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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Reading Beyond the Headlines

by: cancercompass

It seems like every day a new study has concluded that something previously considered unhealthy can now change your life. However, I’ve been noticing more and more that while the headline boasts something really exciting, when you actually read the full article there are often numerous stipulations and caveats.

One huge example that emerges often is whether alcohol causes, prevents or has nothing to do with cancer. Some people say that red wine can actually help ward off cancer, while others thing that even a drop of alcohol is bad news. Either way, when you read any article it is abundantly clear that no matter what, too much alcohol is bad for your system. This is one fact that has been proven time and time again, so proceed accordingly.

Then there is the other red alert that claims diet soda willmake you fat. While water is better than diet soda in any situation, these studies have found that it isn’t the soda that is making people fat, it is the behavior that diet soda can trigger (the aspartame can increase rather than decrease the appetite). On that same note, many are still trying to determine whether or not artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of cancer, so again moderation is the key term.

I was thinking about this topic because today I saw an interesting article that stated that popcorn can be really good for you. Popcorn has always been a food that is considered healthy when not slathered in salt or butter, but this article goes on to say it is on par with fruits and vegetables! The first paragraph of the article states: “popcorn contains more of the 'good for you' antioxidants called polyphenols than some fruits or vegetables.” As you continue to read the article, however, the expert consulted stresses that unless the popcorn is air popped without oil, salt or butter. Otherwise, you could have a “bucketful of trouble.” Also, the article states that popcorn should not replace your serving of fruits and veggies. While this article isn’t as bad at some in terms of drawing you in with an amazing headline and then adding in caveats throughout, it is a prime example of why you can’t just read a headline and follow what it says.

I’m sure you encounter these types of headlines every day, but if you need more examples, how about this one: Guiltless Coffee? The Drink May Actually Make Us Healthier. Coffee can make me healthy? Does that mean I can have countless cups every day! Nope. In fact, hidden way down the sixth paragraph is dedicated to pointing out the “caveats” with the results.

It is completely understandable that newspapers use an attention-grabbing headline. I just make sure to read the rest of the article as well. Also, no matter what you read in print, it is still always a good idea to ask your physician what he/she thinks about a certain topic or brand-new discovery. Chances this discovery is far from new, and your medical experts are the ones who will know which studies are reliable, and which were only printed to sell papers.

Stay healthy this Spring and don’t forget to read between the lines!



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Fighting Cancer With a Pink Tutu

by: cancercompass

These days, cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones are doing all they can to fight the disease on all fronts. From simply visiting a cancer patient going through treatment to keep their minds off the pain to raising money for a 3-day walk across the country, there are numerous ways to get involved. However, one man is making a statement of his own way by donning a pink tutu.

Linda Lancaster-Carey was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, and soon after she began her battle, her husband Bob Cary started the Tutu Project. Basically, the photographer has been taking pictures of himself wearing nothing but a pink tutu in various landscapes throughout the country.

On his website,, Bob remarks that he is in awe of wife’s power, beauty and spirit. “Oddly enough, her cancer has taught us that life is good,” he says on his website. “Dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing – no, the only thing – we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others.”

This autumn, Bob will self-publish Ballerina, a book which will feature the images he has created. The book will also allow Bob to share humorous antecdotes about “his adventures.” The net proceeds of the book will go directly to breast cancer organizations. You can also purchase t-shirts, prints and more to contribute to the cause.

It may sound silly to some, but it is inspiring how Bob is willing to do whatever it takes – including make a fool of himself – to support his wife during a difficult time.



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Quest for Bone Marrow Donor Could be Reality Show

by: cancercompass

Reality TV shows have been all the rage for what seems like forever, and a new proposed show may be taking the genre a little bit too far by highlighting a young boy’s search for a bone marrow donor.

The first modern glimpse of the reality boom came in 1992 with the launch of the Real World franchise, which is now remarkably in its 27th season. The genre really exploded in 2000, when Survivor became must-see TV. Since then, numerous shows highlighting everything from housewives to washed-up celebrities to signing competitions sometimes feel like the only thing available to watch on a weekday evening.

Part of the appeal to networks comes from the fact that these shows are usually inexpensive to make, while audiences like to watch everyday people look silly, believe celebrities are “just like us” or enjoy observing the new American dream of becoming famous for a talent – be it singing or modeling. The people being featured are often exploited, but they’re making money for our entertainment, right?

Here’s where things get a little fuzzy. Apparently, someone is pitching a reality show that follows seven-year-old Luis Danvers and his quest to find a bone marrow donor. Danvers was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, and the show would follow him and his six-year old friend Jack Szablewski as they raise awareness and encourage others to register as donors.

In some ways, this show could have a really fantastic message. However, just by merely using the term “reality show” it immediately makes people suspicious, and could affect what these brave boys are trying to do. Instead, perhaps they should continue their mission and record it for use in a TV special or documentary, as it would be a stronger medium without the stigma attached?

The show has not been picked up yet, and I could see producers either scooping up the idea greedily, or being afraid to touch such a “downer” topic. Either way, I truly admire Danvers and Szablewski for doing all they can to fight the disease and share the story with as many people as possible. What makes them different from other shows, is that they will be raising awareness with or without the show, and will continue to make a difference even if people aren’t watching on their televisions.

I just hope that if the show gets picked up, it is not negatively affected by the term “reality tv show,” and that the producers do their best not to exploit this important topic. Click here to learn more about Danvers’ brave story.



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Help Spread the Word During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

by: cancercompass

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate than to encourage a loved one to get screened? According to the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), approximately one in three U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 75 who should be screened for colorectal cancer have not been.

In a recent news release, Gregory G. Ginsberg, MD, FASGE, president of ASGE, stated: “Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers because the majority of colorectal cancers arise from precancerous growths in the colon called polyps, which can be found during a colonoscopy screening exam and removed before they turn into cancer.”

The Center for Disease Control reports that of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women. Being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, however, is by no means a death sentence! Especially if the cancer is detected early, then there are numerous options available for fighting this form of cancer.

Having a colonoscopy screening is never going to be a party, but it is a very simple procedure that can help detect colorectal cancer before it has advanced to a stage that is more difficult to treat. One or two days of discomfort is nothing compared to the ways in which a colonoscopy could make things easier for you in the long run.

How often you should be tested for colorectal cancer depends on a number of factors, including age and family history. Additionally, if you are demonstrating some symptoms of colorectal cancer – such as a change in bowel habits, constipation or diarrhea – talk with your doctor about what’s going on.

While many risk factors are beyond our control, there are a few lifestyle-related colorectal cancer risk factors that you can control. Many of these risk factors can help in avoiding other types of cancers, as well as simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle-Related Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

  • Diet - Diets high in red and processed meats (e.g., beef, lamb, hot dogs) can increase your risk for developing colorectal cancer. Frying, grilling, broiling or other methods of cooking meats at very high temperatures create chemicals that may also contribute to an increased risk.
  • Inactive Lifestyle - Individuals that live a sedentary lifestyle without physical activity have an increased chance of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Obesity - Being overweight increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Smoking - Some of the cancer-causing substances associated with smoking are swallowed and can increase the risk of developing this disease.
  • Alcohol Use - Heavy alcohol use can lead to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

This March, spread the word about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and encourage friends and loved ones to get screened, especially if they demonstrate numerous risk factors and have never been screened before. Similarly to the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon, a blue ribbon can show your support and will get people talking.



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Woman Punished Enough Over False Cancer Claim?

by: cancercompass

Recently, Martha Ann Nichols of Virginia collected about $10,000 in donations from strangers and loved ones to help with her fight against ovarian cancer. However, it turns out that Nichols never had cancer, and ended up pleading guilty in front of a judge for obtaining money under false pretenses.

In the end, the judge ordered her to five years of probation and a $100 fine – and that’s it. In my opinion, every cent she collected from people who thought they were helping her fight a very serious disease should be returned. Or, at least that money should go to a reputable charity that helps with cancer research or cancer patients. If she wasn’t using the money for medical bills, where was all that money going?

The article from Yahoo news also states that she earned some of the money by selling shirts that read “Cancer Sucks.” That money she can certainly keep, because cancer does indeed suck and she has every right to sell those shirts regardless of whether or not she has the disease herself.

Another portion of the article reports that Nichols claims she has a “psychosomatic condition” that made her believe she really had stage-four cancer. While this could be true, it is one thing to believe that you have cancer, but actively asking your friends and family to make donations to help pay for the cancer treatment is an entirely different story.

As you can see from my tone, I feel that the punishment wasn’t nearly severe enough. With her actions, Nichols belittled the severity of disease that millions of Americans are currently fighting. Not only that, but she betrayed the trust of those who simply wanted to help her by lying to them about her condition and using the money for undisclosed purposes.

Nichols really should have just stuck with making those t-shirts, and then she could’ve joined the ranks of other supportive advocates who currently don’t have cancer, but want to do all that they can to join in on the fight. If a portion of that money had gone to a cancer-related charitable organization that would be preferred, but even if she had kept the money earned from the business endeavor she could have avoided deception.

What do you think, was Nichols’ punishment appropriate?

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