Fertility options for women with cancer

women fertilityAs many as 15% of all couples have difficulty becoming pregnant or meet the definition for infertility, but for those undergoing treatment for cancer the number can be even higher. This post discusses fertility options for women with cancer. Men, you haven’t been left out, my September blog discussed your fertility options, so you haven’t been left out.

For women who are undergoing cancer treatments, experts recommend they wait at least one year after treatment ends to have a fertility evaluation. This time is needed to allow the body to recover and readjust to Continue reading

Microsurgical breast reconstruction after mastectomy

microsurgical breast reconstructionmCancerPartner sat down recently with Adeyiza Momoh, M.D., an assistant professor of plastic surgery who specializes in breast reconstruction, to discuss microsurgical breast reconstruction following mastectomy. He will be speaking on this topic later this month at Hats and High Tea for Breast Cancer Awareness, a community event sponsored by the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Community Outreach Program.

mCancerParter: Dr. Momoh, what is microsurgical breast reconstruction?

Dr. Momoh: “Microsurgical breast reconstruction” describes multiple techniques that transfer tissue (skin and fat) from other parts of a patient’s body to the chest for reconstruction. The transfer requires connecting small blood vessels at the chest with the aid of a microscope. Generally, we take the tissue from the lower abdomen in most women. There are some good reasons for choosing the lower abdomen:

  • This lower abdominal tissue is similar in quality to breast tissue.
  • A good number of patients in their late 30s to 50s have ample tissue that can be used.

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Rx for childhood sarcoma survivors: A lifetime of surveillance and screening

sarcoma survivorship

Laurence Baker, D.O. and Monika Leja, M.D. have established the first Sarcoma Survivorship Clinic. It includes pediatric and adult sarcoma experts across all medical disciplines.

A generation ago, despite aggressive surgery that included radical amputation, newly diagnosed patients with a bone or soft tissue sarcoma often died of cancer. Today the vast majority of these patients are cured. But for many teens and young adults who were successfully treated for sarcoma, the future holds uncertainty about achieving or maintaining good health.

Survivors face unique problems and psychosocial challenges related to sarcoma surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that have a major impact on long-term health. Many have a reduced life expectancy.

Heart disease in a 30-year-old is rare; heart disease in a 30-year-old sarcoma survivor is not. In fact, heart disease is the main issue facing sarcoma survivors – nearly a third will develop a cardiac issue after treatment.

Other potential conditions include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Lipid disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental health problems
  • Sarcoma recurrence
  • Secondary cancer(s)

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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

Understanding a tumor board

tumor boardWhen I joined the Cancer Center team as editor of Thrive a few years ago, one of my first questions was, ‘What the heck is a tumor board?’ It was a term I had never heard before and one I figured many patients didn’t know either, at least before their diagnosis.

I quickly learned: a tumor board is a room full of specialists talking about challenging patient cases. I attended a liver tumor board meeting and immediately saw the value of everyone sharing information and offering solutions. Continue reading