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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September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

by: cancercompass

September is almost over, but there is still plenty of time to spread the word to the men in your life about the details of prostate cancer.

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men. In fact, about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Receiving any cancer diagnosis is very serious, but the great news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer make a full recovery and return to their normal lives after treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, the 10-year survival rate for prostate cancer diagnosed at an early stage is 98 percent. Even for men with advanced-stage prostate cancers that haven’t spread to distant parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is still close to 100 percent.

Take note or share the risk factors and symptoms for prostate cancer listed below, so that you and your loved ones are aware of what to look for.

Risk Factors

Here are the main risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age.
  • Race: Studies show that African-American men are approximately 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime than Caucasian or Hispanic men.
  • Family History of Prostate Cancer: Men with an immediate blood relative, such as a father or brother, who has experienced prostate cancer are twice as likely to  develop the disease. If another family member is diagnosed with the disease, the chances of getting prostate cancer increase.
  • Diet: A diet high in saturated fat, as well as obesity, increases the risk of prostate cancer.
  • High Testosterone Levels: Men who use testosterone therapy are more likely to develop prostate cancer, as an increase in testosterone stimulates the growth of the prostate gland.


  • If you experience any of the symptoms below for more than two weeks, consult your doctor:
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating
  • More frequent urges to urinate at night
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream
  • Blood in urine (hematuria) or in semen
  • Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Swelling in legs or pelvic area
  • Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
  • Bone pain that doesn't go away, or leads to fractures

Reducing your Risk

In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, take note of some of the suggestions below on how to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer with the men in your life.

  • Increase exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat more fish
  • Eat more fruits and veggies
  • Perform prostate self-exams
  • Speak with your doctor about creating an appropriate screening schedule for your needs




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A New Year’s Attitude

by: cancercompass

Early this week, millions of Jews throughout the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, one of the most sacred holidays in the Jewish religion. The holiday commemorates the Jewish New Year, and it is a festive occasion filled with prayer, good wishes and positive thoughts for the year that lies ahead. It also evokes a sense of community and gives observers a chance to look inside themselves and make sure that they are being the people that they want to be.

In the same way that those who celebrate Christmas adjust their frame of mind during the holiday season – which is often referred to as “getting into the Christmas spirit” – people who observe Rosh Hashanah have a similar mentality during the high holidays as well.

Even though not everyone celebrates the holiday, it is still a great excuse to take stock of how your year is looking so far, and think about where you are right now in whatever journey it is that you are taking. Going through cancer treatment can be an extremely stressful experience, so take the time to pause and note your surroundings and your own feelings at every moment that you can. Things have to be tough on your support system as well, so remind them to experience that important pause as well.

We don’t need an excuse to take a breather, but sometimes it is easier when you have one. So whether you celebrate Rosh Hashanah or not, try getting into the holiday spirit for a day or two, and see if that lifts your mood.

For those of you who do celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I want to wish you a happy and sweet new year.



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What Would You Do for a Great Cause?

by: cancercompass

Last week, singer Kellie Pickler shaved her head in honor of a dear friend who is battling breast cancer. If you don’t know the name, Pickler was a contestant on American Idol a few years back, and has gone on to have a successful country career of her own. She may not be a household name, but as a public figure her appearance (and by extension her hair) is a huge part of her career.

Hair loss is a common side effect from chemotherapy, which is often used as a part of a cancer treatment plan. Since Pickler knew her friend might lose her hair, the two both decided to proactively shave off their locks first.

Though hair will always grow back, it is still a brave decision to shave it all off and deal with the responses (or stares) you might receive from the public. This is true for anyone, but there is a new dimension added if you are someone that often performs in front of large crowds or makes many TV appearances. In addition to showing support for a loved one, the visual reminder allows Pickler to discuss her new ‘do, and raise more awareness. 

You can see from Ms. Pickler’s picture that a beautiful face like hers can certainly handle a severe hairstyle like this. Honestly, her friend looks pretty remarkable as well without hair. The fact that these women look gorgeous with or without hair doesn’t make their brave efforts any less admirable, they just got a little lucky.

Pickler’s actions really got me thinking about the wonderful things we do for others to show support. I enjoy running in races in the summer, and my husband has been present at every single race in which I’ve participated. Even if it means getting up at 5 in the morning on a Sunday and standing in the hot sun or cold rain for two hours, he’ll be there for me. These are very different situations, but it warms the heart to think about all the ways that people truly can love and support each other in their time of need.

What ways have you shown support for someone you love, or to highlight a great cause? Please let us know in the comments!



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Stand Up to Cancer Tonight!

by: cancercompass

Many of us stand up to cancer in our own ways every day, and tonight you'll have an opportunity to stand with others in this fight. All you need to do is turn on the TV.

Tonight, September 7th, at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT, Stand Up To Cancer is hosting its third live televised event that will be seen on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, several cable outlets, and in countries around the world.

When you tune in, you'll see numerous actors, athletes, recording artists and even Olympians standing together to help raise money for cancer research. Taylor Swift will be debuting a new song in honor of a 3-year-old boy who lost his fight against cancer this year, and other performers include Coldplay and Alicia Keys.

Other attendees scheduled to appear are Justin Timberlake, Sofia Vergara, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Jessica Biel, Samuel L. Jackson, Emma Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow. You'll also see Olympic medalists Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin. The show is being produced by Paltrow, in honor of her father, who also lost his battle with cancer just a few years ago.

The telethon will feature celebrity phone operators, and you might be able to speak with one of your favorite stars when you call in to donate. So be sure to support this important cause by watching an enterataining show tonight!

Stand Up to Cancer has raised more than $180 million for cancer research and awareness since the telethon was established in 2008. To learn more about Stand Up To Cancer or to get details about tonight’s live televised event, visit



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The Strength of Paralympians

by: cancercompass

A few weeks ago, the Olympics concluded with much fanfare and celebration. Countries around the world united to honor the hundreds of Olympians who earned medals, in addition to the other athletes who were among the elite few to even qualify.

While the names we know such as Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas have returned home and started a frenzied media tour, there are still 1,100 athletes from around the world in London right now competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

There are 170 medal events in total in these Paralympic Games: 96 track, 70 field and four road. The Paralympic Games is the world’s second largest major international multi-sport event, and the athletes who participate are living with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.

While the competitions may not look exactly the same as what you might see in the Olympics, these athletes are even braver to have overcome even larger barriers to fight their way to the United Kingdom for this year’s Games.

During the Olympics, I noted a few athletes from around the world who competed in this year’s games after overcoming cancer. After a quick search, I discovered that there are numerous athletes in the Paralympic Games that have also fought the same fight. Some of these athletes – like Australian swimmer Ellie Cole – are at the Paralympics because of their battle with cancer, while others – like table tennis star Will Bayley – have fought cancer in addition to the original reason that led them to compete.

Let’s take a look at some of these brave heroes:

Paralympic table tennis star Will Bayley of Great Britain was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder affecting the joints of the hands and feet. As if that weren’t enough, at age seven he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He won Silver in the men’s singles class 7 this year.

Ellie Cole of Australia lost her right leg to a sarcoma when she was just three years old. She swam in Beijing in 2008, and will compete in seven total events in this year’s games. She has already won a Bronze in the 400m freestyle and a Gold in both the 100m backstroke and as part of the 4X100m freestyle relay.

For Germany, Heinrich Popow lost his left leg to cancer at the age of eight. Popow competes in 100m, 200m and long jump. He first competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 and won three Bronze medals. In the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games he won Silver in the 100 m. This year, Popow won a Bronze in the Men's 200m - T42.

Another Australian, 51-year-old Colin Harrison, lost his right arm to cancer when he was 28. He is the skipper of the Australian three-man Sonar yacht team.

From the U.S., Alison Aldrich of Nebraska represents her country in the sport of sitting volleyball. At the age of seven, Aldrich lost her right leg to bone cancer.

Congrats to these, and all of the other amazing athletes, who are competing in the 2012 Parlympic Games!

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