You Can Take it With You: Cancer Clinical Studies Goes Mobile

Searching and sharing information about cancer clinical studies just got easier for those with smart phones or tablets.

A free mobile device application (app) is available from the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Cancer Research.

The app allows patients, families and health care providers to search more than 150 clinical trials, save specific pages as favorites, and share information via Twitter and email.

Securely linked to the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR) clinical trial database, the app provides details about studies being conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. The database is continuously updated to ensure the most current clinical trial information is available to those seeking treatment options. The NCITrials@NIH app is available for free download on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

Those interested in learning more about what it means to participate in a study, join the registry or find a clinical study  available at the University of Michigan can log on using their smart phone, tablet or computer to easily search, view and learn without a download.  Watch a video to understand what clinical trials are and why they are important.

Clinical research is key in moving medicine forward, allowing physicians to find the most effective care. During your next appointment ask your doctor if you may qualify for a clinical study.

Collaboration and Innovation will defeat Cancer

logos for the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute and the National Comprehensive Cancer NetworkIf you’ve visited the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s website, or happened to read a news article about the Center; you may have noticed we have an association with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network; (NCCN).  What you may not know is the importance of these associations – particularly as it relates to cancer treatment and research.

The NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, supports and coordinates cancer research projects conducted by universities, hospitals, research foundations and businesses in the United States as well as world-wide.  In turn, the NCI collects and shares information about cancer treatment and research.  As an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center – one of only 41 in the country — the U-M Cancer Center has the opportunity to represent the needs of our community in the national dialogue. We also have access to national and world-wide research collaborations – as well as the opportunity for our own research to receive funding.   Our NCI funding has allowed our doctors and researchers to explore promising new ways to make cancer care less toxic, more compassionate and more effective.

The NCCN is a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of cancer care.   One of the NCCN’s most significant projects is the clinical practice guidelines.  The guidelines offer treatment, prevention, detection and supportive care standards that can be used by patients, doctors and other health care decision-makers.  Our doctors are at the table helping to determine the best practices in cancer care. By standardizing these methods for treating and preventing cancer, the NCCN ensures quality care for cancer patients nationwide.

Becoming a U-M Cancer Center patient means your treatment will follow the latest and best guidelines that have proven effective over rigorous study. But more than that – your U-M health care team belongs to a collection of the best cancer providers in the country, providing the best care to you and your family.

Understanding Childhood Cancers and How Genetics Could be Involved

Due to advances in research and collaborative studies, the National Cancer Institute reports that the long-term survival for children with cancer has increased from less than 10% to almost 80% in the past 50 years.

In general, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, with particular cancers occurring more often:

  • leukemia
  • lymphoma
  • brain and central nervous system tumor
  • tumors of developing tissues such as neuroblastoma, bone and soft tissue sarcomas
  • other cancers

While most cancers in children occur by chance, a small portion can be linked to an inherited genetic syndrome. One study of 1,100 pediatric cancer patients evaluated by genetic specialists confirmed an inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome in 3.9% and a suspected syndrome in another 3.3%*.

Though your child may already be seeing a number of specialists, referral to a geneticist or a genetic counselor can be another important piece which may provide a better understanding of why your child developed cancer and what this diagnosis means for siblings and other family members.

If other family members have been diagnosed with cancers, this could indicate an inherited syndrome that increases risks for cancer. Some of the pediatric cancers that may suggest an inherited predisposition to cancer and warrant a referral to a genetics clinic include:

  • medullary thyroid cancer
  • adrenal cortical carcinoma
  • retinoblastoma
  • sarcoma

Physicians and genetic counselors in the Cancer Genetics Clinic at the University of Michigan meet with patients and families to review your family history and determine if genetic testing may help clarify risks for additional cancers in the family. Targeted screenings and other risk reduction efforts can be taken in an effort to prevent cancer in the future.  The Cancer Genetics Clinic welcomes patients of all ages who may have questions about the risk of a genetic predisposition in their family.

Continue learning about cancer and genetic risk

*(Merks et al, Am J Med Genet. 2005 Apr 15; 134A(2):132-43)

Sarcoma: Seeking Care for a Rare Cancer

Sarcoma – a cancer most people have never heard of….it’s rare; only 1% of all cancers diagnosed in adults and 15% of childhood cancers are sarcoma.

There are numerous types of sarcoma classified according to where the tumor originates in the body.  For example, bone sarcomas begin in the bone; soft tissue sarcoma may start in the muscle, tendons, fat or other tissues that support, connect or surround organs, joints, blood vessels or nerves.

It’s not surprising when the diagnosis is a rare cancer- like sarcoma, that patients and family can experience a wide range of emotions including:

  • Shock- if the person is not feeling  ill or having pain
  • Distress and vulnerability with the realization of facing a life threatening illness
  • Confusion surrounding understanding complex medical information

Many people with a new diagnosis of sarcoma are not sure what to do, or what kind of doctor to see. Continue reading

A Consequence of Obesity: Increased Cancer Risk

The statistics are alarming and worth sharing: over the past 20 years the number of overweight and obese children and adults continues to climb.  Only 1/3 of people in the United States maintains a healthy body weight — that means 2/3 of the population is considered overweight or obese.

We should be concerned. Excess weight has multiple consequences including enhanced risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, among other conditions.

In fact, if you are a man and are obese, you have an increased risk of developing male breast cancer and cancers of the colon/rectum, prostate, pancreas, kidney, esophagus and others.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 of every 3 cancers is related to excess body weight, poor nutrition or being inactive. If the rising trend in obesity continues, it’s predicted there will be 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the U.S. by 2030.

The National Cancer Institute says research reveals obesity and the development of cancer are linked together in a couple of different ways:

  • fat produces excess hormones (like estrogen and insulin) that encourages the growth of certain types of cancers
  • fat cells can affect cell growth regulation that may result in fostering  tumor growth
  • obesity can result in a chronic inflammation process which impacts the immune system function

Recently, HBO, in partnership with the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and others released an online documentary titled “The Weight of the Nation”. Watching all or just a few of the videos will be time well spent. It’s a great way to learn more about obesity and get suggestions for ways to take action for yourself, your family or your community.

What action you’ve taken for targeting or staying at a healthy weight? Post your answer below.

Learn more about the risks of obesity and get tips on weight loss

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The Impact of Cancer on Minorities

Although cancer deaths have declined for both whites and African-Americans living in the United States, African-Americans continue to suffer the greatest burden for each of the most common types of cancer.

April is National Minority Health Month, so we thought that this would be a great time to discuss the impact of cancer on minorities in the United States and what the University of Michigan is doing to address this problem of minorities and cancer health disparities.

Minorities and Cancer Disparities

According to the National Cancer Institute, “cancer health disparities” are defined as “differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.”

Complex and interrelated factors contribute to the observed disparities in cancer incidence and death among racial, ethnic and underserved groups. The most obvious factors are associated with a lack of health care coverage and low socioeconomic status. Although cancer deaths have declined for both whites and African-Americans living in the United States, African-Americans continue to suffer the greatest burden for each of the most common types of cancer.

Other examples of the impact of cancer on minorities include:

  • African-American males have the highest incidence and mortality rates for colon, prostate and lung cancers.
  • Cervical cancer incidence is the highest among Hispanic/Latina women when compared to all other ethnic groups.
  • Liver cancer, usually caused by exposure to the hepatitis B virus, disproportionately affects Asian-Americans.
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to have the poorest survival from “all cancers combined” than any other racial group.
  • Poor people are at greater risk of being diagnosed and treated for cancer at late stages of disease.

Research

Research studies, including many performed by University of Michigan investigators such as Lisa Newman, Arden Morris, Christopher Sonnenday and Ken Resnicow, continue to document persistent and significant disparities in access to health care and disease outcomes. Often times, researchers are looking into the impact of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, geography and socioeconomic status on cancer risk, screening or outcomes. The Cancer Center has a health disparities work group that meets quarterly to collaborate, present their work and share research findings.

Learn more about cancer and disparities among minorities

Other areas of interest include:

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