Pause and take a deep breath

For many the initial reaction of hearing “It’s cancer” is shock followed by “I need to get this out.” Michael Sabel, M.D., chief of surgical oncology at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, shares why it’s OK to take a deep breath, and consider all your options before starting treatment.

 

 

Take the next step:

  • Read one patient’s decision on pausing before deciding on her course of treatment
  • Find out why it’s OK to seek a second opinion

 

The 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.

The sixth vital sign: Patient distress

Detecting distress is the first step to helping patients recover.distress June15

When going to see a health care provider for an office visit, we expect to be asked about our physical health and have a physical exam that measures our vital signs. Emotional health, sometimes called the sixth vital sign, is harder to figure out. In fact, emotional or psychosocial problems can persist for years without a provider being aware that their patient is in distress.

This has changed for cancer patients, many of whom do experience high levels of distress. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network describes distress as “an unpleasant emotional experience of a psychosocial, social, and/or spiritual nature that may interfere with the ability to cope effectively with cancer, its physical symptoms, and its treatment.” So what is being done to address this? Continue reading

For men: Communicating with doctors

communicating with doctorsIt’s a well-known fact that men and women communicate differently, and this carries over into all relationships, including ones with health care providers. A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming, and there can be a great deal of information to process. Some men may have more difficulty in communicating with doctors for the following reasons:

  • More discomfort in discussing health related problems
  • Stress can cause men to withdraw and become quiet
  • Men don’t like to be told what to do
  • Don’t want to waste people’s time by asking questions

Patients are taking a more active role in their health care. We know that outcomes are better when patients are working along with their doctor in making decisions that are best for them. The following are some tips that can be helpful in improving communication: Continue reading

PM&R and cancer symptom management

Interview with Sean Smith, M.D., Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

stylized xraymCancerPartner sat down recently with Sean R. Smith, M.D., a clinical instructor and director of Cancer Rehabilitation in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Health System, to learn more about doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and the growing sub-specialty of cancer symptom management and rehabilitation.

mCancerPartner: How would you define physical medicine and rehabilitation, or PM&R, as it relates to cancer symptom management?

Dr. Smith: PM&R doctors, called physiatrists, ARE symptom management doctors, but they also diagnose and treat a variety of physical conditions. Our expertise is used for patients with conditions that affect the brain, spine, muscle and bones. We also help patients with nerve damage or serious scar tissue. So you might find physiatrists in sports medicine, but you will also find us treating conditions like cerebral palsy, spinal cord or burn injuries. For all our patients, we look at nutrition, pain management and range of motion, and may order tests or treatments to optimize patients’ ability to move and reduce pain or fatigue. Our goal is to Continue reading

Why taking your prescription medication as prescribed is so important

prescription medicationDo you take your medication exactly as prescribed by your health care provider? If you do, congratulations! You are medication compliant or adherent.

However, non-adherence can occur very easily and most likely happens to everyone from time to time. Whether it is on purpose or by accident, missing doses can lead to your medication not working as well as it could.

Some common reasons for non-adherence:

  • Simply missing a dose
  • Side effects from the medication
  • Concerns about possible side effects
  • Concerns about long term effects
  • Don’t think you need the medication anymore
  • Don’t think the medication is working
  • Difficulty managing all the medicines you take
  • Missed doses because of a busy schedule
  • Tendency to forget things in your daily life
  • Financial concerns about medication costs
  • Pharmacy was out of the medication

Continue reading

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