Areas of health where nutrition management can help

Cancer treatment and prevention eg. colorectal, breast, cervical, prostate, brain cancers

Women’s health eg. endometriosis, menopause, pregnancy

Men’s health eg. prostate cancer, gout

Autoimmune conditions eg. coeliac disease, thyroid abnormalities, diabetes

Weight management

Gastrointestinal issues eg. IBS, Chron’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, SIBO

TYPES OF CANCER

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer affects twice as many men as women. It is rare in people under 55 years of age and most common among those over 70 years. In Victoria, around 605 people are diagnosed with an invasive bladder cancer every year. In 2011, there were 1031 deaths caused by bladder cancer in Australia.

There is no screening test used routinely to screen for bladder cancer in Australia.

  • Cigarette smoking is the most significant risk factor linked to bladder cancer.
  • Bladder cancer is most common in people over 70 years of age.
  • Treatment depends on the type of bladder cancer that you have.

Read more about Bladder Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Bone Cancer

The human body contains more than 200 bones. Our bones support our body and protect organs such as the heart and lungs. Bones are made of cells called osteocytes, osteoclasts and osteoblasts, which are bound together by a calcium-like material to give the bone its strength. Bones are filled with a spongy material called bone marrow, which makes blood cells.

Bone cancer is a rare form of cancer. Although bone looks and feels quite hard, it includes living cells. These cells can develop tumours, or cancer. The tumour may start in the bone (primary cancer) or may start in another part of the body and spread to the bone (secondary cancer).

  • Primary bone cancer starts in the bone and accounts for less than one per cent of people with bone cancer.
  • Secondary bone cancer is the most common form of bone cancer and is caused by the spread of cancer cells from a cancer somewhere else in the body, such as the breast, prostate or lungs.
  • Treatment for bone cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Read more about Bone Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer. It is diagnosed in about 3,700 Victorians and over 12,500 Australians every year. It mostly affects people 50 years of age and over, but it can happen in younger people. It is a serious disease, but if bowel cancer or its warning signs (polyps) are diagnosed early, it is often curable.

  • If you are 50 years of age or over, talk to your doctor about bowel cancer and screening.
  • Most bowel cancers diagnosed at an early stage are curable.
  • If you are at risk of bowel cancer, discuss with your doctor whether you need to have regular tests.
  • You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and not smoking.

Read more about Bowel Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Brain Tumours - Cancer

Brain cancer affects adults of all ages and is one of the few cancers that occur in children. Most brain tumours are gliomas, which develop from glial cells. Symptoms and treatment depend on which part of the brain is affected.

The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. Brain and spinal cord tumours can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). Approximately 510 Victorians are diagnosed with cancerous tumours of the central nervous system each year.

  • Breast cancer affects one in nine Australian women.
  • It is important for all women to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts.
  • Although most breast changes aren’t caused by breast cancer, you should always consult your doctor if you notice an ‘unusual’ change.
  • Treatment for breast cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Read more about Brain Tumours Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Brain Tumours - Gliomas

Gliomas are brain tumours associated with the three types of glial cells in the brain, which include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and the ependymal cells. Glial cells make up the supportive tissue of the brain and, unlike neurons, don’t conduct electrical impulses.

If left untreated, any type of glioma may grow and press on other structures within the brain. Pressure on the brain can be harmful as it forces the brain against the skull, causing damage to the brain and hampering its ability to function properly. This reduced function can lead to long-lasting brain damage or, if left untreated, death.

  • Gliomas are brain tumours that arise from the glial cells of the brain and nervous system.
  • Gliomas are categorised as slow growing (grade I and II) or fast growing (grade III and IV).
  • Definitive diagnosis can only be determined by a biopsy.

Read more about Brain Tumours Gliomas at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer affects one in eight Australian women. It is the most common cancer for Victorian women, with almost 3,700 diagnoses in 2012.

Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is most common in women over the age of 60. Around one quarter of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 50.

Men can also develop breast cancer, although this is extremely rare. Each year, about 25 men are diagnosed in Victoria. It is treated in the same way as breast cancer in women.

There are different types of breast cancer, but they all begin in the milk ducts or the milk lobules (or both). Some breast cancers are found when they are ‘in situ. This means that they have not spread outside the milk duct or lobule where the cancer began.

Most breast cancers are found when they are ‘invasive’. This means the cancers have grown beyond the duct or lobule, where they began, into other breast tissue, or spread to other parts of the body. Breast cancer that spreads out of the breast may spread to lymph nodes in the armpit nearest the breast affected by cancer (axillary lymph nodes). It can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs and liver.

  • Breast cancer affects one in nine Australian women.
  • It is important for all women to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts.
  • Although most breast changes aren’t caused by breast cancer, you should always consult your doctor if you notice an ‘unusual’ change.
  • Treatment for breast cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Read more about Breast Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Cancer Pain Management

The pain of cancer is usually constant. A person with well-managed pain has an improved quality of life. They are likely to sleep better and have more energy during the day. Being as active as possible also reduces the risk of ailments like pneumonia, blood clots and bedsores, which are associated with immobility. The foundation of cancer pain management is regular medication, including paracetamol and opioid drugs, chosen to suit each person and to minimise side effects. Combining medications to gain maximum benefit is common. Radiotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy and chemotherapy – if successful in reducing tumour size – may also relieve pain. Other techniques that may be helpful include relaxation therapies and acupuncture.

  • The pain of cancer is usually constant and needs well-managed relief.
  • The foundation of cancer pain management is medication, including aspirin-like drugs, paracetamol and opioid drugs.
  • Helpful relaxation therapies include meditation, massage, tai chi, yoga and hypnotherapy.

Read more about Cancer Pain Management at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Cancer Treatments - Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is the use of precisely targeted x-rays to destroy cancer cells while reducing the impact of radiation on healthy cells. The length of treatment varies depending on factors such as the location, type and stage of the cancer, and whether or not the radiotherapy is combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Radiotherapy can be used to treat cancer in many sites of the body.
Radiotherapy treatment decisions

Before a decision is made about whether radiotherapy is appropriate for your condition, your case is discussed in a healthcare team meeting. At this meeting, representatives of all the medical specialists involved in the care of your specific type of cancer are present.

These may include:

  • specialist surgeons
  • medical oncologists
  • radiation oncologists
  • pathologists
  • radiologists.

At these meetings, medical staff look at all the information relating to your case, which may include information about your lifestyle and results of various tests. They then offer specialist advice about the best way to treat your type of cancer.

  • Radiotherapy is the use of precisely targeted x-rays to destroy cancer cells while reducing the impact of radiation on healthy cells.
  • Almost all side effects will disappear once radiotherapy treatment is completed.
  • Radiotherapy can be administered by a variety of machines and devices, depending on which body part is affected, and the type and stage of the tumour.
  • The two main types of radiotherapy are external and internal.

Read more about Cancer Treatments Radiotherapy at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Cervical Cancer

The cervix (neck of the womb) is part of the female reproductive system. Cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer) is diagnosed in about 180 Victorian women each year. These cases are almost always linked to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Cervical cells pass through a series of changes (dysplasia) before they become cancerous and Pap tests are able to detect most of these changes. In Australia, regular Pap tests (also known as Pap smears) prevent about 1,200 women each year from being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Most women who develop cervical cancer have either never had a Pap test or did not have them regularly in the 10 years before diagnosis.

Even if you feel perfectly healthy, if you are a woman aged between 18 and 70 years (who has ever been sexually active), you should have a Pap test regularly every two years to check for changes in cervical cells. Currently, the Pap test is the best protection against cervical cancer for women who have been sexually active.

  • The Pap test is a quick and simple test that checks for changes to the cells of the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer.
  • Abnormal cell changes in the cervix may not necessarily lead to cancer.
  • Treatment for cervical cancer includes surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these treatments.
  • The National Cervical Screening Program recommends that all women aged between 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every two years, even if they’ve had the HPV vaccine.

Read more about Cervical Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Fallopian Tube Cancer

Fallopian tube cancer is one of the rarest gynaecological cancers. Older women who have gone through the menopause are the most commonly affected group, for reasons unknown.

Growing evidence suggests that many ovarian cancers start in the fallopian tubes, so the risk factors for fallopian tube cancer are similar to those for ovarian cancer and include inherited (gene) risks and not having children.

Fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive system. The two tubes extend from the uterus (womb), one on each side, and each opens near an ovary. These tubes carry the ova (eggs) from the ovaries to the uterus.

  • Fallopian tube cancer is one of the rarest gynaecological cancers.
  • Older women who have gone through the menopause are the most commonly affected group, for reasons unknown.
  • The main treatment for fallopian tube cancer is surgery to remove the diseased tissue.

Read more about Fallopian Tube Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are part of the body’s urinary system, which filters waste products out of the blood in the form of urine (wee). About 720 Victorians are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year. Kidney cancer is more common in people over the age of 55 years and affects more men than women.

  • Kidney cancer is more common in people over the age of 55 years.
  • Most kidney cancers are found when the doctor is checking for something else.
  • A person is usually able to live quite normally with just one kidney.
  • Surgery is the most common treatment for kidney cancer.

Read more about Kidney Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Leukaemia

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood-forming cells, which are made in the bone marrow. Leukaemia causes large numbers of white blood cells to be produced. This can crowd the bone marrow and may affect the production of normal cells. A person with leukaemia is more likely to pick up infections and have trouble getting rid of them. About 790 Victorians develop leukaemia every year.

There are four main types of leukaemia. In many cases, leukaemia can be cured or kept under control for many years. Chemotherapy is the main treatment.

  • Leukaemia is a cancer of blood-forming cells, which causes large numbers of white blood cells to be made.
  • A lot of leukaemia can be cured or kept under control for many years.
  • There are four main types of leukaemia.
  • The main treatment is with chemotherapy.

Read more about Leukaemia at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer can be a primary cancer, meaning it starts in the liver, or a secondary cancer, meaning it starts in another part of the body and spreads to the liver. Secondary liver cancers are more common than primary liver cancers. Primary liver cancer is one of the less common cancers in Victoria. Liver cancer usually has no symptoms in the early stages.

  • The liver will function normally with only a small portion of it in working order.
  • Most liver cancers are secondary liver cancers, meaning a cancer that starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the liver.
  • Primary liver cancers are the least common cancers in Victoria.

Read more about Liver Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Lung Cancer

The lungs are two large spongy organs located inside the chest cavity. Air is breathed into the trachea (windpipe) and moves down two tubes called bronchi, each going to a lung. These tubes divide into bronchioles and then into tiny air sacs called alveoli. Lung cancers usually start in the cells lining the airways. There are different types of lung cancer, depending on which cells are affected.

Over 2,340 Victorians are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Lung cancer occurs most often in adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who have smoked cigarettes for at least 20 years. The cause is not known in all cases. However, up to nine out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in Australia.

Chronic exposure to second-hand smoke, such as living with someone who smokes, is called ‘passive smoking’. This is thought to increase a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer by about 30 per cent.

  • Over 2,370 Victorians are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.
  • Most lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking.
  • There are different types of lung cancer, depending on which cells are affected.

Read more about Lung Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. There are two main types of lymphoma – non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin lymphoma (sometimes called Hodgkin disease).

The cells of Hodgkin lymphoma look a particular way under a microscope. Lymphoma cells that do not look like this are a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is important for doctors to be able to tell the difference between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin cells, because they are two different diseases. They are quite similar in many ways, but the treatment for each is different.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in Victoria, affecting about 1,155 people a year. It can occur in children, but is more common in adults. Hodgkin lymphoma is much less common. About 165 Victorians are affected each year.

  • Lymphoma is a group of cancers that affect the lymphatic system.
  • Symptoms of lymphoma may include swelling of the lymph nodes, weight loss and night sweats.
  • Lymphomas are one of the more common types of cancer in Victoria.

Read more about Lymphoma at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It may appear as a new spot or as a change in an existing mole or freckle. Over 95 per cent of skin cancers can be successfully treated if they are found early.

If untreated, melanomas can spread to other parts of the body and may not be curable. The biggest risk factor for developing a melanoma is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun or artificial sources such as solariums.

The three major types of skin cancer are:

  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • melanoma.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia. It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 55 and over. However, young adults, teenagers and even children can be affected. In fact, Australian adolescents have, by far, the highest adolescent incidence of malignant melanoma in the world.

  • Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
  • A melanoma may appear as a new spot or as a change in the appearance of an existing mole or freckle.
  • Melanoma treatment depends on whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
  • Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy.

Read more about Melanoma at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer. Malignant (cancerous) cells develop in the mesothelium, the protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma generally starts in the outer membrane of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Uncommonly, the heart or reproductive organs may be affected. Treatment depends on where the cancer is found and whether it has spread.

Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma unless it is found early and can be removed through surgery. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually show up until it is in its late stages. This means mesothelioma is most often diagnosed when it has already advanced beyond the option of surgical removal. If this is the case, treatment will aim to prolong life and keep the person as comfortable as possible.

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos and can develop decades after the exposure.

  • Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that can develop decades after exposure to asbestos.
  • Mesothelioma usually targets the outer membrane of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the membrane lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Uncommonly, the heart or reproductive organs may be affected.
  • Unless surgical removal is an option, there is no cure – treatment aims to prolong life and keep the person as comfortable as possible.

Read more about Mesothelioma at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Mouth Cancer

About 600 people in Victoria are diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, nose or throat each year. Mouth cancer usually starts in the cells lining the mouth. The most common sites are the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth, but cancer can also originate in the gums, cheeks, roof of the mouth, hard and soft palate, tonsils and salivary glands. People over the age of 45 years are at increased risk, with men twice as likely as women to develop these types of cancers.

Smoking increases the risk of mouth cancer six-fold. The location of the cancer seems to depend on the usage of the tobacco product – for example, a person who habitually tucks plugs of chewing tobacco into their left cheek may be prone to cancer of that cheek. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of mouth cancer even more. Mouth cancer is easily cured if treated in its earlier stages, but around half of patients don’t consult with their doctor until their disease is well advanced.

  • Symptoms of mouth cancer include a persistent mass, ulcer or blood blister inside the mouth.
  • The most common sites are the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth.
  • Tobacco use and heavy drinking are known risk factors.

Read more about Mouth Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple (plasma cell) myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. Widespread growth of the malignant (cancerous) plasma cells in the bone marrow may leave little room for normal blood cells. This causes a range of problems including weak bones, anaemia and reduced immunity.

Multiple myeloma is rarely seen in people under 40 years of age. About 300 Victorians are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year. There is no cure, but the condition can usually be managed successfully for several years. Many new drugs and treatment strategies have been approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma and this has improved the outlook for many people with this condition.

  • Multiple myeloma is cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.
  • The abnormal cells reduce the levels of healthy blood cells.
  • Multiple myeloma causes weakening of the bones, anaemia, blood-clotting problems, kidney problems and an increased risk of infection.
  • There is no cure, but the condition can generally be successfully managed.

Read more about Multiple Myeloma at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. These oval-shaped glands sit inside the pelvis and release an egg (ovum) every month. Female sex hormones are also made by the ovaries. Cancer can develop in one or both ovaries.

Around 340 Victorian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. About 90 per cent of ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 40. Like most cancers, the risk of ovarian cancer increases with age.

  • Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose at an early stage, largely because symptoms can be vague and similar to those of other common illnesses.
  • Treatment for ovarian cancer usually involves surgery and chemotherapy. It may include radiotherapy.
  • Some women can still have a child after surgery for ovarian cancer.
  • The pap test is only effective for the early detection of cancer of the cervix, not ovarian cancer.

Read more about Ovarian Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a gland of the digestive system. It is joined to the small bowel by a duct. Pancreatic cancer starts in the cells lining this duct. It then spreads into the body of the pancreas, before invading nearby nerves and blood vessels. If left untreated, it will spread to all the organs in the abdomen. Pancreatic cancer may also enter the lymphatic system and spread to other parts of the body.

The causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown, but smokers are at greater risk. It is more common in people over 65 and relatively uncommon in people under 50 years of age. About 720 Victorians develop pancreatic cancer each year.

  • The pancreas is a gland that secretes digestive enzymes and insulin.
  • The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often vague and common to many other disorders.
  • Pancreatic cancer is often only diagnosed in its later stages, which makes it difficult to treat.

Read more about Pancreatic Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that makes up semen.

Prostate cancer affects one in 11 Australian men and is common in the over-65 age group. Around 4,700 Victorian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Many cases are not life-threatening because the cancer can be slow growing and usually occurs in older men.

  • Prostate cancer affects one in 11 Australian men and is most common in men over 65.
  • Prostate cancer can be treated in a variety of ways, including watchful waiting, surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
  • Possible side effects of treatment include incontinence and impotence – treatment options should be discussed with your doctor.

Read more about Prostate Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Rectal Cancer

The rectum is part of the digestive system. Once food nutrients have been absorbed by the small intestines, the waste is moved by muscular contractions into the large intestine (bowel). Water is removed and the waste is temporarily stored in the rectum, which makes up the last 20cm or so of the bowel. From the rectum, wastes pass out of the body through the anus. The rectum’s lining (epithelium) secretes mucus that helps to lubricate the faeces through the anus.

Cancer of the rectum begins as cellular changes in the topmost layer of the epithelium. Rectal cancer tends to affect people over the age of 50 years, with men more at risk than women. Some people have an increased risk due to genetic factors and may develop the disease sometime after the age of 40 years.

If treated in its earliest stages, rectal cancer is highly curable. If untreated, stray cancer cells can migrate around the body via the lymphatic system and develop secondary cancers.

  • The rectum makes up the last 20 cm or so of the large intestine.
  • The function of the rectum is to temporarily store faeces.
  • Rectal cancer usually affects people over the age of 50 years, with men more susceptible than women.
  • Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Read more about Rectal Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Skin Cancer

Each year in Australia over 2,000 people die from skin cancer; yet most skin cancers are preventable and the majority of skin cancers can be successfully treated, if found early.

While prevention is better than cure, being familiar with your own skin should help you to detect any suspicious lumps or spots as soon as they develop, at a stage when they can be successfully treated.

Types of skin cancer

The three types of skin cancer are:

  1. basal cell carcinoma
  2. squamous cell carcinoma
  3. melanoma.
  • Skin cancer is mostly preventable – remember to slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses during the daily sun protection times.
  • Check the sun protection times each day.
  • Most skin cancers can be successfully treated, if found early.
  • Get familiar with all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas, and monitor your skin for any changes.
  • If you notice anything new or unusual on your skin, see your doctor.

Read more about Skin Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Skin Cancer - Children

Protecting a child from sunburn and long-term overexposure to the sun reduces their risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Encourage your child or teenager to be SunSmart and use a combination of sun protection measures – slip on sun protective clothing, slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses.

Sun exposure in the first 10 years of life partly determines your lifetime potential for skin cancer, while sun exposure in later life determines how much this potential is realised. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Two in three Australians will develop some form of skin cancer before 70 years of age. Every additional decade of overexposure to UV further increases the risk of skin cancer, so increased use of sun protection against sun exposure will help prevent skin cancer and melanoma at any age.

  • Protecting your child from overexposure to the sun can reduce their risk of developing skin and eye damage and skin cancer later in life.
  • Check the daily sun protection times and use a combination of sun protection methods – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide for all outdoor activities during these times.
  • Encourage your child, whatever their age, to be SunSmart and maintain a healthy balance of UV exposure.

Read more about Skin Cancer – Children at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Stomach Cancer

The stomach is a muscular organ forming part of your digestive system. Food travels down your oesophagus and into the stomach to be mixed with acids and enzymes.

About 600 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer) each year in Victoria. Stomach cancer most commonly affects people in their late 60s to 70s, but it can, rarely, affect younger people as well. Stomach cancer affects almost twice as many men as women.
Incidence varies between countries around the world. Research suggests this can be explained to some extent by diet. Stomach cancer incidence is increased in people who eat a diet of very salty foods. The incidence of stomach cancer is very high in countries such as Japan where they eat a lot of very salty pickled foods. These foods are not commonly eaten in Australia. Infection with the bacterium (germ) Helicobacter pylori has also been shown to increase the risk of stomach cancer. Sadly, most people are diagnosed with stomach cancer when it is in its advanced stages. However, this does not mean that treatment cannot help control the cancer and relieve its symptoms.

  • Stomach cancer is more common in people over 65.
  • Symptoms of stomach cancer are usually vague and common to other conditions.
  • Stomach cancer may be triggered by infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, possibly working in combination with diet.
  • Treatment for stomach cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Read more about Stomach Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is an uncommon cancer that occurs mainly in men aged between 25 and 44 years. About 165 Victorian males are diagnosed with this cancer each year. In most cases, testicular cancer is curable.

The testicles (testes) are two small, oval-shaped organs located behind the penis in a skin sack called the scrotum. They are part of the male reproductive system. Sperm and sex hormones are made by the testicles.

  • Testicular cancer is not common and most testicular lumps are not cancer.
  • Men aged between 25 and 44 years are most at risk.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment can cure almost all cases of testicular cancer.

Read more about Testicular Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Throat Cancer

About 600 people in Victoria are diagnosed with cancer of the throat, mouth or nose each year. Throat cancer affects more men than women. It affects more people aged over 50 years than those aged under 50. Risk factors include smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. Smokers who drink heavily are at even greater risk.

Throat cancer can start in the oesophagus (food pipe), larynx (voice box), thyroid gland or cells lining the throat (squamous cells). The larynx is situated at the top of the windpipe (trachea).

Below the larynx is the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, with its two lobes sitting on either side of the trachea. The thyroid gland regulates many metabolic processes, including growth and energy expenditure.

  • Throat cancer can originate in the oesophagus (gullet), larynx (voice box), thyroid gland or squamous cells lining the pharynx (throat).
  • Risk factors for throat cancer include smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Symptoms include voice changes, such as hoarseness, the sensation of something stuck in the throat, and persistent pain.

Read more about Throat Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland is in the throat, below the larynx (Adam’s apple). It comprises two lobes that sit on either side of the windpipe, joined at the front by an isthmus. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that regulate many metabolic processes, such as growth and energy expenditure. Around one out of every 1,000 people will be affected by thyroid cancer, with women slightly more susceptible than men. Risk factors include chronic goitre, family history, gender and exposure to radiation, particularly if the doses were given specifically to the head and neck. In the 1950s, radiation therapy was often used to treat problems of the adenoids and tonsils. Nuclear fallout is also associated with thyroid cancer. There are different types of thyroid cancer, categorised by malignancy, growth rate and the type of cells affected. Recovery depends on various factors including the age and general health of the person, the type and location of the cancer, and how far the cancer has advanced before commencement of treatment.

  • The thyroid gland regulates many bodily functions including growth and energy expenditure.
  • There are four different types of thyroid cancer, which are categorised according to their malignancy and speed of growth.
  • Treatment options may include surgery to remove the thyroid gland and nearby lymph nodes, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
  • Thyroid cancer is readily treatable and has excellent survival rates.

Read more about Thyroid Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Uterine Cancer

The uterus (womb) is part of the female reproductive system. It is shaped like an upside-down pear and sits inside the pelvis. It is in the uterus that a fertilised egg grows into a baby.

More than 688 Victorian women were diagnosed with cancer of the uterus in 2013. Incidence rates are increasing by one per cent each year. Though this cancer occurs predominantly in women aged over 50 (90 per cent of diagnoses), rates are increasing more steeply in younger women. The obesity epidemic is thought to be a major factor in this increase.

Uterine cancer is also known as cancer of the womb, cancer of the uterus, endometrial cancer and cancer of the lining of the womb.

  • Cancer of the uterus (womb) is one of the most common gynaecological cancers in women.
  • Cancer of the uterus lining (endometrium) is the most common form.
  • Cancer of the uterus has a very high cure rate.

Read more about Uterine Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is one of the rarest gynaecological cancers, accounting for around two per cent of cases. Women aged over 50 years are most commonly affected. The vagina is part of the female reproductive system. This muscular canal is around 7.5 cm long and extends from the neck of the uterus (the cervix) to the external genitals (the vulva).

Generally, vaginal cancer tends to be a secondary cancer, which means cancer cells have migrated to the vagina from somewhere else in the body, such as the cervix or vulva. About 95 per cent of cancers that start in the vagina are squamous cell carcinomas, which means the cancer originated from skin cells.

Another group of women prone to vaginal cancers are those who were exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while in utero (in their mother’s womb). This drug was prescribed to pregnant woman between 1938 and 1971 in the mistaken belief that it helped prevent miscarriage.

  • Vaginal cancer is one of the rarest gynaecological cancers.
  • The most commonly affected groups are women aged over 50 years, and women who were exposed in utero to DES.
  • Treatment options include surgery and radiation therapy.

Read more about Vaginal Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.

Vulvar Cancer

Vulval cancer is a type of cancer that affects the vulval region. It accounts for about three per cent of all gynaecological cancers and is most commonly diagnosed in older women aged around 70 years or over. However, an increasing number of women aged 35 to 45 are being diagnosed with this form of cancer.

The most common site for vulval cancer is the labia majora, while just one in 10 cases originates in the clitoris. The vulva has lots of blood and lymphatic vessels, which means that vulval cancer cells can easily spread to nearby body parts such as the bladder, vagina and anus. Without treatment, it can cause severe infection and pain.

Vulva is a general term that describes the external female genitals. The vulva is made of three main parts: the labia majora (outer lips), the labia minora (smaller inner lips) and the clitoris.

  • Vulval cancer is a type of cancer that affects the vulval region.
  • It is most commonly diagnosed in older women aged around 70 years or over.
  • Symptoms include an ulcerous sore that refuses to heal and unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina.

Read more about Vulvar Cancer at Better Health Channel Victoria.