Tag Archives: Cancer

Diagnosis Cancer

The word “cancer” may easily be the one the worst words a person can hear.  Suddenly everything about life is seen through a new set of lenses – lenses that magnify things, make others blurry and some impossible to see.  As the initial shock wears off, one is faced with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges before them.

Patients respond to this news differently. Some strongly rise to the challenge and refuse to lose while others feel a tremendous sense of loss and inability to fight. As all of this turmoil surrounds them, it is also time to develop a plan to fight the cancer.

Every journey is unique but here are some ideas on steps you can take to manage your life after a cancer diagnosis:

  • Don’t go it alone. Find someone to share the journey with. It may be a spouse, family member or close friend and it should be someone you feel you can talk openly with.
  • Research and learn. Take the necessary steps to learn all you can about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options.  Sometimes too much information creates an overload that causes more stress and remember, not everything you read on the internet is the gospel truth. Begin with the web sites for the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and take it at your pace.
  • Consider getting a second, perhaps even a third, opinion. Different doctors and cancer treatment centers have different philosophies and approaches. A second opinion can help you feel more confident in your treatment plan.
  • Use trusted sources for additional information. Your aunt, cousin, neighbor or friend may have known someone with cancer and offer you an opinion. Remember, they are trying to help so hear them out and gently tell them that you appreciate their concern but each diagnosis is unique.
  • Get organized. Start a notebook or binder to coordinate appointments, doctors’ phone numbers, and the information you collect along the way. Take it to your appointments and use it to make lists of questions you want to ask your doctors on your next visit.

No one will fully understand what you’re going through but tackling this with someone at your side will be a bigger help than you may realize.


Why Seniors are at Risk for Mesothelioma Cancer

Seniors are more commonly diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer than any other age group. In 2000, seven out of every 100,000 Americans over the age of 65 were diagnosed with the cancer. In contrast, the incidence rate was less than one out of every 100,000 for Americans under the age of 65.

 The higher incidence rate among seniors can be explained by two basic facts:

  • Most asbestos exposure in the United States occurred before the 1980s, when asbestos regulations were enacted.
  • Mesothelioma typically arises 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure occurred.

Therefore, individuals who were exposed to asbestos three or more decades ago at the peak of U.S. asbestos use may just now be developing mesothelioma.

Seniors who once worked in industrial occupations have the highest risk for developing asbestos-related diseases. Construction jobs, factory jobs and asbestos industry jobs were among the most dangerous. Military occupations (particularly during World War II) also placed service men and women in the path of asbestos.

Seniors whose spouses or parents once worked in these industries have an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma as well. Workers often brought asbestos home on their clothing, unaware of the illnesses that the fibers could cause. If family members hugged the person or washed their asbestos-laden clothes, they could easily have inhaled the loose fibers.

 What Seniors Can Do to Protect their Health

Unfortunately, past asbestos exposure cannot be undone. The body has a hard time ridding itself of the fibers, and once the fibers are trapped inside the body, they have the potential to cause cancerous changes. These changes often take place over the course of several decades.

However, seniors who were exposed to asbestos can be aware of their elevated risk and take certain steps to protect their health.

One of the most important things they can do is register for regular asbestos-related disease screenings. These examinations use imaging scans, physical examinations and other tests to help oncologists detect potential abnormalities. They help monitor a high-risk patient’s condition so that in the event that the patient develops mesothelioma, an oncologist can diagnose it in its earlier stages.

Seniors who have already received a mesothelioma diagnosis should promptly seek care from an asbestos-related disease specialist. They can reach out to family and friends for at-home caregiving as well.

Seniors may also consider medical alert devices such as LifeFone. If mesothelioma symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain become so intense that they cause an emergency, the patient can easily contact their designated doctor. This is especially valuable for seniors who live alone. In addition to getting medical help on the way quickly if needed, LifeFone can provide a valuable sense of extra security.

Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.

Sources: SEER: Age-Adjusted SEER Incidence Rates by Age at Diagnosis/Death – Mesothelioma. (2012). Retrieved from http://seer.cancer.gov/faststats/selections.php?#Output