Thanksgiving: an ideal time to talk about family health history

family health historyThe U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day since 2004. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.

Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors that can determine shared risk for diseases such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. That’s why family gatherings like Thanksgiving are the perfect time to collect your family health history, record it for the future, and encourage family members to share it with their health care providers. These easy steps can help you understand the risk for various diseases and encourage early detection and prevention. Continue reading

What complementary therapies are helpful for breast cancer?

A woman standing one-legged in a yoga pose

Yoga received an A for improving depression

New guidelines released this week can help people being treated for breast cancer determine what complementary therapies help relieve side effects of treatment or improve quality of life. The evidence-based guidelines were sponsored by the Society for Integrative Oncology.

We talked to Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine and environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan. Dr. Zick was part of the guidelines panel and begins a one-year term this week as president of the Society for Integrative Oncology.

mCancerPartner: Can you explain what you mean by integrative oncology? Continue reading

Dealing with information overload: Getting started

information overloadInformation overload is an unavoidable part of today’s world. Information, including cancer information, comes at us from all directions, flooding our senses (and in-boxes) with endless amounts of information. We get this information from newspapers, magazines, social networking sites, online news sources, emails, etc.

If you are a cancer patient or a caregiver of a cancer patient, you are probably feeling very overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to read, ask questions about, and keep on hand. To filter this information excess, you need organization, time-management tools, and a plan. Here are a few tips for getting organized. Continue reading

The PALB2 gene

An update on cancer risks and indications for referral for genetic counseling

PALB2 geneThe PALB2 gene, which is also called the partner and localizer of BRCA2, is a gene that contributes to inherited susceptibility to breast cancer and perhaps ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The PALB2 gene contains the directions for making a protein that acts together with the BRCA2 protein. When they are functioning normally, these two genes work together as tumor suppressors.

How does cancer start at the genetic level?

Most cancers occur when two mutations in a tumor suppressor gene occur in a single cell during a person’s lifetime. Some individuals inherit an altered copy of a tumor suppressor gene. If a second mutation occurs in the tumor suppressor gene in any cell of their body, a tumor may develop. Since they already have an altered tumor suppressor gene in all of the cells of their body, individuals with an inherited mutation in a tumor suppressor gene are more likely to develop cancer.

Cancer due to an inherited alteration in a tumor suppressor gene is more likely to occur at a younger age (for example, Continue reading

Cancer prehabilitation

Steps you can take to prep for cancer treatment

cancer prehabilitationCancer prehabilitation, or prehab, is the process of improving a patient’s emotional and physical health in anticipation of upcoming treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Although not a new concept to medicine, it’s becoming an emerging component in cancer care. Preparing for the physical and emotional aspects of cancer treatment can improve outcomes and minimize side effects associated with cancer treatment. Continue reading

Using nutrition to prepare for cancer treatment

prepare for cancer treatmentIf you have run a marathon before, you know there is a good deal of training involved and you need the right kind of fuel to help you succeed. Cancer treatment is like running a marathon, so “training” and “fueling” before you start are just as important. There are two training levels to choose from as you prepare for cancer treatment. The level you choose will depend on how you are feeling prior to treatment.

“Training” Level 1

If you have been able to maintain your weight and tolerate a general diet prior to Continue reading