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.



Permalink Comment RSS (0)

When to Visit a Dermatologist

by: cancercompass

According to a new study, counties that have more dermatologists can also boast lower rates of death from melanoma, or skin cancer. Basically, the proof is in the pudding on this one: going to the dermatologist could very well save your life. That statement may be a bit dramatic, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

If you have a cough that you just can’t shake you would probably visit a general practitioner, but if a strange mole appears would you visit a dermatoligst? If the answer is no, maybe you should reconsider, as this could be a sign of melanoma.

Since melanomas develop on the skin where they can be seen, there is a good chance of catching them early. However, feeling anxious or alarmed about every mole is a waste of time, as many skin blemishes are benign. Now you might be wondering: when should I stand up and take notice?

A normal mole is generally colored evenly (brown, black or tan), and are less than 6 mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser). They can be flat or raised, and generally do not change over time. Also, it is important to take into account some of the risk factors for skin cancer, which include exposure to UV light, family history and fair skin. Find out more melanoma risk factors here.

Still not sure if you need to visit a dermatologist? Just follow the ABCD rule of melanoma skin Cancer:

  • A is for Asymmetry: A mole that has an irregular shape, or two different looking halves.
  • B is for Border: Irregular, blurred, rough or notched edges may be signs of melanoma.
  • C is for Color: Most moles are an even color – brown, black, tan or even pink – but changes in the shade or distribution of color throughout the mole can signal melanoma.
  • D is for Diameter: Moles larger than ¼ inch (6 mm, the size of a pencil eraser) across may be suspect, although some melanoma cancers may be smaller than this.

If you have fair skin and/or a family history of skin cancer, then you really should be visiting the dermatologist once a year, if not more often. A person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent greater chance of developing the skin cancer.

Again, a trip to the dermotologist can be quick, easy and painless. Also, a preventative visit to the dermotologist is a part of many health insurance plans, so it could also be free. Just check with your provider first, and start making visits to the dermotologist part of your yearly health regimen.



Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Thank You to Our Caregivers

by: cancercompass

Throughout my life, I am lucky to have never been in a position to need a caregiver. All that changed last week when a van drove over my foot. I broke three bones in my foot and had surgery that day. Right now I'm in a soft cast that goes up to my knee, and will not be able to put any weight on my foot for another three weeks.

Please understand that I am in no way equating a broken foot to a cancer diagnosis, because the two things having nothing in common. The only similarity lies in the fact that both situations can sometimes leave the patient without the ability to do everything on his/her own. This last week I never realized quite how nice it is to have two working feet, not to mention all the extra energy that is needed when going through surgery - no matter how minor or major.

Aside from being in pain, I simply hate losing my independence. I have a wonderful husband who has been extremely helpful, but that didn't stop me from getting upset the other night that our home has turned into a complete mess since the accident. He was hurt that I felt he wasn't doing enough, but really I know he is doing the best he can, and I lost sight of what is important.

Losing your independence is a scary (and annoying) thing, but not only must we trust our caregiver, but we must also realize how tough it is to be in their shoes. Some things may not be exactly as we would like them to be, but that doesn't make them wrong. Maybe the bathroom could use a good cleaning, but being provided with meals and assistance when it comes to things like bathing and getting up the stairs are much more important. My advice to you that I will attempt to follow myself is to maybe let some of those little things that don't matter go, and be sure to appreciate everything that your caregiver is doing for you during your treatment and recovery process.

As long as the most important things are being provided - food, shelter, love, support - then the rest doesn't really matter. If you haven't already done so today, please let your caregivers know how much you appreciate all that they do! This blog may not show Jeff Parker exactly how much I appreciate his help every day, but at least it's a start.




Permalink Comment RSS (1)

New Cookbook Helps Patients Find Their Appetites

by: cancercompass

When going through a cancer treatment, probably the last thing on your mind is staying nourished. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can make you feel sick or nauseated, and thus eating a healthy meal is placed on the backburner on the list of things that you need to be doing. That’s why the dieticians and nutritionists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) have created a handy new cookbook: “Wholesome Temptation: Nutrition Tips and Recipes.”

You may not realize it, but good nutrition is an extremely important part of your cancer treatment process. Eating the right foods can be essential in helping to keep you strong while you are receiving cancer treatment, and can help to ensure your treatment goes uninterrupted.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about one-third of all cancer deaths are related to malnutrition. Therefore, it is important to give your body a constant supply of nutrients to use as fuel during the healing process. Unfortunately, this might be easier said than done. 

To help patients in their quest for healthy nourishment, CTCA released a brand-new cookbook designed for cancer patients and their caregivers. The book forcuses on recipes that are just plain healthy, as well as recipes that will help with problems such as nausea and taste changes. “Wholesome Temptation: Nutrition Tips and Recipes” came directly from the CTCA staff and dietitians, who have had the chance to test these recipes on actual patients to see what works and what doesn’t. Across the board, however, each recipe is filled with the nutrients that cancer patients need to stay as strong and healthy as possible during - and after - the treatment process.

The cookbook’s 159 recipes are divided into eight different sections targeting specific areas for patients who just want to focus on eating healthy, in addition to patients who are suffering from appetite aversion. One section has recipes for nauseated people, while another focuses on foods with antioxidants, to name a few. A recent article from The Chicago Sun Times focuses on the new book, as well as one of its authors, registered dietitian Kristen Trukova of Grayslake, Ill.

To learn more about the Wholesome Temptation Cookbook, or to buy a copy, click here.

If you have found tasty, healthy recipes that have worked during treatment, or tried any of the recipes from this new cookbook, let us know in the comments!

We care about your feedback. Let us know how we can improve your CancerCompass experience.