Study: Gene test validates NCCN guidelines on chemo for breast cancer

Some early stage patients can skip chemo

chemo for breast cancer
mCancerPartner interviewed Dan Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the Cancer Center’s breast oncology program. In late September 2015, investigators – including Dr. Hayes – showed that many women with early stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy with good results, based on a gene test assessing which tumors were more likely to respond to chemotherapy. This study validates clinical recommendations in place since 2007 made by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Hayes served on both recommendation task forces and provided the following remarks on the origin of these recommendations.

mCancerPartner: How has the standard of care for women with the most common type of breast cancer (early stage, hormone positive, HER2 negative, not spread to lymph nodes) evolved over the years? Continue reading

Why taking your prescription medication as prescribed is so important

prescription medicationDo you take your medication exactly as prescribed by your health care provider? If you do, congratulations! You are medication compliant or adherent.

However, non-adherence can occur very easily and most likely happens to everyone from time to time. Whether it is on purpose or by accident, missing doses can lead to your medication not working as well as it could.

Some common reasons for non-adherence:

  • Simply missing a dose
  • Side effects from the medication
  • Concerns about possible side effects
  • Concerns about long term effects
  • Don’t think you need the medication anymore
  • Don’t think the medication is working
  • Difficulty managing all the medicines you take
  • Missed doses because of a busy schedule
  • Tendency to forget things in your daily life
  • Financial concerns about medication costs
  • Pharmacy was out of the medication

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Chemotherapy and nerve changes

chemotherapy and nerve changesChemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancers and its side effects vary depending on the type of chemotherapy received. Some cancers and some chemotherapy agents may cause nerve changes, which can increase with the more chemotherapy a patient receives.

Nerve changes can lead to pain or problems with movement called peripheral neuropathy.

Examples of drugs that may cause nerve changes:

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Using nutrition to prepare for cancer treatment

prepare for cancer treatmentIf you have run a marathon before, you know there is a good deal of training involved and you need the right kind of fuel to help you succeed. Cancer treatment is like running a marathon, so “training” and “fueling” before you start are just as important. There are two training levels to choose from as you prepare for cancer treatment. The level you choose will depend on how you are feeling prior to treatment.

“Training” Level 1

If you have been able to maintain your weight and tolerate a general diet prior to Continue reading

Protecting yourself and caregivers when receiving chemotherapy infusions at home

empty trash

Chemotherapy is considered a hazardous waste, so don’t throw any hazardous wastes into the garbage.

Special steps need to be taken to protect you and your caregivers from accidentally coming into contact with chemotherapy medicine when receiving chemotherapy infusions at home. You should be careful that others do not accidentally touch the drugs or your body fluids (urine, stool, saliva and vomit). When these drugs leave your body as waste, they can harm or irritate skin – even other people’s skin. These steps should be followed during your infusion and for two days after stopping your chemotherapy.

If you are a patient at the University of Michigan, the Skills Lab nurses will teach you the skills you need to receive chemotherapy at home. You will be set up with an appointment with the nurse educator before you are connected to your first home chemotherapy infusion. The nurse will also answer any questions you have regarding your treatment at home.

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe for family member to have contact with me during my chemotherapy infusions at home?

Yes. Eating together, enjoying favorite activities, hugging and kissing are all safe. Continue reading

Learning about chemotherapy’s long-term impact

U-M study: nearly one-third of breast cancer survivors who were working when they began treatment are unemployed four years later

chemotherapy’s long-term impactA growing body of research shows that people who survive their cancer may experience lingering side effects from radiation therapy or chemotherapy’s long-term impact on their quality of life. In the case of breast cancer survivors, this can include thinking or memory problems, lymphedema, fatigue, problems with pain and more. In the latest research on this topic, a study from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center finds that nearly one-third of breast cancer survivors who were working when they began treatment are unemployed four  years later. Women who received chemotherapy were most affected. Continue reading