Cancer Support Questions

Welcome to Cancer Support questions and answers. If you would like to submit your own question to be answered click here.

For more information on our Cancer Services please visit The Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC.

 

Ovarian Cysts

I have been diagnosed with ovarian cysts and I want to know can they be removed and can I still have children?  I am a 34 year old black woman.

Dr. Grumbine replies...

The answer is yes as long as the ovaries can be preserved. This depend on what the pathology is that is causing your cysts.

 

Stage 4 Carcinoma
My brother was diagnosed with stage 4 carcinoma of the gastro-esophageal juntion on June 25th and has started a chemo treatment of DCF started on June 29th far 5 days with a 2 week rest then another 5 days of chemo then another 2 week rest before they do a CAT scan. We want to have one of the oncologist at GBMC give us a second opinion on his case but don't know if we should wait for the CAT scan or have it done asap. GBMC was highly recommended by a Louis Yeager, a past patient, and we would consider transferring my brother to GBMC depending on the outcome of the meeting with the doctor.

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 
The second opinion could be done by Dr. Levine, Dr. Chaudhry or Dr. Donegan. We can render an opinion about whether care is appropriate or not, with or without knowing what the next scan shows.  

 

Lung Cancer Screening Question

I had a lung cancer screening done last year at GBMC. Are there specific guidelines for how often I should get a lung screening?

Dr. Neri Cohen replies... 

There are none. If the patient meets the entry criteria to get a screening CT, and it is completely normal we don't make any recommendations about further follow-up. If they want to, and they still meet the entry criteria, they are certainly welcome to self-refer back into the program at a later date and get scanned again, but that is a patient specific and patient driven decision.  
 

 
 

Head and Neck Cancer Question

 

I'm a healthy 49 year old male and had a lump form in my right side neck lymph node superficial to parotid. No other symptoms and haven't been sick for 2 years or more. They did a fine-needle biopsy and was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (well-differentiated). Had CT scan, visit to ENT, PET scans and no primary tumor can be found. Treatment will be 6 weeks of chemo once a week followed by 6-7 weeks of Radiation everyday and Chemo every other week. Oncologist says this cancer is "harder to kill" (not the worst) and I'm in stage III because it has metastasized to the lymph node. 1. Do you agree with the treatment plan and comments about the cancer severity? 2. In cases like mine what is the percentage of reoccurrences before 5 years? 3. What are my chances of living a healthy life into the later years?

Dr. John Saunders replies...

Lumps superficial to the parotid gland are either primary parotid tumors or metastasis to parotid lymph nodes. The name, parotid, comes from the Greek "around the ear", so all such masses or lumps are considered parotid until proven otherwise. Squamous cell carcinoma in the parotid (or parotid lymph node) usually comes from another site usually from a squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. We almost never see a parotid metastasis from an aerodigestive primary in the head and neck (tongue base, tonsil etc). When we treat metastatic squamous cell to the parotid we use surgery (parotidectomy and selective neck dissection) followed by radiation therapy. Although some centers still use induction chemotherapy (chemo alone prior to radiation), we only use concurrent chemotherapy with radiation therapy.

There is no data that adding chemotherapy to radiation is beneficial for metastatic skin cancers (as in squamous cell carcinoma of the parotid) as there is in squamous cell carcinoma of the aerodigestive sites (mouth, throat, larynx, etc.) Treatment results for metastatic carcinoma to the parotid lymph nodes is generally pretty good. Even treatment for squamous cell of the neck from an unknown primary site (shown after adequate endoscopy and negative biopsies of the nasopharynx, hypopharynx and oropharynx) is good. Our data for Stage III and Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (excluding oral cavity, which is treated with surgery first), using concurrent chemotherapy and surgery for larger neck lymph nodes is approximately 89% cure. 
 

 

Breast Cancer Question

I am looking for your advise. I am 6 years out from Hairy Cell Leukemia. I had a Mammogram completed January 22nd and was asked to come in for repeat for questionable areas. Today, Feb 3, 2009 I had repeat and sonogram completed. 3 lumps were identified bilaterally and considered "Probably benign, recommend repeat imaging in 6 months.

Fibroadenomas was the word used by the Physician doing the ultrasound. My question to you is should I be concerned considering my prior history? Is 6 months an appropriate plan for follow up? I just want to make sure I am being as appropriate as possible in my care.

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 

Having (and surviving....congratulations!) Hairy Cell Leukemia does not place you at increased risk of breast cancer specifically. Fibroadenomas are benign lesions in the breast, and we defer to the radiologists to determine if the appearance of the lesions seems benign or more worrisome. It is not unusual for radiologists to recommend a short term follow-up (6 months) when any abnormality is newly identified, even if it looks benign to them. If you wish to get a second opinion on this, it could be done by a qualified breast surgeon who will personally review the films as well. The leukemia history does not impact the interpretation of the mammogram.
 

 

Basal Question

How to numb a basal area to be removed at home?

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 

This should not be done at home. Please see a physician for this.
 

 

Bladder Cancer Support Group Question

Hi. My Dad is undergoing surgery at GBMC with Dr. Tutrone to remove his bladder. He has bladder cancer and will have neuro bladder operation in early Oct. Are there any local support groups for those going through this and those who have?

Donna Lewis, Manager, Oncology Support Program replies...


To begin with, if you or your dad call our office (Oncology Support Services at GBMC: 443 849 2961), we will be sure that you are connected with a member of our team. This is a free service available to our GBMC cancer patients and in this way we are better able to address individual psychosocial needs. I was unable to locate any local support group specific to bladder cancer but here are some resources that might be helpful and when you give them your address, they may be able to locate one in your area:

www.auafoundation.org (American Urological Association)
Phone: 800 828 7866
www.blcwebcafe.org ( Bladder Cancer Web Cafe).

If your dad will be having an ostomy of any sort, there is also the United Ostomy Association: 800 826 0826.

I hope this is of help to you and my thoughts are with you...Donna Lewis, RN,MS,CPC

Donna Lewis
Manager, Oncology Support Program
443 849-2961
443 849-8147(fax)
dlewis@gbmc.org 
 


 

Swallowing Pills After Thyroid Surgery  Question

I have begun my thyroid replacement pill this morning. My problem is, I am having trouble with any pill feeling like it is stuck in my throat for extended periods of time, even after I have eaten. Which of coarse I can't do for an hour after taking my thyroid medication.
 
I don't know if it is just a stuck sensation or if the pill is truly stuck. I drank a lot when I took it.

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 

You should speak to your surgeon. You should not be having this problem with thyroid medication after surgery. 
 

 

Swallowing Pills After Thyroid Surgery Question
I have begun my thyroid replacement pill this morning. My problem is, I am having trouble with any pill feeling like it is stuck in my throat for extended periods of time, even after I have eaten. Which of coarse I can't do for an hour after taking my thyroid medication.
 
I don't know if it is just a stuck sensation or if the pill is truly stuck. I drank a lot when I took it.

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 

You should speak to your surgeon. You should not be having this problem with thyroid medication after surgery. 
 

 

Dysplastic Nevus on Breast Question
 
I had a biopsy done on a atypical mole six months ago. They said it was a dysplastic nevus. It has since come back so they recommended surgery. It is on the top of my breast and I want to know if removing it from breast tissue is different than other parts of the body. I have had basel cell removed from my leg. Thank you

Dr. Gary Cohen replies... 

This should be a simple procedure removing it from the skin and does not involve resecting any breast tissue itself. The surgeon should be able to close the skin in a manner that leaves minimal cosmetic defect. If it's done by a plastic surgeon, a reasonable cosmetic effect is more assured, but it depends on exactly where the primary skin lesion is located and how extensive it is.
Best wishes.

 


 

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