A conversation about kidney cancer

kidney cancer and high blood pressureThe kidneys have an important job to do- they keep the blood clean and balanced by filtering, and then sending waste in the form of urine to the bladder. Shaped like a ‘kidney’ bean and about the size of your fist, kidneys are in the middle of the back, one on each side of your spine. Some people are at risk for developing kidney cancer. Continue reading

Male breast cancer: Men can and do get it

Risk factors include age, family history and inherited gene mutations

male breast cancer

Most male breast cancer is found in men between the ages of 60 and 70.


While we tend to think of breast cancer as a women’s disease, men can develop breast cancer, too. The group is small—fewer than 1% of all breast cancer cases. Most male breast cancer is found in men between the ages of 60 and 70.

Today, survival is similar for both men and women when their stage at diagnosis is the same. But men are less likely than women to notice changes in their breasts or chest, or to mention these changes to their doctors. As a result, male breast cancer is more often diagnosed at a later stage, when a cure is less likely. Continue reading

You Can Take it With You: Cancer Clinical Studies Goes Mobile

Searching and sharing information about cancer clinical studies just got easier for those with smart phones or tablets.

A free mobile device application (app) is available from the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Cancer Research.

The app allows patients, families and health care providers to search more than 150 clinical trials, save specific pages as favorites, and share information via Twitter and email.

Securely linked to the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR) clinical trial database, the app provides details about studies being conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. The database is continuously updated to ensure the most current clinical trial information is available to those seeking treatment options. The NCITrials@NIH app is available for free download on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

Those interested in learning more about what it means to participate in a study, join the registry or find a clinical study  available at the University of Michigan can log on using their smart phone, tablet or computer to easily search, view and learn without a download.  Watch a video to understand what clinical trials are and why they are important.

Clinical research is key in moving medicine forward, allowing physicians to find the most effective care. During your next appointment ask your doctor if you may qualify for a clinical study.

Opportunity of a Lifetime: Help Researchers Understand Factors that Cause and Prevent Cancer

Learning that you or a loved one has cancer can be frightening and overwhelming. If there was a simple way you could do something to prevent others from facing cancer, would you be willing to give it a try?

If you answered yes, then here’s an opportunity of a lifetime for you or your loved ones to enroll in the American Cancer Society’s new research study called the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). By joining CPS-3, people can help researchers better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer, which will ultimately save lives.

The study is open to anyone who:

  • is willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, by completing periodic follow-up surveys at home
  • is between 30 and 65 years old
  • has never been diagnosed with cancer (those with basal or squamous cell skin cancer can still participate)

As part of enrollment you’ll be asked to:

  • Read and sign an informed consent form
  • Complete a survey that will ask you for current information on lifestyle, behavioral and other health factors
  • Have your waist measured
  • Give a small blood sample (similar to a doctor’s visit – 7 teaspoons total). The blood sample is drawn by a trained, certified phlebotomist
  • Complete periodic health surveys at home to update your information

Enrollment is being held at locations across the nation, including in Ann Arbor beginning in October. View enrollment times and schedule your appointment.

If you are a cancer survivor, you can still get involved. Tell your friends and loved ones about how they can enroll, prevent cancer for future generations and make a difference in the life of another.

For more information visit: www.cancer.org/cps3 ; email cps3@cancer.org or call 888-604-5888.

Not X-Rated- Sexuality and Cancer Treatment

Most people feel embarrassed asking their doctor about the effects cancer treatment may have on their sex life. Some may not even share how they feel with their sex partner.  The reality is that emotional and physical intimacy is an important part of life — and cancer treatment can impact both men and women, and both patients and their partners.

Depending on the type of cancer and the type of treatment, sexual side effects may be temporary or long term. It’s common for people to worry if it’s safe to be intimate during treatment, and to feel self-conscious about the change in body image that can result from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Wondering if the sex will be the same during or after treatment is also common. For example, the man’s ability to get and keep an erection can change as the result of treatment. For women, vaginal dryness, loss of sensation and painful intercourse can diminish the desire for sex. Sexual problems can also be related to the emotions surrounding cancer, including anxiety, depression, or the potential loss of fertility.

Ask your doctor if it is OK to have sex during or after treatment. The good news is sex is usually safe for the person with cancer and their partner. Cancer cannot be caught from another person, and sex with someone who is undergoing radiation therapy does not expose the partner to radiation.

Medication, lubricants, assistive devices and surgery can help with problems related to erections, vaginal dryness and pain. A counselor or sex therapist can help make recommendations. It’s also important to be open with your partner and to understand their concerns.

While nothing can replace a conversation with your doctor, there are many resources available to learn about ways to restore intimacy and reduce the sexual side effects of cancer treatment. In this article, sex therapist Daniela Wittmann talks about some of the issues faced by men undergoing prostate cancer surgery and why it’s important for couples to seek help. Overcoming embarrassment and discussing sexual symptoms and concerns with your health care team is the best way to understand how to lessen the impact of cancer treatment on your sex life.

For more tips, listen to this podcast from certified sex therapist Sallie Foley, who discusses ways to regain a sense of normalcy in the bedroom.

These resources offer more advice for talking with your doctor and remedies for common sexual problems:

National Cancer Institute Sexuality and Reproductive Information for the Patient

American Cancer Society- Sexual Side effects in Men

American Cancer Society- Sexual Side Effects in Women


Sarcoma: Seeking Care for a Rare Cancer

Sarcoma – a cancer most people have never heard of….it’s rare; only 1% of all cancers diagnosed in adults and 15% of childhood cancers are sarcoma.

There are numerous types of sarcoma classified according to where the tumor originates in the body.  For example, bone sarcomas begin in the bone; soft tissue sarcoma may start in the muscle, tendons, fat or other tissues that support, connect or surround organs, joints, blood vessels or nerves.

It’s not surprising when the diagnosis is a rare cancer- like sarcoma, that patients and family can experience a wide range of emotions including:

  • Shock- if the person is not feeling  ill or having pain
  • Distress and vulnerability with the realization of facing a life threatening illness
  • Confusion surrounding understanding complex medical information

Many people with a new diagnosis of sarcoma are not sure what to do, or what kind of doctor to see. Continue reading