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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Will Smartphones Replace Doctors?

by: cancercompass

Medical apps are all the rage these days, but can you really trust a phone for medical advice? Lately, it seems like anything you may want to do – from diagnosing skin cancer to tracking your blood pressure – can be achieved by simply downloading an app to your smartphone.

Apps are fun, easy and cheap, but will they eventually replace a trip to the doctor? I enjoy using a variety of apps that can tell me how long my commute will take or help me find the cheapest gas around, but sometimes those apps are wrong! Discovering that a gas station is no longer open is much less of a problem than having an app provide an incorrect diagnosis.

These apps probably encourage you to visit your doctor as well, but it’s often easier to just follow what your phone tells you do without ever leaving the house. This is especially true if taking the advice from your smartphone can save you time and money.

One doctor notes that a blood pressure smartphone app has actually helped patients to spot problems before they get a chance to go in and see him. However, I would assume these patients have been diligently tracking their information on a regular basis.

So while these apps are fun and can be useful, we’re far from a world where doctors are obsolete; and I think this is a good thing! Even if your phone could provide information or a diagnosis you can trust, there is something to be said about being able to visit with a human, ask questions and receive understanding and compassion. As long as the magazines in the waiting room are fresh, then I don’t even mind the long waiting times.



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Good News for the New Year

by: cancercompass

We’ve made it through one month of 2013! I hope your year has started off well. And, if there are any road bumps, I hope you’ve been able to think positively and push through to the other side.

Some good news on the health front: The American Cancer Society reports that the death rate from cancer in the U.S. has fallen 20 percent from its peak in 1991. This is an appropriate day to note this news, considering February 4 marks World Cancer Day.

The report also notes that between 1990/91 and 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available) the overall death rates decreased 16 percent in women, 24 percent in men and 20 percent overall. This means that 1.2 million deaths were avoided in the last 19 years. That number is more than triple the population of Iceland, double the population of Luxembourg and 282,000 more than the population of Delaware.

Death rates continue to go down for lung, colon, breast and prostate cancers. While these are the cancers that are responsible for the most deaths, they are also the cancers that get the most attention. This drop in numbers can be partly attributed to the fact that people are more aware of symptoms, and going in for help earlier.

Unfortunately, for a few cancers, the death rates are actually going up: melanoma, liver and thyroid cancer. So while we’ve come a really long way since 1991, it seems that there is a lot more that can be done.

In an effort to continue to help these number continue to drop, and also in observance of World Cancer Day, take the opportunity to spread the word and raise awareness about your cancer, or the cancer that may be currently affecting a loved one. World Cancer Day also represents a chance to dispel any misconceptions or myths about the disease. Encourage your friends, family and loved ones to ask questions, and find out the facts.

One important note gleaned from the report is that the drop in death rates for many of the cancers was due to a reduction in smoking rates. So just in case your New Year’s resolution wasn’t enough to get you to kick the habit, perhaps the numerical evidence will change your tune?

Find out five ways to make a difference on World Cancer Day.

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