Satisfaction with choices for cancer care increases when patients engage in online communications and social media

Younger patients more likely to discuss their treatment options using these digital tools

iCanCare StudyWe spoke recently to Lauren Wallner, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of internal medicine, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher. She is part of a research team presenting a poster on June 1 at the ASCO annual meeting that reports on the use of online communication and social media by newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. The results are part of the iCanCare Study.

mCancerPartner: What did you learn through this survey of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients?

Dr. Wallner: We asked patients whether Continue reading

Crafting your path is the theme for this year’s Cancer Survivors’ Day celebration

Guest speakers Scott Miller & Jim Jacoby will describe their parallel journeys to define a life well-lived

Cancer Survivors' Day

Jim Jacoby and Scott Miller

Scott Miller, a former manufacturing entrepreneur, found his life taking a dramatic turn in 2010 when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the head and neck. Jim Jacoby, with a background in digital design, had his own transformative experience while recovering from a serious motorcycle accident.

When their paths crossed at an authors’ retreat, the two men discovered a shared goal: to reshape their lives based on a sense of purpose, joy and artistry.

Scott and Jim are the featured speakers at the University of Michigan Continue reading

Taming the flame: Grill safe this summer

grill safeWe know eating healthy is important in fighting cancer. So how can you enjoy that summer cookout with friends and families without tossing healthy eating aside? Here are some tips on how to grill safe this summer.

Each year, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians field questions from patients about whether it’s safe to grill, given the evidence that grilled meats may contain cancer-causing agents. Guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggest that the type of food you grill may be more important than how you prepare it. Continue reading

Cancer research: Where are we headed?

May is National Cancer Research Month

cancer research

In 1928, Sweden became the first country to issue a postage stamp commemorating the fight against cancer. On April 1, 1965, the United States issued its first anti-cancer commemorative stamp, pictured above. Source: Taub, Marvin. “Cancer Stamps: 50 Years in the Crusade Against Cancer Through Stamps,” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, v.28,no.3, May/June 1978, 164-169.

In 1971 President Nixon signed into law the National Cancer Act which officially launched the “war on cancer.” It earmarked a budget of $100 million towards cancer research and the promise to find new treatments for the second leading cause of death in America at that time.

“One of the most important things that came out of the National Cancer Act is that we started to do a lot of basic science to study the disease … today cancer is thought of as a molecular disease within a cell, whereas in the old days, cancer was thought of as a disease of tumors of tissue,” says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

So where has this science taken us 44 years later? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer still remains the second leading cause of death after heart disease. However, all is not lost, we’ve come a long way in 44 years!

Unlike the 1970s, when hardly anyone who had cancer was considered a survivor, we now have more than 14 million cancer survivors in the United States, and that number is projected to increase as our baby-boomers age. While survivors are increasing in numbers, we have also made progress in cancer prevention though screening and early detection programs, specifically in colon and cervical cancer.

As Dr. Brawley’s comments above reflect, we have continued to advance our understanding of cancer at the molecular level. This knowledge in turn has led to new developments in targeted therapy, vaccine therapy and immunotherapy. Continue reading

Living the best life you can with a chronic illness

chronic illness“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow,’” wrote Mary Anne Radmacher. Each of us is challenged in some way, be it our health, our work situation, or our interpersonal relationships. Living with any chronic illness takes courage, perseverance, and acceptance. Below are a few principles that may be helpful regardless of the challenge you are facing:

  1. Generosity – When you are living with chronic illness it can be difficult to think of others. But research has shown that giving back can improve your outlook and make you feel better about your particular situation.
  1. Asking for help/support – Chronic conditions can be isolating. Having someone in “your corner” as a trusted supporter – be it a family member, friend, or work colleague can help you cope and remain resilient. Many chronic conditions have support groups that are already established. Find a support group here.
  1. Hobbies – People who pursue their passions, be it wood-working, music, writing, yoga, gardening, or volunteering, have an easier time coping. Plus, getting back into your favorite hobby is a major milestone on the road to recovery.

Continue reading

Squamous cell skin cancer, what is it?

May is national melanoma/skin cancer detection and prevention month

FunInSunThe summer season is fast upon us, and for many, that equates to more time spent outside. The sunshine and warmer weather is a welcome reprieve from the long winter. With this sunny weather comes the reminder to protect our skin from the adverse effects of getting too much sun. Too much sun exposure to the skin can cause cancer to start in the squamous cells of the skin.

Squamous cell skin cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer, and typically the least known. Many patients that are newly diagnosed have never heard of it. Continue reading