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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Olympians Conquering Cancer

by: cancercompass

The 2012 London Olympics are underway, and the world is enthralled with watching the best athletes in the world compete against one another for an Olympic medal, as well as a spot in the history books.

Qualifying to be an Olympian is a Herculean feat that only a small amount of people can ever claim to have achieved. What’s even more amazing is that at least six of the 11,000 athletes from around the world are competing after beating cancer.

Fighting cancer is an awe-inspiring task in and of itself, which is why it is so inspiring that these athletes have already battled for their lives, and now they have trained hard to return to the sport they love and compete with the best of the best to bring home a medal for their respective countries.

Here are six athletes from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Czech Repuclic who have beaten cancer, and are now competing in London this year as a part of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Matt Emmons, a 31-year-old member of the U.S. shooting team, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in September of 2010. He had surgery to remove his thyroid, and was sidelined from training for about three weeks. Three months later he was able to compete again. This year, Emmons will compete in London in the 50-meter, three-position rifle and the 10-meter air rifle.

Petr Koukal has already represented the Czech Republic in the London Games in the Badminton Men’s Singles competition. Though he didn’t win a match, he has already won just by being able to represent his country in the Games. Koukal was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago, and was worried he might not even be alive to compete in London. Koukal is still cancer-free, and was also given the honor to carry his country’s flag in the opening ceremonies.

U.S. swimmer Eric Shanteau was diagnosed with testicular cancer almost four years ago, and is now competing in his second Olympic Games since fighting cancer. He was diagnosed a week before the 2008 Olympic Trials, and not only did he qualify, but he traveled to Beijing and was able to compete. The 29-year-old breaststroker went through surgery after the Beijing Games, and goes for surveillance every six months. Shanteau is still cancer-free and though he didn’t medal in the 100-Meter Breaststroke (he placed 11th in the semifinals), he will compete again on Aug. 3 as a part of the 4X100 Medley Relay team. 
Rower Fiona Paterson of New Zealand fought clear cell cervical cancer in 2006, and was back rowing in the Beijing Olympic Trials just a year later. She did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics, but in 2011 she celebrated being cancer-free for five years, in addition to being a member of the New Zealand 2011 World Champion Team. In London she will compete in the Women’s Double Sculls competition.

Jake Gibb was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2010, but the U.S. Beach Volleyball champ just kept going. This year he is competing in his second Olympic Games, but the first since beating cancer.

Brian Price
, a rower representing Canada, is a survivor of childhood cancer. He underwent chemotherapy for leukemia ALL when he was young, and the drugs ended up stunting his growth. Instead of bemoaning his lost height, Price took advantage of his small stature by becoming the coxswain for the Canadian Rowing team. The 36-year-old won first won Gold in Beijing in 2008, and his team has already landed a spot in the Men’s Eight Finals in London.



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Skin Cancer: There’s an App for That?

by: cancercompass

Do you have a suspicious mole that looks like it might be growing and shifting but you’re not quite sure? Well, now there’s an app for that – a free one to boot. Want to keep track of every blemish on your skin and figure out when you should head to a dermatologist? You guessed it, there is an app for that, too.

The University of Michigan is now offering UMSKinCheck, a free mobile app that is intended for skin cancer self-exam and surveillance. According to the company website, the app “allows users to complete and store a full body photographic library, track detected moles/lesions, access informational videos and literature and fill out a melanoma risk calculator.”

Features include:

•    Guidance on performing a skin cancer self-exam and full body photographic survey

•    Tracking detected skin lesions and moles for changes over time.

•    Notifications/reminders to perform self-exams on a routine basis.

•    Storage of photos for baseline comparisons during routine follow-up self-exams.

•    Informational videos and literature on skin cancer prevention, healthy skin as well as a skin cancer risk calculator function.

I think this app is a brilliant idea! I wanted to give it a try, but unfortunately it only appears to be available for iPhones, and I am a proud Android user.

While the idea behind the app is creative and could help save someone’s life, there are many ways to keep track of your skin without the app, and if you are at risk for melanoma or other skin cancers (fair skin, family history, older age) regular visits to the dermatologist are still important, even if you don’t see anything with your app that is a cause for alarm. 

What will they think of next?



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Antioxidants: Cancer-Fighting Foods

by: cancercompass

For both cancer prevention and cancer treatment, what you eat is important to your health.  According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. This damage can increase your risk for cancer, which is why experts sing the praises of antioxidants when it comes to preventing cancer.

As for fighting cancer, antioxidants are still thought to be important to your health. The evidence of cancer-fighting properties is less conclusive, but a recent study from Thomas Jefferson University suggests that antioxidants in your diet can actually be quite beneficial as you go through treatment.

In addition to cancer-fighting goodness, antioxidants can also boost your immune system, reduce cardiovascular disease, help with eyesight and more! While antioxidant supplements are available, researchers believe that it is more beneficial to simply incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.

So where you can you get these antioxidants? Try the foods below for that extra boost:

Legumes – All beans are good for you, but the more colorful beans are even better. Peanuts, pinto beans and soybeans are also high in antioxidants.

Berries – Whether you prefer blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries, scientists have determined that berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits.

Other Fresh Fruits – Other fresh fruits, such as pomegranates, grapes, oranges, plum, prunes, pineapples and grapefruits also contain antioxidants.

Dark, Leafy Greens – Dark greens such as kale and spinach are loaded with protein, as well as antioxidants like vitamin C, lutein (helps protect your eyes and skin from UV damage) and zeaxanthin (prevents free-radical damage to the retina and the lens of the eye).

Other Veggies – Leafy greens aren’t your only key to antioxidants, also try brussels sprouts, broccoli flowers, red bell peppers, eggplant, onions, beets and artichokes. 

Nuts – Walnuts have the most antioxidants of the bunch, but almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans are also a great snack.

Spices – Some spices are rich with antioxidants, so reach for cloves, cinnamon and oregano when you’re cooking, but maybe not at the same time.



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Stars Stand Up to Cancer

by: cancercompass

I love when famous actors, musicians, athletes and other stars use their fame, fortune and talents to help others. Those in the spotlight could very well take their big paychecks and squander the money away on fancy shoes and clothes, but many admirably decide to donate to charities and help fund research for good causes.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has been tapped to serve as the executive producer on this year’s Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) television fundraiser, and it’s wonderful that she has decided to lend her name, time and talents to this worthy organization. Aside from simply contributing to a noble cause, Paltrow took on the job as a tribute to her late father, Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002 due to complications with oral cancer.

Founded in 2008, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), brings together scientists from different disciplines across various institutions to collaborate on cancer research. The organization then works with the entertainment industry to create awareness and build support. Since 2008, SU2C has raised $180 Million for cancer research.

Paltrow is teaming up with director Joel Gallen to produce the event on Sept. 7. ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC are donating one hour of simultaneous commercial-free primetime at 8pm Eastern for the fundraising special that will be broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. HBO, HBO Latino, Bio, LMN (Lifetime Movie Network), Logo, MLB Network, mun2, Palladia and VH1 have also committed to carry the telecast. This is the third telethon for the organization, following successful outings in 2008 and 2010.

The production team plans to deliver a one-of-a-kind show featuring performances from top recording artists, and celebrities from film, television and sports engaging viewers with powerful stories and a moving call-to-action. Past participants include Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Beyoncé, Jack Black, Mary J. Blige, George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Ellen DeGeneres and many more. Many famous participants will be manning the phones, which means if you call in to donate you might have the opportunity to speak to your favorite star.

The best part of the show? One hundred percent of all public donations will go directly to cancer research. That means every cent of your donation goes straight to the cause, and all of these famous people are taking time out of their busy schedules to stand up for this important cause for free. The least we can do is watch what should be a really entertaining show anyway, right?

So clear your calendar on Sept. 7 and get ready to do your own part in standing up against cancer!



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Stay Cool This Fourth of July

by: cancercompass

The Fourth of July is a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family while enjoying a long summer day. However, it can also mean dodging soaring temperatures and sweltering heat. Hot weather can be a challenge for everyone, but beating the heat can be especially difficult if you’re living with cancer.

There is no reason to avoid a family picnic or BBQ on the Fourth of July, just take a few extra precautions to make sure you stay healthy throughout the fun. The suggestions below aren’t just for those who are currently going through treatment, as they can apply to anyone who will be spending a hot summer day outside tomorrow.

1. Stay Out of the Sun – It’s almost impossible – and frankly no fun – to avoid the sun altogether, but keep your exposure to a minimum. For those going through treatment, too much sun can be unsafe. If you are receiving chemo, it could further weaken your immune system, or increase the likelihood of sunburns. Radiation therapy can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's harsh rays. Bring your own umbrella if you’re worried there won’t be enough shade.

2. Wear Sunscreen – This goes for everyone. If you’re going to be out in the sun, wear sunscreen! Be sure to slather it on every part of skin that is exposed. Experts recommend a shot glass-portion of sunscreen to cover your whole body.

3. Avoid Exerting Yourself – Exercise is always recommended for those living with cancer and survivors alike, but keep your workouts light when it’s hot outside. Save the more strenuous activities for when the weather cools down. Opt for the bus or a ride instead of walking long distances in the hot sun.

4. Stay Hydrated  – Dehydration is an issue for anyone when it’s hot outside, but the side effects that may come from cancer treatment can be trouble. Some people experience vomiting and diarrhea after treatment, which means staying hydrated is even more important. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Snacking on fruits and veggies can also help you stay hydrated.

5. Wear Light Colors and Loose Clothing – Light colors and looser clothing can help you stay cooler when you’re out in the heat.

6. Stick With a Buddy – A hot summer day is not the time to wander off on your own. If you're not feeling well, it’s nice to have someone around in case help is necessary.  

7. Pay Attention to What You’re Feeling – Know the symptoms and signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, so you can act fast. Learn more about the symptoms and signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

If you're currently going through treatment, you might have to make a few adjustments this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and celebrate! Just be cautious and plan ahead, then relax and enjoy the day.

See more tips on staying cool in the summer months, and have a happy Fourth of July!

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