the DNA of lung cancer cells, which prohibits them from multiplying. Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy is often used after surgery to prevent lung cancer from recurring (coming back).

With ongoing research and clinical trials, there are emerging technologies and drug treatments that can help give lung cancer patients more options for survival. Talk to your oncologist about emerging and targeted drug therapies.

Oncology at Gettysburg Cancer Center

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s important to seek out the best cancer care possible. Gettysburg Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment center that’s dedicated to patient care. Our experienced team of physicians and professional staff can provide a range of services to diagnose and treat lung cancer. From radiation therapy to pharmaceutical technology, Gettysburg Cancer Center is here to support you through to your follow-up care. Call Gettysburg Cancer Center today at 717-334-4033 to schedule an appointment.

“No One Fights Alone”

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a shocking experience even for those in more advanced life stages. It is a situation that most of us fear at some point in our lives. However, for those that receive a diagnosis at an early age when transitioning from adolescents to young adulthood, the ability to cope and process the significance of the news must be particularly challenging.

As a teenager in 2015, Chandler Banko’s was diagnosed with advanced, stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. An athletic and seemingly healthy seventeen year old, Chandler’s news that he had cancer wasn’t made any easier to understand by knowing that the most common age of diagnosis of this cancer is between 20 and 40 years of age.

Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system which occurs “when the lymph node cells or the lymphocytes begin to multiply uncontrollably, producing malignant cells that have the abnormal ability to invade other tissues throughout the body.” Generally more common in males than females, the exact cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is not known. Nearly 574,000 people reported having the cancer in 2015, a disease which presents in about 2 percent of the Nation’s population. Because of progress in treating Hodgkin lymphoma, most people with a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma will be long-time survivors. For those under twenty, the survival rate is 97 percent.

A positive and outgoing personality, Chandler found help and treatment at the Gettysburg Cancer Center in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There he found experienced professionals who are dedicated to treating not only the science of his disease but the personal emotional conditions that often accompany a cancer diagnosis and regiment of treatment. “My experience with GCC was way beyond my expectations” Chandler says in his testimonial video. “They never failed to support me and made sure I kept fighting”.

Chandler, his family and friends established a trust fund for the purpose of paying his unreimbursed medical expenses as well as support for education expenses. A student at nearby Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, Maryland, Chandler is active as a personality at the Universities WMTB Mount Radio as he pursues a degree in Cyber Security and Business. All while holding down a job at a local sports apparel shop.

Recently the “Ladies” at Gettysburg Cancer Center gifted him a bunch of balloons in celebration of his 20th birthday. They all surprised him during a follow-up appointment by singing Happy Birthday. “Love these people!!!” said Chandler.

Looking back on his fight to survive his cancer, Chandler speaks of his experience. “If I had one thing to take away from this past year, it’s to never turn back and keep looking forward. To everyone who walked with me, fought with me, prayed for me and supported me, thank you. Today, I am officially done with everything pertaining to my fight. I completed my final surgery and I am proud to say: I am clear, I am healthy and I am moving on. I can now focus on living my life and enjoying everything it gives me. Life can be short, life can throw you around…. but it all depends on how you take those negatives, and build yourself up.”


GCC APril Blog 2

Cancer awareness month has its origin in the 1980’s when a small grassroots organization, Susan G. Komen, was formed to raise money and public awareness for breast cancer. The group created the now famous pink ribbon in order to create “brand awareness” for breast cancer and to generate much needed funding for cancer research, early detection and ultimately the diseases eventual cure.

The breast cancer program’s success spawned an important and growing expansion of the awareness campaign to cancers across the diseases spectrum. Many non-profit cancer organizations have gravitated towards the goals of the program and have originated specific colors and month of the year to represent their individual identities. The month of May represents three brands of cancers; Brain Cancer, Melanoma/ Skin Cancer and Bladder Cancer.

Brain tumors are growths of abnormal cells in tissues which originate in the brain or spinal cord. Tumors may be benign or malignant and affect nearby areas of the head and neck but rarely spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms vary and are dependent upon where the tumor forms, its size, how fast it is growing, and the age of the patient. More than 150,000 people are living with brain cancer with less than one percent of men and women likely to experience brain and nervous system cancer in their lifetime. Nearly 34 percent of brain cancer victims can expect to survive five years or more with early detection and aggressive treatment. Brain cancer is an extremely complex disease requiring a team of multi specialists including oncologist, primary care physicians and radiation oncologist. Each patient treatment protocol depends on the location of the tumor, its size and type, the patient’s age, and the overall medical condition of the patient. Brain Cancer is represented by the color grey in the month of May.

Melanoma, represented by the color black, is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is most often caused by over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. Cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells initiate mutations that multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Discovered in its early stages and treated, skin cancer is almost always curable. But left untreated it can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. Depending on the stage of the disease treatments may include; surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and radiation.

Bladder Cancer originates when healthy cells in the bladder lining change and grow rapidly forming a tumor. Malignant tumors may spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. The three most common types of bladder cancer are; Urothelial carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. Represented by the awareness color Marigold/Blue/Purple, bladder cancers are most often detected in patients by the presence of blood in the urine, frequent or burning sensation when urinating or lower back pain. Treatment options include; surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. Treatment protocols are dependent upon the stage of the cancer, patient’s health, treatment preferences and potential side effects.  Bladder cancer mostly affects older people with an estimated 79,000 adults expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States each year. With early detection the 10 year survival rate for bladder cancer is 70 percent.

Increased awareness has had a proven and positive effect on early diagnosis and treatment of various cancers and has resulted in a better educated and prepared patient. Utilizing this marketing approach the stigma once associated with cancer has been greatly diminished.

How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Significantly Reduce Risk of Cancer

Living a healthy lifestyle can be difficult in our modern world. After all, there are temptations to overindulge in things we know are bad for us at every turn. However, to lower your risk of developing cancer, there are some important changes you can make to your lifestyle right now. The lifestyle choices you make, the amount of exercise you do and the foods you eat all can have an impact on your overall risk and can play a role in preventing cancer.

there are over 100 kinds of cancer

As you most likely know, cancer is a term used to describe various diseases whereby abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and sometimes invade other tissues. Cancers can spread throughout the body via the lymph and blood systems. There are over 100 different kinds of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that there are effective treatments — and breakthroughs in treatment of these diseases almost every day — so many people get treated and go on to live normal lives. What’s more, there are many ways to prevent cancer. These don’t need to be huge transformations, but if you want to reduce cancer risk, they should be lifelong changes that are taken very seriously.

Ready to learn how to reduce your risk of cancer? Here are 10 things you can do.

1. Get Cancer Screenings

There are many cancer screening tests available in the U.S. today. These screenings look for evidence of cancer, which oftentimes occurs long before symptoms have appeared. The types of cancer screenings available today include screenings for:

  • Breast Cancer. Having regular mammograms can find breast cancer as early as possible. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) urges all females between the ages of 50 and 74 to go for a mammogram every two years. If you’re between 40 and 49 years of age, you should speak with your doctor about when and how often to have a mammogram. Additionally, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of being screened when you’re aged 40 and younger.
  • Colorectal (colon) cancer. This cancer usually develops from abnormal growths in the rectum or colon called precancerous polyps. Being screened can find these growths, enabling them to be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps identify colon cancer early, when it’s most responsive to treatment. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force sets out guidelines saying that all adults between 50 and 75 should be screened for this cancer, and people between 76 to 85 should speak to their doctor and ask if they should be screened.
  • Cervical cancer. A Pap test can identify abnormal cervical cells that have the potential to turn into cancer. This test can also identify cervical cancer early, therefore making it easier to eradicate. The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends that if you’re between 21 and 65, you should have a Pap smear every three years.

lung cancer scans

  • Lung Cancer. If you’ve been a heavy smoker within the past 15 years or are currently smoking to excess and are between the ages of 55 and 80, you should be screened for lung cancer on an annual basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Ovarian and Prostate Cancer. There is currently no evidence to suggest that screening reduces ovarian cancer deaths. Similarly, men who have no symptoms of prostate cancer are not recommended to be screened. That said, men with a family history of prostate cancer or other risks factors should speak to their physician about getting a PSA test. Likewise, women who are at risk of ovarian cancer or have a family history of it, should talk to their doctors about getting screened.
  • Skin Cancer. There is insufficient current evidence to suggest that routine skin cancer screening should be carried out. However, it’s free of charge to get a SPOTme® screening through the American Academy of Dermatology, which reports that one in five Americans will get skin cancer at some point in their lives. All individuals are encouraged to self-check their skin for skin cancer and see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening if there is a familiar history of it. Further, any abnormal skin growths should be examined by a dermatologist.

Keep in mind, there are other specialized cancer screenings available, and you’re encouraged to speak to your doctor if you’re at risk of developing a certain cancer type.

2. Get Immunized

There are some vaccinations you can get that help to lower your risk of cancer:

  • HPV (Human papillomavirus) Vaccine. The HPV vaccine can help to prevent certain strains of cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and the vaccine is recommended for children between the ages of 11 and 12, and it is also available for males and females age 26 or younger.

According to the CDC, clinical trials have shown that HPV shots give almost 100 percent protection against genital warts and cervical precancers. In fact, there has been a 64 percent reduction in HPV infections in teenage girls in the U.S. since 2006, when the first vaccine was recommended.

  • Hepatitis B Vaccine. The hepatitis B shot can lower your risk of getting liver cancer and is recommended for certain high-risk groups, including people who have many sexual partners, intravenous drug users, men in homosexual relationships, people with STIs and for public safety or healthcare workers who may be exposed to infected bodily fluids. The CDC says that the Hep B vaccine gives more than 90 percent protection to anyone exposed to the virus.

3. Don’t Smoke

Smoking has been linked to a variety of cancers, including:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx

Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the pancreas, as well as that of the oral cavity. Even if you’re in the company of people smoking, you’re exposing yourself to secondhand smoke, and this could increase your risk of getting lung cancer.

If you’re a smoker, you should stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, try to stay away from others who might smoke in your company. If you need help quitting, work with your physician who can point you in the right direction of products and strategies that can help.

4. Be Physically Active and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Keeping your weight at a healthy level may lower your risk of suffering from cancers such as kidney, colon, breast, lung and prostate. Being physically active can help with this, and in addition, exercise alone may help lower your risk of getting colon cancer and breast cancer.

weight loss can lower risk of cancer

To get the most benefit from exercise, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended to either participate in at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or a combination of vigorous and moderate physical activity. These guidelines are for most healthy adults, but always speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

5. Eat Healthy

If you lead a busy life, it can be difficult to prepare healthy meals. If you find that you just don’t have the time, try preparing meals in bulk on weekends or on your days off, and freezing them for use during the week. In addition:

  • Eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Aim for a diet that’s based around plant sources including fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Generally speaking, women between 19 and 30 should be eating two cups of fruit a day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If you’re older, that should decrease to 1.5 cups. All men over the age of 19 need two cups each day.
  • Limit your intake of processed meats. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified processed meats as carcinogens. This means you should limit your intake of any meats that have been treated with flavorings or preservatives. This can include processes like smoking, fermenting, curing and salting, and you should steer clear of eating too many hot dogs, too much bacon, sausage, ham and some deli meats.

In addition, the same body has classified red meat, including goat, lamb, beef and pork as a probable carcinogen. The average person’s lifetime risk of getting colorectal cancer is under five percent. However, according to the American Cancer Society, experts reviewed over 800 studies and concluded that eating even one hot dog or four strips of bacon a day increases your colorectal cancer risk by 18 percent.

The American Institute for Cancer Research says you should eat no more than 18 ounces of red and processed meats per week.

  • Follow a Mediterranean diet. By eating a Mediterranean diet that includes mixed nuts and olive oil, your risk of breast cancer is reduced. This diet focuses primarily on nuts, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables. The key with the Mediterranean diet to swap foods, such as butter for healthy fats like olive oil, and eat fish instead of processed or red meats.
  • Eat organic. Some pesticides on non-organic food have been classified as carcinogenic, and others have yet to be studied. What’s worrying is that according to U.S. News, farmers who work closely with pesticides have elevated risks of a variety of cancers, such as blood, brain, lung, skin, lip, stomach and lymphatic system cancers. The general rule is if it can’t be peeled, you’re safer buying organic since pesticides don’t tend to wash off easily.
  • Be careful using stain-resistant and nonstick products. These generally contain a substance called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is used to cook food without sticking, to stop grease from leaking out of microwave containers and for protecting furniture, clothes and carpets from water and stains.
  • This chemical is associated not only with cancer, but with developmental and birth defects, nervous system and brain disorders and immune system problems. Through limiting your exposure to these, you could lower your risk of developing some cancers.

Non-scratched non-stick pans should be safe for use, but if your non-stick cookware is scratched, it’s best to throw it out. In addition, ensure you waterproof your shoes, jackets and backpacks outdoors and wait until they’ve dried to bring them inside. Also, try to avoid waterproofing or applying any stain-resistant chemicals to anything else in your home if at all possible.

6. Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Be aware that your risk of getting cancers including cancer of the liver, kidney, colon, lung and breast increase with both the amount of alcohol you drink, as well as the length of time you’ve been drinking on a regular basis. Advice from the CDC says that moderate alcohol consumption is having one daily alcoholic drink if you’re female and up to two per day if you’re a man.

moderate alcohol consumption

A standard drink consists of 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. This corresponds to 12-ounces of five percent alcohol content beer, 5-ounces of 12 percent alcohol wine and 1.5-ounces of 80-proof liquor.

7. Protect Your Skin From the Sun

In moderation, the sun can be a good source of vitamin D, which early research is investigating the possible benefits of vitamin D and reduced cancer risk. Remember, though, that skin cancer is one of the most prevalent types of the disease as well as being one of the most preventable. To keep yourself safe, take note of the following:

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible when you’re outdoors.
  • Always wear sunglasses when you’re out on bright days.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face and neck from the sun’s rays.
  • Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as this is when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Apply sunscreen generously and often, especially after going swimming.
  • Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds, as these are just as harmful as natural sunlight.
  • Cover up any exposed areas and wear dark or bright colors that reflect UV rays better than whites and pastels.

8. Don’t Participate in Risky Behaviors

There are certain behaviors that can put you at increased risk of contracting cancers, such as unprotected sex. To ensure you keep yourself as safe as possible, always practice safe sex. Always use protection and limit your sexual partners.

The more partners you have, the more likely you may get an infection that can potentially lead on to cancer. People with HIV and AIDS are also at higher risk of getting lung, liver and anal cancer.

9. Never Share Needles

If you’re an intravenous drug user, don’t put yourself at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis B and C. Both these forms of hepatitis increase your risk of liver cancers. If you’re struggling with an addiction and are worried about your health, speak to a professional as soon as you can.

10. Make It a Point to Get Regular Medical Care

Yes, life is busy, but you can’t take risks when it comes to your health. Know your own body and regularly examine it so you can tell when something doesn’t seem right. You should also have a talk with your doctor and ask what cancer screening schedule they recommend for you specifically.

Cancer prevention is so much more than taking the occasional trip to the doctor’s office. There’s never any sure-fire way to ensure you won’t get cancer, but by following the lifestyle tips above, you can be as healthy as you can be. If you do get cancer at any point in your life, through early screening and knowing and listening to your body, you can get the rapid treatment you need.

Now you know how to reduce cancer risk in your own life, why not share your findings with those closest to you? Together we can fight this disease.

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For more than two decades, Gettysburg Cancer Center (GCC) has provided the greater Gettysburg, PA area with comprehensive diagnostics and advanced cancer treatment throughout. For more information about Gettysburg Cancer Center, contact us at (717) 334-4033 (Gettysburg location) or (717) 698-1564 (Hanover location).

The Value of a Second Opinion Provides Alternative Treatment to a Cancer Patient

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, it becomes critical to find the right oncology center that will provide the appropriate medical treatment and emotion support to fight the battle. One Gettysburg resident, when faced with a stage-4 cancer diagnosis, found the right support at Gettysburg Cancer Center (GCC), a growing comprehensive cancer center.

Greg Wale received an initial oncology evaluation and treatment at another local oncology center in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The diagnosis showed that cancerous tumors had grown to 4 and 5 inches in diameter and had migrated to the liver, bone, thyroid glands and colon. Greg was just 57 year’s old and was told by oncologists that he had little time to live. There simply were no treatment options for his advanced stage of cancer. The disease, he was informed, had just progressed too far.

“At that point,” Greg says, “I went home, very down about things”. After several weeks of distress and depression over the state of his situation, he drew upon his faith and was “spiritually lead” to the Gettysburg Cancer Center (GCC), just down the block from where he had previously received the bad news. It was here that the centers principle oncologist, Dr. Shah, sat down with Greg to review his case. “I felt very comfortable here where there was a lot of very concerned people with caring hearts,” recounts Greg.

He immediately felt the staff at GCC wanted to help and he sensed that things were going to be different in this place where everyone seemed like family. Dr. Shah and his expert team designed a plan to attack his disease and provide as much time as possible for Greg’s future. With no guarantees, the team embarked upon an individualized course of treatment. After a couple of months, new tests revealed that the progression of the disease appeared to be slowing. According to Greg, “None of us knows how much time we have but it looks like I’m going to have more of it than what was told to me when I was first diagnosed thanks to Dr. Shah and this facility.”

For more than 25 years, Gettysburg Cancer Center has been committed to providing cancer care in a community-based setting close to home. The all-encompassing oncology and hematology programs provide a complete range of diagnosis and treatment. “Here at Gettysburg Cancer Center we understand that each patient and their disease are unique, requiring different approaches to insure the best possible outcome for each patient. Our family of caring and educated staff strives to provide insightful, compassionate care to all of our patients.” says Dr. Shah.

In this case, the value of a second opinion meant a new treatment option and more time for this cancer patient. To view the full patient testimonial:

Finding the Emotional Support You Need to Recover From Cancer

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The discovery that you have cancer comes with many intense emotions, not only for the patient but also for close family members and friends. After the initial emotional and psychological effects of the news subsides, there is a realization that everything in your life is about to change. Daily routines, family roles and future plans will be determined by a regiment of treatments and medications that often pose additional physical symptoms and challenges to everyday living.

The support of family and friends during this process is critical to help the patient regain a sense of normalcy and maintain emotional stability. Efforts such as pier group support and individual therapy can help reduce distress and help cope with the personal emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis. Such support can play a critical role in determining the your clinical outcome.

Musa Mayer, a cancer survivor and patient advocate says, “Belonging to a group where you can discuss anything and everything is very freeing. You can talk about everything from medical treatments to lack of sexual interest, to fury at someone who has cut you off while driving. The loneliness and isolation that so many feel when they are going through the breast cancer journey can be helped, if not erased.”

Your doctor and their professional associates and nursing staff will also play a central role in providing coordination and support during treatment and recovery. “We have to look at a person’s medical care from a holistic perspective,” says Terri Ades, MS, APRN-BC, AOCN, director of cancer information at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. Nurses are a patient’s greatest advocate.” Whether an oncology nurse or a nurse practitioner, these specially trained medical professionals become an important facilitator in managing overall care.

At his Gettysburg Cancer Center in Gettysburg, PA, Dr. Satish Shah, Medical Oncologist/Hematologist provides all-encompassing oncology and hematology programs with a complete range of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. “It is our educated staff that set us apart from many other cancer centers,” says Dr. Shah, “We understand that every person is unique, each with their own set of psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. Our team is dedicated to providing a caring environment for each individual patient and their families to insure the best possible outcome for their cancer treatment.”

In addition to your professional caregivers, The American Cancer Society has programs and services to help people with cancer and their loved ones understand cancer, manage their lives through treatment and recovery, and find the emotional support you need.

Grateful for Getting the Care Needed for a Long Life

Receiving news that you have contracted a life-threatening disease is an experience most of us hope will never occur. Most often normal, busy everyday activities put the possibility of suffering such an experience way back in our minds, relegating the concern to the “I’ll deal with that when I’m older and more likely to be a victim of such news.”

A projected 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, each one experiencing that moment of shock and disbelief long put away in the back of the mind. But while most of us are well aware of the risk of cancer diagnosis as we progress in age, the news that it can actual happen to us usually comes with a significant dose of disbelief and surprise, and when it comes at an early, usually healthier period in life, the news can be even more emotionally difficult to negotiate.

Matt Sheads, a healthy thirty something insurance executive in a famous small town in Pennsylvania lived an active, healthy lifestyle, performing numerous marathons, playing ice hockey and coaching local youth sports programs. His active, health conscious approach to life statistically identified him as one among many like him who would most likely NOT experience the news that he had a rare (for men) breast cancer. Breast cancer in men is rare with less than one percent of cancer cases of the disease developing in a thousand men. Matt soon learned that breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump located underneath the nipple and areola. Unlike women, men don’t immediately associate the discovery with breast cancer and often delay further investigation and treatment.

“When you are diagnosed with cancer, it all sets in”, says Matt.” I have an 8-year-old son and I was very scared of the possibility of not seeing him graduate from school. It was a huge shock to me, I didn’t even know men got breast cancer. Oh, my gosh, how can it happen to me? I was born and raised in Gettysburg and love the small-town feel.” It was through the local Gettysburg Cancer Center that Matt was referred to nearby Washington D.C. for treatment of his rare disease. A large University hospital, Medstar Georgetown Hospital has the small town, individualized philosophy when it comes to cancer treatment. “I felt very welcome, that I was a part of a family, I felt like I was in my home town” recounts Matt.

After surgery and treatment, the prognosis for Matt is good. His disease is in remission and requires only annual visits and evaluations. He is back to doing the things he loves; coaching his son in sports, playing hockey, running and looking forward to being at his son’s graduation. His advice to other men, “If you find a problem, you find an issue, don’t self-diagnose… go find a specialist… and have a conversation with them.” Don’t delay getting the care you need to live a long life.

To view Matt Sheads video visit

Great Promise Lies Ahead for New Lifesaving Technologies

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Research into the effectiveness of stem cell and immunotherapy treatments for a wide range of chronic diseases is producing optimistic, if not yet proven, results. According to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, “there’s no limit to the types of diseases that could be treated with stem cell research. Given that researchers may be able to study all cell types via embryonic stem cells, they have the potential to make breakthroughs in any disease.” In recent year’s stem cell-based therapies have been initiated but the results of those trials may take several years of testing and study to render the treatments safe and effective.

Physicians at Emory Orthopedics & Spine Center in Atlanta are among a select group of physicians around the country to offer Stem Cell therapy and other regenerative medical therapies for the relief of osteoarthritis (OA) pain and chronic tendonitis. The non-surgical procedure uses the patient’s own stem cells taken from the body and injected into the effected joint or tendon to repair damaged tissue. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the U.S., affecting nearly 27 million adults. At other medical centers around the country, skin stem cells have been used to grow skin grafts for patients with severe burns on very large areas of the body. Only a few clinical centers are able to carry out this treatment and it is usually reserved for patients with life-threatening burns. In Europe a new stem-cell-based treatment to repair damage to the cornea after an injury like a chemical burn, has received conditional marketing approval.

Blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow were the first stem cells to be identified. This life-saving technique has helped thousand’s  worldwide who had been suffering from blood cancers, such as leukemia. In addition to their current use in cancer treatments, research suggests that bone marrow transplants will be useful in treating autoimmune diseases and in helping people tolerate transplanted organs.

Autologous, stem cells harvested from the same person who will get the transplant, and Allogeneic stem cells that come from a matched related or unrelated donor are the two main types of treatments currently approved for use. Combined with very high doses of chemotherapy, and often radiation therapy, the combined treatment has been shown to kill cancer cells in the patient’s bone marrow. Given by transfusion, the transplanted stem cells replace those that were destroyed. This application is among the most widely used stem cell treatment used to treat diseases and conditions of the blood and immune system.

In England, researchers have made exciting new findings that could offer a means of fighting resistance to treatment for people with esophageal cancer. Resistance to radiotherapy is a major stumbling block in the treatment of this cancer. The team of scientists, which incorporated specialists from Trinity, St. James’s Hospital Dublin, the Coombe Women and Infant’s University Hospital and the University of Hull in the UK, have published their significant findings in the international peer-reviewed journal Oncotarget. “This work is extremely important in understanding why tumors are inherently resistant to radiotherapy, and how they can acquire resistance. Our findings strongly suggest that it is the cancer stem cell population that we need to destroy if treatment is going to be effective in our esophageal cancer patients,” said Dr Maher.

Doctors in London say they have cured two babies of leukemia in the world’s first attempt to treat cancer with genetically engineered immune cells from a donor. The experiments, which took place at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, raise the possibility of off-the-shelf cellular therapy using inexpensive supplies of universal cells that could be dripped into patients’ veins on a moment’s notice. The infants, ages 11 and 16 months, each had leukemia and had undergone previous treatments that failed, according to a description of their cases published in Science Translational Medicine. Waseem Qasim, a physician and gene-therapy expert who led the tests, reported that both children remain in remission.

In the United States, China and around the world, scientists are racing to apply gene editing, stem cell and other immunotherapy treatments to provide improved treatments for cancer and other diseases. Utilizing the current path to approval it will be years before the new discoveries become commonplace, but the research must continue to advance if we are to realize the benefits of new lifesaving technologies.