Cancers We Treat
Below is a listing of the most common cancer types that we see. For very rare cancers we will connect you with experts around the nation if necessary and coordinate the care that can be done locally.
This cancer starts in the intricate liner of the bladder and gradually works its way outward where it spreads to other parts of the body. About 9 in 10 people diagnosed with bladder cancer are age 55 or older, and the average age at the time of diagnosis is 73. With about 71,000 new cases each year and a five-year survival rate of about 75 percent, bladder cancer is twice as likely in Caucasians and people who smoke. Symptoms include bloody urine or pain, frequent urination, and lower back pain. Doctors use cystoscopy and other imaging tests to discover the disease.
The second leading cause of cancer death in women, breast cancer will strike about 1 in 8 U.S. women over the course of her lifetime. The American Cancer Society reports that many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, so doctors urge women to perform regular self-examinations and ask about screenings to find abnormal lumps or swelling. Know your history as well: Your risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if you have a mother or sister with the disease. A healthy diet and exercise are keys to prevention, and treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Most often occurring between the ages of 35-44, cervical cancer – which accounts for about 13,000 new cases each year – is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. The problem: Cervical cancer must be detected early for effective treatment, and the early stages often give off no symptoms. That’s why regular PAP tests combined with a test for human papilloma virus or HPV are essential. These tests should begin at age 21 and continue every three years through age 29. Risk factors include smoking, a compromised immune system, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, family history, and an HPV infection. Symptoms in a more advanced stage will include vaginal bleeding after intercourse, vaginal discharge, and pelvic pain during intercourse.
The third most common cancer for men and women in the United States, colorectal cancer is projected to cause about 51,000 deaths in 2019. But the American Cancer Society reports that the death rate for colorectal cancer has been dropping for several decades because of more awareness, earlier screenings, and better treatments. Symptoms include blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, cramping, weakness, and fatigue. Bad diets, smoking, alcohol, and low physical activity may be causes of the disease, which can be found with a stool-based test or a colonoscopy.
Head and Neck Cancer
This broad category includes cancers of the mouth and tongue, the throat, the larynx (voice box), sinuses, and salivary glands. Two common risk factors for all of these, though, are smoking and alcohol use. You also face a higher risk if you have poor oral hygiene, worked with certain industrial materials, or have ever had the HPV virus. Be on the lookout for white or red patches in your mouth, sore throats that won’t heal, or difficulty swallowing. Head and neck cancers – which account for about 65,000 cases each year – are twice as common among men. Your doctor can find the disease with a variety of imaging and blood tests, and they encourage you to frequently visit your dentist.
By far the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women each year, lung cancer mainly occurs in people age 65 or older and kills more each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Smoking remains the primary cause, but secondhand smoke, a poor diet, and lack of exercise may also contribute to the disease. Symptoms -- persistent cough, chest pain, hoarseness, and shortness of breath among others -- often show up when the disease is in an advanced state, so early detection is vital. Are you a smoker? Catch lung cancer in its infancy with regular screenings. Remember: Quitting smoking and/or never starting is your best hope against lung cancer.
About 74,000 people will be diagnosed with lymphoma each year, and it is one of the most frequent cancers among children, teens, and young adults. But the American Cancer Society also reports that more than half of the patients are 65 and older. Lymphoma – the most common type of blood cancer -- strikes the immune system and causes swollen lymph nodes that you may notice in your armpit or throat. Other symptoms include chills, weight loss, swollen abdomen, and frequent infections. The good news? Progressive treatments and awareness put the five-year survival rate at about 85 percent.
The deadliest of skin cancers, melanoma now outpaces all other cancers with diagnosis rates steadily on the rise for the last 30 years, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk of melanoma increases as you age, and nearly 100,000 melanomas are projected to be diagnosed in 2019. That means you have to limit your exposure to sunlight and be sure to wear lots of sunscreen. Seek shade whenever possible and avoid tanning beds. You can strike the first blow against the disease and catch it early by regularly checking your skin for abnormal moles, growths, sores that won’t heal, itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
With nonspecific symptoms and no foolproof screening test, ovarian cancer often gets diagnosed at a later stage and is known as a silent killer. Historically, more women die from ovarian cancer than all other gynecologic cancers combined. Almost 14,000 women are projected to die in 2019. One problem: The non-specific symptoms -- bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and frequent urination -- may be confused for something else. Risk factors include age (most ovarian cancers develop after menopause), being overweight, and family history. Education, technology, and treatment have drastically altered the five-year survival rate – from a low of 12-15 percent to nearly 65 percent in recent years! In the past, most women had large operations, but now doctors perform less radical procedures and surgical or chemical treatments are more comfortable.
Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men – but don’t be lulled by the myth that the disease will only strike after a certain age. Patients who have a family history or a genetic predisposition are also at risk. One in nine men will be diagnosed in his lifetime, and 160,000 men get diagnosed every year. Symptoms include trouble urinating, blood in the urine, or erectile dysfunction. Treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Survival rates are high for prostate cancer that has not spread or spread only to nearby lymph nodes.
When a physician identifies a potential problem, he or she will order a number of diagnostic tests including:
- Bone Marrow Biopsy: This procedure takes a sample of bone marrow to test for abnormalities. Bone marrow makes most blood cells, such as red and white blood cells and platelets. Technicians perform the biopsy by inserting a needle into the bone (usually the hip) and removing the marrow sample during a sterile procedure.
- CT Scan (Computed Axial Tomography): A CT takes pictures of the inside of the body. This painless, radiographic technique produces a film that represents a detailed cross-section of tissue structure.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): A MRI uses a strong magnetic field and a computer to take pictures of the body. MRI is especially useful in evaluating the brain, neck, spinal cord and blood vessels.
- Nuclear Medical Scan: This technique uses an injected radioactive material and a scanner to determine the size, shape, location and function of various organs, structures and body parts.
- PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography): A PET scan looks at different parts of the body to see how they are working. PET scans check blood flow and how well the tissues in that area of the body use oxygen and food.
- Scintigraphy: The radiographic procedure determines lymph node involvement with a primary tumor. We inject a radiographic isotope around the tumor and then take an image after it has traveled to the lymph node group that serves as its primary drainage.