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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Reconsider a Second Opinion

by: cancercompass

I had never really considered going for a second opinion for any reason, until someone very close to me had an experience that opened my eyes. Even when I wasn’t a huge fan of my doctor, it seemed like a lot of trouble to transfer medical records, research insurance, find a new office and also go through the uncomfortable process of revealing to my original doctor that I’m moving on.

Recently, a dermatologist discovered melanoma on my mother’s leg. After she had surgery to remove the growth, she was extremely depressed. She was unhappy with her experience, her questions went unanswered, and my mother felt lost and alone. I told her not to worry, because if next steps are necessary, then she has every right to find a new doctor that is more suited to what she needs and wants. Luckily, the disease did not spread, and there wasn’t a need for further action. However, as she waited for results, knowing she had options made her feel more relaxed and in control. After our conversation, I realized I needed to start taking my own advice.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or you’re dealing with another serious medical diagnosis, you may want to consider the benefits of seeking a second opinion. Though it may be awkward telling your original doctor that you won’t be returning, he/she should understand that finding another opinion is a common practice. And if your doctor doesn’t understand, then maybe it’s not someone you want to visit again anyway. While it may take some effort to seek out a second opinion, it could be worth those extra steps. If nothing else, at least you’ll feel comfortable and confident that you are heading down the right treatment path.

Here are six reasons why you might want to consider a second opinion for your cancer diagnosis:

1. Feel empowered and take control – By proactively seeking a second opinion, you and your loved ones become more informed about all of the available treatment options. Learning about your cancer and treatment options can also help you feel more in control of your health.

2. Confidence and peace of mind – A second opinion can help you feel more confident that you are choosing the right treatment plan. A misdiagnosis is always a possibility, and a second opinion can help determine whether your diagnosis is correct. If the results are the same, your second opinion may provide you with more treatment options that you hadn’t considered before.

3. Discover advanced treatment options – Some hospitals have technology that is not available at another facility. Seeking a second opinion from a doctor in another health system could provide more cancer treatment options, including treatments that are more advanced or more tailored to your individual needs.

For example, CyberKnife® VSI™ Robotic Radiosurgery is an innovative treatment that delivers high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy to a broad range of tumors throughout the body. Benefits may include no incision, no pain, no anesthesia or hospitalization, greater comfort and faster return to normal activities.
4. Find a doctor you really like – Working with a doctor you really like and trust could make a huge difference in your healing process. It can help you feel more relaxed, which could lead to a better outcome. And, you will be more likely to express how you are honestly feeling, so that your doctor can help alleviate any pain or address issues immediately. As you look for a new doctor, take note of the nurses and office staff, to make sure you choose to treat with the best team and/or hospital for your needs.

5. You have a rare cancer – A rare cancer could mean a greater chance of misdiagnosis, since it may be a disease that the pathologist has rarely encountered. If you’ve been diagnosed with a rare cancer, a second opinion may be beneficial to confirm the disease type and stage.

6. You’ve been told there is no hope – In every situation, there is always hope. One doctor may say that your cancer is untreatable, while another will explore treatment options that hadn’t been presented before. Whether the goal is to simply alleviate pain or if it is to prolong life, the decision is up to you. If your doctor doesn’t listen to how you want to proceed, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a second opinion.

Learn more about the benefits of a second opinion. Or, view this handy infographic to visualize what a second opinion may look like.



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New Year’s Resolutions

by: cancercompass

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that the calendar has turned to 2013, many people will make lists of Near Year’s resolutions. Some will be kept, while others may be discarded as early as Jan. 2. The most common resolutions may include losing weight, getting a new job or drinking less, but when you’re fighting cancer, priorities tend to change. 

Now that the year is fresh, why not focus on resolutions that make more sense for your needs, if you decide to make any at all. Also, think about resolutions that are achievable, because it's always nice to look back at the end of the year and feel great about what you accomplished.

If you or anyone you know is going through cancer treatment in 2013, here are some suggestions for uplifting, achievable New Year’s resolutions.

1.    Spend more time with friends and family – This is an easy resolution to follow through on, and one that can make everyone involved happy. Treasure your family and friendships, and spend time doing the things you want to do.

2.    Eat healthy foods – Losing weight can be difficult for everyone, and for some going through cancer treatment, it’s the wrong approach altogether. Instead, focus on better eating habits and taking in foods that are healthy and nourishing. Take small steps, like limiting sweets or fattening foods like fries and pizza to once a week. Maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight can be important for those going through cancer treatment, so consider speaking with a nutritionist before you begin.

3.    Keep moving – Making a resolution to go to the gym every day just isn’t feasible, and for many it’s not fun. Rather than feeling guilty for skipping the gym, focus on adding more movement into your day. Take the stairs, go for walks or participate in sporting activities to keep moving.

4.    Beat stress – Stress can have a negative effect on cancer treatment, so focus on staying relaxed and calm as much as possible this year. Try some stress-busting activities like music therapy, Qi gong, Yoga or Pilates.

5.    Quit smoking – This resolution is a good one to have on your list whether you’re fighting cancer or not. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Also, in the U.S. cigarette smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers. Quitting smoking at any time will lower your risk.

6.    Stay positive – This may be a hard one from time to time, but in 2013, try to focus on staying positive as much as possible. There are much better ways to spend your time than worrying about things that may be out of your control. Instead, focus on the great things that life can bring, whether that’s new friends, a beautiful painting or a great movie. Whatever makes you happy is what you should be doing this year.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Please let us know, and have a happy and healthy New Year!

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