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Archive for 'Cancer'

TUMOR RECURRENCE AND TAMOXIFEN RESISTANCE: WHAT CAUSES DRUG RESISTANCE?

Posted on July 28, 2011, under Cancer.

Cancer cells develop resistance to specific types of drugs in many ways. Perhaps one of the first steps is exposure of the cells to concentrations of drug that are not high enough to kill them. A patient may have been given a dose of chemotherapy that is too low, or a standard dose may have been administered to a patient who has faster metabolism or excretes drugs more rapidly than the average person. Thus, the cells are exposed to low concentrations of drug without being killed. The resulting cancer cells are now “educated” about how to deal with the drug, so that even if the next dose is higher, the cells have a better chance of fending off its toxic effects. That is why chemotherapy drugs must be given in doses that are high enough to kill the cancer cells but below the level that causes severe side effects.
Once cancer cells have been exposed to a specific drug in concentrations that have not killed it, the cells may develop a number of techniques to handle the drug and keep themselves from being killed. Perhaps the most common mechanism that breast cancer cells adopt is the ability to pump the drug outside the cell (55, 56). This action occurs even in normal cells, where it functions to protect the cells from toxins during everyday life (dietary or environmental toxins, for instance).
Cancer cells have other methods of becoming drug resistant. In the case of methotrexate they actually go through elaborate changes in their biochemistry after exposure to the drug. The cancer cells have the ability to increase the amount of protein that is the target for methotrexate—an enzyme called dihydrofolate reductase. With augmented production of the enzyme, the cells have found a way to protect themselves from the lethal effects of the chemotherapy agent.
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SEXUALITY AND CANCER

Posted on May 29, 2011, under Cancer.

Because gynecological cancer relates specifically to the reproductive system and body parts that create our ‘sexual’ identity, the impact on sexuality and fertility can have significant consequences on a woman’s sense of self and intimate future.
An intimate relationship is one of life’s great joys. This can be expressed in a variety of ways, most commonly in sexual activity. Equally joyful is an intimate relationship with ourselves that reassures us, as women, that we are feminine and valued as sexual beings despite changes to our body. Just because we may have had radical treatment to save our life, treatment that changes our physical and gynecological self, does not mean we are ‘sexless’.
Immediately after a cancer diagnosis the primary focus for many women is on the physical issues around restoring good health. Sexual activity and other expressions of intimacy are often foregone, ignored or delayed as women come to terms with the impact of the medical (physical) treatment that has to be undergone to survive. It is only after one has come to terms with the physical coping that the realization of the impact on fertility, sexuality, body image, intimacy emotions and spirituality becomes apparent. The way in which this initial ‘physical’ phase is managed has an enormous impact on the way a woman will not only resume her life, but also in the way she sees her self as sexually relevant and ‘female’.
Whilst issues are relevant for all women independent of sexual preference, identity or relationship status we have included specific information for lesbians as research shows that these women have particular issues when dealing with gynecological cancer.
Many women at the time of diagnosis still see themselves as sexually desirable, despite body shape or age. Others have been celibate for some time either by choice or due to factors such as widowhood, and therefore body image and sex are not that relevant in the greater scheme of their life activities.
The range of women we interviewed covered the broad spectrum of relationships of all ages and stages in the life cycle – single, divorced, newly married, long-term married, lesbian, new mother experiences. The quality of their sexual activity and levels of intimacy was determined by the quality of the relationship prior to the diagnosis. Those in stable, caring relationships with good communication between them restored the intimate aspects of life far quicker than those whose relationships were in jeopardy before diagnosis.
Fertility issues were significant for all pre-menopausal women despite the status of their relationship. Young single women were concerned about the possibility of forming a long-term relationship. Many women, regardless of age, found it difficult to accept the surgical scars and saw them as a barrier initially to resuming or forming intimate relationships. The good news is that all these reactions are entirely normal in the process of recovery. The better news is that most of these feelings and reactions only last for a short time.
Do you know that the quicker intimacy can be resumed after a cancer diagnosis, the quicker your self-esteem and body image issues can be resolved?
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GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER: COMMON REACTIONS

Posted on January 24, 2011, under Cancer.

We typically have a dominant reaction in one of four dimensions: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional or Spiritual. Most of the time these aspects of ourselves are in balance for the life we want to live. During cancer treatment, all of these factors will be changed depending on the particular aspect of the treatment, and over which we sometimes have little or no control. No one knows how they will react when the diagnosis is made; regrettably there is no magic formula we can share with you. We can, however, give you some insights that may lessen the impact of the more ‘overwhelming’ reactions.
I ended up having counseling to help deal with a lot of personality problems that were really detrimental to my health. I used to suffer from depression and felt unworthy. Counseling helped me deal with that.
Seline
I was in a state of denial about my psychological reactions to the cancer for a long time, although at the time I did not realize it. On discharge from hospital I embarked on a major community project. This urge ‘to save the world’ was a stupid thing to do at that time, as it depleted my emotional and physical resources and slowed my return to sound health. I now realize it was an abnormal need to have others see me as fit, well and professionally capable – as if nothing had ever happened! Had I put myself first, and restored ME, I am sure my recovery would have been a lot quicker. My advice to others is ‘self first’ and only when fully recovered THEN go and save the world!
Clara
It is a time when it is necessary for you or your carer to have acute awareness of any changes from your (or your carer/partner’s) ‘usual’ way of thinking and reacting, and acceptance of these as ‘normal’. And to also have the courage to suggest counseling if your reactions persist or plunge you into depression or extreme anxiety. If you are a naturally anxious personality type, any life change event can cause psychological turmoil. In this case it just happens to be cancer which triggers it.
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GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER: COMMON REACTIONSWe typically have a dominant reaction in one of four dimensions: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional or Spiritual. Most of the time these aspects of ourselves are in balance for the life we want to live. During cancer treatment, all of these factors will be changed depending on the particular aspect of the treatment, and over which we sometimes have little or no control. No one knows how they will react when the diagnosis is made; regrettably there is no magic formula we can share with you. We can, however, give you some insights that may lessen the impact of the more ‘overwhelming’ reactions.I ended up having counseling to help deal with a lot of personality problems that were really detrimental to my health. I used to suffer from depression and felt unworthy. Counseling helped me deal with that.      Seline
I was in a state of denial about my psychological reactions to the cancer for a long time, although at the time I did not realize it. On discharge from hospital I embarked on a major community project. This urge ‘to save the world’ was a stupid thing to do at that time, as it depleted my emotional and physical resources and slowed my return to sound health. I now realize it was an abnormal need to have others see me as fit, well and professionally capable – as if nothing had ever happened! Had I put myself first, and restored ME, I am sure my recovery would have been a lot quicker. My advice to others is ‘self first’ and only when fully recovered THEN go and save the world!      Clara
It is a time when it is necessary for you or your carer to have acute awareness of any changes from your (or your carer/partner’s) ‘usual’ way of thinking and reacting, and acceptance of these as ‘normal’. And to also have the courage to suggest counseling if your reactions persist or plunge you into depression or extreme anxiety. If you are a naturally anxious personality type, any life change event can cause psychological turmoil. In this case it just happens to be cancer which triggers it.*50/144/5*

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