Genetic testing leads to diagnosis for rare Von Hippel Lindau disease

Haley

Haley Miller and her daughter, Layla

 

Haley Miller, now a wife and mother of two, went to her first genetic testing appointment at age 20.

“It was around 1999 and genetic testing had just been developed. As soon as it had, the doctor recommended our whole family go, so we did,” Miller says.

Most families don’t just think of setting up genetic testing, but when Miller’s father was diagnosed and eventually passed away from complications of Von Hippel Lindau, their family knew it could only help.

Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) is an inherited disorder where those affected experience abnormal growth of tumors and cysts throughout the body. The tumors can be both benign and cancerous and many of them can be found in the adrenal glands, kidneys, pancreas and central nervous system. Those affected by VHL undergo body scans each year to check for progression and changes in the disorder. Continue reading

Myeloproliferative neoplasms: A collection of rare blood cancers

Called MPNs for short, they may be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell

myeloproliferative neoplasms

Each MPN is a different condition, but they are thought to be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell that may have acquired genetic mutations that make it unable to produce blood cells normally


Myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs, are a group of chronic blood cancers with the potential to rapidly progress to a more advanced stage or to an acute leukemia. Though our understanding of why these cancers occur is still evolving, we believe these MPNs can arise from a common cause: genetic alterations within the stem cell that change the way these blood cells grow and divide. Scientists are unraveling the mysteries of these rare cancers, bringing new hope for patients through research and specialized treatment.

mCancerPartner recently talked to Marie Huong Nguyen, M.D., a hematology/oncology MPN specialist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Nguyen leads multiple clinical trials at U-M to develop new therapies in MPNs. Dr. Nguyen’s MPN and Systemic Mastocytosis Clinic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with many different types of MPNs. Continue reading

Food worries: do I have increased cancer risk if I don’t eat organic?

eat organicPeople recovering from cancer or hoping to lower their risk sometimes worry about chemicals used in conventional agriculture. When you eat organic food is that a smarter option? Here are some facts and tips about organic versus conventional foods, and what you can do to maximize your diet’s health benefits.

Are organic foods better for your health?

When it comes to health benefits, there have not been any direct studies on humans to show that organic foods can prevent cancer – or other diseases – more effectively than conventionally grown foods. So far, there is also no Continue reading

What is gallbladder cancer?

Symptoms act like common digestive problems, so are often overlooked

gallbladder cancer

Some of the risk factors for gallbladder cancer are a family history, being older, female, or being Mexican American.

Gallbladder cancer is rare. In fact, the American Cancer Society notes there will only be about 4,000 new cases of gallbladder cancer this year. Our gallbladder stores and secretes brownish liquid called bile which aids in the digestion of food. Since the gallbladder is hidden under the liver and not easily seen on imaging or felt, gallbladder cancer is usually discovered in the later stages. Only about 1 of 5 gallbladder cancers is found in the early stages, when the cancer has not yet spread beyond the gallbladder. Continue reading

ICE: End of term reflection paper

Cancer Center patients and staff play important role in educating future doctors

 ICE, or Initial Clinical Experience, is a program for new University of Michigan medical students.

Medical student writes of his experiences in the Breast Cancer Clinic and says he learned more about life and the role of healthcare providers in caring for patients than he ever thought possible.

 

Editor’s note: ICE, or Initial Clinical Experience, is a program for new University of Michigan medical students. Instead of spending their first term only in lecture halls, they are assigned to shadow clinical faculty and other health professionals. This gives them early connections with patients and families and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all healthcare team members within the system.

Where is the line between disease and life drawn? This was a question I constantly thought about during my Initial Clinical Experience during my first term as a medical student. I remember the moment I found out I would be placed in the Breast Cancer Clinic and my feeling of dread. I was worried that so early in medical school I would come face-to-face with cancer, and through it, with death. Continue reading

Blue light cystoscopy for bladder cancer

New technique uses a blue light to see more of the bladder cancer tumor

blue light cystoscopy

Blue light cystoscopy offers a significant advance in bladder tumor detection and, in Michigan, is only offered at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. It uses a special dye, along with a blue light inside the patient to make cancer tumors more visible to surgeons. Left: tumors as seen with a traditional white light; right: the same tumors more visible with a dye and blue light.

 

mCancerPartner sat down recently with Cheryl Lee, M.D., a surgeon and professor of urology, to discuss blue light cystoscopy, a technology that significantly improves the detection of non-muscle invasive (early stage) cancer of the bladder during surgery. Dr. Lee’s research focuses on improving quality of life and surgical outcomes for bladder cancer patients. She is active with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, where she has served as president of its Scientific Advisory Board and is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She is Past-Chairman of the Bladder Cancer Think Tank.

mCancerPartner: Can you talk about bladder cancer tumors and the challenges they present in regard to removing all the cancer. Continue reading