From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 1)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

If you look in the night sky at this time of year, you might see a constellation called Cancer. To the ancient Greeks, who gave it that name, the collection of stars looked like a crab. So they gave it the Greek name for crab: carcinos.

Later, the Romans kept that name for the same constellation, but used the Latin word for crab: cancer.

Both cultures also used those words for something else: a terrible disease that formed growths as hard as crab shells inside the body, and sent spindly legs out from a central body.

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Breast Cancer Summit 2015

Not just for breast cancer patients and survivors

On Saturday, April 18th the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Oncology and Community Outreach Programs (with support from the Michigan affiliate of Susan G. Komen, U-M School of Public Health, and QVC presents FFANY Shoes on Sales) will give you the opportunity to learn more breast health, the latest advances in breast cancer and learn about the resources available in the community. The Breast Cancer Summit is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I have attended the event in the past and was amazed by the uplifting spirit of everyone there. Breast cancer patients and breast cancer survivors have made up the majority of those who attended. However, there also were healthy, non-cancer patients at the summit who wanted to learn more about general breast health and what type of screening is recommended.

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Dr. Theodore Lawrence on advances in radiation therapy for cancer

Theodore Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a world renowned expert in radiation therapy. In this short video, Dr. Lawrence talks about some of the exciting advances in radiation therapy. These include the ability to individualize radiation therapy. Instead of treating all patients with a particular tumor the same, we can now see – while it is happening – how an individual’s tumor is responding to therapy and make adjustments during treatment.

Take the next step:
• If you have questions about radiation therapy, or any aspect of cancer care, call the nurses at the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine™. They can help patients or their loved ones find a clinical trial or provide insights into the newest and latest cancer treatments. Feel free to call at 1-800-865-1125 or send an e-mail.


Cancer-center-informal-vertical-sig-150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.

Our full-service patient library: one of the Cancer Center’s crown jewels

full-service library for UMHS Comprehensive Cancer Center patients and family members

Lori Boylan, information resource assistant (left) and Ann Marie Scholten

The Patient Education Resource Center, commonly referred to as the PERC, is a full-service library for UMHS Comprehensive Cancer Center patients and family members. The PERC takes great pride in making sure the resources and services it provides are tailor-made to those who are facing a cancer diagnosis. The PERC, located on Level B2 of the Cancer Center, is home to the usual library amenities such as: books, reference services, medical models, computers for patient and family use, and a copy and fax machine. In my opinion, what sets the PERC apart are its caring individuals and the following services and programs: Continue reading

Cell hunters: the quest to diagnose pancreatic cancer early

pancreatic cancer cells

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blogs that focus on members of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. Led by an inter-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians, the Center holds the promise to significantly change the bleak statistics associated with this disease by revolutionizing pancreatic cancer care. One diagnostic tool they are advancing involves detecting pancreatic cancer cells in the bloodstream before any sign of cancer is obvious through current diagnostic techniques. The successful hunt for these cells would result in a tool for earlier detection, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

The first thing you notice about Diane Simeone, M.D., the Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery and director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, is her tireless passion for finding better ways to detect and treat pancreatic cancer. So far, the survival prospects for this disease are dismal, she’ll tell you. Continue reading

Pneumonia vaccine: What is it, and why do I need it??

pneumonia vaccineThe numbers of pneumonia cases are on the increase. You can blame the weather, our aging population, or the fact that this is one of the more common side effects that can occur as a result of having chemo or radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment. No matter which factor you choose, pneumonia affects millions of people worldwide each year.

Pneumonia is a severe acute respiratory infection, a condition where fluids fill the lungs and disrupt how oxygen is absorbed. Breathing can become very difficult, along with several other key symptoms including: Continue reading