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Autologous donation: Can I donate my own blood before cancer surgery?

autologous donation
If you are facing surgery as treatment for your cancer, you may need a blood transfusion during the surgery. Sometimes people are nervous about receiving another person’s blood. Any blood transfusion may result in minor side effects including fever, chills or hives. Although there is a possibility of a serious reaction, rarely do these occur. Improved donor screening and blood testing procedures have made the nation’s blood supply safer than it has ever been. But there is often the option of making your own blood donation, called an autologous donation, in advance to use during your surgery. Continue reading

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20 ways to fight fatigue in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons_fatigueAbout two-thirds of people with Parkinson’s disease report that they feel fatigued or tired. Here are several suggestions for combating fatigue. Try one or several, depending upon your symptoms.

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Ask your bed partner if you snore. You could have sleep apnea.
  3. Develop good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day.
  4. Minimize bright screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) within 1-2 hours of going to bed.
  5. If you are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t drink water before bed. Continue reading
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From patient to advocate

February 29 is Rare Disease Day

cropped IMG_1244His wife Nancy couldn’t take the snoring anymore, so after a couple of months Dan Nagridge went to ask his doctor if he had sleep apnea.

He ended up at the University of Michigan Health System, with a surprise diagnosis: cancer at the base of his skull. It was chordoma, a slow-growing cancer that’s extremely rare, pushing on the back of Dan’s throat that made him start snoring.

“The cancer starts from tissue that was left when he was forming as an embryo in his mother’s womb,” says Erin McKean, M.D., MBA, a U-M otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor, and Dan’s surgeon. “We don’t know why people develop this cancer, so we’re very invested in advancing the research.” Continue reading

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Neuroendocrine tumors : What does this diagnosis mean?

Whether benign or cancer, neuroendocrine tumors are rare and can occur anywhere in the body

Neuroendocrine tumors

Neuroendocrine cells are part of the endocrine system; examples of the glands that are found in this system include the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands and pancreatic islet cells.

If your doctor told you that you had a neuroendocrine tumor, or NET for short, what would you think? Many possible questions may come to mind. Do I have cancer? How is this treated? What type of doctors treat these types of tumors?

To understand a diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumors, it helps to understand the basic biology of the neuroendocrine system. These cells are part of the endocrine system which includes the pituitary, pineal, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands, pancreatic islet cells, the ovaries and testicles. Neuroendocrine cells are found throughout the body, but mainly in the digestive and respiratory systems. Continue reading

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A rare achievement for a rare disease

U-M researchers’ work goes from discovery to drug, for Gaucher disease and perhaps more

James Shayman, M.D., one of two U-M scientists who led the development of the drug eliglustat tartrate, now sold as Cerdelga

James Shayman, M.D., one of two U-M scientists who led the development of the drug eliglustat tartrate, now sold as Cerdelga

It took more than 40 years, and a lot of dedication. But an idea born and nurtured in University of Michigan laboratories is now making a difference in the lives of patients with a rare disease.

For one of the first times, a drug developed first at U-M, and then further by a company, made it through all the steps it takes to reach patients around the world.

And even though the disease it treats only affects about 10,000 people worldwide, it’s become a product that a company can sell and doctors can prescribe to their patients. In this case, it’s patients with the debilitating and potentially fatal rare condition called Gaucher disease.

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Guidance counselors for your genes?

At-home DNA tests, and disease-specific tests, make genetic counselors more important than ever

Genetic counselors can help anyone understand their genetic risks, or results of genetic tests.

Genetic counselors can help anyone understand their genetic risks, or results of genetic tests.

Once upon a time, getting your DNA tested was a rare thing – as rare as the genetic diseases that the tests tried to detect.

But no more.

These days:

  • You can order a kit through the mail that can tell you what diseases you’re at risk of developing down the road.
  • Your doctor can order dozens of tests to look for specific changes or variations in your DNA that might be causing your symptoms, or putting you at risk of future problems.
  • Or if you’re pregnant, you can have your doctor draw a vial of your blood, which you can send in to get information about the DNA of your future child.

And the ability to personalize treatment based on the exact gene variations you carry in your body is speeding up for many conditions.

How is an ordinary person supposed to make sense of all this genetic information?

And what do you do if you take a test and it shows you have a high risk or a current problem?

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