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Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hope

Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hope: A Guide for Patients, Families, and Health Care Providers

Illustrations by Gale V. Parsons
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hope
    Book Description:

    Anyone who is diagnosed with cancer receives a frightening blow, and in many cases the diagnosis is accompanied by a bewildering array of treatment choices. In this invaluable book, Dr. Richard C. Frank offers comfort and help to cancer patients, their families, and their caretakers. Dr. Frank empowers patients by unlocking the mysteries of the disease and explaining in plain language the ways to confront and combat it.

    An award-winning medical oncologist recognized for his humanitarian approach as well as his research accomplishments, Dr. Frank understands that cancer patients and their families need insight into the disease along with a sense of control. He therefore addresses these vital topics:

    -what cancer is and how it spreads

    -how cancer treatment strategies are chosen

    -how cancer-fighting drugs work to shut down the growth of the disease

    -which factors affect a patient's prognosis

    -how patients can visualize cancer treatments at work in the body and why this is helpful

    -how to deal with "uncurable" cancer

    -and more.

    With a wealth of patient case histories, helpful coping strategies from cancer survivors, and up-to-date information on useful resources,Fighting Canceris the book cancer patients and their loved ones can turn to with confidence and hope.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15665-2
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Edmundo Bendezu

    Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hopeprovides you with the information you need to survive cancer. But above everything else, Dr. Frank gives you the wisdom to knock out the despair and depression brought on by cancer. He gives you a needed dose of tranquillity.

    Dr. Frank does something very important in this book, and that is to truly demystify cancer. I am not in favor of using that word without an explanation. Demystification evaporates the mystery of cancer, so that you can see clearly and stand courageously wherever you are. Fear disappears, because you finally come to understand the...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Richard C. Frank
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. PART I Exposing Cancer

    • 1 Understanding Cancer
      (pp. 3-22)

      When I first laid eyes on Alice, I could tell she was in trouble. “Trouble” for me, a medical oncologist, means that a patient is sick from cancer and in urgent need of treatment. But like so many patients whom I meet for the first time, Alice was not even sure she had cancer. So “trouble” also means that I faced a daunting task: I had to explain to Alice (and her family) what cancer is, why it may have arisen, what it was doing to her body, which treatments were recommended, how those treatments worked, and how she could...

    • 2 Diagnosis, Staging, Curability
      (pp. 23-53)

      I first met John when he walked into my office with his children for a consultation. He was in his sixties, of average build, with a gentle face, curly gray-black hair, and the appearance of someone whose work was physical. He wore jeans and a T-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one side. His hands were rough, his talk straight. I would later come to know him as a happy, garrulous, backslapping man, a man’s man who would do anything for his friends and family. In time, he would come to treat me as a son and...

    • 3 Understanding Specific Cancers
      (pp. 54-84)

      Donna, a forty-five-year-old teacher, feels a lump in her breast. She has surgery to remove the mass, and the pathology shows a lymphoma. Donna is surprised and asks, “Do I have breast cancer?” The answer is no, she has lymphoma of the breast, not breast cancer. Her staging workup, treatment options, and prognosis will follow the principles established for lymphoma, not those for breast cancer. She will not have to undergo more surgery to test the lymph nodes in the armpit for cancer in a procedure termed axillary lymph node dissection; she will not need a bone scan to check...

    • 4 Why Cancer Develops
      (pp. 85-114)

      The wife of a patient of mine with lung cancer asked to speak to me in private. A wife and mother, Melissa was battling to keep her husband alive and her family intact. She was experiencing sleepless nights and needed answers to a number of burning questions. Melissa was trying to come to terms with what could have caused her husband’s cancer at the early age of forty-six. He was a virile man, an outdoorsman and construction worker, the kind of person everyone likes instantly because of his easygoing manner and giving smile. He was also a three-pack-a-day cigarette smoker,...

  7. PART II Attacking Cancer

    • 5 How Cancer Grows: The Basis of Cancer Treatments
      (pp. 117-128)

      A fifty-five-year-old man feels a twinge in his back while golfing. The pain persists and begins to pierce his abdomen. Soon after, he is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and learns that the tumor is too large to be surgically removed. He asks, “How could I be so sick and not know it? Does cancer grow overnight?”

      A forty-year-old woman with breast cancer undergoes surgery to remove the cancer. Afterward, the surgeon tells her, “The surgery went very well, I got all of it. But you should see the oncologist for chemotherapy.” The patient asks, “Why do I need chemo if...

    • 6 Cancer Treatments Revolve around Metastasis
      (pp. 129-158)

      Anyone who has tried to learn about cancer soon realizes that the disease and the drugs used to combat it are overwhelmingly complicated. Yet the vast world of cancer drug therapy mainly revolves around one aspect: metastasis. Metastasis is the process by which a cancer spreads from its origin to other locations in the body; “metastases” represent the tumors in these distant locales. Cancer treatments center on the principle that metastases need to be either treated or prevented. This is because the presence of cancer in regions beyond its original location often does the most harm.

      Many cancers are first...

    • 7 Cancer Treatments at Work
      (pp. 159-190)

      At the end of a hectic day not long ago, I was asked to consult on an urgent case: an eighty-eight-year-old hospitalized patient who was in a coma. The referring doctor, a caring physician, stated bluntly, “He’s very sick and close to death. The scans show widespread cancer, though we haven’t done a biopsy. Given his age, I think the best way to proceed is hospice, and I’ve recommended this to his sons. They’re very realistic but want to meet with an oncologist for closure.”

      The patient, Abe, was a retired dentist who had been living with his wife in...

    • 8 Get Prepared to Survive
      (pp. 191-204)

      At our cancer center we have a ritual to celebrate the completion of each of our patients’ cancer treatments. When the last chemotherapy bag has run dry, the oncology nurse escorts him or her to a bell located at the entrance of the infusion suite.

      An announcement goes forth: “They’re going to ring the bell!” There is a flurry of happy scurrying as staff members rush to join family and friends to witness the momentous occasion. If it’s a woman, she may don a diamond tiara (the ninety-nine-cent kind); if it’s a man, he’ll probably skip that part of the...

  8. Appendix 1: Types of Cancer Medicine
    (pp. 205-208)
  9. Appendix 2: For More Information
    (pp. 209-212)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. 213-218)
  11. References
    (pp. 219-235)
  12. Index
    (pp. 236-257)