Cancer natural history, complications and prognosis

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Prognosis

Cancer has a reputation for being a deadly disease. While this certainly applies to certain particular types, the truths behind the historical connotations of cancer are increasingly being overturned by advances in medical care. Some types of cancer have a prognosis that is substantially better than nonmalignant diseases such as heart failure and stroke.

Progressive and disseminated malignant disease has a substantial impact on a cancer patient's quality of life, and many cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy) may have severe side-effects. In the advanced stages of cancer, many patients need extensive care, affecting family members and friends. Palliative care solutions may include permanent or "respite" hospice nursing.

Cancer patients, for the first time in the history of oncology, are visibly returning to the athletic arena and workplace. Patients are living longer with either quiescent persistent disease or even complete, durable remissions. The stories of Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France after treatment for metastatic testicular cancer, or Tony Snow, who was working as the White House Press Secretary as of June, 2007 despite relapsed colon cancer, continue to be an inspiration to cancer patients everywhere.

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