Continuing Breast Cancer Month Posts

Frequently Asked Questions from the Jamaica Cancer Society, visit their website for more useful information.

Here you will find some answers to the most often asked questions relating to cancer and cancer treatment. Hopefully you will find an answer to your question below.
If you do not see your question here or on their website(click image), email JCS at: mail@jamaicacancersociety.org and they will post your question and the answer there. Your privacy will be maintained of course.

Q. What Is A Pap Smear ?

A. The Pap smear, or cervical smear, is an early warning test, which shows whether there are any changes in the cervix, which might develop
into cancer (precancerous changes), as well as detecting cancer of the cervix if it is already present.

Q. What Causes Cervical Cancer ?

A. It is now known that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is found in nearly all cases of cervical cancer and is therefore the primary risk factor.
There are over 100 types of HPV, most of which do not cause cancer, however some HPV are high risk and associated with cervical cancer.

Q. What Are The First Signs Of Cervical Cancer ?

A. The first identifiable symptoms are:
Watery or bloody vagina discharge
Post Coital Bleeding (bleeding after intercourse)
Bleeding between periods or after menopause

Causes of the cancer are linked to sexually transmitted viral infection, such as, genital herpes or human papilloma virus (HPV) that often causes genital warts. Women are likely to develop dysplasia or cervical cancer if they:
had sexual intercourse before 18
had multiple sex partners
had several multiple full term pregnancies
had sexually transmitted diseases
smoke
Most cases of cervical cancer are cured or controlled if caught at an early stage. That is why screening is so important. Every woman over 18 years should have an annual Pap smear.

Q. What Is Chemotherapy ?

A. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. The drugs are often called “anticancer” drugs.

Q. What Chemotherapy Achieves ?

A. Depending on the type of cancer and its stage of development, chemotherapy can be used to:

cure cancer
keep the cancer spreading;
slow the cancer’s growth;
relieve symptoms that may be caused by cancer.
Chemotherapy is a very effective cancer treatment. Even when chemotherapy cannot cure the disease, it can help people live longer and more comfortably.

Q. What Causes Side Effects?

A. Because cancer cells grow and divide rapidly, anticancer drugs are made to kill faster growing cells. But certain normal, healthy cells also multiply quickly, and chemotherapy can affect these cells, too. When it does, side effects may result. The fast-growing, normal cells most likely to be affected are blood cells forming in the bone marrow and cells in the digestive tract, reproductive system, and hair follicles. Anticancer drugs can also damage cells of the heart, kidney, bladder, lungs, and nervous system. The most common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue.
Most normal cells recover quickly when chemotherapy is over, so most side effects gradually disappear after treatment ends and the healthy cells have a chance to grow normally. The time it takes to get over some side effects and regain energy varies from person to person. How soon you will feel better depends on many factors, including your overall health and the kinds of drugs you have been taking.

While many side effects go away fairly rapidly, certain ones may take months or years to disappear completely. Sometimes, the side effects can last a lifetime, as when chemotherapy causes permanent damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or reproductive organs.
It is important to remember that many people have no long-term problems due to chemotherapy. It is also reassuring to know that doctors are making great progress in preventing some of chemotherapy’s more serious side effects.

Disclaimer
(image and parts of the information herein are owned by the JCS and is no way affilliated with GLBTQ Jamaica or my allies)

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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