Baby and Cat diseases

Scratch Disease
Cats play host to a variety of bacteria, one of which causes cat scratch disease. As the name suggests, this is an illness brought on by the introduction of bacteria into a scratch or bite. The bacteria, Bartonella henselae, is transmitted through the saliva of an infected cat.

Symptoms can present in many different ways. They can cause a bump at the scratch site, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, general discomfort, headache and a fever. Cat scratch disease is generally not serious and normally will resolve without treatment. In children with normal immune systems, full recovery is expected without issue. In severe cases, an antibiotic is prescribed.

To avoid having your baby or child get cat scratch disease, supervise all interactions with the cat. If a bite or scratch should occur, wash it out with lots of soap and water. If symptoms of cat scratch disease appear, contact your doctor.

Protecting Your Family--And Your Cat
General sanitary measures will go a long way in preventing the spread of disease from cat to humans. Most of these are common sense and will prevent much more than diseases spread by cats. Some general rules are:

Wash your hands after petting your cat.
Use gloves when cleaning the litter boxes--especially if you are pregnant.
Have your cat checked out at the vet every year to rule out internal and external parasites.
Keep your cat indoors to reduce exposure to wild animals that can spread disease to your cat and your child.
Keep your cat's vaccinations up to date.
Clean the litter box daily.
Avoid letting your cat lick your utensils, plates and glasses.
Keep your cat off of the counter tops.
Cover your child's sandbox when it is not in use to keep stray cats from using it as a litter box.
Periodically wash litter boxes with scalding water and detergent.
Seek medical attention for cat bites.
With a little precaution, your baby and your child can happily, and healthily, live together.

Roundworm and Hookworm
These parasites live in the intestinal system of cats and dogs, being more common in puppies and kittens. They are passed from one animal to the next through contact with infected feces. Although most young animals show no signs of infection, the worms can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Humans can get the worms through the same route as animals--by accidentally ingesting the microscopic eggs that are passed in the feces. The eggs are resilient and can persist in playgrounds, parks and other outdoor play areas where an infected animal has been. Hookworm larvae are capable of entering the body through exposed skin.

Children are prone to get these infections since they are more likely to be playing in the dirt and placing dirty objects in their mouths. Roundworm infections often go unnoticed, though rarely it can cause tissue or nerve damage. Hookworms can cause a skin infection in humans. Having your kitten checked annually for worms is the best way to prevent infection.

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How to Massage a Baby

Daily infant massage is a great way to bond with baby. What's more, researchers are finding that massage may promote better sleeping, relieve colic, and perhaps even enhance an infant's immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development. Here are some tips and techniques to help you along.

Use a blanket or towel, and massage oil in a non-breakable container. (Test the oil on a small spot of your baby's skin and wait a day to be sure no irritation appears.) Start when your baby is in a quiet yet alert state -- not immediately after a feeding or when she's sleepy. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together, forming a diamond shape with your legs. Drape the blanket over your feet and between your knee.

How to Massage a Baby
Undress your baby down to her diaper and place her on the blanket, cradling her head on your feet. Start with a gentle "hello" stroke from baby's head to her toes. If baby stiffens, cries, or becomes irritable, move to another body part or simply end the massage for the day. If she responds well, start gently massaging her body section by section.

1. Hold your hand so your pinky's edge can move like a paddle across your baby's belly. Starting at the base of the rib cage, stroke down with one hand, then the other, in a paddle-wheel-like motion.

2. Massage her abdomen with your fingertips in a circular, clockwise motion.

3. Do the "I Love U" stroke: Trace the letter I down your baby's left side. Then trace an inverted L, stroking across the belly along the base of her ribs from her right side to her left and down. Trace an inverted U, stroking from low on the baby's right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.

4. Walk your fingers around her navel, clockwise.

5. Hold knees and feet together and gently press knees up toward her abdomen. Rotate baby's hips around a few times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)

6. Place hand on tummy horizontally and rock your hand from side to side a few times. Note: Avoid massaging tummy if the cord hasn't completely healed.

Head and Face
1. Cradling your baby's head in both hands, massage the scalp with your fingertips, as if you're shampooing. (Avoid the fontanel, the soft spot on top of baby's head.)

2. Massage her ears between your thumb and index finger.

3. Trace a heart shape on your baby's face, bringing your hands together at the chin.

4. Place your thumbs between your baby's eyebrows, and stroke out.

5. Again with your thumbs, stroke gently out over baby's closed eyelids.

6. Stroke from the bridge of the nose out over the cheeks.

7. Using your fingertips, massage the jaw in small circles.

1. Place both hands on your baby's chest and stroke outward from her sternum to her shoulders.

2. Beginning at her sternum, trace a heart shape bringing both hands up to her shoulders, then down and back together.

3. In a crisscross pattern, stroke diagonally from one side of your baby's hip, up and over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her hip.

1. With one hand, hold baby's wrist. Relax her upper arm by tapping it lightly.

2. Hold her wrist with one hand and hold your other hand in a C-shape around baby's upper arm; stroke from her shoulder down to her wrist.

3. With each hand grasping her arm, one right above the other, stroke down from shoulder to wrist with both hands rotating in opposite directions, as if you were gently wringing a towel.

4. Massage her palm, moving thumb over thumb from heel of her hand to her fingers.

5. Stroke down top of hand from wrist to fingertips. Gently squeeze and pull each finger.

6. Massage her wrist by moving your fingers in small circles.

7. Roll her arm between both your hands.

1. Place baby on tummy horizontally in front of you, or lay her across your outstretched legs. Keep her hands in front of her, not at her sides.

2. With both of your hands on baby's back, move each hand back and forth (keeping them going in opposite directions) from the base of the neck to her buttocks.

3. Hold your baby's buttocks with one hand and use the other to stroke down from her neck to her buttocks.

4. Using your fingertips, massage in small circles down one side of baby's spine and up the other. Avoid pressing on her spine directly.

5. Massage her shoulders with small circular motions.

6. Massage her buttocks with big circular motions.

7. Holding your fingers like a rake, stroke down her back.

1. Lift one of her legs by the ankle and relax it by lightly tapping the upper thigh.

2. Hold her ankle with one hand and hold your other hand in a C-shape, thumb down, around your baby's upper thigh. Stroke from her thigh down to her foot.

3. With your hands grasping the leg at the thigh, one right above the other, stroke down from hip to foot with both hands rotating in opposite directions, as if you were wringing a towel.

4. On the sole of her foot, use a thumb-over-thumb motion to massage from heel to toes.

5. Use your whole hand to stroke the bottom of her foot from heel to toes.

6. Stroke the top of her foot. Gently squeeze and pull each toe.

7. Massage around her ankle using small circles.

8. Roll her leg between your hands, as if you're rolling dough.

General Tips
Make strokes gentle but firm, and not ticklish.
Build massage into your baby's daily schedule.
Follow baby's signals about when to stop. A massage can last 10 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on her moods.

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The benefits baby massage

You know what happens: The minute you put your baby down, she cries. Pick her up and, presto -- she's serene and smiley again. If just holding your baby can be so soothing, imagine how she'll benefit from a full-body massage. In fact, studies have shown that massaging an infant can reduce crying and fussiness, help her sleep more peacefully, and alleviate common wail-inducers like constipation and colic. Some say that it even boosts a baby's ability to fight off germs.

The benefits baby massage

"When you give your baby a massage, you're actually stimulating her central nervous system," explains Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. "That sets off a chain reaction: It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that's secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby's heart rate and breathing slow down, and she becomes more relaxed. "

Giving your infant regular massages is good for his emotional well-being too. "Affectionate touch and rhythmic movement are among the most powerful forms of communication between babies and their parents, so they're great ways for you to bond," says K. Mark Sossin, PhD, director of the Parent-Infant Research Nursery at Pace University, in New York City. The payoff of baby massage trickles down to parents. "It's easy to feel helpless with a newborn, but giving him a gentle rubdown can help you feel more in control," explains Elaine Fogel Schneider, PhD, author of Massaging Your Baby: The Joy of Touch Time. "It will help you learn how to read your baby's signals and respond better to his unique needs."

Giving your baby a massage is as simple as it is enjoyable. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes. Pick a time when you're relaxed and your baby is quiet but alert. (If you try to massage a fussy baby, you may overstimulate him and make him even more unhappy.) Try starting after a diaper change or as part of a bathtime ritual.

Before you begin, make sure the room is warm and quiet. Take off any jewelry that could get in the way, and grab some baby oil. Strip your baby down to his diaper, and then lay him facing up on a soft towel or blanket, with a pillow under his head. Begin by holding your baby's hands and gently rubbing his palms with your thumbs a few times. When he seems tuned in to you, try these soothing techniques described by Dr. Schneider, starting with your baby's legs and working your way up his body.

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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a condition that breaks down a person’s immune system leading to a series of diseases. HIV does not instantly lead to AIDS. An HIV infected individual can lead a healthy life for several years before developing AIDS. HIV may be passed to another person when infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids come in contact with skin tears or mucus membranes of an uninfected individual.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an estimated 38.6 million people are living with HIV. Nearly half of them are women and girls between the ages of 15 and 24. In 2005, more than 4 million people were diagnosed with new cases of HIV. Twenty-five million people have died of AIDS (advanced stage of HIV) since the epidemic began about 25 years ago.

What are the symptoms of HIV?
The first symptoms of HIV can resemble symptoms of other conditions, such as a cold or flu virus, other sexually transmitted diseases, other infections such as mononucleosis or hepatitis. Stress and anxiety can also produce symptoms that are similar to HIV in some individuals.
The intensity of the symptoms can also vary from person to person. Some may experience very strong symptoms while others experience none at all. General symptoms can occur within days or weeks of initial exposure to the virus and may include:
Swollen lymph nodes
Sore throat
These symptoms usually appear during a period called primary or acute HIV infection.

The following may be warning signs of advanced HIV infection:
Rapid weight loss
Dry cough
Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
Profound and unexplained fatigue
Swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin or neck (lymphadenopathy)
Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
White spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
Red, brown, pink or purple blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelids
Memory loss, depression and other neurological disorders
No one should assume they are infected with HIV just because of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be related to other medical conditions. Because these symptoms are similar to other diseases, a person may not realize they are infected with HIV. The only way to determine if a person is infected with HIV is to be tested.
Even if someone doesn’t have symptoms it is still possible to transmit the virus to others. Once the virus has entered the body it begins to attack the immune system. The virus multiplies in the lymph nodes and begins to destroy the T-cells, which are the white blood cells that coordinate the entire immune system.
A person may be symptom free for nine years or more. During this time the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells.

Can having HIV lead to other problems?
The advanced stages of HIV have been identified by the term AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). According to the definition provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), AIDS includes all HIV-infected people who have less than 200 CD4+ T cells per cubic millimeter of blood. This definition also includes 26 clinical conditions that affect people with advanced HIV disease. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and fatal because the immune system has been so damaged by HIV that the body cannot reject certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other microbes.

How is HIV transmitted?
The most common ways that HIV is spread include:
Vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who is infected with HIV
Sharing needles or syringes with someone infected with HIV
Infected blood, semen or vaginal fluid (including menstrual blood) can enter the body through the vagina, rectum or mouth and surrounding tissue. The risk of becoming infected increases if there are sores (caused by herpes, syphilis and chancroid) on the genitals (vagina, vulva, penis). Sharing personal devices can be risky if they have been in contact with another person’s blood, semen or vaginal fluid.

HIV is not spread through every day activities or casual contact. Activities such as hugging, kissing, cuddling, touching or massaging do not spread HIV unless there is contact with the person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk.

HIV cannot be contracted from:
Coughs or sneezes
Being around an infected person
Insect bites
Using swimming pools or hot tubs
Toilet seats
Phones or computers
Drinking fountains
Straws, spoons or cups

How is HIV diagnosed?
Because this disease has nonspecific symptoms, they are not a reliable way to diagnose HIV infection. The only way to know whether a person has been infected is through HIV testing.
HIV tests do not test for the actual HIV virus. One test detects HIV proteins while the other two detect HIV antibodies in the bloodstream.
Elisa is the first portion of the HIV test. This test detects the presence of HIV antibodies in the blood. Negative results determine a person is not HIV infected. Positive results lead to the second portion of the test to confirm results.
Western Blot is used to confirm a positive Elisa test result. The Western Blot test detects specific protein bands that are present with HIV infections. A positive Elisa test with a positive Western Blot test gives 99.9% accuracy in identifying HIV infection.
PCR detects specific DNA and RNA sequences that indicate the presence of HIV in the genetic structure of anyone HIV infected. DNA and RNA from the HIV virus circulate in the blood. The presence of these “particles” indicates the HIV virus.
Testing for HIV antibodies is the only way to know if a person is infected. However, this test for HIV antibodies is effective only after the infected person’s immune system produces antibodies to HIV. There is a time period between the initial infection and when the HIV antibodies are detectable which can be from 2 weeks to 6 months with an average length of 3 months. During this time period standard HIV testing is ineffective.

What is the treatment for HIV?
When the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in the early 1980s, AIDS patients were not expected to live more than a few years. Since then, the development of safe and effective drugs is enabling people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives.
At the present time there are 26 antiretroviral drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV patients. These drugs can be classified into three major groups:
Reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors – interfere with the conversion of reverse transcriptase (an HIV enzyme) into HIV RNA to HIV DNA.
Protease inhibitors (PI) – interfere with the protease enzyme that HIV uses to produce infectious viral particles.
Fusion inhibitors – interfere with the HIV virus’ ability to fuse with the cellular membrane, thus blocking entry into the host cell.
Current drugs can suppress the HIV virus, even to undetectable levels, but are not able to completely remove HIV from the body. These drugs help to manage HIV but are not able to cure it. It is important that infected patients continue to take antiretroviral drugs.
Because HIV reproduces itself, new strains of the virus continue to emerge which can be resistant to antiretroviral drugs. Most health care providers recommend that HIV infected patients take a combination of antiretroviral drugs known as HAART. This combination of drugs successfully suppresses the virus and decreases the rate of opportunistic infections by strengthening the immune system.
While the use of HAART can suppress the virus and has greatly reduced the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS, the virus may still be transmitted. People infected with HIV who are taking antiretroviral drugs can still transmit HIV to others through unprotected sex and needle sharing.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America maintains a database of new drugs in development to treat HIV infection. Scientists are also studying how immune modulators can help to increase the immune response to the HIV virus and make existing HIV drugs more effective. Therapeutic vaccines are being examined for this purpose.

Can HIV be prevented?
Not having sex is the only sure way to avoid the transmission of HIV.
If you decide to engage in sexual activity, in order to reduce the risk of infection you should:
 Have sex with only one partner who is not infected with HIV, who does not share needles or syringes and who has sex only with you. These things may be difficult to know about another person.
Avoid contact with your partner’s blood, semen or vaginal fluid.
The correct use of a latex condom when having sex greatly reduces your risk of HIV infection.
Use a water-based lubricant with the latex condom to reduce risk of breakage when engaging in vaginal or anal sex.
Use a male condom without spermicide or a lubricant for oral sex.
Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the female condom or dental dams in preventing HIV transmission.
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What is Cancer? What Causes Cancer?

What is Cancer? What Causes Cancer?

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected.
Cancer harms the body when damaged cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors (except in the case of leukemia where cancer prohibits normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood stream). Tumors can grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that alter body function. Tumors that stay in one spot and demonstrate limited growth are generally considered to be benign.

More dangerous, or malignant, tumors form when two things occur:
a cancerous cell manages to move throughout the body using the blood or lymph systems, destroying healthy tissue in a process called invasion
that cell manages to divide and grow, making new blood vessels to feed itself in a process called angiogenesis.
When a tumor successfully spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues, it is said to have metastasized. This process itself is called metastasis, and the result is a serious condition that is very difficult to treat.

In 2007, cancer claimed the lives of about 7.6 million people in the world. Physicians and researchers who specialize in the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer are called oncologists.

What causes cancer?
Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis, and when this process breaks down, cancer begins to form. Unlike regular cells, cancer cells do not experience programmatic death and instead continue to grow and divide. This leads to a mass of abnormal cells that grows out of control.

Genes - the DNA type

Cells can experience uncontrolled growth if there are damages or mutations to DNA, and therefore, damage to the genes involved in cell division. Four key types of gene are responsible for the cell division process: oncogenes tell cells when to divide, tumor suppressor genes tell cells when not to divide, suicide genes control apoptosis and tell the cell to kill itself if something goes wrong, and DNA-repair genes instruct a cell to repair damaged DNA.

Cancer occurs when a cell's gene mutations make the cell unable to correct DNA damage and unable to commit suicide. Similarly, cancer is a result of mutations that inhibit oncogene and tumor suppressor gene function, leading to uncontrollable cell growth.


Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA, promoting or aiding cancer. Tobacco, asbestos, arsenic, radiation such as gamma and x-rays, the sun, and compounds in car exhaust fumes are all examples of carcinogens. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed that try to steal electrons from other molecules in the body. Theses free radicals damage cells and affect their ability to function normally.

Genes - the family type

Cancer can be the result of a genetic predisposition that is inherited from family members. It is possible to be born with certain genetic mutations or a fault in a gene that makes one statistically more likely to develop cancer later in life.

Other medical factors

As we age, there is an increase in the number of possible cancer-causing mutations in our DNA. This makes age an important risk factor for cancer. Several viruses have also been linked to cancer such as: human papillomavirus (a cause of cervical cancer), hepatitis B and C (causes of liver cancer), and Epstein-Barr virus (a cause of some childhood cancers). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - and anything else that suppresses or weakens the immune system - inhibits the body's ability to fight infections and increases the chance of developing cancer.

What are the symptoms of cancer?
Cancer symptoms are quite varied and depend on where the cancer is located, where it has spread, and how big the tumor is. Some cancers can be felt or seen through the skin - a lump on the breast or testicle can be an indicator of cancer in those locations. Skin cancer (melanoma) is often noted by a change in a wart or mole on the skin. Some oral cancers present white patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue.
Other cancers have symptoms that are less physically apparent. Some brain tumors tend to present symptoms early in the disease as they affect important cognitive functions. Pancreas cancers are usually too small to cause symptoms until they cause pain by pushing against nearby nerves or interfere with liver function to cause a yellowing of the skin and eyes called jaundice. Symptoms also can be created as a tumor grows and pushes against organs and blood vessels. For example, colon cancers lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and changes in stool size. Bladder or prostate cancers cause changes in bladder function such as more frequent or infrequent urination.

As cancer cells use the body's energy and interfere with normal hormone function, it is possible to present symptoms such as fever, fatigue, excessive sweating, anemia, and unexplained weight loss. However, these symptoms are common in several other maladies as well. For example, coughing and hoarseness can point to lung or throat cancer as well as several other conditions.

When cancer spreads, or metastasizes, additional symptoms can present themselves in the newly affected area. Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes are common and likely to be present early. If cancer spreads to the brain, patients may experience vertigo, headaches, or seizures. Spreading to the lungs may cause coughing and shortness of breath. In addition, the liver may become enlarged and cause jaundice and bones can become painful, brittle, and break easily. Symptoms of metastasis ultimately depend on the location to which the cancer has spread.

How is cancer classified?
There are five broad groups that are used to classify cancer.

Carcinomas are characterized by cells that cover internal and external parts of the body such as lung, breast, and colon cancer.
Sarcomas are characterized by cells that are located in bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle, and other supportive tissues.
Lymphomas are cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues.
Leukemias are cancers that begin in the bone marrow and often accumulate in the bloodstream.
Adenomas are cancers that arise in the thyroid, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, and other glandular tissues.
Cancers are often referred to by terms that contain a prefix related to the cell type in which the cancer originated and a suffix such as -sarcoma, -carcinoma, or just -oma. Common prefixes include:

Adeno- = gland
Chondro- = cartilage
Erythro- = red blood cell
Hemangio- = blood vessels
Hepato- = liver
Lipo- = fat
Lympho- = white blood cell
Melano- = pigment cell
Myelo- = bone marrow
Myo- = muscle
Osteo- = bone
Uro- = bladder
Retino- = eye
Neuro- = brain
How is cancer diagnosed and staged?

Early detection of cancer can greatly improve the odds of successful treatment and survival. Physicians use information from symptoms and several other procedures to diagnose cancer. Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and ultrasound scans are used regularly in order to detect where a tumor is located and what organs may be affected by it. Doctors may also conduct an endoscopy, which is a procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera and light at one end, to look for abnormalities inside the body.

Extracting cancer cells and looking at them under a microscope is the only absolute way to diagnose cancer. This procedure is called a biopsy. Other types of molecular diagnostic tests are frequently employed as well. Physicians will analyze your body's sugars, fats, proteins, and DNA at the molecular level. For example, cancerous prostate cells release a higher level of a chemical called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) into the bloodstream that can be detected by a blood test. Molecular diagnostics, biopsies, and imaging techniques are all used together to diagnose cancer.

After a diagnosis is made, doctors find out how far the cancer has spread and determine the stage of the cancer. The stage determines which choices will be available for treatment and informs prognoses. The most common cancer staging method is called the TNM system. T (1-4) indicates the size and direct extent of the primary tumor, N (0-3) indicates the degree to which the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and M (0-1) indicates whether the cancer has metastasized to other organs in the body. A small tumor that has not spread to lymph nodes or distant organs may be staged as (T1, N0, M0), for example.

TNM descriptions then lead to a simpler categorization of stages, from 0 to 4, where lower numbers indicate that the cancer has spread less. While most Stage 1 tumors are curable, most Stage 4 tumors are inoperable or untreatable.

How is cancer treated?

Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread), age, health status, and additional personal characteristics. There is no single treatment for cancer, and patients often receive a combination of therapies and palliative care. Treatments usually fall into one of the following categories: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, or gene therapy.

Surgery is the oldest known treatment for cancer. If a cancer has not metastasized, it is possible to completely cure a patient by surgically removing the cancer from the body. This is often seen in the removal of the prostate or a breast or testicle. After the disease has spread, however, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the cancer cells. Surgery may also be instrumental in helping to control symptoms such as bowel obstruction or spinal cord compression.

Radiation treatment, also known as radiotherapy, destroys cancer by focusing high-energy rays on the cancer cells. This causes damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells and leads them to commit suicide. Radiotherapy utilizes high-energy gamma-rays that are emitted from metals such as radium or high-energy x-rays that are created in a special machine. Early radiation treatments caused severe side-effects because the energy beams would damage normal, healthy tissue, but technologies have improved so that beams can be more accurately targeted. Radiotherapy is used as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells (including those associated with leukemia and lymphoma), and it is also used in combination with other cancer treatments.

Chemotherapy utilizes chemicals that interfere with the cell division process - damaging proteins or DNA - so that cancer cells will commit suicide. These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells (not necessarily just cancer cells), but normal cells usually can recover from any chemical-induced damage while cancer cells cannot. Chemotherapy is generally used to treat cancer that has spread or metastasized because the medicines travel throughout the entire body. It is a necessary treatment for some forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Chemotherapy treatment occurs in cycles so the body has time to heal between doses. However, there are still common side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. Combination therapies often include multiple types of chemotherapy or chemotherapy combined with other treatment options.

Immunotherapy aims to get the body's immune system to fight the tumor. Local immunotherapy injects a treatment into an affected area, for example, to cause inflammation that causes a tumor to shrink. Systemic immunotherapy treats the whole body by administering an agent such as the protein interferon alpha that can shrink tumors. Immunotherapy can also be considered non-specific if it improves cancer-fighting abilities by stimulating the entire immune system, and it can be considered targeted if the treatment specifically tells the immune system to destroy cancer cells. These therapies are relatively young, but researchers have had success with treatments that introduce antibodies to the body that inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Bone marrow transplantation (hematopoetic stem cell transplantation) can also be considered immunotherapy because the donor's immune cells will often attack the tumor or cancer cells that are present in the host.

Hormone therapy
Several cancers have been linked to some types of hormones, most notably breast and prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is designed to alter hormone production in the body so that cancer cells stop growing or are killed completely. Breast cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing estrogen levels (a common drug for this is tamoxifen) and prostate cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing testosterone levels. In addition, some leukemia and lymphoma cases can be treated with the hormone cortisone.

Gene therapy
The goal of gene therapy is to replace damaged genes with ones that work to address a root cause of cancer: damage to DNA. For example, researchers are trying to replace the damaged gene that signals cells to stop dividing (the p53 gene) with a copy of a working gene. Other gene-based therapies focus on further damaging cancer cell DNA to the point where the cell commits suicide. Gene therapy is a very young field and has not yet resulted in any successful treatments.

How can cancer be prevented?
Cancers that are closely linked to certain behaviors are the easiest to prevent. For example, choosing not to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol significantly lower the risk of several types of cancer - most notably lung, throat, mouth, and liver cancer. Even if you are a current tobacco user, quitting can still greatly reduce your chances of getting cancer.
Skin cancer can be prevented by staying in the shade, protecting yourself with a hat and shirt when in the sun, and using sunscreen. Diet is also an important part of cancer prevention since what we eat has been linked to the disease. Physicians recommend diets that are low in fat and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Certain vaccinations have been associated with the prevention of some cancers. For example, many women receive a vaccination for the human papillomavirus because of the virus's relationship with cervical cancer. Hepatitis B vaccines prevent the hepatitis B virus, which can cause liver cancer.
Some cancer prevention is based on systematic screening in order to detect small irregularities or tumors as early as possible even if there are no clear symptoms present. Breast self-examination, mammograms, testicular self-examination, and Pap smears are common screening methods for various cancers.
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Female Infertility

Female Infertility
Infertility is a condition that affects approximately one out of every six couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple that has been unsuccessful in efforts to conceive over the course of one full year. When the cause of infertility exists within the female partner, it is referred to as female infertility. Female infertility factors contribute to approximately 50% of all infertility cases, and female infertility alone accounts for approximately one-third of all infertility cases.

What causes female infertility?
The most common causes of female infertility include problems with ovulation, damage to fallopian tubes or uterus, or problems with the cervix. Age can contribute to infertility because as a woman ages, her fertility naturally tends to decrease.

Ovulation problems may be caused by one or more of the following:
A hormone imbalance
A tumor or cyst
Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
Alcohol or drug use
Thyroid gland problems
Excess weight
Intense exercise that causes a significant loss of body fat
Extremely brief menstrual cycles

Damage to the fallopian tubes or uterus can be caused by one or more of the following:
Pelvic inflammatory disease
A previous infection
Polyps in the uterus
Endometriosis or fibroids
Scar tissue or adhesions
Chronic medical illness
A previous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
A birth defect
DES syndrome (The medication DES, given to women to prevent miscarriage or premature birth can result in fertility problems for their children.)
Abnormal cervical mucus can also cause infertility. Abnormal cervical mucus can prevent the sperm from reaching the egg or make it more difficult for the sperm to penetrate the egg.

How is female infertility diagnosed?
Potential female infertility is assessed as part of a thorough physical exam. The exam will include a medical history regarding potential factors that could contribute to infertility.

Healthcare providers may use one or more of the following tests/exams to evaluate fertility:

A urine or blood test to check for infections or a hormone problem, including thyroid function
Pelvic exam and breast exam
A sample of cervical mucus and tissue to determine if ovulation is occurring
Laparoscope inserted into the abdomen to view the condition of organs and to look for blockage, adhesions or scar tissue.
HSG, which is an x-ray used in conjunction with a colored liquid inserted into the fallopian tubes making it easier for the technician to check for blockage.
Hysteroscopy uses a tiny telescope with a fiber light to look for uterine abnormalities.
Ultrasound to look at the uterus and ovaries. May be done vaginally or abdominally.
Sonohystogram combines an ultrasound and saline injected into the uterus to look for abnormalities or problems.
Tracking your ovulation through fertility awareness will also help your healthcare provider assess your fertility status .

How is female infertility treated?
Female infertility is most often treated by one or more of the following methods:

Taking hormones to address a hormone imbalance, endometriosis, or a short menstrual cycle
Taking medications to stimulate ovulation
Using supplements to enhance fertility - shop supplements
Taking antibiotics to remove an infection
Having minor surgery to remove blockage or scar tissues from the fallopian tubes, uterus, or pelvic area.
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Can female infertility be prevented?
There is usually nothing that can be done to prevent female infertility caused by genetic problems or illness. However, there are several things that women can do to decrease the possibility of infertility:

Take steps to prevent sexually transmitted diseases
Avoid illicit drugs
Avoid heavy or frequent alcohol use
Adopt good personal hygiene and health practices
Have annual check ups with your GYN once you are sexually active
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
It is important to contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

Abnormal bleeding
Abdominal pain
Unusual discharge
Pain or discomfort during intercourse
Soreness or itching in the vaginal area
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