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Battling Cancer - Signs, Symptoms and the Legal Steps To Take

By March 31, 2012Estate Planning

Cancer is a very serious and common disease, affecting approximately 50% of men and 33% of women in the United States. Cancer occurs due to an abnormal growth of cells (malignancy), which can cause over 100 types of cancer.

Normal cells in the body multiply as needed and then die when they no longer serve a purpose. Cancer occurs when the growth of cells in the body goes out of control, with cells dividing too quickly and not dying when they are supposed to. Cancer cells can also invade other tissues, something which normal cells cannot do.

Cells become cancer cells due to damaged DNA. Normally, when DNA is damaged within a cell, the cell either repairs the damage or dies off. However, the cancer cell continues to make new and unneeded cells, all having the same damaged DNA as the first.

The most common forms of cancer in the United States are Lung Cancer, Breast Cancer, Bladder Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Melanoma, Colon and Rectal Cancer, Endometrial Cancer, Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Thyroid Cancer and Leukemia. The most common and most deadly form of cancer is lung cancer, with more than 222,000 new cases in 2010.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Because each form of cancer varies in its signs and symptoms, the below list is a collection of the most common ones to be on alert for.

- Chills
- Fatigue
- Fever
- Pain
- Loss of appetite
- Malaise (general discomfort or uneasiness)
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Coughing, difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Unusual bowel movements or bladder function
- Lumps or cysts (especially on the breasts), or other skin abnormalities
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing

Prevention and Treatment

Because there are so many varieties of cancer, the best method of prevention is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid exposure to harmful substances. By limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding cigarette smoke and tobacco, reducing exposure to sun, radiation and toxic chemicals, your risk for cancer is dramatically reduced.

Depending on the stage and type of the cancer, treatment varies from surgical removal, medication, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination thereof. The earlier cancer is detected, the more likely it can be cured. Make certain to have regular check-ups with a doctor, reporting any changes or abnormalities in your body and functioning.

What to Do Now?

If you or a loved one are suffering from cancer, there are some important steps to take.

1. See your physician for an official diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions and get as much information as you can from your practitioner.2. Continue treatment plans prescribed by your doctors and specialists. Always ask questions and be willing to accept help from loved ones.

3. Make a plan for the future that entails, if needed, who will serve as a caretaker; would in-home assistance or a nursing home be preferred; how to pay for care; who to designate for important legal, financial and healthcare decisions.

4. Get all legal affairs in order.

Getting Legal Affairs in Order

The road to recovery can be a long one when battling cancer. Over time, various forms of functioning can deteriorate, creating a need for support and assistance. It is imperative that one or more persons are selected to handle financial, medical, healthcare and other important decisions on the behalf of the individual fighting against cancer.

Setting up a Power of Attorney (POA), Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) a Living Will and a HIPAA document are imperative. For superior protection of a loved one and their assets, a living trust should also be created. These various documents are crucial for ensuring that your loved one is taken care of and that trustworthy individuals are legally designated to handle important affairs.

Morris Hall (MH) has focused on estate planning for forty years and can help guide you and your loved one in the direction that will best help you prepare for the road ahead. Our attorneys and our life care specialists can help you with everything from legal planning, financial assistance, help for caregivers, additional resources and more.

Find out more information and schedule a free consultation by calling 888.222.1328 or visiting us online at

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation. 

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