Whitesburg KY
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Mostly clear

To Your Good Health

Optimism about breast cancer OK



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have never seen you address ductal carcinoma, in situ, of the breast. My daughter, 46, has it and just had a second incision to get clean borders. I am optimistic about my daughter’s recovery. She is scheduled for radiation. The cancer was missed on mammograms but was picked up on an MRI.

There is no cancer history in our family. I wonder, since this cancer was in place and had not spread, if she needed to have surgery and go through all this. Any light you can shed will be appreciated. – M.N.

ANSWER: Body cells sit on a thin floor called the basement membrane. An “in situ” (in place) cancer is one where the cancer cells have not penetrated the basement membrane. It’s a very superficial cancer, one that has not invaded adjacent tissues or cells. An in situ cancer has the greatest chance for complete cure. Such a cancer is an early cancer. You have every right to be optimistic.

Ductal breast cancer (carcinoma) is one that arises in the breast’s milk ducts. Your daughter needed all the treatment she got. Ductal cancer can infiltrate neighboring tissue and can spread to distant sites. Your daughter’s cancer was caught before this happened. Without the treatment she got and is getting, her ductal breast cancer could have been lethal.

The booklet on breast cancer gives a comprehensive coverage of this topic. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 1101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know why you lose flesh with age, but not bone, nor skin nor fat. One doctor told me that’s why people get colder when they get older. I am rapidly losing flesh. – L.J.

ANSWER: People lose muscle with age. The process is called sarcopenia (SAHR-coe- PEA-knee-uh). I never thought of it until you brought it up, but it could be a reason why older people chill quickly. Muscles generate heat, and they serve as insulation. Shivering is a response to a cold environment. Shivering muscles give off heat.

Lots of unpleasant things happen with aging. Metabolism slows, and that’s another reason why older people complain of the cold. Our bodies don’t repair themselves as well as they did when we were young. Bones do lose strength and size with age. Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Sarcopenia and bone loss can be kept to a minimum and possibly reversed if people exercise. The kind of exercise they must do is “resistance” exercise – lifting weights. It sounds nutty, but it’s for real. Weights don’t have to be of the same magnitude that people use to prepare for a bodybuilding contest. You can start with one-pound weights and gradually increase the poundage when you become comfortable with that amount of weight.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.

©2008 North America Synd.

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