Is your course of radiation treatment longer than it needs to be?

patient and doctor in an exam room

Radiation oncologist Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., consults with a patient

Mounting evidence finds that delivering higher doses of radiation per treatment is as effective in some breast cancer patients as a traditional course where smaller doses are given over a longer time period. The new method, called hypofractionation, involves about 3-4 weeks of daily radiation treatments, instead of the usual 5-week or longer course.

But several newly published studies have found that hypofractionated radiation is not widely used.

Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, led two of these studies. Looking at a national database of patients, she and her colleagues found that hypofractionation was used in only 13.6% of Medicare patients with breast cancer. In Michigan, Jagsi’s other study found, fewer than one-third of patients who fit the criteria for offering this approach got the shorter course of treatment. Continue reading

Prostate cancer doesn’t stop couple from enjoying retirement

Woods Brown driviing a boat

Woods Brown pilots his boat around the lake at his northern Michigan home

Woods Brown has stage 4 prostate cancer, which may account for why he gets tired sooner than he used to. Maybe.

“I do wear out faster, but heck I’m 73 years old,” he says. “I can do pretty much what I want. We have a wood burning stove and I have a load of wood I can burn so we keep warm in the winter. I had some trees down from the latest storm so I moved that. We live on a lake and I go fishing.” Continue reading

New prostate cancer study paves way for potential treatment changes

minority menResults of a phase 3 clinical trial will change the way oncologists treat advanced prostate cancer. The findings were announced this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, where oncologists throughout the country present information on new cancer research.

Maha Hussain, M.D., a medical oncologist who treats prostate cancer patients at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, is one of the co-authors on the study.

Continue reading

Perking up the PERC

The Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center gets a new and improved home

PERC

Lori Boylan, information resource assistant (left) and Ann Marie Scholten

Finding the right information can be tough, especially when it comes to something like researching cancer. A trip to the local library can lead you to books written years ago, before certain advances were made in cancer care. The Internet can be even worse, with an overload of information that may or may not be coming from a reliable source.

Your best bet? The Cancer Center’s Patient Education Resource Center gives patients easy access to our complete library of all things cancer. And now, thanks to a major renovation, the PERC Continue reading

Microfluidic technology reveals potential biomarker for early pancreatic cancer

Researchers capture circulating pancreas cells in the bloodstream during early stages of pancreatic cancer

Dr. Andrew Rhim

Dr. Andrew Rhim

Cancer cells are on the move in the bloodstream in the very early stage of pancreatic cancer, and can be detected before cancer is diagnosed.

Working with a state-of-the art microfluidic device, cancer researchers have been able to capture circulating pancreas epithelial cells in 33 percent of patients with early pancreatic lesions. The patients had no clinical diagnosis of cancer.

The findings, published in Gastroenterology, suggest that circulating pancreas cells (CPCs) seed the bloodstream before tumors can be detected using current clinical tests such as CT and MRI scans. This detection of pancreas cells in the blood may be an early sign of cancer.

“While there is much work that still needs to be done, there is great potential for using this technology to identify who is most at risk for developing pancreatic cancer,” says lead author Andrew Rhim, M.D., an assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Health System  and gastroenterologist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s  Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic. Continue reading

I will survive: genetic mutations and breast cancer in African American women

“My first thought was, ‘Really? Me, breast cancer?’ I just couldn’t believe it,” said actress and comedian Wanda Sykes on The Ellen Degeneres Show in 2011. Sykes’s family had a history of breast cancer on her mother’s side, but that wasn’t what prompted her doctors to discover her cancer. At the age of 47 she had cosmetic surgery to reduce her breast size, and the cancer was discovered afterward when pathologists examined the breast tissue that had been removed. She was fortunate that her cancer was caught at a very early stage when treatments are more effective. Continue reading