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

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

What does personalized cancer treatment mean?

personalized cancer treatmentAs our understanding of cancer and its treatment advances, scientists have discovered the critical role that our individual genetic make-up plays. People are not the same (except for biological twins), and no two cancers are the same either – so why treat them as such? These genetic differences can help explain why one person responds to a treatment and another person with the same type and stage of cancer does not respond at all or even has progression of their disease. Personalized cancer treatment is a promising strategy in the fight against cancer.

One type of personalized medicine that is getting a lot of attention lately is called targeted therapy. This type of therapy “targets” certain receptors and proteins on the cancer cell. It is a hot area for new drug development: so far this year seven of the Continue reading

Screening may boost liver cancer survival rates

liver cancer screeningScreening isn’t necessarily effective for all cancers, but primary liver cancer is one type of cancer where those at high risk, such as persons with hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis, may benefit from screening (the use of tests to look for the presence of disease before symptoms appear). Primary liver cancer, also known as hepatoma or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer in adults according to the American Cancer Society.

Screening for HCC can begin as young as 40 and involves measuring alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood levels and Continue reading