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Cancer Care - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

More about cancer care at Ellis

A diagnosis of cancer opens up countless questions about care options, who to contact and where to start. Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about cancer care at Ellis Medicine. Talk to your doctor or contact Ellis for more information.

Q: Are there symptoms of cancer?

A: There are many different types of cancer and each has its own set of signs and symptoms. Some forms of cancer, such as colon cancer, carry few signs making regular screening extremely important.

The following are generally the most common symptoms of cancer:

  • A lump on your body, unusual swelling or recent change in a mole/wart
  • A persistent sore that won't heal
  • Unusual bleeding or bodily discharge
  • Changes in bladder or bowel habits
  • Persistent cough or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Dramatic weight gain or loss
  • Night Sweats

Q: Is there a cure for cancer?

A: There is not a single cure for cancer, but there are many effective treatments for the various forms of cancer that often serve to eradicate cancer from a person and keep it from returning. Early detection is the key to effectively treating cancer. Additionally, there are many promising clinical trials and research studies ongoing around the world aimed at finding a cure for cancer.

Q: What kind of cancer treatments are available?

A: Cancer can be treated in a number of different ways depending on its type, size, location and stage. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy/drugs are the most common treatments. Treatment options are planned based on testing such as medical imaging of the tumor and/or blood testing.

Talk with your doctor about the best course of treatment for you, and get a second opinion to ensure you are making informed decisions about your care that you are comfortable with.

Q: Can cancer be prevented?

A: Many times cancer is caused by a person's genes (their family history) - a factor that cannot be controlled. But there are some activities that you can control that can help minimize the risk of getting cancer, such as:

  • not smoking/not using tobacco
  • avoiding excessive alcohol use
  • maintaining a healthy diet
  • exercising regularly
  • knowing symptoms of cancer/being aware of changes in your body
  • getting recommended cancer screenings at the recommended age, such as mammograms and prostate screenings, especially if cancer runs in your family
  • protecting your skin from harmful UV rays by wearing sun block/avoiding overexposure to the sun

Q: If the diagnosis is cancer, what should I do next?

A: A cancer diagnosis brings with it a myriad of emotions and questions. We recommend bringing someone with you when having discussions with your doctor so that you can have help remembering and sorting through the information. This is a stressful and emotional time so having someone with you is important.

Make sure you understand the type of cancer, stage and location of the cancer in your body.

Also, make sure you ask/understand:

  • whether a tumor or mass is considered malignant or benign
  • whether it's slow or fast growing
  • what your prognosis is
  • what treatment options are available/recommended and what the side effects and success rates are for each option

Never hesitate to call your doctor/cancer care team to ask questions, advice or for support. At Ellis Medicine, we have a breast care nurse navigator who steps in to help when the diagnosis is breast cancer. We also have experienced cancer experts and caregivers who are available to guide and support you, whatever your cancer diagnosis.

Consider getting a second opinion, especially if you are not sure what treatment option is right for you and to ensure you are making an informed health care decision you are comfortable with. Treatment is your decision.

Q: When should I see an oncologist or other cancer specialist?

A: When the diagnosis is cancer, it is always a good idea to consult a medical oncologist. Depending on the type of cancer, what stage it is and what treatment options are available, you might also consult a radiation oncologist, a surgical oncologist, and/or another specialist in a field specific to your type of cancer (e.g., otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat doctor), urologist, dermatologist, thyroid specialist, etc.)

For more information about cancer care at Ellis Medicine, please call 518.243.4317.