Women and Body Image (cont.)

Cancer

Cancer takes a huge toll on American women. By the end of 2001, some 625,000 women will have been diagnosed with cancer, and about 267,300 women will have died of the disease. Fifty-eight percent of the estimated 8.9 million cancer survivors today are women. Cancers that are specific to or affect women in high numbers include breast, cervical, endometrial (uterine), ovarian, lung, skin, and colorectal cancers, as well as AIDS-associated cancers. Breast cancer is the most frequent type of new cancer diagnosed in women. The number one cause of cancer deaths in women is lung cancer; breast cancer is number two. Cancer is a complex group of diseases where cells grow out of control, becoming abnormal and causing illness. Major advances have occurred in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Cancer and its treatments can affect a woman's body image in many ways. Surgery can cause changes in physical appearance and scarring. Other treatments can cause weight loss or weight gain, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and skin changes, which can change how a woman looks and feels. Wigs and makeup are some options to help women look and feel better. If a woman has a breast removed, she can have surgery to reconstruct the breast or wear a prosthesis (an artificial or fake breast). Some women can find it hard to be upbeat when their treatment makes them feel bad or changes how they look. It is normal to feel this way. Talking with family, friends and your health care provider can give you the support you need to cope with cancer and it's treatments. For more, please visit the Cancer Center.

Diabetes

About 16 million Americans have diabetes and the numbers are growing every day. Obesity (being overweight), aging, and the couch-potato lifestyle increase a person's risk for diabetes. Children can also get diabetes. During pregnancy, diabetes can occur, which goes away when the pregnancy is over. But this can put a woman at increased risk for developing diabetes when she is older. People who have diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels, which prevents their bodies from getting needed fuel for growth and energy. Some of the problems that can occur with diabetes include blindness, loss of a limb, heart disease, kidney failure, and premature death. With the proper treatment and changes in diet and exercise, many people who have diabetes can live healthy and full lives.

A woman's body image can change when she has diabetes. Even if a woman feels great, having to always watch what she eats and check her blood sugar can be a constant reminder that something is wrong. Starting a diet and exercise program to help manage diabetes can be stressful. It is important for women to learn as much as they can about managing diabetes. It is also important for women to know the warning signs of diabetes: extreme thirst; frequent urination; weight loss without trying to lose weight; extreme hunger; sudden vision changes; tingling or numbness in the hands or feet; continuous fatigue; very dry skin; slow-healing sores; and increase in infections. Seeing your health care provider as soon as you think there may be a problem is best. For more, please visit the Diabetes Mellitus Center.