A Cancer Diagnosis: It’s Happening Every Day

Cancer occurs when cells in your body grow out of control. They divide without stopping, spreading into surrounding tissues and crowding out healthy cells. As the cells continue to spread, the body has trouble functioning normally.

In many cases, the cells form a solid lump, or tumor. Some cancers, such as leukemia, occur in the blood and do not cause a solid mass.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells, which means that cancer can begin almost anywhere.

Where Does Cancer Develop?

Cancer can develop almost anywhere in the body. In 2017, the main types of new cancer cases were:

Men Women
Prostate Breast
Lung & bronchus Lung & bronchus
Colon & rectum Colon & rectum
Urinary bladder Uterine corpus (the main part of your uterus, or womb)
Melanoma of the skin Thyroid
Kidney & renal pelvis (area at the center of the kidney) Melanoma of the skin
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Leukemia Leukemia
Mouth & pharynx (part of the throat) Pancreas
Liver Kidney & renal pelvis (area at the center of the kidney)

Cancer can also develop at any age. Among children, the leading types of cancer include:

  • Leukemia (cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow)
  • Neuroblastoma (cancer that develops in nerve tissue, and usually begins in the adrenal glands, neck, chest, or spinal cord)
  • Wilms tumor (a type of kidney cancer)
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer that begins in white blood cells called lymphocytes)
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer that forms in muscle tissues)
  • Osteosarcoma (most common type of bone cancer)
  • Retinoblastoma (eye cancer that begins in the retina — the lining on the inside of the eye)
  • Ewing sarcoma (cancer in the bones or the soft tissue surrounding the bones)
  • Spinal cord and brain tumors

Certain cancers are caused by lifestyle factors and habits, such as smoking tobacco, or being overweight. However, most develop with no known cause.

What is Cancer — and What Does it Mean for Our Community Health?

Cancer is one of the main health concerns facing Kansas. Both cancer itself and cancer treatment can cause many different effects on your body. Common effects include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Bowel changes (e.g., diarrhea, constipation)
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility issues
  • Hair loss
  • Infection
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Urinary and bladder problems

As many people know, cancer can be life-threatening. It is the second leading cause of death in the US, and the leading cause of death in Kansas.

However, there is good news — between early detection, a decline in tobacco use, and advances in treatment, we have seen a significant decrease in the amount of deaths caused by cancer.

The Mental Health Burden

A cancer diagnosis is life-changing. Between the shocking news, costs, and side effects of treatment, cancer can take a toll on a patient’s mental and emotional well-being.

Between 15 and 25% of cancer patients are believed to experience depression. In some cases, depression may continue even when patients complete treatment and are cancer-free — about 10% of cancer survivors have depression, compared to about 6% of adults without a history of cancer.

What Are the Keys to Addressing Cancer Community-Wide?

Cancer is a complex problem to tackle. However, there are ways to lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer:

  • Smoking prevention and cessation: Smoking cigarettes is the leading risk factor for developing lung cancer, and quitting smoking can reduce that risk. More than half of current adult smokers in Kansas have tried to quit smoking, so we must work together to provide them the tools and support to do so successfully.
  • Weight management: Carrying excess weight can increase the risk of developing several types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, endometrium (lining of the uterus), kidney, and pancreas. Among adults in Shawnee County (Stormont Vail Hospital’s home), 68% are overweight or obese, meaning they have an increased risk of cancer.
  • Early detection: Some cancers are easiest to treat when they’re found early. With a quick start to treatment, it may be possible to stop the cancer from growing and spreading. Cancers that typically can be detected at early stages include cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, endometrium, lung, and prostate. Knowing that screening services are available — as well as how and when to take advantage of them — can go a long way toward increasing early detection and decreasing cancer deaths.

How Stormont Vail Can Help You

The Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center provides diagnostic testing, evaluation, treatment and support for patients with cancer.

In addition, we offer several programs and services:

  • Cancer Support Group: This group meets weekly to provide support for patients, families, and caregivers, during all stages of treatment. Group members can make connections with others who are sharing similar experiences and learn how to cope with a cancer diagnosis.
  • Healthy Recipes: This program teaches patients and families about the basics of good nutrition for cancer patients, and provides ideas for healthy recipes.
  • Tai Chi: We offer classes in Tai Chi — a form of Chinese martial arts that is used for meditation and exercise. Tai Chi can provide many benefits to cancer patients, including improved mood, increased energy, decreased stress, and reduced anxiety or depression.
  • Man Talk: Men with cancer, or men whose loved ones have cancer, can come together to talk about fighting cancer.
  • Look Good Feel Better: This group is for women who are dealing with the appearance-related effects of cancer, such as hair loss or skin changes. This program is supported by the American Cancer Society and is open to female patients of the Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center.

The Importance of the Right Medical Team for Cancer Care

Having the right team can make it easier to detect, treat, and manage cancer. In addition to your oncologist (cancer physician), your care team may include other providers, such as nutritionists, pain management specialists, or social workers.

You may also work with a member of our Palliative Medicine & Supportive Care team. These specialists focus on relieving or reducing symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatment, such as pain or nausea.

We recommend that you continue to keep up with a primary care provider. Your primary care provider can perform annual physicals, screen for other illnesses, look for signs of complications, and help you keep your body healthy enough to fight cancer.

How Does Stormont Vail Include Family and Friends as Part of the Team?

We know that the people you love play a strong role in your health and wellness. Family and friends are welcome at many of our support groups and programs, and we are always willing to talk to your loved ones about the best ways to help you live with and manage cancer.

Our social workers are also on hand to help you decide how to talk to your loved ones, and keep everyone’s mental and emotional health in check.

A Closer Look: Life with Cancer

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How to Take Care of Yourself When Caring for a Loved One With Cancer

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Next Steps

  • Your primary care provider can provide basic health services, and help you keep your body strong enough to fight cancer. Call (785) 270-4440 to schedule a primary care appointment at any of our clinics. (**To make an appointment at the Cotton O’Neil Emporia office, call (620) 343-2900. To make an appointment at the Cotton O’Neil Manhattan office, call (785) 537-2651.)
  • Call (785) 354-5300 to schedule an appointment at the Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center.
  • Check to see if you have insurance coverage for your appointment. Our Billing Department has provided this list of Kansas insurance provider phone numbers.
  • When you start working with our physicians, don’t forget to sign up for MyChart. It’s the best way to communicate with your physician, view your medical history, and get test results.