Cancer can start any place in the body. Tumors can form when cancer cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. And while this makes it hard for the body to function properly, not all tumors are cancerous.
At Middlesex Hospital, we've made it our goal to bring the best of the best—from the most talented physicians to the most advanced technology—to the patients and families in and around Middlesex County. Our expert Surgical Alliance team, will provide medical, surgical or interventional procedures for every individual diagnosed with the following conditions and many other cancer types.
About 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year. It is one of the cancers on the rise in the United States and is about twice as common in men than in women.
The difference between primary and secondary liver cancer is that primary liver cancer, which can also be referred to as hepatic cancer, starts in the liver rather than migrating to the liver from another organ or section of the body. Secondary liver cancers originate elsewhere and eventually reach the liver. These most commonly begin as cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (colon cancer), lung cancer, renal cancer, ovarian cancer or prostate cancer.
Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that lies just beneath the liver. It stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by your liver. While gallbladder cancer is uncommon, when it is discovered in its early stages, the chance for cure is very good.
Bile Duct Cancer
Bile duct cancer is cancer that forms in the slender tubes that connect the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine and carry the digestive fluid, bile. Bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare form of cancer that occurs mostly in people older than age 50, though it can occur at any age.
Doctors divide bile duct cancer into intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, hilar cholangiocarcinoma or distal cholangiocarcinoma based on where the cancer occurs in the bile ducts.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in your pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. Most pancreatic cancer begins in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. This type of cancer is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma or pancreatic exocrine cancer.
Esophageal cancer is a disease caused by cancer cells forming in the tissues of the esophagus. The two main types of esophageal cancer are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma starts in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in flat cells lining the esophagus.
Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid — a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
Although thyroid cancer isn't common in the United States, rates seem to be increasing. Doctors think this is because new technology is allowing them to find small thyroid cancers that may not have been found in the past.
Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, in internal organs, such as your intestines. The rates of melanoma have been rising for the last 30 years. About 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2017 (about 52,170 in men and 34,940 in women).
The Middlesex team is committed to providing an accurate medical assessment for each and every patient we see. If you have any symptoms that suggest cancer, our experts make it a priority to determine whether this is due to cancer or to something else.
The most common diagnostic procedures we offer are listed below:
- Biopsy. For most types of cancer, a biopsy is the only way to make a definitive diagnosis because it provides the most accurate analysis of tissue. Doctors will often recommend a biopsy after an examination or imaging study (like an x-ray) has identified a possible tumor.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan. A CT Scan, also called a CAT scan, is a diagnostic exam used to detect tumors, determine the stage of the disease and whether cancerous cells have spread, and find out about the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
- Endoscopy. A procedure that allows doctors to view inside the body by inserting a tool called an endoscope. An endoscope is a long, flexible, lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end. The doctor can examine organs inside your body to detect any abnormalities. In certain types of endoscopy, a tube is then passed through the scope, and a dye is injected which allows the internal organs to appear on an X-ray.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. In this test, a special dye, called a tracer, is injected into a vein in your arm. As your organs and tissues absorb this tracer, a PET scanner makes 3-D pictures of where the tracer collects throughout the body. These scans help determine if there is any abnormal activity in your organs and tissues.
- Ultrasound (also called sonography). A diagnostic imaging technique, that uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. A tumor generates different echoes of the sound waves than normal tissue. The doctor can locate a tumor inside the body when waves are bounced back to the computer and changed into images.
- X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to create pictures of the inside of your body
Your cancer treatment will depend on what’s best for you. Some cancers respond better to surgery; others respond better to chemotherapy or radiation. Knowing the type of cancer you have is the first step toward knowing which treatments will work best for you.
The stage of your cancer will also help the doctor decide on the best treatment for you. A stage 3 or 4 cancer is likely to respond better to treatments, like chemotherapy, that treat the whole body.
Surgery can be used to take out the cancer. The doctor might also take out some or all of the body part the cancer affects. Surgery is not used for all types of cancer; in some cases, the cancer can be best treated with drugs.
Chemotherapy, or chemo, is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Some chemo can be given by IV (into a vein through a needle), and others by a pill you swallow. Because chemo drugs travel to nearly all parts of the body, they are useful for cancer that has spread.
Radiation is also used to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. It can be used alone or with surgery or chemo. Radiation treatment is like getting an x-ray. Sometimes it’s given by putting a "seed" inside the cancer to give off the radiation.
To learn more about Surgical Oncology at Middlesex Hospital, please contact 1.800.548.2394