Category Archives: Cancer

20 Things You Need to Know About Your Nipples

Your nipples deliver milk to a baby, boost sexual pleasure, and can tip you off to serious health issues, such as breast cancer. Here's the nipple health info all women need to know—plus some fascinating facts about nipple hair, nipple piercings, and the elusive nipple orgasm. “>
Breast Cancer –

20 Things to Know About DCIS, or ‘Stage 0’ Breast Cancer

Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, is a confusing and controversial diagnosis often referred to as stage 0 breast cancer. Here’s what you need to know about prognosis, treatment, and the latest DCIS research. “>
Breast Cancer –

Yes, Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too. Here’s What You Need to Know

Get the facts about breast cancer in men, from symptoms and treatments to how it's diagnosed and the latest research. “>
Breast Cancer –

9 Things to Know Before Your First Mammogram

Where should you go? Will it hurt? How long does it take? Experts have the answers to all of your mammogram-related questions so you’re prepared and relaxed at your first appointment. “>
Breast Cancer –

Meet the Breast Cancer Survivor Who Crafts Custom Nipples to Help Women After a Mastectomy

[brightcove:5522456484001 default]

I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2010 at age 33. My son was 4, and my husband and I had started thinking about having another baby. We tried and tried, but I didn't conceive. I went to see my doctor, who ended up prescribing me hormones after running several checks and tests. I asked another doctor why I had to do all those tests, and she said sometimes doctors don't want to give hormones to women who might have any small tumors growing in their bodies so the tumors don't become monsters. I remember she specifically said monster—something about it made me remember, somewhere in my subconscious, that I had a small bump in my breast. My doctor had checked it nine months earlier and said it was nothing, but this new doctor wanted me to have it checked again as soon as possible.

That was a Sunday morning, and by the next Sunday morning I was having a mammogram and a biopsy. The woman who did the biopsy told me it didn't look good, but I remember thinking it was either a bad dream or they had made a mistake. I was healthy, I ate nutritiously, I didn't smoke, I didn't have any cancer in my family. I thought, "No way!"

But it wasn't a mistake—turns out, I had cancer. I went through chemotherapy and hormone treatment, and after a year of those treatments, which were meant to shrink the tumor, I still needed a single mastectomy. I had reconstructive surgery with an implant too. I was bald from chemo, I was covered in scars, and I only had one nipple. I couldn't look at myself. For the first three months after my mastectomy, I showered in the dark, because I would end up crying if I saw myself. I hated trying on bathing suits or buying a new bra. It was so obvious to me that one nipple was happy, that I had one breast that was still mine, and on the other side, a reconstructed breast, but no nipple.

RELATED: 25 Breast Cancer Myths Busted

I became so obsessed with this missing part of me that I had to fix it. I wanted to feel complete again and not have this reminder 100 times a day that I don't have a nipple. I saw a doctor about having nipple reconstruction surgery. The doctor can make a nipple out of your skin, and then you can have the areola tattooed on. The surgeon told me my skin was still too sensitive after treatment. I would have to wait at least another two years.

That was way, way too long for me to wait. I remember going back to our house after that appointment and going to sleep, then waking up after an hour in a crazy-inspired mood. I told my husband I was going to the store to get supplies to make a mold to make myself a nipple. He joked that I must have been taking medical marijuana to come up with this idea. After I calmed down a little, we did some research online. While there are prostheses for many other human organs, there wasn't a good solution for nipples. I guess nobody thought it was that important!

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter

I thought it was important, so I learned how to make one myself. I went back to school to learn medical art from professionals. I was a marketing director at an advertising company; I thought I'd make nipples in the evenings as a hobby. Even if I was my only customer, I was going to do it. But after two months, it became clear there were other women like me who couldn't reconstruct their own nipples or didn't want another surgery who could use my product, so I started selling them, and my company Pink Perfect was born. It started as a small company here in Israel where I live, and then I opened in the U.S. as well.

My prostheses are ready-made ($ 280 for two) or custom-made ($ 410-$ 480 for two) silicone nipples, and they come in eight different color variations. They're waterproof, so women can swim and shower with them on. They feel like real skin, and they stick on with a medical adhesive, typically for about a week before you need to reapply. With proper care, they can last for years. I have sold over 1,000, and I still make them all myself. I'm a fanatic about it. As long as I can, I'll keep doing this, it's that important to me. Yes, it's a business, but even if women don't buy anything from me, I want them to know they have an option that doesn't require more surgery.

I wanted to put cancer behind me, but I ended up putting cancer in front of me. If somebody would have told me I was going to make nipples as my job, I would have thought they were crazy, but this is what life brought me. The first time I made a pair for a friend, who had had a double mastectomy, she cried and said, "I have breasts again!" I couldn't give up on that.

Husbands have called me to thank me. One told me his wife hadn't shown him her breasts for three years. "I bought her those nipples and she put them on, and I saw her for the first time after reconstruction," he told me. "You saved my marriage." I had a grandmother who told me she had a long-standing ritual of taking a jacuzzi soak with her grandchildren, and after breast cancer she no longer felt comfortable doing so, until she tried my nipples. I think in a way I can help make women healthier if I can make them feel sexy and happy and feminine again. With everything I've been through, it's a privilege to help other women. “>
Breast Cancer –

 The 5 Breast Cancer Stages, Explained

Breast cancer stages tell patients and their doctors important information that can help determine the best course of treatment for the disease. “>
Breast Cancer –

Olivia Newton-John is Using Cannabis Oil for her Breast Cancer—Here’s How It Could Help

When singer and actress Olivia Newton-John announced last month that she had been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer—a return of the breast cancer she battled into remission in the 1990s, which has now spread to her back—she said she planned to fight the disease in part with "natural wellness therapies."

While Newton-John didn't specify which natural therapies she would begin using, her daughter, Chloe Rose Lattanzi, did sound off on one of the remedies when she posted cancer_battle/”>this message on Instagram in support of her mom:

“My mom and best friend is going to be fine. She will be using medicine that I often talk about. CBD oil! (Cannabis has scientifically proven properties to inhibit cancer cell growth) and other natural healing remedies plus modern medicine to beat this,” Lattanzi wrote. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Stay Healthy After Breast Cancer

So what is CBD oil, also known as cannabis oil, and does it really have cancer-fighting powers? First, the basics: CBD stands for cannabidiol. It's one of several compounds, called cannabinoids, found in cannabis, aka the marijuana plant. Some research shows that certain cannabinoids do have an anti-cancer effect, says Allan Frankel, M.D., a medicinal cannabis expert in Santa Monica, California.

[brightcove:3335282352001 default]


Taken as a spray or capsule or inhaled as a vapor, CBD oil is used to treat either the cancer itself or the side effects of the disease or chemotherapy, says Dr. Frankel. Unlike smoking marijuana, however, Dr. Frankel says CBD oil won't get a person high because it doesn't contain enough of the high-producing cannabinoid known as THC. Not getting high is part of the appeal of CBD oil for many patients, he adds.

But whether cannabis oil really plays a role in fighting cancer or easing cancer side effects is controversial. Human studies are scarce, concedes Dr. Frankel, and he stresses that it shouldn’t take the place of modern medical treatments but instead be a supplement to them. 

RELATED: How to Help a Loved One Cope With Breast Cancer

There's also confusion as to whether CBD oil is legal. The Drug Enforcement Agency appears to classify it as a "controlled substance," and it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Frankel says it is legally available in states that have legitimized medicinal or recreational marijuana. Doctors like himself can't prescribe it like a regular drug, but he can direct a patient to a legal dispensary.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

The American Cancer Society (ACS) also takes a cautious stance on cannabis in general. "Data shows that it inhibits growth of cancer cells in petri dishes, and in animal studies, but it's limited data and I can’t recommend it for human use outside of a human clinical trial," Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the ACS, tells Health. "The initial data indicates it should be researched more though." 

So while the data looks promising, the jury is officially out. Still, if Newton-John chooses to give CBD oil a try, it's a good idea to know where the product she uses came from. "If you buy something like CBD oil, or any marijuana product from a dispensary or off the street, you don't know what's in it," says Dr. Brawley. “>
Breast Cancer –

Shannen Doherty Shows Off Growing Locks Two Months After She Announced Her Remission

This article originally appeared on

Shannen Doherty is slowly coming back to her old self.

The 46-year-old actress gave fans an update on how she was doing by posting a photo on Instagram on Wednesday of her growing hair.

In the cute pic, beside her husband Kurt Iswarienko, Doherty looks calm and happy enjoying a beach day in Tulum, Mexico.

“I think my husband and I are morphing into each other…. #twins #curlyhairdontcare #tulum @kurtiswarienko,” Doherty wrote in the caption.

She also enjoyed the company of a friendly dog named Sophia while on vacation. “For me, there is always a dog,” she writes on Instagram, her black locks on display. “This is Sophia. She can’t give enough love. Neither can I.”

The cancer survivor announced she was in remission in April, sharing the good news in an emotional Instagram post.

“Moments. They happen. Today was and is a moment,” she wrote. “What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting.”

She continued, “As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time. Many of you have shared that very story with me. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait.”

The former Charmed star was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015 and has documented her battle against cancer ever since on her Instagram page.

She has shared her workout routines with supporters, her chemotherapy sessions and how they’ve left her feeling afterward, as well as loving moments between her and her family. “>
Breast Cancer –

More Breast Cancers Have Been Diagnosed Early Since Obamacare Took Effect

As the Senate debates whether to vote this week on the Republicans’ proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new study has been released—finding that after the ACA became law in 2011, more women with breast cancer were diagnosed early, in stage 1 of the disease.

Diagnosing breast cancer while it’s still in stage 1 can improve patients’ prognosis and reduce the need for intensive and costly treatments, the study authors wrote in the journal Cancer Epidemiology. And it's likely that such an increase has saved lives, they wrote.

RELATED: 22 Ways to Help a Friend With Breast Cancer

The study analyzed data from more than 470,000 breast cancer patients, ages 50 to 74, who were covered by private insurance or Medicare. All of the women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer either between 2007 and 2009 (before the ACA was in place) or between 2011 and 2013 (after the bill took effect).

Between those two time periods, the percentage of breast cancers diagnosed in stage 1 increased 3.6 percentage points, from 54.4% to 58%. The researchers also found a corresponding decline in stage 2 and stage 3 diagnoses, with no change in the rate of stage 4 diagnoses.

[brightcove:5290666280001 default]


Lead author Abigail Silva, PhD, an assistant professor of public health sciences at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, says she was “pleasantly surprised” to see an effect, although modest, so soon after the ACA was put into place. “It’s really exciting and shows the kind of impact this legislation can have for good,” she says.

The earlier cancer is detected, the more effectively it can be treated. And Silva says there can be a significant difference in the type of treatment needed for stage 1 versus stage 2 cancer.

“In stage 2, it means the cancer has started to spread beyond the breast, to the lymph nodes for example,” says Silva. “In that case a woman might need chemotherapy, which involves longer period of time and more side effects and out-of-pocket costs than, say, the surgery and maybe radiation she’d need for stage 1.”

In the study, increases in stage 1 diagnoses were higher in Latinas and African Americans than in white patients. Historically, minorities are less likely to receive early diagnoses of breast cancer—in part because they’re less likely to get mammograms at recommended intervals, the study authors wrote.

RELATED: 5 Simple Things That Could Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk

But starting in 2011, the ACA eliminated co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for mammograms and 44 other preventive services. From 2011 to 2013, rates of early-stage diagnoses were still lower among Latinas and African Americans than they were for white women, but the gap did narrow a tiny bit. (This study did not look at screening rates specifically, but other research has suggested that the ACA has indeed boosted mammogram rates among low-income populations.)

With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, with an estimated 253,000 new diagnoses in 2017. “While the shift in stage I cancers was modest, it translates into a potentially significant public health impact,” the authors wrote. “A small shift toward stage I diagnoses would improve the prognosis for thousands of women.”

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Silva says previous research suggests that screening behaviors for other types of cancer, including colorectal and cervical, have also improved since the ACA made preventive services (like colonoscopies and Pap tests) free for patients. If these benefits were rolled back—say, if a state elected not to require that preventive services be covered under the Senate’s new legislation—out-of-pocket costs could return and rates could fall back to pre-ACA levels.

“We could be going back to seeing lower screening for diseases that could potentially be diagnosed at earlier stages,” she says. “Not only would that be detrimental to individuals—especially to disenfranchised, low-income individuals—but it would also be more costly for the health-care system as a whole.” “>
Breast Cancer –

Bachelor Alum Lesley Murphy Gets Breast Implants After Preventive Double Mastectomy

This article originally appeared on

Twelve weeks after undergoing a preventive double mastectomyBachelor alum Lesley Murphy has announced she had surgery to put in breast implants.

“Happy with a 100 percent chance of swollen,” Murphy wrote on Monday. “Exchange surgery was a success and a huge difference from the double mastectomy surgery.”

Murphy revealed that she was getting her breasts removed in April after learning that she carries the BRCA 2 gene, which puts her at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Her mother is currently in remission from her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.

Murphy, who finished in fifth place during Sean Lowe‘s season, first posted about her upcoming surgery on Sunday.

“In a few hours I’ll be back in the hospital completing a task I knew I’d set out to do the moment I found out I was BRCA 2 positive,” she wrote. “Knowledge is power and I feel powerful knowing I kicked cancer’s ass before it could kick mine.”

In the time between her double mastectomy and implant surgery, doctors placed an expander in place of her breasts, which stretch the tissue to make room for an implant. Murphy then received regular injections of a salt water solution to inflate the expander.

“In just 83 days, I went from a completely flat chest in horrific pain to somewhere around a comfortable C-cup. Well…as comfortable as I can be in these expanders. The best way I can describe them is like two big boulders on my chest,” she said.

Murphy explained that she actually had no input on her final breast size — it was up to her doctor.

“My plastic surgeon said he tried many different variations and sizes and after consulting every woman in the hospital he decided on 500 CC implants, which is actually smaller than my expander size when you take into consideration those CCs plus the bulky expander,” Murphy said. “Dr. Wright, thank you for ridding me of those boulders and giving me my normalcy back!” “>
Breast Cancer –