Let’s talk about sex and chemotherapy

Guidelines for safe sex during chemotherapy

sex and chemotherapyIs it safe to have sexual relations with my partner who is undergoing chemotherapy? When is the right time, or the safest time? As a Cancer AnswerLine™ nurse, I get questions like this from callers from time to time.

Sexuality and sex are two very important parts of a relationship, and it is only natural that our patients and partners worry about what the best approach is. And the short answer is: Sexuality is whatever a person desires, as long as it is mutual and safe. Continue reading

New treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Increasing the chance to live longer

non-small cell lung cancer

The FDA has approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 224,210 new diagnoses in 2014. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC, affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

In October 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced, or metastatic, NSCLC. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

At the University of Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic, we are using both drugs in appropriate patients as standard of care. We also have other similar immunotherapy drugs in a variety of clinical trials.

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Yellow skin, yellow eyes: do I have liver cancer?

Primary liver cancer is rare, but early diagnosis is important

liver cancer

Yellowing of the skin and eyes, along with weight loss, itchy skin and feeling tired are some of the symptoms of liver cancer.


As scary as these symptoms might be, many of the signs and symptoms of liver cancer can also be caused by other conditions, including other liver problems or even a vitamin overdose. None-the-less, yellowing of the skin and eyes, along with weight loss, itchy skin and feeling tired are some of the symptoms of liver cancer. By the time these symptoms occur, the disease may have already spread. That’s why it is so important to see your doctor right away if you have these symptoms, so the cause can be found and treated. Continue reading

Telling others about your cancer diagnosis

cancer diagnosisIf you recently received a cancer diagnosis, you will likely be experiencing a variety of emotions. Chances are you are thinking about how the diagnosis will impact your life and when and how to tell your friends and family. Experts agree there is no right way or time to tell people of your diagnosis – it is an individual choice.

Be sure to take the time to allow yourself to process your feelings and also to think about what you want or need from others. It is perfectly fine not to have all the answers about your diagnosis and treatment, as this can be a very overwhelming time. If you need help initiating the conversation, know that you can reach out to your health care team including the nurse, doctor, social worker, or even a clergy or religious leader. Continue reading

Calling out to breast cancer survivors

A chance for you to help improve breast cancer care

breast cancer survivorsLast year, the Cancer AnswerLine ™ nurses had the opportunity to start working with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer and Advocacy Committee. When I attended my first meeting with this group, I was pleasantly surprised. I had a pre-conceived notion this would be a group of women working on a smaller scale like hosting bake sales to raise money for breast cancer. Instead, I found that this group of smart women has really made an impact on breast cancer treatment. They are currently looking for new members. Continue reading

Managing hot flashes in cancer

hot flashes and cancerHot flashes are annoying and bothersome. They interrupt activities of daily living, and depending on their severity and frequency, can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. In cancer patients, they can affect both men and women undergoing cancer treatment.

Hot flashes are described as an intense heat sensation that involves flushing and sweating of the face and trunk. They can affect 34% – 80% of breast and prostate cancer patients. Continue reading