I found a lump in my breast, what next?

breast lumpWhether it was discovered during a breast self-exam or incidentally as you were putting on your deodorant, finding a breast lump can be terrifying. Somehow it seems human nature for us to think the worst when we find a mass or lump anywhere there should not be one. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society provide some peace of mind by noting that most breast lumps are not cancer. In fact, there are a whole host of more common and benign (non-cancerous) conditions that can cause lumps in the breast including collections of fluid, deposits of fat, and deposits of calcium.

But once found, do not wait, thinking the mass will go away on its own. Make sure to notify your healthcare provider. If you are having any difficulty moving your arms or have uncontrolled pain or redness/swelling in the breast, you should contact your care Continue reading

Improving cancer awareness among minorities

April 5-11 is National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

minority cancerNo minority, race or culture is immune to cancer. Unfortunately, any person can develop cancer. Some groups are more likely to get or die from cancer than others.

We know:

  • African Americans are more likely to die of cancer than people of any other racial or ethnic group.*
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have risk factors that lead to a greater rate of cancer cases.*
  • Overall, 1 in 2 Hispanic men and 1 in 3 Hispanic women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.*

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Throat Cancer: More Common Than You Might Think

U-M Cancer Center to offer free throat cancer screenings April 18

throat cancerMichael Douglas, Sigmund Freud, Ulysses S. Grant, George Harrison, and Babe Ruth – what could these people possibly have in common? Throat Cancer.

Even though it’s not talked about as much as some other types of cancer, throat cancer isn’t rare – in fact it’s the sixth most common cancer in the United States.

Throat cancer can start in the soft tissues of the upper, middle or bottom portion of the throat and can include the voice box (larnyx).

Researchers have found that 85 percent Continue reading

From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 2)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

cancer film logo.fwTonight, most PBS television stations in the U.S. will begin broadcasting “Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” — a three-night documentary film about all aspects of cancer.

University of Michigan medical historian Howard Markel was one of the internationally known experts interviewed for the film, and offered perspectives based on his knowledge of the history of cancer and key historical figures in the fight against cancer.

In Part 1 of our interview, he discussed the topic of cancer from the ancient Greeks to the early 1900s. Here, he looks at the modern era — and reflects on the experience of taking part in the film’s production.

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From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 1)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

If you look in the night sky at this time of year, you might see a constellation called Cancer. To the ancient Greeks, who gave it that name, the collection of stars looked like a crab. So they gave it the Greek name for crab: carcinos.

Later, the Romans kept that name for the same constellation, but used the Latin word for crab: cancer.

Both cultures also used those words for something else: a terrible disease that formed growths as hard as crab shells inside the body, and sent spindly legs out from a central body.

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A Gentler Colonoscopy Prep

Gentler Colonoscopy PrepMany people will tell you that the worst part of a colonoscopy is the prep. Preparation is critical, though, to help your doctor identify any polyps — it also helps the colonoscopy go faster. Some colonoscopy prep involves drinking up to four liters of a prep solution to help cleanse your colon. Even for someone who typically drinks a lot of fluids, that’s a large amount and you have to drink a few ounces every 15 minutes, which makes the prep almost a full-time job.

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