Paid sick leave: an important safety net for cancer patients

Sick leave eases financial burden, helps ensure job security

paid sick leaveSome patients with cancer experience a serious financial burden. A new study finds the burden is worse for patients without paid sick leave. In a survey of more than 1,300 patients with stage 3 colorectal cancer, researchers found that only 55% who were employed at the time of diagnosis retained their jobs after treatment. Patients who had paid sick leave were nearly twice as likely to retain their jobs as those without paid sick leave.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers found that patients without paid sick leave were more likely to report higher personal financial burden. This includes borrowing money, difficulties making credit card payments, reduced spending for food or clothing, or reduced recreational spending. Continue reading

A meaty debate: Can red meat be part of a healthful diet?

Small amounts of red meat are fine, when part of a plant-based diet

Eat red meat sparingly, avoid processed meat.

The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as carcinogens and says red meat is probably a carcinogen. Our cancer nutritionists recommend eating only small amounts of red meat, and avoiding processed meats.

 

With all the focus on a plant-based diet for overall health and reduction of cancer risk, and recent media hype reporting red and processed meat cause cancer, meat lovers are left to wonder if their favorite foods are still allowed.

The WHO (World Health Organization’s) International Agency for Research on Cancer just released its analysis of the literature to date and concluded red meat and processed meat are likely carcinogenic, or cancer-causing foods. They cited a 17% – 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer with as little as two ounces of processed meat or four of ounces red meat per day. Continue reading

Conquering cancer through innovation and collaboration: the year in review

new-year2014 was another year of discovery and innovation at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center as we work toward our goal of conquering cancer. Here are summaries of select clinical, laboratory and population collaborations by Cancer Center members that will benefit cancer patients everywhere:

  • March 25, 2014: 25% of breast cancer survivors report financial decline due to treatment, and the financial impact varied greatly by race. “As oncologists, we are proud of the advances in our ability to cure an increasing proportion of patients diagnosed with breast cancer. But as treatments improve, we must ensure that we do not leave these patients in financial ruin because of our efforts,” says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil. In a second study, Dr. Jagsi found
    Continue reading

A new diagnosis of colon cancer – what is next?

cancer diagnosis.fwThere are several paths that can lead patients to a diagnosis of colon cancer. You may have had symptoms that worried you, such as finding blood on your toilet paper. Or perhaps the doctor removed suspicious polyps during a routine colonoscopy. Either way, hearing that you have a diagnosis of colon cancer can be a shock, making it hard to process what the next steps might be or what decisions must be made. These tips can help you prepare for your first appointments with cancer specialists and understand what is going to happen over the next months: Continue reading

Are your genetics putting you at risk for colorectal cancer?

cancer geneticsColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, trailing only lung cancer in the number of deaths each year. The American Cancer Society estimates 50,310 people will die from colorectal cancer in 2014 alone. Unlike lung cancer, however, there are ways to successfully screen for and prevent this common disease.

In conjunction with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I have outlined some factors health care providers consider in assessing an individual’s risk for colorectal cancer and determining the best approaches for screening and prevention.

Screening = Prevention

Colon cancer screening has been very effective in reducing the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses and deaths in the United Continue reading

Bottoms up: “My doctor said I need what?!”

Screening for colorectal cancer: It’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy

colonscreen.fwWe’re all prone to the uncomfortable feeling that arises when a doctor mentions screening for colon or rectal cancers. Despite the unease surrounding this topic, it’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy and get screened! There are often no symptoms with colorectal cancer. You can’t feel a polyp, and very rarely will you see visible blood. For this reason, screening is the most effective way to be protected.

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths in both men and women. Further, it is currently the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. That is why doctors recommend screenings, even though they may be embarrassing to discuss.

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, most often as a polyp, or a small piece of tissue that protrudes from the inner wall. Screenings help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they progress. Everyone needs screening because we are all at risk for colon cancer. If everyone got screened we could prevent up to 90% of colorectal cancers. Continue reading