Cancer Blog

Here's our collection of cancer-related stories. We sift through a variety of stories and share the issues that we think matter to cancer patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and survivors. Learn about current events in the cancer community, human interest stories, and promising technology and treatment advances. Tell us what you think in the Comments section at the bottom of each post.

Note: The information contained in this service is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in the service is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment of any illness, condition or disease.

Jun

30

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What’s A Gynecologic Oncologist and Why Is It Important?

by Dana Demas

Multiple studies have suggested that women who have their initial ovarian cancer surgery done by a gynecologic oncologist are likely to have the right surgery. They're also likely to have fewer side effects from the surgery, such as a colostomy (the ovaries sit close to the intestines).

The trouble with ovarian cancer is there's no screening test for it. As a result, ovarian cancer tends to be diagnosed later in its course, once a pelvic mass has been discovered. In most cases, a woman has surgery to remove the mass and diagnose the cancer if it's present. A gynecologic oncologist specializes in performing these surgeries and in caring for a woman throughout ovarian cancer treatment.

We can all hope that earlier detection of ovarian cancer, coupled with the right treatment, will help us beat this disease. Symptoms women should be aware of include any of the following, which persist for a couple of weeks or more: bloating, changes in appetite, feeling full early, increase in abdominal girth, feelings of pelvic pressure in the lower abdomen and changes in urination.

If a woman is experiencing these symptoms, she should speak with her doctor about ovarian cancer being part of the problem - in addition to a gastrointestinal issue or other benign cause. As with any health issue, if the doctor isn't bringing it up, the patient should!

Jun

30

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Report: Common Food Dyes May Cause Cancer

by: cancercompass

According to a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), food dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5 contain carcinogens that may not only trigger behavior problems but could lead to cancer.

The report, titled ‘Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks’, highlights the potential risks for both adults and children consuming the dyes, which are used in various products like candy, soda, fast food, cereal, fruit drinks and more.

"Dyes add no benefits whatsoever to foods, other than making them more ‘eye-catching’ to increase sales," James Huff of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program, stated in a CSPI news release. “Some dyes have caused cancers in animals, contain cancer-causing contaminants, or have been inadequately tested for cancer or other problems. Their continued use presents unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. It’s disappointing that the FDA has not addressed the toxic threat posed by food dyes.”

CSPI states that food manufacturers should use natural colorings like beet juice, beta-carotene, blueberry juice concentrate, and carrot juice as opposed to food dyes.

What are your thoughts regarding this new report?

Jun

29

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Cancer Patients and Survivors Must Exercise, Experts Say

by: cancercompass

Exercise is important no matter who you are. And the Associated Press recently published an interesting article regarding the relationship between exercise, and cancer patients and survivors.

Cancer Compass recommends exercising — even doing minimal physical exertion — to increase one's heart rate and muscle flexion to boost the body’s tolerance to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

"You don't have to be Lance Armstrong," Dr. Julia Rowland of the National Cancer Institute told the AP. "Walk the dog, play a little golf."

The article also highlights how exercise may improve not only one's physical well-being but their emotional health too.

Cancer survivors: how important is exercise to you? Do you regularly exercise?

Cancer patients: as difficult as it may seem, are you able to exercise during treatment?

Please leave your thoughts in our comments section.

Jun

28

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Study Confirms No Cancer Risk for B Vitamins

by: cancercompass

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that vitamin B12 did not increase the risk of developing cancer.

"(The results) are reassuring in the sense that there were no safety concerns," Dr. Jane Armitage, lead researcher, told Reuters.

One of the study's other major focuses was to determine if vitamin B12 and folic acid treatments lowered the risk of a second heart attack.

The objective was to discover if blood homocysteine levels, which are positively associated with cardiovascular disease, could be lowered by taking the supplements.

Unfortunately, no such benefit was discovered.

 

Jun

25

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CT Scans Under the Microscope Again, Doctor Examines Risks

by: cancercompass

Computed tomography scans, commonly known as CT scans, have been making serious headlines lately. From over radiating patients to a possible link between CT scan radiation emissions and cancer development, this method used for diagnosing patients may seem to some as if it's doing more damage than good.

Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., authored a 'perspective' regarding CT scan safety in an article published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

She addresses the fact that CT scans drastically transformed the medical industry, but because there is little to no regulation for this type of practice, it can put patients' safety at risk.

"No professional or governmental organization is responsible for collecting, monitoring, or reporting patients' CT-dose information. The FDA approves CT scanners, but because it has no authority to oversee the way CT tests are used in clinical practice, it collects only limited data on routine doses."

What are your thoughts regarding CT scans and the recent controversy surrounding their potential dangers?

Jun

24

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Study: Bottoms-Up for Coffee Lovers

by: cancercompass

According to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers found that those who drank more than four cups of coffee per day were 39 percent less likely to develop oral, head and neck cancers.

"Given widespread use of coffee and the relatively high incidence and low survival of head and neck cancers, the observed inverse association may have appreciable public health relevance," the study's impact section states.

A recent study from researchers at Harvard Medical School found that men who drank high amounts of coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of developing aggressive prostate tumors than men who drank no coffee.

But what about those who drink coffee moderately?

"We didn't see a clear association for the moderate drinkers," Mia Hashibe, Ph.D., lead author of the study, told AOL Health. "But coffee is a really complex set of chemicals. I wouldn't recommend that everybody drink that much coffee."

To learn more about the cancers featured in this post, please visit our oral cancer information page and our head and neck cancer information page.

Jun

23

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Study: Cell Phone Towers Safe for Pregnant Moms

by: cancercompass

According to a new study published in BMJ, there is no risk of pregnant women who live near cell phone towers increasing their children's risk of developing cancer.

"There is no association between risk of early childhood cancers and estimates of the mother’s exposure to mobile phone base stations during pregnancy," according to the study's conclusion.

This study comes at the heels of San Francisco passing a new law requiring cell phone radiation emissions to be labeled on packaging.

Researchers wanted to learn if women could increase the risk of their children developing cancer because of their proximity to macrocell mobile phone stations while pregnant.

"This is a carefully done study by a highly reputable group of environmental scientists,"  Eileen Rubery, former head of British government's public health prevention department, told Reuters. "It is reassuring that no adverse affects [sic] have been found and this fits with the anticipated and known biological effects from such sites."

Jun

22

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Celebrate Life 2010 Wraps Up at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

by Dana Demas

Each year, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) honors the lives of their five-year cancer survivors. The two-day celebration includes a welcome dinner, a tree-planting ceremony, a formal dedication ceremony, and Hope RoundsSM, where survivors visit patients currently in treatment.  

People from all over the country traveled to CTCA, for events at each of its four locations during the months of May and June. This year, more than 130 survivors were honored – along with hundreds of their family, friends and loved ones.

Some highlights from this year’s Celebrate Life events include:

  • CTCA founder, Richard Stephenson, opened the dedication ceremony at the Southwestern hospital with some inspiring words from a patient named Kathy: "Hope makes you reach when you know your arm is too short."  
  • Nearly 80 survivors made the trip to the hospital’s Midwestern location, where comedian, juggler, and a 15-year cancer survivor himself, Scott Burton, kicked off the welcome dinner reception.
  • At the hospital’s Eastern location, the yearly Tree Planting Ceremony took place at Ferko Park, in Philadelphia. Parks Project Coordinator, Tammy Leigh DeMent, congratulated the survivors and said they will always be part of the park and the community.
  • The “Cancer Fighter” was suited up at the Western celebration in his boxing gloves and boots, dancing around the courtyard and high-fiving survivors to the sounds of the live band playing “Eye of the Tiger”!

To learn more, visit Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Jun

22

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Seattle's LIVESTRONG Challenge Raises $800K

by: cancercompass

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has made an impact in the cancer community - to say the least. His 13-year-old LIVESTRONG Challenge Series recently kicked off in Seattle last weekend and raised $800,000.

Over 16,000 participants and 475 volunteers contributed to the event during the two-day challenge. Participants partake in either a 5-10K run/walk or a multi-distance bike ride.

According to the LIVESTRONG Challenge website, over $60 million has been raised since the event's inception, which is donated to various cancer research facilities.

Next stop for the Challenge is San Jose, CA July 10-11, followed by Philadelphia, PA August 21-22, and concluding in Austin, TX October 22-24.

Will you be participating in the 2010 LIVESTRONG Challenge?

Jun

21

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Counseling Helps Breast Cancer Survivors

by Dana Demas

A new study finds that regular counseling benefits breast cancer survivors in more ways than one.

Researchers followed more than 227 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The women who attended weekly, then monthly, stress-reduction counseling had a lower risk of recurrence and a lower risk of death if the cancer came back, when compared to women who received no counseling.

Women who went to counseling also had better quality sleep and fewer chemotherapy-related symptoms than those who didn’t.

However, researchers caution that the study was small and the role of stress reduction in breast cancer remains to be understood.

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