Trained to screen patients for colon cancer, nurse finds a genetic link to this disease in her own family

Lynch syndrome

The Sylvest family tree includes Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause cancer.

Lisa Sylvest is a cancer survivor who never met her father Karl’s parents. They lived in Denmark with their other son and daughter. Growing up, Lisa simply knew that her grandmother died at age 54 of a ‘female’ cancer. When Lisa was in high school, Karl’s brother died of brain cancer, also at age 54. Time passed, Lisa entered nursing school and her father’s sister developed endometrial cancer. Lisa traveled to Denmark to meet her relatives face-to-face for the first time.

When her father was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at age 68, Lisa was a U-M Health System nurse working in gastroenterology, which deals with stomach and intestinal disorders. Her Continue reading

HPV vaccine and cervical cancer: Is this the new magic bullet?

cervical cancer and HPVOne of the most recommended screenings is for cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV immunization could reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide by as much as two-thirds, if all adolescent and adult women were to get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that HPV vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.

Currently there are two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, that prevent infection from HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. Gardasil and Cervarix both are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target. Gardasil targets the two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts and it is used to prevent cancers and precancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. Cervarix is used for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancers.

The CDC recommends that all women age 26 years and younger receive three doses of the HPV vaccine (Cervarix or Continue reading

It’s not just girl talk: Including men in breast cancer genetic counseling

men and breast cancer genetic counselingThere is no question that breast cancer disproportionately affects women – but we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the risk to men. As we continue to learn more about the ways our genes influence our cancer risk, involvement of male relatives in genetic counseling and genetic testing can provide important information for your family’s breast cancer risk evaluation. So why are men often forgotten?

Myth One: Men don’t carry mutations in breast cancer genes.

Continue reading

Uterine sarcoma – a little known cancer

uterine sarcSomeone called the Cancer AnswerLine™ recently with questions about uterine sarcoma and I spend some time talking with her. This is a fairly rare condition which comprises only 2%-5% of all uterine cancers. Since July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, what better time than now to share these notes?

What is uterine sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a term used to describe a whole family of cancers that arise in the body’s connective tissues, which include, fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, Continue reading

The PSA and beyond: An update on prostate cancer biomarkers

prostate cancer biomarkersThere is perhaps no hotter topic in prostate cancer treatment today than the use of prostate cancer biomarkers. To learn more about them, mCancerPartner posed a few questions to Todd Morgan, M.D., a surgeon in the U-M Multidisciplinary Urologic Oncology Clinic.

mCancerPartner: First, Dr. Morgan, can you provide a basic definition of a cancer biomarker?

Dr. Morgan: A biomarker is any type of indicator that can be found in blood, urine or tissue that can be used to identify or Continue reading

Screening may boost liver cancer survival rates

liver cancer screeningScreening isn’t necessarily effective for all cancers, but primary liver cancer is one type of cancer where those at high risk, such as persons with hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis, may benefit from screening (the use of tests to look for the presence of disease before symptoms appear). Primary liver cancer, also known as hepatoma or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer in adults according to the American Cancer Society.

Screening for HCC can begin as young as 40 and involves measuring alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood levels and Continue reading