A new diagnosis of colon cancer – what is next?

cancer diagnosis.fwThere are several paths that can lead patients to a diagnosis of colon cancer. You may have had symptoms that worried you, such as finding blood on your toilet paper. Or perhaps the doctor removed suspicious polyps during a routine colonoscopy. Either way, hearing that you have a diagnosis of colon cancer can be a shock, making it hard to process what the next steps might be or what decisions must be made. These tips can help you prepare for your first appointments with cancer specialists and understand what is going to happen over the next months: Continue reading

Are your genetics putting you at risk for colorectal cancer?

cancer geneticsColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, trailing only lung cancer in the number of deaths each year. The American Cancer Society estimates 50,310 people will die from colorectal cancer in 2014 alone. Unlike lung cancer, however, there are ways to successfully screen for and prevent this common disease.

In conjunction with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I have outlined some factors health care providers consider in assessing an individual’s risk for colorectal cancer and determining the best approaches for screening and prevention.

Screening = Prevention

Colon cancer screening has been very effective in reducing the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses and deaths in the United Continue reading

Mammography does provide benefit, despite recent reports

Radiologist Alexis Nees and surgeon Lisa Newman consult over a mammogram

Radiologist Alexis Nees and surgeon Lisa Newman consult over a mammogram

News outlets this week reported on recently published data from a mammography screening study from Canada that was highly critical of the benefit of screening mammography.

First, it should be noted that this is not a new study. The study was conducted in the early 1980s – three decades ago – and the recent report is merely a re-review of the data.

The results of the so-called Canadian trial, first published 22 years ago, showed no benefit for screened women and as expected, the recent re-review showed the same results. The Canadian trial results are different than other randomized clinical trials, which do show benefit. When nine randomized clinical trials are combined together, including the Canadian trial, screening mammography has been shown to significantly decrease breast cancer mortality for women age 39 and older.

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HPV in head and neck cancer

U-M researchers find best way to detect HPV, which will help with treatment choices

A hand is holding a microscope slide

Researchers study tumor slides to look for markers of HPV

As researchers have found that the majority of throat cancers are linked to HPV, the human papillomavirus, they have also found that patients with HPV-positive cancer tend to respond better to treatments than those with HPV-negative cancers. In fact, research is ongoing to see if reducing the intensity of these treatments in HPV-positive patients could result in equally good outcomes with fewer toxic side effects.

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Touchdown or fumble: How does your diet rate when it comes to breast cancer prevention?

football womenAre you looking to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer or preventing a recurrence? If so, taking a good look at how and what you eat can be the key. Here are some questions to consider in putting together your own game plan.

Is your body mass index, or BMI, between 21 and 25?

If you answered yes, then you are off to a great start! Probably the most important goal in the prevention of breast cancer or recurrence is to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, which is defined as a BMI between 21 and 24.9. If your BMI is greater than 25, follow a healthy diet that focuses on regular meals consisting of half your plate containing fruits and vegetables, one-fourth containing lean protein and another one-fourth containing whole grains. Adding in daily exercise, even just 30 minutes of walking, can further help you reach your weight goal and prevent breast cancer.

Are you eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day?

Research has shown a strong relationship between high intakes Continue reading

Making your Pap test results less confusing

ladies exercise_smallMaybe you have had a Pap test and your doctor said that you have cervical dysplasia (also called CIN) ASC-US or SIL. Just hearing those words can be scary. Here’s some information to help make your Pap test results less confusing.

Pap test results are grouped into several categories depending on what the doctor sees when looking at the specimen under the microscope. If changes in cells from the cervix are found following a Pap test, it can mean that cancer – or a maybe a pre-cancer – is present.

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