Study: Gene test validates NCCN guidelines on chemo for breast cancer

Some early stage patients can skip chemo

chemo for breast cancer
mCancerPartner interviewed Dan Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the Cancer Center’s breast oncology program. In late September 2015, investigators – including Dr. Hayes – showed that many women with early stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy with good results, based on a gene test assessing which tumors were more likely to respond to chemotherapy. This study validates clinical recommendations in place since 2007 made by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Hayes served on both recommendation task forces and provided the following remarks on the origin of these recommendations.

mCancerPartner: How has the standard of care for women with the most common type of breast cancer (early stage, hormone positive, HER2 negative, not spread to lymph nodes) evolved over the years? Continue reading

New treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Increasing the chance to live longer

non-small cell lung cancer

The FDA has approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 224,210 new diagnoses in 2014. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC, affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

In October 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced, or metastatic, NSCLC. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

At the University of Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic, we are using both drugs in appropriate patients as standard of care. We also have other similar immunotherapy drugs in a variety of clinical trials.

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Pathology 101: How a pathology report explains cancer

Pathology reports on suspected cancer say if a patient has a malignancy, type of cancer and if it has spread

mammary carcinoma

In a pathology report, the diagnosis section provides the location of the tumor, its type and grade, and size.

 

Chances are, the treatment plan for your cancer was determined by the results on a pathology report. Before your diagnosis, you probably had a biopsy or surgery where a doctor removed cells or tissue for study under a microscope. Specialists called pathologists spend their days viewing these samples, understanding how they look compared to normal cells and preparing reports which summarize the findings on each biopsy for oncologists and surgeons.

We spoke with Cancer Center pathologist, Celina Kleer, M.D., director of the Breast Pathology Division in the Department of Pathology,to find out the information contained in a report and how your oncologist uses it to decide the best course of treatment for your cancer. Continue reading

Singer relies on positive attitude, U-M team after palate cancer diagnosis

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After being diagnosed with cancers of the palate and thyroid one after another, professional singer Jerry Garcia knew he was going to have to risk his career in order to save his health and family life.

With surgery recommended for both tumors, Garcia knew at every turn that he might have to take his musical ministry in another direction if surgical complications made him no longer able to sing in the caliber he’d built a career on. Instead, Jerry credits the quality of his recent album – he calls it the best he’s ever sung – to the surgeries and experts he saw at the U-M Health System.

“I came out of this unscathed with no vocal cord damage whatsoever,” Garcia said. “It’s the power of a strong positive attitude.”

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Nausea and vomiting, side effects of cancer treatment

nausea and vomitingNausea and vomiting are always distressing. They are a dreaded side effect for many undergoing cancer treatment. As an oncology nurse that has administered chemotherapy, I’ve witnessed firsthand how troublesome they can be for patients.

Nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, commonly called chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting or CINV, can affect as many as 50% of patients. Treatment for these two symptoms has improved over the years with better medications. However, these twin side effects to cancer treatment still remain a barrier to quality of life. Continue reading

Calling out to breast cancer survivors

A chance for you to help improve breast cancer care

breast cancer survivorsLast year, the Cancer AnswerLine ™ nurses had the opportunity to start working with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer and Advocacy Committee. When I attended my first meeting with this group, I was pleasantly surprised. I had a pre-conceived notion this would be a group of women working on a smaller scale like hosting bake sales to raise money for breast cancer. Instead, I found that this group of smart women has really made an impact on breast cancer treatment. They are currently looking for new members. Continue reading