Fertility options for women with cancer

women fertilityAs many as 15% of all couples have difficulty becoming pregnant or meet the definition for infertility, but for those undergoing treatment for cancer the number can be even higher. This post discusses fertility options for women with cancer. Men, you haven’t been left out, my September blog discussed your fertility options, so you haven’t been left out.

For women who are undergoing cancer treatments, experts recommend they wait at least one year after treatment ends to have a fertility evaluation. This time is needed to allow the body to recover and readjust to Continue reading

Two courageous stories of breast cancer and survival

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is about 1 in 8 (12%). The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:

  • About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.

Our patients are our heroes

Here at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, our corridors are filled with patients and their loved ones. Each one is a hero. Here are the stories of two of our patients:

A Shockingly Simple Way: When Flora Migyanka was diagnosed in 2012, she learned how quickly life is brought into perspective by a breast cancer diagnosis. Flora shares her story:

Continue reading

Tricia Kachin’s gift of healing

Tricia Kachin was the child of a typical modern day American family, complete with a mom, dad, siblings, a step-mom and a step-dad. At the time of her Hodgkin Lymphoma diagnosis in 2010, the blended family still felt the repercussions of divorce, remarriage and the passing of her father, Ray. All the “Kachins” pulled together during Tricia’s journey with cancer and emerged strong – Kachin Strong, as Tricia described her family.

“Trish and I rekindled our friendship during her treatment. We learned through her illness to redefine ‘family’ because we were united in making her well. Unification and healing were two of her many gifts to us,” step-mom Michele Mitchell remembers.

Initially hopeful for recovery, Tricia soon learned her recovery was in doubt. She refused to accept this prognosis and for nearly four years, she was tested, scanned and biopsied. She even had her stem cells extracted at the University of Michigan in hopes of a bone marrow transplant at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Continue reading

Two brothers, a room full of doctors, a second chance

tumor board

Aron Bowser, above, and his brother Cory presented a unique set of circumstances to the tumor board.

As the editor of Thrive, I’m always looking for topics to write about that will be helpful to patients. One of aspects of patient care that can be confusing is what we call a “tumor board meeting.” In layman’s terms, a tumor board is a group of doctors and caregivers specializing in your type of cancer. They meet periodically to review and discuss the scans of patients. The goal is to put everyone’s heads together, share information and come up with innovative treatment options.

When I asked around for an interesting tumor board success story to tell in Thrive, I Continue reading

Detecting lung disorder after stem cell transplant

The road to beating leukemia, lymphoma or other blood cancers often takes patients through a stem cell transplant. But in curing the cancer, transplants can cause a host of other issues, one of which is a lung disorder called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, or BOS.

BOS blocks the flow of air to the small airways in the lungs and is very difficult to treat once it becomes advanced. About 10% of patients who survive a stem cell transplant develop BOS.

Unfortunately, BOS is also difficult to diagnose, so by the time it’s identified doctors are not able to reverse it. The goal becomes to stop it from getting worse. Only 1 in 5 patients will survive five years after a BOS diagnosis.

BOS

Continue reading

Microsurgical breast reconstruction after mastectomy

microsurgical breast reconstructionmCancerPartner sat down recently with Adeyiza Momoh, M.D., an assistant professor of plastic surgery who specializes in breast reconstruction, to discuss microsurgical breast reconstruction following mastectomy. He will be speaking on this topic later this month at Hats and High Tea for Breast Cancer Awareness, a community event sponsored by the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Community Outreach Program.

mCancerParter: Dr. Momoh, what is microsurgical breast reconstruction?

Dr. Momoh: “Microsurgical breast reconstruction” describes multiple techniques that transfer tissue (skin and fat) from other parts of a patient’s body to the chest for reconstruction. The transfer requires connecting small blood vessels at the chest with the aid of a microscope. Generally, we take the tissue from the lower abdomen in most women. There are some good reasons for choosing the lower abdomen:

  • This lower abdominal tissue is similar in quality to breast tissue.
  • A good number of patients in their late 30s to 50s have ample tissue that can be used.

Continue reading