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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Take it Easy

by: cancercompass

While some have believed for decades that addressing a patient’s emotional state is an important part of cancer care, others are just starting to get on board. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, starting in 2015, the Commission on Cancer will require cancer treatment providers to meet a new standard to evaluate patients for distress and find them help if necessary.

After a cancer diagnosis, it’s important to give yourself the space you need to relax, rejuvenate and heal. Preparing for everything that follows – from deciding on a treatment plan to adjusting schedules at home and at work – can feel overwhelming. While relaxing may be the last thing on your mind during this time in your life, finding a moment to unwind and alleviate stress benefits both your mind and body throughout your fight against cancer.

"During cancer treatment, relaxation is a tool that can reduce the side effects of treatment-related symptoms and pain,” says Diane Schaab, MS, LPC, a mind-body therapist with Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, GA. “Feeling relaxed can reduce the heart rate, lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety, providing a positively enhanced experience for both patients and caregivers.”

There are many ways to seek professional help when it comes to de-stressing, from guided imagery to laughter therapy to individual counseling, but there are also many ways to find relaxation on your own. Taking the time to relax can provide both physical and emotional benefits when it comes to your cancer treatment journey, and don’t forget it can also just feel great.

Here are nine ways to relieve stress on your own, which can help you remain strong and focused your during cancer treatment:

1. Take a Deep Breath
2. Exercise/Yoga
3. Meditate
4. Take a Bath
5. Read a Book
6. Keep a Journal
7. Listen to Music
8. Find a Hobby
9. Disconnect

For more on the healing powers of relaxation, visit this month's Cancer Center Newsletter on relaxation.



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Stand Up to Cancer Every Day

by: cancercompass

Why sit back and let cancer win when there are so many ways to fight each and every day? Your efforts can begin right now, even if you don’t even have a cancer diagnosis. There are many things you can do in your daily life to cut your cancer risk, and potentially stop the disease in its tracks before it can even begin.

From upping your antioxidants to getting into shape, Well Living magazine highlighted 50 fabulous ways to stand up to cancer in their newly released all-digital magazine.  Take a look and see if you can incorporate these cancer-busting tips into your everyday living.

Here are 10 points that are highlighted in the magazine to get you started, and then you can view the digital issue to find additional advice coupled with hints, recipes and ways to make your efforts simple and even more fun.

1. Eat more berries
2. Skip the alcohol
3. Don’t overdo the sugar
4. Go for walks
5. Pick your meats carefully
6. Give Yoga a go
7. Add red pepper
8. Wear sunscreen
9. Drink tea
10. Eat more fiber

And that’s just the beginning!

Another way to stand up to cancer for yourself and the rest of your community is to contribute time, effort and/or money to a fantastic cause. On Sept. 7, watch celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and others share their stories in the Stand Up to Cancer telethon.

The Stand Up to Cancer organization has raised over $180 million since its inception for innovative cancer research, and the exciting show will feature performances from top recording artists, and celebrities from film, television and sports engaging viewers with powerful stories and a moving call-to-action.  Be sure to tune in! 

You can also follow the action on Twitter with #IStandUpFor.



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An Aspirin a Day…

by: cancercompass

In the future, aspirin may no longer just be for headaches and other aches and pains. In fact, it might even be considered a cancer-fighting drug.

A new study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that those who reported daily aspirin use were 16 percent less likely to die from cancer, when compared to those who don’t take aspirin every day.

The study, published in August, looked at 100,000 people, many of whom were at an advanced age. The subjects who participated in the study were non-smokers, and the data was collected over a decade. The study found that aspirin had the strongest effect for GI cancers, such as colon or stomach cancer. Also, it didn’t seem to make a difference if the subjects had been taking a daily aspirin for more or less than five years.

To the same effect, another study published in May found that painkillers such as aspirin, Advil and Aleve may reduce a person’s chances of developing skin cancer as well. Additionally, taking aspirin daily has already been noted as a positive step in order to prevent heart disease.

It is tempting to jump right in and buy a jumbo-sized bottle of aspirin, but it might not be time for that just yet. The doctors who completed the study aren’t ready to actually recommend that people start taking aspirin on a daily basis. One drawback to the study is that it was not a clinical trial, and thus the individual health habits of the people were not considered. However, experts will still be convening to assess the risk/benefits analysis of daily aspirin intake.

This new study is causing a lot of debate, and it is a topic to certainly keep your eye on. Also, feel free to discuss the findings with your doctor, and see if based on your health needs, he/she would recommend you start including aspirin into your daily routine.



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Melanoma Can Strike Anyone

by: cancercompass

Since I have red hair and fair skin, I’ve always been extra cautious when it comes to being in the sun. I wear sunscreen daily, and even with that protection I rarely lounge around in the sun without some sort of shade. My husband, on the other hand, is three-quarters African American, and convincing him to put on sunscreen is always a challenge.

Skin cancer is more common among Caucasians, but dermatologists warn that people with darker skin are still at risk. In a recent article from HealthyDay News, Dr. Valencia Thomas of the Harris County Hospital District in Texas notes that while the skin pigment melanin does offer people with darker skin some natural protection against ultra violet rays and sunburns, too much sun exposure can still increase the risk of skin cancer.

According to the hospital news release, malignant melanoma in African American and Asian populations is most commonly located on hands and feet, while among Caucasians and Hispanics, it's found on the legs and back.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer for Hispanics and Asians, and second-most common among blacks and South Asian Indians. A symptom of basal cell carcinoma is a growing bump with blood vessels that tends to bleed easily, which could be dark brown or black for those with darker skin.

For South Asians and blacks, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. The disease appears as firm bumps, sometimes with a thick scale. Among South Asian Indians and blacks, this type of skin cancer is found on the legs or the genital areas, and is strongly linked to sun exposure.

So while my husband’s risk of sun cancer may be slightly lower since he has a lot more melanin, he still needs to be careful to avoid too much sun exposure. Like everything else, moderation is the key. And next time he refuses to wear sunscreen, I will direct his attention to this very blog!

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