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

Up in smoke: men and lung cancer

men and lung cancerMen, in particular, face a very high risk of lung cancer. It is the third leading cause of death, right behind prostate and colon cancer. Overall, lung cancer is also the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. There are a number of risk factors that contribute to these statistics. Not surprisingly the biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, which results in approximately 85% of all U.S. lung cancer cases. Some other risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Length of time exposed to tobacco smoke
  • Number of years since quitting
  • Occupational exposure
  • Radon
  • Family history
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Continue reading

The heart of the matter: cancer and heart health

cancer and heart healthJune is the month we celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day. People everywhere come together to celebrate and honor those living with a history of cancer. The number of cancer survivors has increased to nearly 12 million. Survivorship can include many issues: follow-up care, coping with fear of recurrence, going back to work, and managing long-term side effects, including the connection between cancer and heart health after treatment is done.

Heart or cardiovascular issues after cancer treatment is one side effect that can occur with treatments such as radiation to the Continue reading

Advancing research for brain cancer treatment

brain cancer

Malignant brain tumor

In recognition of brain cancer awareness month, the focus of my blog is on the latest developments in treating this particular cancer. Glioblastoma or glioblastoma multiforme is the most common brain cancer in adults. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastomas represents about 17% of all primary brain tumors. They can be difficult to treat because the tumors contain so many different types of cells. They tend to be both aggressive and fast growing. The National Cancer Institute says the mortality rate for brain cancer has remained largely unchanged over the past 30 to 40 years. Therefore looking at new ways to treat brain cancer is desperately needed.

One of the hottest areas of clinical research into brain cancer involves the use of immunotherapy, or stimulating the immune system to attack cancer. The National Cancer Institute defines Continue reading