Sit Less: An Easy Way to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Let’s face it: We do a lot of sitting. The majority of Americans spend their workday sitting in front of a computer, sitting in meetings, and sitting in the car commuting to and from work.  Then we get home – and we sit to eat, relax, watch television and read.  Or we get on our home computers to catch up with friends, surf the web, play video games, help the kids with homework, or maybe even do a little more work.

We’ve been hearing for years that moderate exercise done every day improves your health and reduces your personal risk for developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But recently researchers have learned that making an effort to sit less and stand more several times a day can improve your health and reduce your risk for developing cancer. Continue reading

What to do if you get a cancer diagnosis

After you get over the surprise, shock and fear that comes from hearing “you have cancer,” the next thing to think about is “what do I do about it?”
graphic with words related to cancerOne of the first and most important things to do is choose an oncologist (a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer) or a cancer treatment center. In many cases, your primary care doctor will refer you to someone he or she knows is an expert in the care of your cancer. Your doctor may also refer you to a hospital or center that has expertise in treating the particular cancer you have.

Diane Simeone, M.D., director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program here at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, offered insight for patients in this article: Identifying a Doctor and Facility When You Have Cancer.

The National Cancer Institute offers a search so you can easily find a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center near you. NCI-designated cancer centers are considered centers of excellence and have received recognition for their expertise.

Our website has a number of other articles that offer information and resources to help you become an engaged patient.  Learn the 10 things you can do to take charge of your medical care. Or, take a look at the list of online cancer resources our medical librarian gathered to help you understand your cancer diagnosis. Along similar lines, please visit our mini-dictionary of terms relating to cancer.

For the not-so-recently diagnosed, what advice would you give?

Facing breast surgery? Here are facts to consider.

Maria Lyzen, right, and Ruth Freedman lead the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center's Breast Cancer Advisory and Advocacy Committee.

Maybe you’ve heard the recent news reports discussing second surgeries for women with breast cancer.

It’s an important, but complicated topic. So what do you really need to know if you or someone you care about is diagnosed with breast cancer?

Most women diagnosed   with breast cancer will have surgery. Many choose to have breast-sparing surgery or lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. A lumpectomy removes the cancer, along with a small amount of normal tissue that surrounds it.

New research has found that nearly 23% of women have a second surgery, called a re-excision. Re-excision may need to be done if the pathology report reveals that there are still cancer cells at or near the area where the breast cancer was removed. This is what is referred to as a positive margin. The goal of a re-excision is to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning in the future. Continue reading

Clearing the confusion about mammograms

The bottom line: Mammography saves lives. Various organizations may not agree perfectly on screening recommendations, but don’t use that as an excuse to throw up your hands and do nothing.

Pink ribbon

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, an estimated 209,060 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer; more than 40,000 will die from the disease.

“Mammography is one of the few screening tools that has been proven to save lives. Every woman over 40 should at least begin a discussion about screening with her doctor,” says Mark Helvie, M.D., director of breast imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Here’s what everyone does agrees on:

  • All women 50-74 should receive regular mammograms.
  • Mammography may be the right choice for women in their 40s. While many groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, continue to recommend routine screening, others advocate a discussion between women and their health care providers.
  • Yearly or every other year? Many groups continue to recommend annual exams. The difference of opinion comes down to a balance between benefit and harm. Annual screening saves more lives but at a cost of more harms. Talk to your doctor about your options.
  • Women at very high risk for breast cancer may benefit from additional screening with MRI. Continue reading

Organic curiosity: Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic?

A cancer diagnosis often makes people re-evaluate their eating habits, inspiring many to incorporate more organically grown foods in their diets. Some people buy organic because of concerns about the environment, pesticides or animal welfare. Others perceive organic foods to be more nutritious. But considering the higher cost, is there any evidence that organically grown food offers more health benefits than conventionally grown food?

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s dietitians tackle this question in their latest nutrition column for our patient publication, Thrive. In addition to weighing the pros and cons of eating organic food, the dietitians offer lists of foods that typically contain the high and low levels of pesticides when conventionally grown, so that you can spend your money more wisely.
Visit Thrive to read the full story.