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

Let’s talk about sex and chemotherapy

Guidelines for safe sex during chemotherapy

sex and chemotherapyIs it safe to have sexual relations with my partner who is undergoing chemotherapy? When is the right time, or the safest time? As a Cancer AnswerLine™ nurse, I get questions like this from callers from time to time.

Sexuality and sex are two very important parts of a relationship, and it is only natural that our patients and partners worry about what the best approach is. And the short answer is: Sexuality is whatever a person desires, as long as it is mutual and safe. Continue reading

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

Cell hunters: the quest to rapidly deliver personalized medicine to pancreatic cancer patients

Abnormal pancreas cells that have not yet turned into cancer

Abnormal pancreas cells that have not yet turned into cancer

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of blogs that focus on members of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. Led by an inter-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians, the Center holds the promise to significantly change the bleak statistics associated with this disease by revolutionizing pancreatic cancer care. One therapeutic tool they are advancing involves gathering pancreatic cancer cells from the bloodstream, assembling them into replicas of a patient’s tumor and testing various drug combinations on the copies to develop personalized medicine for each patient.

Pancreatic cancer patients are getting closer to the day when a small amount of their own blood will provide enough information so that doctors can recommend personalized treatments targeting the whole tumor. If you ask Diane Simeone, M.D., the Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery and director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center, this vision of the future may become reality in the next five years. Continue reading

New treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Increasing the chance to live longer

non-small cell lung cancer

The FDA has approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 224,210 new diagnoses in 2014. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC, affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

In October 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced, or metastatic, NSCLC. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

At the University of Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic, we are using both drugs in appropriate patients as standard of care. We also have other similar immunotherapy drugs in a variety of clinical trials.

Continue reading

Yellow skin, yellow eyes: do I have liver cancer?

Primary liver cancer is rare, but early diagnosis is important

liver cancer

Yellowing of the skin and eyes, along with weight loss, itchy skin and feeling tired are some of the symptoms of liver cancer.

 

As scary as these symptoms might be, many of the signs and symptoms of liver cancer can also be caused by other conditions, including other liver problems or even a vitamin overdose. None-the-less, yellowing of the skin and eyes, along with weight loss, itchy skin and feeling tired are some of the symptoms of liver cancer. By the time these symptoms occur, the disease may have already spread. That’s why it is so important to see your doctor right away if you have these symptoms, so the cause can be found and treated. Continue reading