HPV and throat cancer

HPV and throat cancerRecently I received a phone call from a patient who was concerned about the increased risk of throat cancer related to a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. When asked, she stated that yes, both she and her partner had engaged in oral sex, therefore, the concerned interest in a potential connection between HPV and throat cancer.

Oropharyngeal cancer in the throat, soft palate, tonsils or base of the tongue can occur as a result of the HPV virus. HPV can cause warts in the genitals, mouth and anus, and is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, particularly in adults younger than 55. This might be related to changes in oral sex practices. Continue reading

National Cancer Moonshot

Reflections on the new presidential initiative by a cancer nurse

National Cancer MoonshotAt the State of the Union Address in January, President Obama shot out a rocket concerning cancer research and finding a cure by 2020. This “moonshot” initiative is being led by Vice President Biden, who recently lost a son to glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

The National Institutes of Health will receive additional funding to bring its budget up to $2 billion. The National Cancer Institute will receive an additional $264 million towards its 2016 budget.  WOW!

The thinking behind this generous funding is that it will allow scientists the opportunity to pursue potential avenues that might lead to a cure for cancer. These avenues might not otherwise have been pursued due to lack of funds. Continue reading

Overcoming anxiety about the colonoscopy

Learning the facts can reduce your fear factor of this important cancer detection tool

colonoscopy anxietyFor many, the thought of having a colonoscopy can cause dismay and distress. I’ve known people who have procrastinated having a colonoscopy for years because of the fear and anxiety surrounding this procedure. The following are some concerns and myths, along with the facts about this important screening test.

Concern: I’m afraid I will be awake or in pain for this procedure.

FACT: The vast majority of patients are adequately sedated for this procedure and experience no pain or memory of the procedure. Something called conscious sedation is given. These medicines are given through an intravenous injection and they relax you and block pain. It’s not general anesthesia; therefore, you recover quickly from its effects. Continue reading

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

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

Myeloproliferative neoplasms: A collection of rare blood cancers

Called MPNs for short, they may be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell

myeloproliferative neoplasms

Each MPN is a different condition, but they are thought to be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell that may have acquired genetic mutations that make it unable to produce blood cells normally


Myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs, are a group of chronic blood cancers with the potential to rapidly progress to a more advanced stage or to an acute leukemia. Though our understanding of why these cancers occur is still evolving, we believe these MPNs can arise from a common cause: genetic alterations within the stem cell that change the way these blood cells grow and divide. Scientists are unraveling the mysteries of these rare cancers, bringing new hope for patients through research and specialized treatment.

mCancerPartner recently talked to Marie Huong Nguyen, M.D., a hematology/oncology MPN specialist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Nguyen leads multiple clinical trials at U-M to develop new therapies in MPNs. Dr. Nguyen’s MPN and Systemic Mastocytosis Clinic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with many different types of MPNs. Continue reading