Cancer is one of the most robbing and devastating diseases in existence.
Essentially, cancer is caused by the growth of abnormal cells in one’s body; if malignant cells are present, that means they are cancerous. A tumor is formed when old cells do not die as they should and new cells multiply when the body does not need them. The type of cancer and how dangerous it is depends on the type and location of the tumor itself.
In this article, I’m going to examine two of the rarest forms of cancer in existence, along with some statistical information regarding each, symptoms of each and what type of treatments are available.
1. Terminal Ovarian Cancer
Terminal Ovarian Cancer is essentially a cancer of the female ovaries.
Doctors cannot specify where exactly ovarian cancer comes from, but there are certain risk factors which can increase one’s risk of getting this type of cancer. If you have a family member who has a history of ovarian, breast, colon, rectum or uterus cancer, or have a personal history of some of these other cancers, your risk for getting ovarian cancer is increased. If you are over 55, never have gotten pregnant and have taken estrogen for more than ten years, you also have an increased risk of getting this disease.
What is unfortunate about ovarian cancer is it often isn’t discovered until the cancer has already spread, and typically symptoms of ovarian cancer are not visible until the cancer has already grown. Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back or legs, constipation, indigestion, gas, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding and the need to urinate often. Of course, if you have these symptoms it does not mean you have cancer, but certainly see your doctor. Most likely he will give you a physical exam, pelvic exam, ultrasound by biopsy, depending on your symptoms.
If it is determined that you indeed do have ovarian cancer, it will be diagnosed at a particular stage. Stage I means that cancerous cells are found on the ovaries’ surface or in fluid found in the abdomen. Stage II means the cells have spread to one or more ovaries or other tissues and organs, such as the uterus or fallopian tubes. Stage III equates to the cancer cells spreading to regional lymph nodes or tissues outside the pelvic region. Stage IV equates to the cells spreading even further outside the ovaries, to areas like the liver or lungs.
Being informed of having ovarian cancer is a life-changing ordeal, and certainly you will be shocked and devastated after finding out. First, if you feel it’s necessary, seek out a second opinion from someone other than your primary doctor. Also seek out support groups and the help of friends, family, and even spiritual counseling. Certainly ask your doctor any and every question applicable to your condition, including side affects of treatment and how it will affect your normal activities.
Treatments for the actual cancer depend on what stage your cancer is in. Surgery and radiation are local therapies which remove the cancer from the pelvis and control the disease if it has spread to other areas. Chemotherapy attempts to destroy the cancer in the pelvis or abdomen, and is entered directly into the area through or thin tube, taken by mouth or injected into a vein.
If left untreated, ovarian cancer can spread to other organs, such as the uterus and fallopian tubes, as well as the pelvis, abdomen and chest. If this happens, the cancer in this particular organ is considered “distant,” yet the cancer is still considered ovarian.
One particularly rare form of ovarian cancer is one where a bilateral Krukenberg tumor is formed. This type of tumor affects one in ten billion people and has only been documented 30 times in the last 50 years internationally. For more information on this particular type of cancer, click here.
Malignant Mesothelioma is another rare form of cancer that forms in the mesothelium, which is the protective lining that covers the body’s organs.
The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, while smoking can also increase one’s risk of getting this type of cancer. Specifically, when one is exposed to asbestos fibers, inflammation of internal tissue occurs, which disrupts organ function and eventually leads to the disease. Many people are exposed to asbestos through their jobs, unknowingly getting the disease, and then not showing symptoms till years, even decades later. For this reason, those who have mesothelioma typically are not diagnosed until they are in the late stages of the disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is typically divided into four different types. Pleural is the most common form, consisting of about 2/3 of all cases of this kind. Symptoms of this type of mesothelioma include lumps under the skin or chest, painful breathing, fatigue, weight loss in large amounts, shortness of breath, night sweats, coughing up blood, raspy cough and/or fever. Peritoneal mesothelioma consists of about 25-30 % of diagnoses. Symptoms include night sweats, appearance of lumps under the skin, constipation, fatigue, extreme weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, fever, vomiting and/or anemia. Pericardial mesothelioma consists of about 5 % of cases. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, difficult breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, night sweats and/or irregular heartbeat. Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of this cancer, and because of this, the only symptoms known are lumps in the testicles that may or may not be painful.
Treatment for mesothelioma is similar to other cancers, and consists of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. New treatments have also surfaced, including therapies like Cisplatin and Alimta. Additional alternative treatments which can assist in helping patients combating one or more types of cancers, include meditation, yoga, massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, herbal supplements, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, reiki, naturopathy, chiropractic care or TENS therapy.