Neoplasm Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
You’re taking a shower, and notice a raised and red lump. It could be many things; a bug bite, cyst, or a neoplasm.
Commonly called tumors, neoplasms are abnormal masses of tissue that may be solid or fluid-filled. They can vary in size, from small nodules to large masses. While some of these tissue masses are harmless (benign), other can develop into cancer like breast cancer .
What are the symptoms of neoplasms?
There are different types of neoplasms that can form on different parts of the body, presenting different symptoms. Regardless of type, common symptoms of a neoplastic disease are:
- shortness of breath
- abdominal pain
- persistent fatigue
- loss of appetite
- bloody stools
- skin masses
Symptoms of neoplasms on specific organs and tissues include:
- breast: a breast neoplasm can be a mass or lump; a cancerous tumor can cause tenderness, pain, swelling, redness, irritation, and discharge
- lymphoma: symptoms of lymphoma include swelling in the neck, armpits, and groin, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and night sweats
- skin: symptoms of skin cancer include lesions, open sores, itchy or painful rashes, bumps, or bleeding moles
- colon: neoplasms in the colon commonly cause colon cancer ; symptoms include bowel habit changes, diarrhea or constipation, bloody stool, abdominal cramps, gas, weakness, fatigue, and weight loss
To prevent cancers of all kinds:
- avoid tobacco and alcohol
- protect your skin from the sun with shade and sunscreen
- practice safe sex
- exercise at least 20 minutes per day
- don’t share needles
- consume vitamin C: higher intake from food is linked with lower cancer risk
- consume vitamin E: this powerful antioxidant fights free radicals that can cause tumor growth
What causes neoplasms?
DNA damage is considered the primary cause of malignant neoplasms (cancers). However, about 70% of malignant neoplasms have no hereditary component and are called "sporadic cancers" – they’re stimulated by epigenetic alterations that reduce or silence the genes that repair damaged DNA.
Besides genetics, the following factors can play a role in neoplasm formation:
- sun overexposure
- immune disorders
- diets lacking antioxidants and excessive in processed, sugary foods
- radiation overexposure
- chemical toxins
There are different types of neoplasms:
- benign neoplasm: these are non-cancerous, do not spread or change from its current form, and usually don’t return when they’re removed
- premalignant: is not yet cancerous but is developing into cancer
- malignant neoplasm: these cancerous tumors can grow, spread, and worsen
Often there is no clear distinction between these three types, and some benign tumors can become premalignant and then malignant.
Types of benign neoplasms include:
- adenomas: arise from the thin membrane that covers glands, organs, and other structures in the body (glandular epithelial tissue), colon polyps for example
- fibromas: these grow on the fibrous or connective tissue of any organ; fibromas are common in the uterus, causing vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence
- hemangiomas: made of excessive blood cells; most hemangiomas appear at birth and gradually disappear within months or years
- lipomas: the most common form of soft-tissue tumor, they’re made of fat cells and are more common for people over 40 years
- meningiomas: these develop from the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord
- myomas: these grow from muscle
- nevi: commonly called moles, these are growths on the skin
- neuromas: these grow from nerves
- osteochondromas: the most common type of benign bone tumor; commonly forms in the knee or shoulder
- papillomas: these grow from epithelial tissue and project in finger-like fronds; can form on
skin, cervix, breast duct, or mucous membrane covering the inside of the eyelid
Types of premalignant neoplasms include:
- actinic keratosis: also known as senile keratosis or solar keratosis, these are crusty, scaly, and thick skin patches
- cervical dysplasia: these form in the lining of the cervix and have a risk of developing into cervical cancer
- metaplasia of the lung: commonly caused by smoking, these occur in the windpipe (bronchi)
- leukoplakia: thick, white patches grow on the gums, cheeks, and tongue from tobacco use
Malignant neoplasms can stimulate the following cancers:
- fibrosarcomas: rarely, fibromas can become cancerous
- carcinoma: these form in epithelial cells, and can occur in the stomach, prostate, lung, liver, colon, or breast
- sarcoma: these form in connective tissue like bones, cartilage, fat, nerves
- germ cell tumor: these occur in sperm and egg cells
- blastoma: form from embryonic tissue or developing cells called blastomas; more common in children, cancers include medulloblastoma and glioblastoma (brain tumors), retinoblastoma (eye retina tumors) osteoblastoma (bone tumor) and neuroblastoma (nervous system tumor)
Diagnosing the content and malignancy of a neoplasm can be done in the following ways:
- biopsy: a sample of your tumor is removed by a surgeon to be sent to a laboratory for testing
- excisional: removing the entire neoplasm
- incisional or core: a small sample is removed
- needle aspiration: a needle is used to remove fluid or tissue from the tumor
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- PET scans
A colonoscopy can identify neoplasms that form in the colon.
As with any medical procedure, results of neoplastic treatments will vary from patient to patient depending on age, genetics, general health, condition severity, follow-up care, and environmental factors. The following pharmaceutical, regenerative, nutritional, and botanical treatments may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical conditions. Consult your healthcare provider before embarking on your treatment journey.
Nutrition and Supplementation
Foods to avoid include: fried foods, sugar, and white flour. Foods to eat include:
- garlic: sulfur in it may stop cancer-causing substances from forming in your body, speed-up DNA repair, and kill cancer cells
- broccoli: sulforaphane in it might reduce cancer risk by detoxifying smoke and other environmental pollutants in your body
- tomatoes: lycopene in it can stop breast cancer cells from growing
- strawberries: ellagic acid in these have anticancer properties that encourage enzymes to destroy cancer-causing substances
- carrots: contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may slow the growth of cancer cells
- whole grains: saponins in it can keep cancer cells from multiplying
- apple cider vinegar: this helps alkalize (lower your acidity) your body, reducing tumor formation
- flaxseed: lignans in it may be able to slow down the progress of breast cancers that need estrogen; side effects of oral flaxseed include abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea
- serrapeptase: used to treat non-cancerous lumps; side effects not well known
Do not take supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have had surgery, are taking birth control pills, are taking drugs to slow blood clotting (anticoagulant) or are on chemotherapy drugs.
Medical marijuana is prescribed to manage nausea, pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Pharmaceutical immunotherapies to treat neoplasms include:
- monoclonal antibodies: mark cancer cells to make it easier for the immune system to target
- adoptive cell transfer: your blood’s T-cells are taken from your blood or a tumor, isolated or modified, grown and strengthened, and then reinjected into you
- vaccines: these boost your immune system’s response to cancer cells; some vaccines are aimed at viruses that predispose you to cancer (like HPV)
- cytokines: proteins like interferons and interleukins target the immune system
Targeted treatments aim for the specific gene abnormalities that cause cancer cells to thrive. Potential side effects of targeted therapies include low blood cell counts, congestive heart failure, bleeding, inflamed lungs, liver problems, high blood pressure, mouth sores, fatigue, nail changes, and skin problems.
Two main types of targeted therapies include:
- small-molecule drugs: these oral drugs are small enough to go inside cells
- monoclonal antibodies: these injected drugs attach to the outer surface of cancer cells
Corticosteroids have been able to treat neoplasms like hemangiomas. Side effects of long term corticosteroid use include osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, leg swelling, muscle weakness, skin thinning, and headache.
Treatments for cancerous or particularly harmful tumors are:
- surgery: to extract tumor; side effects include pain, fatigue, swelling, numbness, bleeding, and a risk of infection
- laser therapy: lasers can be used to shrink or destroy neoplasms; this therapy may not last long
- radiation: destroys or damages cancer cells; side effects might include skin changes or burns, fatigue, or loss of appetite
- external beam radiation: a machine is used to deliver radiation from outside the body
- internal radiation: radioactive seeds, ribbons, capsules, or liquids are placed inside your body
- chemotherapy: intravenous (IV) infusion, oral pill, injection, or pumps and tubes deliver cytotoxic drugs that kill cancer cells; side effects include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, infections, and weakness
Studies have shown that intravenous vitamin C provides successful supportive care for chemotherapy with few reported side effects.
Treatments for nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and anxiety include:
- massage: might help reduce pain, anxiety, stress, and fatigue
- hypnosis: can help patients control pain, improve their thoughts, and reduce stress
- yoga: improves sleep and reduce fatigue in cancer patients
- aromatherapy: peppermint, frankincense, lavender, and rosemary oil to relieve stress
- exercise: improves energy and increase longevity
- fish oil: taking a high dose of fish oil seems to slow weight loss caused by some cancer drugs; these high doses might weaken the immune system
- astragalus: prevents and reduces side effects associated with cancer treatment; side effects of oral doses include rash, itchy skin, nasal symptoms, or stomach discomfort, and IV astragalus include dizziness and irregular heartbeat
Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture therapy is a safe and effective way to manage chemotherapy side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression, neuropathy and insomnia. More evidence is being collected about the potential advantages of acupuncture in tumor treatment.2
In cancer centers, acupuncture is used as a complementary treatment alongside conventional treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to treat cancer.
Acupuncture also has a positive influence on cancer patients’ immune function. Whether this could have a role in treating cancer is being studied. Oncologists suggest doing acupuncture either before, or after you are at most risk for infection from the needles. A lowered platelet count may contribute to bruising or bleeding if your count is very low.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide demonstrated that the patterns of gene expression triggered by CKI – a combination of aqueous extracts from Kushen and Baituling roots – affects the same pathways as western chemotherapy, but by acting on different genes in the same pathways.1
Artemisinin is a time tested Chinese herb treatment. Studies found that attaching artemisinin to cancer transferrin (a cancer-killing compound) can hide the transferrin from cancer cells, allowing the former to kill the later. Artemisia prevented cancer cells from dividing in lab studies, and clinical trials are ongoing. University of Washington researchers found artemisinin to be a thousand times more specific in killing certain cancer cells than current treatments, sparing normal cells from being destroyed while targeting cancer cells. Side effects of artemisinin include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, tremors, and liver damage.
Other botanicals that biochemically alter damaged cells include:
- essiac tea: the phytonutrient antioxidant flavones in this burdock root, slippery elm bark, turkey rhubarb, and sheep sorrel tea can neutralize free radicals and strengthen immune cells; side effects include nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, increased bowel movements, swollen glands, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and skin blemishes
- turmeric root: this anti-inflammatory herb contains curcumin, which has been found to kill cancer cells without killing healthy ones; side effects include stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea
- castor oil: a special formula of castor oil called Cremophor EL is used as a carrier for paclitaxel, a drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer; side effects include adverse skin reactions and gastrointestinal upset
Hormone therapy changes hormone levels in the body and can stop or slow down the growth of some types of cancer. Hormone injections have treated breast cancer by preventing estrogen from attaching to cancer cell receptors.
Some breast cancer cells need estrogen and/or progesterone to grow. When these hormones attach to special proteins called hormone receptors, the cancer cells with these receptors grow.
All tumors are checked for hormone receptors. Hormone receptor-positive (estrogen receptor-positive/progesterone receptor-positive) tumors express (have a lot of) hormone receptors. Hormone receptor-negative (estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor-negative) tumors do not express hormone receptors. Most breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, so hormone therapies are used to treat them. Side effects include hot flashes, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, low libido, mood changes, vaginal dryness, menstrual changes, and enlarged breasts in men.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell injections into your veins can restore blood-forming stem cells if you have very high doses of chemo or radiation. These cells can come from your body or from a donor. Side effects include mouth and throat pain, nausea and vomiting, bleeding, infections, and graft failure. Stem cells can be engineered to stably express a variety of antitumor agents, overcoming the short half-lives of conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Stem cell therapy requires additional research to better illuminate relationships between normal and cancer stem cells.
Request your appointment now
Many neoplasms are non-cancerous, but they can be concerning and affect your physical appearance. Thankfully, a variety of treatments are available. To find a Santa Monica neoplasm specialist, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online today.
1. “How Chinese medicine kills cancer cells.” University of Adelaide (2016). Web. 22 August 2018.
2. Wang, Guangjun, and Gerhard Litscher. “Acupuncture for Neoplasms: An Update from the PubMed Database.” Medical Acupuncture 27.3 (2015): 151–157. PMC. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.
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