Limit Exposure to Harmful Ultraviolet Rays to Lower Your Risk of Skin Cancer

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The most common type of cancer diagnosed each year in the United States is skin cancer. Most skin cancers are the result of too much exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays. In recent decades people have become aware of the cause and have taken steps to avoid over exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun or from tanning beds and tanning lamps.

There are three types of skin cancer.  Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer, presents itself as a recurring and sometimes bleeding sore.  Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer, begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells) that are most commonly found in the tissue on the surface of the skin. Neither of these skin cancers spread to other parts of the body and can generally be successfully treated with surgery, radiation or topical chemotherapy.

Melanoma, which originates from pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes), is the least common but potentially deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin, but are often present on areas of the body which receive the most exposure to sunlight. The National Cancer Institute estimates about 87,110 new melanomas were diagnosed in 2017.

Some people are more prone to melanoma than others; those with fare skin tone and high freckle density, red or light-colored hair and those with a family history of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 60,000 early deaths occur each year worldwide because of excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. An estimated 48,000 of these deaths are from malignant melanoma. Early detection can be difficult but regular inspections of the skin for alterations in appearance can detect signs of the disease. Look for skin changes, such as a new spot or mole or a change in color, shape, or size of a current spot or mole; a skin sore that fails to heal or becomes sore of painful to the touch, or a lump that looks shiny, waxy, smooth, or pale. Others may bleed or appear ulcerated or crusty to the touch.

Melanomas that are undetected and untreated will spread to other parts of the body and may become life threatening if not caught and treated in the earliest stages. Surgery is often the first approach. Lesions and surrounding tissue are removed, and a biopsy is taken to determine if the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes. In less common cases, chemotherapy or immune therapy is warranted.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved the drug nivolumab for stage III melanoma. An adjuvant therapy for stage III melanoma, studies have indicated that the immunotherapy delayed recurrence of the disease with fewer side effects.  Awny Farajallah, MD, head of U.S. medical oncology for Bristol-Myers Squibb, says, “We’re very excited about the approval of adjuvant nivolumab. To date, 71 to 85 percent of stage III patients will have a recurrence, and this gives us an important additional option to bring those numbers down. Adjuvant therapy is an important part of our efforts to advance cancer treatment through immuno-oncology, with the ultimate goal of providing a potential cure.”

As with all cancers, lessening exposure to the risk factors is the best plan of action. Avoid sun burns. Wear clothing that protects exposed areas of the body. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 20-30 and a 4 or 5-star UV rating. If you have a job that exposes you to constant sunlight, take all available precautions to minimize your exposure.

Plan of Action for Cancer Diagnosis

No one ever wants to be told they have cancer. It is something we all fear and dread. If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, you are probably experiencing a flood of emotions, and you are probably wondering what’s next. There is no denying that cancer is devastating news, but it does not mean your life is over. Millions of people cope with cancer every day. You are not alone.


In the United States, approximately 41 out of 100 men and 38 out of 100 women will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with heart disease being number one, the chance of survival is increasing. Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, five-year survival rates have increased about 20 percentage points for all cancers combined. Today, more than 15 million people in the United States have had cancer and are still alive. Some of them no longer have cancer, while others continue to live with cancer.


If you have been diagnosed with cancer, try not to lose hope. There is plenty of help and support available to you and a lot of people who care. Despite your diagnosis, you can take steps to self-empowerment and gain greater control of your health and your life. Here is our plan of action to help you along your journey towards healing.

Cancer is tough. But so are you.


What Cancer Does to the Body

Cancer is difficult to grasp, emotionally and intellectually. Given the seriousness of cancer, it is easy to imagine it as a giant man-eating monster, among other things. In reality, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.

In the body of a person who does not have cancer, the cells in the body die when they are old, and new cells grow to replace the old cells. In the body of someone who has cancer, this system malfunctions. Old cells do not die, and cells continue to grow and form abnormal cells. These excessive abnormal cells may form a mass or a tumor, although not all cancers, like leukemia, form tumors. Cancer can happen anywhere in the body, to anyone at any age. However, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

The biggest concern with cancer is that it will spread to other parts of the body and form more tumors. If this happens, there is a greater chance that a vital organ will be affected and unable to function properly. The goal of most cancer treatments is to eliminate cancer cells by removing cancerous tumors and destroying all cancer cells before they move to other parts of the body or interfere with the body’s vital functions.

What to Do After Being Diagnosed With Cancer

Even if you have cancer, you are still in control of the choices you make. The treatment you choose to receive, the way you live your life and the support you reach out for is all up to you. Although your life will change in ways, cancer cannot take away your freedom to choose.


With our plan of action, we hope to help you make informed decisions. We also want to inspire you to share your experience with others and gain a sense of control over your health. Although we cannot guarantee any of these steps will work for you, as everyone copes with cancer differently, we can offer hope. And you are worth every ounce of it. Here’s what to do after a cancer diagnosis.

  1. Ask Questions

First things first — you have the right to ask as many questions as your heart desires. No matter what your concerns are, do not be afraid to ask. It is better to hear the truth and know what to expect than to make important decisions in the dark. By knowing all there is to know about your diagnosis and treatment options, you will be in a much better position to design a healing plan that works for you. Therefore, the first step in our plan of action is to ask questions.

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, that’s okay, too. New questions will arise as time goes on. For now, we are happy to help you get started. While it’s not an exhaustive list, here are a few questions to ask your doctor after you are diagnosed:

  • What causes the type of cancer I have?
  • What stage is my cancer?
  • What is my chance of survival?
  • Has my cancer spread?
  • What procedures will I need?
  • What lifestyle changes should I make?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Is treatment painful?
  • What activities should I avoid?
  • How can I find assistance in paying for treatment?
  • Can I participate in a clinical trial?
  • Who can I reach out to for support?
  • Who can I call if I have more questions?

Your doctor should be comfortable answering your questions, and they should make you feel comfortable asking them. If not, you probably want to find a doctor who has no trouble listening to your concerns. You have a right to understand everything you want to know about cancer and cancer treatment.


Sometimes it can be difficult to remember the questions you want to ask, especially when you are under a lot of stress. We recommend writing questions down before your appointment and bringing a notepad with you to take notes. The more you understand about your body and cancer, the better decisions you will make and the less helpless you will feel.

  1. Find the Best Doctor for You

The next step in your plan of action is to find the right doctors. You may have to travel to reach the best doctor for the treatment you need. Also, it is important to get second opinions. Feel free to get as many opinions as you need. You are experiencing a life-changing event, so it’s good to get advice from different people and then form your own opinion. Although friends and family can help you make decisions, make sure you also consider your gut feelings. You want a treatment plan that not only fights cancer but also encourages emotional and mental well-being.

So, what should you look for in a doctor? First, your doctor should make you feel safe and comfortable when asking questions, and you should feel a sense of trust with your doctor. Also, look for a doctor who has experience treating your specific cancer. In general, key qualities to look for in a doctor include:

  • They listen to you.
  • They explain things in ways you can understand.
  • They make you feel understood.

Overall, you want a doctor you connect with. Think about it — you are about to join a partnership with your doctor to get rid of cancer. Like any relationship, you want someone you can communicate with comfortably and well. If you do not feel at ease asking questions, or if your doctor does not explain things to your satisfaction, move on to someone else. Evaluate your doctor by asking yourself these questions after a visit:

  • Did the doctor let you ask questions?
  • Did you feel like the doctor listened?
  • Did the doctor seem comfortable answering your questions?
  • Could you understand the doctor?
  • Did the doctor ask what your treatment preferences are?
  • Did the doctor spend enough time with you?
  • Did you feel comfortable around the doctor?
  • Is this doctor covered under your health care plan?
  • Do their office hours meet your needs?

There are so many different doctors to choose from, and you might be wondering where you can find the right doctor for your needs. You could start by asking your family doctor for help. Or, you could begin your search online. These online directories may send you on the path to finding the best cancer care specialist for you:

  1. Empower Yourself With Information

Although doctors are going to be major players on your team, don’t underestimate the power you have to find valuable information. Fortunately, there are thousands of resources available to you online or at the local library. In fact, there are so many resources at your disposal, you might feel overwhelmed at first. Once you know your stage of cancer and type of cancer, you will be able to narrow your research and find specific detailed information.


If you are not much of a researcher, or if you feel too unwell or stressed to do the work, try not to worry. Ask a friend or family member to help you gather information, or give yourself a little time to process your emotions. If you were just diagnosed, you might feel emotionally drained, and that’s ok. You can research whenever you feel ready to take action. Here are some of our recommended resources to help you get started finding the information you need.

Online Resources

There are tons of online resources to help you answer questions or find support, from university websites to cancer survivor blogs. Good places to start with include:

That was just a short list of online cancer resources. Feel free to explore whatever you wish. However, try to find information that is legitimate. Ask yourself the following questions to make sure the information you read online is trustworthy:

  • Who manages the information? The person or group in charge of the website information should be easy to find on the webpage.
  • How does the web address end? Addresses that in .gov or .edu are either government or educational sites and are sources you can usually count on. Sites that end in .org or .com may be a good source, but you have to look closer to make sure.
  • What is their purpose? Read about the mission and history of the website before spending too much time with their information.
  • How up-to-date in the information? Check the post or publishing date to make sure the information is current.

Health Insurance Resources

One of your biggest concerns after a cancer diagnosis might be health insurance. How do you know if your health insurance will cover the care you need? Here are some resources to help you find the assistance, information and resources related to health care costs:

Book Recommendations

Not everything you read has to deal with cold hard facts. Try to set aside some time to nurture your spirit too. Pick up one of the following books to warm your heart and inspire hope:

  • From This Moment On: A Guide for Those Recently Diagnosed with Cancer by Arlene Cotter
  • There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites by Vickie Girard
  • Cancer Hacks: A Holistic Guide to Overcoming Your Fears and Healing Cancer by Elissa Goodman
  • When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
  • Help Me Live: 20 Things People With Cancer Want You to Know by Lori Hope
  • What Helped Get Me Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope by Julie K. Silver

Are you the type of person who has always used humor to help you cope with challenges? If so, you are not forgotten. Sometimes, the best medicine is a good laugh anyway. These books are for you:

  • Cancer Schmancer by Fran Drescher
  • It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner
  • Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person by Miriam Engelberg
  1. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Unfortunately, you can’t control cancer. However, you can control your lifestyle choices, and these choices can affect your cancer. Strive to make healthy changes where you can, one step at a time. For the biggest impact on your health, focus on a healthy diet and physical activity.



The food you choose to put into your body can either work to support you in your fight against cancer or against you. Some foods may help slow cancer growth, support your immune system and reduce inflammation. Other foods, like processed meats, are carcinogenic or might exacerbate symptoms and should be avoided. In general, a Mediterranean diet is the recommended diet if you have been diagnosed with cancer. In fact, all Americans could benefit from this diet. Why? A Mediterranean diet is high in cancer-fighting foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean meats and healthy fats — in other words, foods that reduce inflammation. You also want to include a rainbow of fruit and vegetable colors in your diet to make sure you get plenty of anti-oxidants and phytonutrients.

Try to include plenty of the following foods in your diet:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Cauliflower, kale, cabbage and broccoli contain cancer-fighting properties like sulforaphane.
  • Berries: All berries contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Black raspberries are especially packed with phytochemicals.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which may help slow cancer growth.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts contain phytosterols, which may help block growth.
  • Garlic: Garlic is a good source of phytochemicals.
  • Fatty fish: Fish like salmon or tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s reduce inflammation.
  • Green tea: Green tea is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Leafy greens:Spinach, kale, collard greens and arugula contain cancer-fight antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Remember, these foods are not a cure. They are just a few more weapons in your cancer-fighting arsenal.

On the contrary, try to reduce your intake of the following foods:

  • Animal fats: Fats like butter, cheese, meat and other foods high in saturated fat trigger inflammation.
  • Processed meats: Processed meats contain carcinogenic nitrites and nitrates.
  • Too much alcohol: Try to stop after one drink.

If you find that you can’t stand tomatoes or tuna no matter how you prepare them, don’t lose hope. Incorporate healthy foods you enjoy as much as you can and don’t beat yourself up if you indulge in a sundae or find that you can’t give up cheese. Moderation is key.


If movement causes pain, increased heart rate or shortness of breath, take it easy and talk to your doctor. Otherwise, physical activity is recommended for everyone, despite a cancer diagnosis. Exercise does your body a lot of good. Here are a few ways exercise benefits your health after a cancer diagnosis, whether or not you started treatment:

  • Helps prevent muscles weakness
  • Supports body functions
  • Improves mental health and emotional well-being
  • Strengthens immunity
  • Improves strength and flexibility

Overall, exercise boosts your quality of life.

Before starting an exercise program, talk with your doctor. The stage of your cancer and your symptoms will affect what you feel comfortable doing. Don’t push yourself too hard and start slow. Even a few minutes a day is a good place to start. Simple ways to add exercise to your daily routine include:

  • Walk around your neighborhood.
  • Park your car the furthest spot away and walk.
  • Use stairs instead of elevators.
  • Join a walking club.
  • Clean the house.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Wash your car.

Aim to walk at least six hours a week at a regular pace. If six hours is too much, even a one-hour walk a week will improve your health. Don’t limit yourself to walking either. Do what is fun for you, whether that’s biking, dancing, yoga or any form of physical activity. Start slowly with ten minutes a day and then work your way up. Try to include strength training in your routine twice a week if you are able.



After a cancer diagnosis, you might have trouble sleeping. You may be coping with physical symptoms, and your mind might race with worry or fear. It’s normal for negative emotions to keep you up at night after a diagnosis. However, if sleep issues persist and affect your daily routine, let your doctor know. Sleep is important, and your body needs adequate sleep to heal. Sleep helps good cells fight cancer cells, and it strengthens your immunity. Therefore, make sure to include stress-reduction and restful sleep in your plan of action.

After a diagnosis, you may feel like you have to take on a lot because you don’t want to burden loved ones. It’s great to feel in control of your health, but it is also beneficial to accept that you are facing illness. And illness is draining. So make sure to allow yourself time to rest and try not too take on too much or set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Friends and family will understand.

If you can’t sleep because you feel depressed or anxious, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. Your outlook and your mental health can make a difference in how you cope and progress. Know that it is normal to feel depressed, anxious, guilty, angry and other negative emotions. Your life has just been flipped upside down, so don’t beat yourself up for it. Take the pressure off — you don’t have to feel positive or happy all the time.

There is no evidence that a positive attitude will make your cancer go away. However, a positive attitude may help you cope with challenges and make better lifestyle choices, which in turn, could affect your health. So if you feel sad, don’t feel guilty. Let yourself feel sad. The last thing you want to do is repress your negative feelings. If sad feelings are lowering your quality of life, realize you deserve a safe place to be heard and to voice your pain. You don’t deserve to suffer in silence. Reach out to a professional or talk to close friends or family members whom you trust.

Overall, stress management, a strong social support system and regular exercise may help relieve insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you feel you need more than that, listen to your body. Always keep your doctor informed of new symptoms.


  1. Surround Yourself With Support

Being given a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing, high-stress event. You might feel alone, hopeless and like loved ones can’t understand. The emotions you are probably experiencing are powerful, and you do not need to experience emotions alone.

A strong support system will help you replace feelings of grief, sadness or hopelessness with strength, hope and encouragement. Many people are experiencing the shock of a cancer diagnosis as we speak. Others have been battling cancer for years. Join a group that makes you feel comfortable and heard. There is strength in numbers, and you don’t have to handle all of this alone.


There are many different ways to create a support system. Friends and family are important and should be included. However, connecting with other cancer patients or survivors might help you feel less isolated. If you don’t feel comfortable in support groups, there are also online communities you can join from home.

Here are different forms of support to consider:

  • Support groups
  • Individual counseling
  • Online communities
  • Telephone support groups

Support group resources:

Here are a few local groups:

Which Therapy to Choose

Choosing the right therapy is a tough decision. You might feel overwhelmed with options and ideas. We suggest getting several professional opinions before committing to a treatment plan. You want to go with a plan that feels right to you, but which will also fight your cancer best. Although cancer is natural and cancer cells are your own body’s cells, you likely do not want to leave nature to take care of itself when it comes to cancer. In other words, healthy eating and meditation might help your body fight cancer, but it will not get rid of cancer on its own.

Studies have shown that cancer patients who only used alternative therapies had a much lower survival rate than those who used science. However, you can use alternative therapies in conjunction with modern science to for the ultimate cancer-fighting package. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and yoga may help improve your state of mind, and they may help you cope with cancer symptoms, but they will not cure your cancer. Overall, it is completely up to you when it comes to designing a treatment plan. Ask experts for guidance, do research and choose what’s right for you.

In closing, a cancer diagnosis does not mean your life is over. Keep living your life. Do the things you enjoy, and plan your days as you always have. Keep your heart open to joy, love and optimism. If you need to cry, cry. It might take time, but hope will build every day. You will still have good days and bad days just like you did before your diagnosis.

And most importantly, know that you are not alone. We want to help you get through this, together. For over 25 years, Gettysburg Cancer Center has been providing compassionate and state-of-the-art cancer care. From the initial diagnosis to follow-up care, we stand by your side. Our team is dedicated to providing only the highest-quality care for each individual. Our mission is not only to beat cancer but also to recognize your emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. We understand how cancer affects all areas of an individual’s well-being, and that every person is unique when it comes to health.

Do you have questions? Concerns? Please contact us today. If you would like to schedule an oncology appointment, please contact us or fill out our online form. We look forward to joining you on your path to healing.

Cervical Cancer Info Sheet

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 13,240 new diagnosed cervical cancer cases in the U.S. for 2018. To help increase your chances of preventing it, detecting it early and treating it quickly for a better prognosis if you are diagnosed with it, be sure to get as much cervical cancer info as you can. Take a minute to use this guide to educate yourself on cervical cancer to stay one step ahead.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer beginning in your cervix cells. Your cervix connects to your vagina and is the lower part of your uterus. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease, and certain strains are linked to the development of cervical cancer.

A woman’s immune system usually prevents HPV from causing harm. However, in some women, HPV can survive for years and can contribute to cervical cancer or genital warts. This is why it’s imperative you get regular Pap tests done. Pap testing allows the doctor to identify any changes in the cells of your cervix before they turn into cancer.

The HPV virus has many types, but not all of them cause cervical cancer. Several of them cause genital warts, while others don’t cause any symptoms.

Quickly treating these cells could help prevent cervical cancer. According to The American Cancer Society, around 4,170 women will die from this disease in 2018. However, the good news is regular screening tests and getting vaccinated against the HPV virus reduces your risk of getting cervical cancer. In fact, the cervical cancer rates of death decreased significantly with the increased use of the Pap test.

Types of Cervical Cancer

Several types of cervical cancer exist, and it’s helpful to know which one you have to determine your treatment and prognosis. The two primary types of cervical cancer are:

  1. Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma starts in your column-shaped glandular cells lining your cervical canal.
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type begins in your squamous cells (flat, thin cells) lining the outer area of your cervix projecting into your vagina. Squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of cervical cancers.

You can have both of these cell types contributing to cervical cancer. While rare, cancer may also occur in other cervix cells.

Who Can Get Cervical Cancer?

All women have a risk of developing cervical cancer. Around 12,000 women in the U.S. each year develop cervical cancer, reports the Office of Women’s Health. While it commonly occurs in women who are 30 years old or older, women of all ages are at risk.

Other than HPV, other risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • Having several sexual partners.
  • Using birth control pills for five years or longer.
  • Having previously given birth to three or more kids.
  • Having HIV or another health condition making fighting off health problems difficult for your body.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

Early cervix cancer and precancerous cervical cells changes typically don’t cause any symptoms. Therefore, regular Pap screenings and HPV testing can help your doctor identify changes to precancerous cells early and prevent cervical cancer from developing.

If your cervical cancer is in an advanced stage, you may experience possible symptoms like pain during sex, irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge. Contact your doctor if you experience:

  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Bleeding between normal menstrual periods
  • Pelvic pain unrelated to your menstrual period
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Pain during urination
  • Bleeding after douching
  • Unusual or heavy vaginal discharge that’s thick, watery and has a foul odor
  • Bleeding after a pelvic exam

These symptoms may also be an indication of other health problems unrelated to cervical cancer. To avoid these symptoms, you should be learning about or asking your doctor how to prevent cervical cancer.

How to Prevent Cervical Cancer and Risks

If you receive a normal result for your Pap test, you have a low chance of developing cervical cancer in the next year, but you still need to get regular Pap tests according to recommended guidelines. If you’re 30 or over, you may wish to request an HPV test in addition to your Pap test. If both these tests come back with normal results, your doctor may recommend you wait for five years before your next Pap test.

Women between 21 to 65 years old need to get regular Pap tests as their gynecologist directs even if they’re not having sex anymore or think they’re too old to have children. If you’re older than 65 years old with several years of normal Pap test results, or if you’ve had your cervix taken out during a total hysterectomy procedure, your physician might inform you that you don’t require Pap testing anymore.

You might be able to lower your cervical cancer risk also with the following cervical cancer preventions:

  • Stopping smoking.
  • Limiting how many sexual partners you have.
  • Using condoms when having sex

Both men and women can get the HPV virus in their genital areas, even if protected or covered with a latex condom. While doctors aren’t sure of how effective condoms are in preventing the HPV virus, there’s a link between using condoms and a lower cervical cancer rate.

You should also consider:

  • Setting up regular appointments with your gynecologist for Pap testing to check for cervical precancers.
  • Getting vaccinated to protect you against all HPV types commonly involved in vaginal, vulvar and cervical cancers.
  • Following up with the gynecologist if you receive abnormal Pap test results.


Doctors recommend the HPV vaccine for girls and boys who are 11 or 12 years old. However, kids and young adults between the ages nine and 26 may also get it. Depending on age, the doctor administers the vaccine in a series of two or three shots. Even if you receive the HPV vaccination, you still need regular Pap testing done to check for cervical cancer.

Routine Health Checks for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer screening throughout cancer prevention history is among the greatest success stories. Widespread screening lowered the incidence and mortality rate of the cancer by 50 percent over three decades. Most attribute this to the effectiveness of Pap test screening. The American Cancer Society estimates over 4,000 lives are saved per year due to screening.

Cervical cancer, if found early, is a successfully treatable cancer.

Your health history, risk factors and age determines how often you need screening. Consult with your physician about your particular case. The guidelines, according to the American Cancer Society, for cervical cancer screening for most women are to have a Pap test conducted:

  • Every three years if you’re between the ages of 21 and 29.
  • Every five years along with an HPV test if you’re between 30 and 64 or every three years for a Pap test alone.

Women over the age of 65 can halt getting Pap test with their doctor’s consent.

If you or your doctor suspect you have cervical cancer, you’ll receive a thorough cervix examination. The doctor uses a colposcope — a magnifying instrument — to check for irregular or abnormal cells. They’ll also probably take a biopsy sample of cervical cells to test in the lab. Your doctor might use the following to obtain tissue:

  • Endocervical curettage: To scrape your cervix for a tissue sample, your physician uses a thin brush or a curette — spoon-shaped, small instrument.
  • Cervical punch biopsy: The doctor pinches off small cervical tissue samples using a sharp instrument.

If either of these cause you concern, your doctor may take a different approach and perform the following:

  • Cone biopsy: This procedure where the physician obtains deeper cervical cell layers to test in the lab. You’ll have this procedure performed in a hospital where you will be either under general anesthesia or an epidural or spinal anesthesia — which numbs you from the waist down.
  • Electrical wire loop: The doctor uses a low-voltage, thin electrical wire for gathering a small sample of tissue.

What to Do Once You Receive a Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

If your physician identifies cervical cancer, you’ll require further testing for the doctor to determine the stage of your cancer. The stage of your cancer determines what treatment is best for you.

Staging exams include:

  • Visual examination of your rectum and bladder using special scopes.
  • Imaging tests like CT scans, MRIs, X-rays and positron emission tomography (PET) so your physician can see whether or not the cancer has spread past your cervix.

Cervical cancer stages are:

  • Stage 1: Your cancer is limited to your cervix.
  • Stage 2: Your cancer is in your cervix as well as the upper part of your vagina.
  • Stage 3: Your cancer moved to your pelvic side wall or lower part of your vagina
  • Stage 4: Your cancer has spread to other organs like your rectum or bladder, lungs, bones or liver.

How to Treat Cervical Cancer

Treating cervical cancer depends on specific factors, such as your cancer stage, preferences and other health conditions, if any. The doctor may recommend chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or a combination of these three.


With chemotherapy, a member of your healthcare team infuses chemotherapy medications into your vein to destroy cancerous cells. Chemotherapy at low doses may be and often are combined with radiation because chemo enhances the radiation effects. Chemotherapy at higher doses helps control more advanced stages of the cancer.


Radiation treatment uses protons, X-rays or other high-powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells. The doctor may use radiation therapy by itself or combine it with chemo to shrink a tumor before surgery or kill the remaining cancerous cells after surgery.

Your doctor may give you radiation therapy:

  • Internally (brachytherapy) where they place a radioactive material-filled device into your vagina for several minutes
  • Externally (external beam radiation treatment) where they direct the radiation beam at your body to the affected area
  • Both internally and externally


If you’re premenopausal, radiation therapy may cause your period to stop and begin menopause. Have your physician preserve your eggs before you receive radiation therapy if you plan on getting pregnant after treatment.


If your cervical cancer is in its early stage, the doctor will likely recommend a hysterectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove your uterus. This procedure may cure your cancer and prevent it from coming back. You won’t be able to get pregnant after the surgeon removes your uterus, so you may wish to consider this carefully before you agree to the surgery.

Your doctor may suggest:

  • Simple hysterectomy: Your surgeon removes your uterus and cervix along with your cancer. Simple hysterectomies are typically the option if your cancer is in its early stage.
  • Radical hysterectomy: Your surgeon removes your uterus, cervix, nearby lymph nodes and part of your vagina along with the cancer.

Another cervical cancer treatment if in the early stage is minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor can perform surgery without lymph node involvement in early-stage cervical cancer to allow you the ability to become pregnant after the surgery.

Follow-Up Care

Once you finish your treatment, you’ll need to have regular follow-up checkups with your doctor.

Supportive (Palliative) Care

Palliative care provides you with specialized medical care where the healthcare team focuses on providing you with relief from your symptoms like pain, for example. For ongoing care, the healthcare professionals work closely with you, your family and any other doctors involved to give you an extra support system.

Palliative care offers you the care and support of nurses, doctors and other specially trained healthcare professionals who all have a goal of improving your quality of life as well as your family’s. When you receive palliative care along with other treatments, it helps increase your comfort and could even extend your life.

Some women think they don’t require screening for cervical cancer once they’ve stopped having kids, but this isn’t a good idea. You should follow the guidelines of the American Cancer Society for early cervical cancer detection.

Coping With Your Diagnosis and Support

Any cancer diagnosis is difficult, and nobody can prepare for it entirely. Manage the fear and shock you might be feeling by taking control of the things you can in your situation.

Everybody copes with their diagnosis of cervical cancer in their own way — you will, too. As time moves forward, you’ll find ways to help you to cope better.

While providing you with cervical cancer medical care from diagnosis to treatment, your team at Gettysburg Cancer Center supports you psychologically, emotionally — and even spiritually if you’d like. Until then, take a few steps to begin taking control right now by:

  • Learning about cervical cancer. This will help you become part of the decision-making process of your care. Ask your doctor questions and take notes during your appointments. Ask your doctor for other resources for information.
  • Talk to people you’re comfortable with. Your family and friends are a great support system where you can discuss your feelings. Support groups are helpful as well.
  • Allow people to help you. Cancer treatments can exhaust you. The more hands you have to accomplish what you need to, the better.
  • Set reasonable goals for yourself. Doing so can give you a sense of purpose and help you feel in control.
  • Give yourself some “me” time. Relaxing, eating well and getting enough sleep can help with the fatigue and stress of cervical cancer.

We hope that you found this cervical cancer information sheet helpful. Here at Gettysburg Cancer Center, we are dedicated to providing you with compassionate and complete patient care from diagnosis through treatment. If you suspect you have cervical cancer, are at risk for it or would like to book an appointment, please complete our contact form, and we’ll reach out to you right away.

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.

fight disease

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: