Breast Cancer Summit 2015

Not just for breast cancer patients and survivors

On Saturday, April 18th the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Oncology and Community Outreach Programs (with support from the Michigan affiliate of Susan G. Komen, U-M School of Public Health, and QVC presents FFANY Shoes on Sales) will give you the opportunity to learn more breast health, the latest advances in breast cancer and learn about the resources available in the community. The Breast Cancer Summit is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I have attended the event in the past and was amazed by the uplifting spirit of everyone there. Breast cancer patients and breast cancer survivors have made up the majority of those who attended. However, there also were healthy, non-cancer patients at the summit who wanted to learn more about general breast health and what type of screening is recommended.

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The search is on – finding a clinical trial that’s right for you

clinical trialsMaybe you’re a patient who has exhausted all your treatment options, or you’re looking for a specific type of treatment not yet approved or offered as standard of care. You seek a second opinion at a major cancer center only to learn they aren’t offering a study, or you don’t qualify for the intended study or treatment.

What do you do? There are several steps and resources that can help you find the trial that best meets your needs. Continue reading

Pneumonia vaccine: What is it, and why do I need it??

pneumonia vaccineThe numbers of pneumonia cases are on the increase. You can blame the weather, our aging population, or the fact that this is one of the more common side effects that can occur as a result of having chemo or radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment. No matter which factor you choose, pneumonia affects millions of people worldwide each year.

Pneumonia is a severe acute respiratory infection, a condition where fluids fill the lungs and disrupt how oxygen is absorbed. Breathing can become very difficult, along with several other key symptoms including: Continue reading

New patients and their first visit:

Some useful things to know about the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

information for new patientsNewly diagnosed patients who choose their care at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center can feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions they and their family must make. I’m often asked by new patients how to get to Ann Arbor and where to park. Others have financial questions or wonder if their family can come to the appointment, too.

Given the complexities of health care and of large academic medical centers like ours, it seems only natural that we should provide our patients with some degree of orientation. Patients receive a virtual encyclopedia Continue reading

Joint pain: Is it just the weather??

joint painToo often people blame the winter weather and extreme temperatures for their new or increased joint pain and inflammation, also called arthralgia. If these same people are patients being treated with chemotherapy, the pain could be related to treatment. Joint pain can be debilitating, and can cause a decrease in daily functioning and quality of life.

Certain types of chemotherapy are known to cause increased amounts of joint pain:

  • Paclitaxel or the other taxanes
  • Bleomycin
  • Cladribine
  • L-asparaginase
  • Biologic response modifiers such as filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, and sargramostim.

There many other causes of this type of pain and these should be ruled out prior to treatment for this condition. A doctor’s evaluation can help determine the cause of joint pain. There are multiple tests that might be used to evaluate these symptoms including x-rays, bone scans, MRI and blood tests. Continue reading

Tumor Lysis Syndrome and how the body handles disintegrating cancer cells

Tumor Lysis SyndromeAs a nurse at the U-M Cancer Answer Line, I get calls and emails with all kinds of cancer-related questions. Last month I received a phone call from a patient recently diagnosed with lymphoma. He was going to begin chemotherapy in the next week and had always been interested in chemistry and biology. He asked me what happens when chemotherapy attacks a tumor. Does it blow up like an explosion or melt away like icicles in the sun, or something in between? His question along with his diagnosis of lymphoma, immediately make me think of Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS). Continue reading