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Dr De La Flor
Your questions answered
Dear Dr. De La Flor,
There are several relatives in my family with benign tumours, would that increase my chances of eventually suffering from cancer?
Sincerely,
Leo


© Phil Crean

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Tenerife - 09.05.2011 - Dear Leo

A tumor is a growth and per se does not imply malignancy. For example, most skin tumours or growths are benign. Ill try to explain to you the hallmarks of a cancer so that you can understand their pattern.

- Self-sufficiency in growth signals: Cancer cells do not need stimulation from external signals to multiply. Cancer cells are generally resistant to growth-preventing signals from their neighbours.

- Tissue invasion and metastasis: Cancer cells can break away from their site or organ of origin to invade surrounding tissue and spread (metastasize) to distant body organs.

- Limitless reproductive potential: Non-cancer cells die after a certain number of divisions. Cancer cells are somewhat immortal. They are apparently capable of indefinite growth and division.

- Sustained blood vessel construction (angiogenesis): Cancer cells appear to be able to kick-start this process, ensuring that such cells receive a continual supply of oxygen and other nutrients.

- Evading apoptosis: Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death (cell suicide), the mechanism by which cells are programmed to die after a certain number of divisions or in the event they become damaged. Cancer cells characteristically are able to bypass this mechanism.

- Abnormal metabolism: Most cancer cells use abnormal metabolic pathways to generate energy.

- Evading the immune system: Cancer cells appear to be invisible to the bodys immune system!

- Unstable DNA Cancer cells generally have severe chromosomal abnormalities, which worsen as the disease progresses.

To answer more specifically your question, Id have to know what types of tumors your family has. Each abnormal growth behaves in a different manner, since risk factors and many individual factors can play a detrimental or beneficial effect.





Dear Dr. De La Flor,

I have been diagnosed with testicular cancer but they have not told me how bad it is since they are waiting for more studies. Since I have no family history of such cancer, why did it happen to me?

Cheers,

Simon

 

Dear Simon,

Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins within the testicles. The cancer cells no longer follow normal growth patterns, multiplying uncontrollably. The two testicles, or testes, are glands that produce male hormones and sperm.

Testicular cancer may spread slowly or rapidly through the lymphatic or blood vessels, depending on its type, but the path is consistent: Once cancer cells are free to spread to nearby lymph or blood vessels, they could be carried to the lungs, then to the liver, bones, and possibly the brain. You need to wait for all the tests since in general, many afflicted have an excellent prognosis popular cyclist Lance Armstrong is a survivor of this type of cancer.

As your doctor might have mentioned, thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment, testicular cancer is among the most curable of cancers, even in an advanced stage, and it is rarely fatal. Over 90 per cent of patients are diagnosed with small, localised tumors that are highly treatable. Even if cancer has spread to nearby organs at diagnosis, patients have an excellent chance of long-term survival.

To be honest with you, we don't always know why a man develops testicular cancer. Testicular cancer may run in families usually from parent to child but obviously thats not your case. Genetic disorders such as Klinefelters syndrome and Downs syndrome can raise the risk. Researches have found links between testicular cancer and other factors; for instance a condition called an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism). The undescended testicle is in an abnormal area within the abdomen or groin. Surgically bringing the testicle into a normal position in the scrotum does not reduce a man's risk for developing cancer. The normal position simply allows for better and closer examination.

Men with fertility problems are more likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer and testicular cancer increases the risk of infertility. Thats why I strongly recommend that men with fertility issues be checked for cancer of the testicle.

Best wishes for you during the treatment. Stay strong and focused!



Dr. De La Flor, licensed G.P. /Family Doctor, holds certificates in coaching, nutrition and medical exercise from Berkeley University and the American Council on Exercise. His medical approach is highly influenced by Positive Psychology; an empowering, encompassing way of approaching patients through the study of their strengths and virtues to enable them to thrive and lead fulfilling lives, accept the past, find happiness in the present, and hope for the future. You can reach the doctor at 00-34-697.888.666 to schedule a consultation in his surgery or in your home/business.






This article appears in the print edition 642 of Island Connections



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