Q: What is cancer?
A: Cancer is abnormal, unchecked growth of apparently normal cells of the body which has potential to spread to other parts of the body and in some cases could be life threatening.


Q: Why did I get cancer, among many other people?
A: Two basic factors operate hand and hand in development of cancer, genetic susceptibility and environmental insult such as cigarette smoking.


Q: What is early detection?
A: Basically it means to detect and treat cancer at early stage when there is high curative potential. Other than routine mammogram, pap smear and colonoscopy there are no proven cost effective means to accurately detect cancer at early stage. The best advice one can offer is healthy life style, weight control and avoid exposure to carcinogenic (cigarette smoke).


Q: How is cancer treated? 
A: It depends upon the type & stage at diagnosis of cancer. Three basic treatment modalities are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Your cancer specialist can advise you about treatment options or combination of options suitable for you.


Q: What is cancer staging?
A: Most cancers are staged from stage I to IV. Stage I being early and local disease. Stage II and III loco-regional disease. Stage IV is cancer which has spread to other areas of the body. Obviously early stage disease has the most curative potential.


Q: Where should I receive my chemotherapy?
A: We provide all chemotherapy at our center.  Rarely because of insurance issues, do we send our patients to the local hospital infusion center.  It hurts me, when patients with limited resources and funds, travel over an hour to different places, just to receive routine chemotherapy, when it could have been given locally.

What is chemotherapy?
A: Chemotherapy is a broad name for chemical, biological, immunological, hormonal agents given to treat cancer.

Q: How is chemotherapy administered?
A: Although most chemotherapy agents are administered intravenously, some agents are also given subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (in the muscle) injections.  A growing number of new agents are given orally in the form of tablets or capsules.


Q: What are the potential side effects of chemotherapy?
A: Side effects vary according to the chemotherapy agent used.  Side effects may vary from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased weakness, loss of hair, decreased blood counts, change in appetite and taste, and possible skin rash.

Q: Does every patient get all the side effects from chemotherapy?
A: Not at all, it depends on your specific chemotherapy and underlying disease.  You may have some of the side effects, but we are very good these days to prevent, delay, and treat them.

Do I need a special diet?
A: Usually, we recommend a regular, healthy, nutritious diet, but we always evaluate and advise according to your special situation and needs.

Q: Can I continue to work during chemotherapy?
A: There is no one answer that fits to all.  It depends upon your disease and type of treatment.  Some of our patients continue to work, some start working from home, some switch to part time, some take sick leave or short term disability.  We advise on an individual basis, and what is best for you at time of treatment.

Q: What about my other activities?
A: My usual answer to this question is if you are up to it, than I have no problem with you staying active.  Again, every situation is different.  Usually, I advise every patient on chemotherapy, that it is not a good idea to expose your skin to the sun in the middle of the day.

Q: What is a second opinion and how can the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment Center help me get a second opinion

should I desire one?
A: A second opinion as the name implies is an opinion which a patient might request after an initial diagnosis and treatment plan has been suggested by one cancer specialist. The patient may have doubts about it and has unanswered questions or just need more reassurance before accepting a diagnosis and treatment plan. At the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment Center we routinely offer second opinions on cases seen by other specialist at the request of the patient or family. We encourage and help our patients to get second opinions when we feel that the patient has difficulty accepting a particular diagnosis and treatment plan. Most importantly, I never discourage my patient to get a second opinion; rather I encourage it, and tell my patients, please don't feel sorry about it.



Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment Center
M. Ashraf Meelu, MD FACP
3200 Crain Highway, Suite 302
Waldorf, Maryland 20603

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