Satisfaction with choices for cancer care increases when patients engage in online communications and social media

Younger patients more likely to discuss their treatment options using these digital tools

iCanCare StudyWe spoke recently to Lauren Wallner, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of internal medicine, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher. She is part of a research team presenting a poster on June 1 at the ASCO annual meeting that reports on the use of online communication and social media by newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. The results are part of the iCanCare Study.

mCancerPartner: What did you learn through this survey of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients?

Dr. Wallner: We asked patients whether Continue reading

Taming the flame: Grill safe this summer

grill safeWe know eating healthy is important in fighting cancer. So how can you enjoy that summer cookout with friends and families without tossing healthy eating aside? Here are some tips on how to grill safe this summer.

Each year, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians field questions from patients about whether it’s safe to grill, given the evidence that grilled meats may contain cancer-causing agents. Guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggest that the type of food you grill may be more important than how you prepare it. Continue reading

Cancer research: Where are we headed?

May is National Cancer Research Month

cancer research

In 1928, Sweden became the first country to issue a postage stamp commemorating the fight against cancer. On April 1, 1965, the United States issued its first anti-cancer commemorative stamp, pictured above. Source: Taub, Marvin. “Cancer Stamps: 50 Years in the Crusade Against Cancer Through Stamps,” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, v.28,no.3, May/June 1978, 164-169.

In 1971 President Nixon signed into law the National Cancer Act which officially launched the “war on cancer.” It earmarked a budget of $100 million towards cancer research and the promise to find new treatments for the second leading cause of death in America at that time.

“One of the most important things that came out of the National Cancer Act is that we started to do a lot of basic science to study the disease … today cancer is thought of as a molecular disease within a cell, whereas in the old days, cancer was thought of as a disease of tumors of tissue,” says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

So where has this science taken us 44 years later? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer still remains the second leading cause of death after heart disease. However, all is not lost, we’ve come a long way in 44 years!

Unlike the 1970s, when hardly anyone who had cancer was considered a survivor, we now have more than 14 million cancer survivors in the United States, and that number is projected to increase as our baby-boomers age. While survivors are increasing in numbers, we have also made progress in cancer prevention though screening and early detection programs, specifically in colon and cervical cancer.

As Dr. Brawley’s comments above reflect, we have continued to advance our understanding of cancer at the molecular level. This knowledge in turn has led to new developments in targeted therapy, vaccine therapy and immunotherapy. Continue reading

Prostate cancer trial recruiting men who want to get off the bench and become true champions

prostate clinical trial May2015 postPat Riley, president and head coach of the Miami Heat, once said “There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning.” Widely regarded as one of the greatest National Basketball League coaches of all time, Riley knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a champ.

Participating in clinical trials is a lot like being on a sports team. For most of the time, there’s no way to know if the trial is winning, losing or even making a score. Participants’ commitment and endurance may be tested through extra travel and Continue reading

Showing support to a friend with a new cancer diagnosis

cancer diagnosisMost of us have heard the Beatles lyric, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” When you have a friend diagnosed with cancer, it is often hard to know how to help. Should you talk about the cancer? Should you avoid talking about the cancer diagnosis? What is the best way to help your friend?

It is helpful for good friends to know there are different ways that people cope with cancer. A range of feelings may occur: anger, fear, anxiety, or blaming themselves (because of something they did or did not do). These initial reactions will likely only last a short time. You may need to be patient and understanding and overlook some behaviors. Continue reading

Diagnosis. Pause. Decision.

When you hear the word “cancer,” the last thing any newly diagnosed patient wants to do is take extra time to decide on treatment. The tendency is for patients to spring into action, often following advice of the first oncologist they see without investigating treatment options or second opinions. However, this isn’t necessarily the best course of action. In fact, Steven Katz, M.D, from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center leads a research team that studies treatment decision-making. His takeaway to date:

“I’m not talking about waiting months. I’m talking about an extra visit. Take time to discuss options with

second opinion

Lynn Dworzanin (right) with her daughter

your spouse. Get a second opinion if you’re not sure.”

Decisions after cancer diagnosis, in most cases, don’t need to be made as though it’s a medical emergency.

Lynn Dworzanin is a Cancer Center patient who faced some tough decisions. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she had many things on her mind, including her survival, family, body image, over treating her cancer and peace of mind in the future.

Many patients are so afraid for their lives that they don’t stop to think about other Continue reading