U-M Radiation Oncology’s partnerships bring radiation therapy closer to home

radiation therapyRadiation therapy is often a treatment option for those diagnosed with cancer. Traveling to receive radiation treatment five times a week for six to eight weeks is not always easy or feasible for some patients. Luckily, the University of Michigan’s Radiation Oncology Department has collaborated with community hospitals to help provide this type of treatment closer to home.

The Radiation Oncology Network is a group of seven centers in Michigan that partner with the U-M Radiation Oncology Department to create a network of facilities Continue reading

HPV vaccine and cervical cancer: Is this the new magic bullet?

cervical cancer and HPVOne of the most recommended screenings is for cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV immunization could reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide by as much as two-thirds, if all adolescent and adult women were to get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that HPV vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.

Currently there are two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, that prevent infection from HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. Gardasil and Cervarix both are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target. Gardasil targets the two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts and it is used to prevent cancers and precancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. Cervarix is used for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancers.

The CDC recommends that all women age 26 years and younger receive three doses of the HPV vaccine (Cervarix or Continue reading

Cancer pain and the fear of addiction

fear of addictionI’ve taken care of hundreds of cancer patients over the years in my nursing practice. There were times when a family member would approach me and ask that I not give their loved one a narcotic pain reliever. They were concerned about them becoming addicted. And this wasn’t always a family member, but patients themselves would sometimes refuse pain medication, even though clearly in pain. Fear of addiction is oftentimes misplaced in these circumstances.

Many cancer patients and their families are fearful of prescription pain medicine. They worry that addiction can occur, and this anxiety can cause some patients to avoid telling their doctor they are experiencing pain. In fact, some studies indicate that up to one third of cancer patients experiencing pain do not receive adequate pain relief.

Although the concern of addiction has always been present, increasing awareness and media coverage regarding opioid addiction have probably heightened this anxiety. There has been a growing problem with prescription drug abuse in this country over the last decade; however, the majority of cancer Continue reading

When breast cancer treatment leads to breast cancer pain

breast cancer painmCancerPartner sat down recently with Norah Lynn Henry, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and a breast cancer specialist, to discuss breast cancer pain from treatment and how researchers are working on this pervasive problem.

mCancerPartner: Many breast cancer survivors are relieved to have moved past their surgery, chemotherapy and hormone treatments but now have the burden of pain from the treatment. What causes this pain?

Dr. Henry: Truthfully, as doctors and researchers we are not yet entirely certain, but we’re trying to find out. We know that peripheral nerve damage is common with chemotherapy and can cause numbness, tingling and pain. Chemotherapy may also affect the nerves in the brain and spinal column as well. Then there is the pain related to aromatase inhibitors (AIs), an anti-hormone treatment given to postmenopausal women.

mCancerPartner: What advice would you give to breast cancer survivors who are having pain as the result of their breast cancer treatments? Continue reading

Extra medications? Donate your unused drugs!

donate your unused drugsOften cancer patients and family members ask me where they can donate medications that are no longer needed. With a cancer diagnosis, sometimes an assortment of drugs can be collected. What can you do with those unused pills, capsules and patches? The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center does not accept unused drug donations, but we can offer you resources to help donate your unused drugs or other medications.


  • Pharmacy Solutions – Accepts in-date and sealed medications except narcotics and other scheduled medications. Phone: 734-821-8000
  • Hope Medical Clinic, Ypsilanti – Accepts in-date and sealed medications except narcotics and other scheduled medications. Phone: 734-484-2989

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Uterine sarcoma – a little known cancer

uterine sarcSomeone called the Cancer AnswerLine™ recently with questions about uterine sarcoma and I spend some time talking with her. This is a fairly rare condition which comprises only 2%-5% of all uterine cancers. Since July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, what better time than now to share these notes?

What is uterine sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a term used to describe a whole family of cancers that arise in the body’s connective tissues, which include, fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, Continue reading