The “other” cancer treatment side effect: Paying attention to your mouth

cancer treatment side effectMost of us are aware of the common cancer treatment side effects like nausea or hair loss. Many don’t realize that more than one-third of people treated for cancer develop complications that affect the mouth. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy slow or stop growth of fast growing cells, such as cancer cells. Normal cells in the lining of the mouth also grow quickly, so these cancer treatments can stop them from growing too. In turn, this slows down the ability of oral tissue to repair itself by making new cells.

The most common oral complications as cancer treatment side effects: Continue reading

Treating lymphedema after breast cancer


Lymphedema symptoms can include swelling in the hands or feet.

Katherine Konosky is making a presentation on lymphedema on Saturday, April 12 at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Summit. See more details below about this free event.

As many as 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema, which causes swelling in arms, legs or other parts of the body. It can be a frustrating and chronic long-term side effect of cancer treatment. Although it is more common than multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer – combined – lymphedema has historically been little understood, even by health care professionals. The good news is that with improved imaging equipment, we are understanding more about the function of the lymphatic system. Continue reading

A new diagnosis of colon cancer – what is next?

cancer diagnosis.fwThere are several paths that can lead patients to a diagnosis of colon cancer. You may have had symptoms that worried you, such as finding blood on your toilet paper. Or perhaps the doctor removed suspicious polyps during a routine colonoscopy. Either way, hearing that you have a diagnosis of colon cancer can be a shock, making it hard to process what the next steps might be or what decisions must be made. These tips can help you prepare for your first appointments with cancer specialists and understand what is going to happen over the next months: Continue reading

Interpretation and language services for patients

interpreters.fwMaking sense of complicated medical diagnoses and treatments can be overwhelming for most people. Imagine how much more so for those who are hard of hearing, do not speak English or only have limited comprehension skills. Without access to language services, this could be downright dangerous and in fact there have been cases where patients have been harmed as a result.

According to the 2011 U.S. Census, English still remains the primary language in the Unites States but Spanish and Chinese are gaining ground. Health care providers and hospitals have a professional obligation to make sure that patients comprehend their care and treatment options.

Now to digress for a brief history lesson…

Access to language services is a legal right that was established in 1964 by Title VI the Civil Rights Act. Title VI applies to all health care institutions that accept government funding sources such as Medicare, Medicaid, National Institutes of Health or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a condition of Continue reading

Caregiving: Cancer as a Family Disease

Caregiving can look many ways. It is not necessarily providing physical care such as lifting and Family Caregiver.fwdressing like so many tend to believe. Being a caregiver frequently refers to providing emotional support and love. It can mean providing transportation, meals and maybe financial assistance. No matter the type of care, it typically means that a lot of changes are occurring for both the person receiving and the person providing care.

A study published by the American Cancer Society online in 2008 discussed the relationship between caregiving and mental health. The report showed that caregivers who have emotional and problem orientated support were better able to cope with a loved one’s cancer and the pressures of caregiving. Individuals who reported skills in seeking out information also dealt with caregiving with greater ease. These skills are not innate and often times adults need assistance in further developing them. Continue reading

Social Security Disability

What you need to know when dealing with cancer

soc security.fwA cancer diagnosis presents a variety of challenges, not the least of which are financial challenges. Social Security Disability Insurance, a benefit payment that you can receive when a disability renders you unable to work, could be an option for you to consider. Disability benefits provide a safety net when a medical condition such as cancer prevents people living with cancer from working. People can receive disability payments for a few years until their medical condition improves sufficiently to enable them to return to employment.

If you have a cancer diagnosis, you will Continue reading