Cancer Blog

Here's our collection of cancer-related stories. We sift through a variety of stories and share the issues that we think matter to cancer patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and survivors. Learn about current events in the cancer community, human interest stories, and promising technology and treatment advances. Tell us what you think in the Comments section at the bottom of each post.

Note: The information contained in this service is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in the service is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment of any illness, condition or disease.



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Airport Full-Body Scanners May Cause Skin Cancer

by: cancercompass

The TSA recently placed full-body scanners in many of the nation's airports. Privacy concerns aside, many people are worried about the health risks associated with these scanners.

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays," said Dr. Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, according to an Agence France Presse story.

Dr. David Brenner, head of the center for radiological research at Columbia University in New York, agrees with him.

"If all 800 million people who use airports every year were screened with X-rays, then the very small individual risk multiplied by the large number of screened people might imply a potential public health or societal risk. The population risk has the potential to be significant," Dr. Brenner told the London Telegraph.

Nicole Brochu of the Sun Sentinal reports that scientists at the University of California at San Francisco were so concerned about the potential health risks, they wrote a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology raising their concerns.

"While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high," the letter said.

The Office of Science and Technology responded, assuring them that the scanners met all the necessary safety standards and had been adequately tested.

What do you think? Will you skip the scanner and opt for a body search instead?

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our skin cancer information page.



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Alcohol Could Increase Risk of Cancer

by: cancercompass

Believe it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. For most this means heavy meals complete with rich desserts and a plethora of cocktails. But you might want to reconsider ordering that next beer or opening that second bottle of wine. As Paula Goodyer of The Sydney Morning Herald points out, alcohol is a Class 1 carcinogen and a well-established cause of cancer.

"There's significant evidence now that alcohol is carcinogenic, and we considered it important, to advise people of the risks associated with drinking more than two standard drinks a day," says Neil Guard, Executive Director of the WA Drug and Alcohol Office.

One by-product of alcohol metabolism is the toxin acetaldehyde. The toxin is supsected in tumor development. And beyond that, according to the Cancer Council, alcohol is thought to cause three to 12 percent of breast cancers.

Some believe that a little bit of alcohol can actually be good for the body. Take the old myth that a glass of red wine is good for the heart, for example. That's why an ad by the Alcohol - Think Again Campaign advises to stay at a low risk level of cancer and other alcohol related disease – have no more than two standard drinks on any one day.

What do you think? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.



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Graphic Warning Labels to Appear on Cigarette Packaging

by: cancercompass

If images of corpses, diseased lungs and cancer patients bother you - that's exactly what the FDA is aiming for. It's part of their push for graphic warning labels to appear on cigarette packages, in the hopes of these labels helping to reduce tobacco use.

According to the Huffington Post, the number of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically over the past 40 years, but those declines have stalled recently. About 46 million adults in the U.S., or 20.6 percent, smoke cigarettes, along with 19.5 percent of high school students.

They're hoping that by forcing cigarette companies to print graphic warning labels on cigarette packages, people will think twice before purchasing and carrying them around.

"Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a news release. "The health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes."

There are 36 labels that have been proposed. After scientific reveiws, public commenting and a study of over 18,000 people, the FDA will choose the final labels in June. Cigarette companies will then have 15 months to start using them.

What do you think of the new graphic labels? Would it make you think twice before buying a package of cigarettes? Let us know in the comments below.

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our lung cancer information page.



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What We Can Learn From Jane Fonda

by: cancercompass

Making headlines this week, fitness-guru Jane Fonda revealed that she was diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer. According to the New York Post, her doctor discovered a small cancerous tumor in her breast during a routine checkup a few weeks ago.

Fonda has reportedly undergone treatment, and according to EMAX Health, revealed on her blog that "I had a scare with a non-invasive breast cancer but it is ALL OUT NOW!!!"

Fonda is 72.

This surprising news reminds us that while a healthy diet and excercise is crucial, it does not ensure that women who follow these practices will not get cancer. Everyone needs to be tested on a regular basis. In fact, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women in the U.S., affecting one out of eight women. When breast cancer is detected early, there may be a higher rate of success with treatment.

Regular screening is an important step in the early detection of breast cancer. Breast cancers that are found early are typically small and still confined to the breast. These screenings could inlcude frequent self breast exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms.

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our breast cancer information page.




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A Concert for Killing Cancer

by: cancercompass

The Who. Yardbird's guitarist Jeff Beck. Blondie's Debbie Harry. The Verve's Richard Ashcroft. For some, it's a combination made in heaven. For others, it's a concert they absolutely must get tickets to. But for most, it's the idea behind this star-studded event that has them truly excited.

On January 13 at the Hammersmith Apollo, these high-profile artists and others will headline A Concert for Killing Cancer. According to, the gig will raise money for the Killing Cancer charity, which helps to fund research into Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).

In support of the charity, Beck said, "Any new breakthrough in cancer treatment should be taken very seriously and we want as many people to know about that as possible. The concert is not just going to raise funds to pay for new PDT trials, but will also help raise public awareness."

Organizers of the concert, manager Bill Curbishley and legendary rock promoter Harvey Goldsmith, both have personal ties to the upcoming show.

"Robert [Plant] and I had lived through the final months and days of close friends battling with cancer," said Curbishley in a video announcing the show, "but also fighting to overcome the effects of their treatments."

He added, "Only later we discovered that PDT could perhaps have saved their lives and certainly given them some dignity in their final weeks."

According to Spinner, pre-sale tickets go on sale exclusively from HMV's Oxford Street branch on Tuesday, Nov. 16. and general ticket sales start on Nov. 19 at 9am.



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Exercise May Lower Risk of Endometrial Cancer

by: cancercompass

Regular exercise has many benefits, and a new study may have just added another. According to the study led by Herbert Yu, MD, MSc, PhD, associate professor at Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., exercising 150 minutes or more per week may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer by a third.

According to Web MD, the researchers found that women who exercised at least 150 minutes every week had a 34 percent reduction in endometrial cancer. Women who were active with a BMI of 25 or less showed an even greater reducation at 73 percent. And physically active overwieght women had a 52 percent lower risk when compared to inactive women.

"This study is consistent with other studies that strongly support the association between physical activity and lower risk of endometrial cancer," Hannah Arem, a doctoral student at Yale School of Public Health, told the Times of India. "Clearly, programs should be in place to increase the level of physical activity in women."

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our uterine cancer information page.



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Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Make It Count

by Dana Demas

It’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month and did you know that up to 20 percent of people who develop lung cancer have never smoked? Lung cancer is perhaps the most misunderstood cancer type. It’s also the number one cancer killer of both men and women, claiming more than 160,000 lives each year. That’s more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

While smoking remains the number one risk factor for lung cancer, there are other myths that get in the way of prevention:

  • Smoking isn’t the only lung cancer culprit. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. This odorless gas is found everywhere, but it’s especially harmful at high levels in homes and buildings.  Get a radon test kit to check your home’s levels.
  • Think lung cancer is a man’s disease? Women now make up nearly half of all new lung cancer cases.
  • It’s never too late to quit. After quitting smoking for 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases. After 2 weeks to 3 months, your circulation improves and your lung function increases up to 30%. Ten years after quitting smoking, your lung cancer risk is reduced to one-third of what it would have been if you continued to smoke.  Quit today.
  • Diet matters, but the jury’s still out on what to eat and why. A recent study out of Prague found that women smokers who eat dairy products, vegetables, apples and wine, and who also exercise, have a lower risk of developing lung cancer. Women who don’t smoke get protection from black tea.

Have more questions? Ask renowned lung cancer expert, Dr. Daniel Nader, during a special webinar hosted by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Submit a question and Dr. Nader will be back next week to answer them.

Visit the Lung Cancer Alliance for more ideas to get involved and help bring lung cancer research into the limelight.



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Skin Cancer Prevention Important Even In Winter Months

by: cancercompass

Even though it's fall, and winter is right around the corner, skin cancer prevention is just as important now as during the sunny summer months. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.

Accoridng to Dr. Paul M. Parker - a board certified New jersey plastic surgeon and member of the American Society for Plastic Surgery - intense, intermittent sun exposure can occur on a tropical vacation or an October day spent outdoors at a football game or raking leaves. And incidental sun exposure can occur merely walking from your front door to your car. Incidental sun exposure can accumulate over time, and may seriously damage your skin.

Dr. Paul M. Parker recommends regular self-screenings to aid in early detection and diagnosis of skin cancer.

"Screen yourself for potentially dangerous changes in the moles on your skin, being mindful of the ABCD's of detection," he says.

Those ABCD's are:

Asymmetry: one half of the mark is different than the other half

Border Irregularity: the edges are notched, uneven or blurred

Color Variation: The color is uneven or blurred.

Diameter: Diameter is greater than 6 millimeters

He also recommends year-round sun protection including using a daily SPF lotion and wearing protective clothing.

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our skin cancer information page.



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Red Meat May be Associated With Esophageal, Stomach Cancer

by: cancercompass

You might want to hold on those burgers, steaks and other red meats in your diet. A recent study led by Cross A.J. and colleagues of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, found a link between red meat and esophageal and stomach cancer.

The researchers followed 500,000 U.S. adults, aged between 50 and 71, for ten years. While only a small group of these adults developed esophageal and stomach cancer, the risks in developing these cancers were higher in those with a diet high in red meats.

According to, people who joined the study and are in the upper 20 percent for eating red meat were 79 percent more probable to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, than those in the bottom 20 percent of the study. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that occurs in the lining of the esophagus.

According to the UK's TopNews, this malignant cancer is mainly caused with the consumption of food rich in heterocyclic amine or HCA, a type of compound yielded as a result of cooking meat at a high temperature. This includes grilling and roasting meat.

Interestingly, Food Consumer reports that early studies have suggested that meat marinated with spices may  produce less cancer-causing heterocyclic amines.

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our esophageal cancer information page and our stomach cancer information page.



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Young Relay for Life Team Walks for Children With Cancer

by: cancercompass

Every year, thousands of children are diagnosed with cancer. It can be an extremely hard time not only for them, but also for their family, friends and loved ones. This includes the other children they socialize with and go to school with. In Hebron, Connecticut, some of these young students are stepping up to help children with cancer.

Mickaelah Zipoli, an eleven-year-old who has participated on her mother's Relay for Life Team for the past two years, has started an all-kids team to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. According to the NorwichBulletin, Zipoli’s team, Kids Rock, is meant to honor children who have cancer. The team will be participating June 11 and 12 in the Southeastern Connecticut Relay for Life at Dodd Stadium.

"There's a lot of people in this school that have cancer," Mickaelah Zipoli said. "It means a lot to me because I want to help these people and raise money for them."

Her team currently consists of 11 people, ranging in age from 2 to 11. Their goal is to raise $300 from donations and fundraisers such as selling candy bars and cookie dough.

"I think it's good for a kid her age to realize they can do something," Tara Zipoli, Mickaelah Zipoli's mother, said.


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