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'cancer' posts

Cardiac risks associated with radiation therapy following breast cancer

Recently, there has been increasing media attention to the risks of heart damage associated with adjuvant breast cancer radiotherapy.

This observation and debate has been ongoing for a long time in medical literature. Most recently, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer increases the rate of ischemic heart disease. The authors conclude that the risk is associated with the dose of radiotherapy to the heart and begins a few years after the treatment. Dr. Kesarwala, an expert radiation oncologist from Bethesda, reviewed the data and provided a report in the April issue of the ACR Journal Advisor. She noted that “nearly 80% of patients in this study had mastectomies and over 90% had adjuvant chemotherapy with regimens very different from those currently used. This study mixed lymph node-positive patients (48%) with lymph node-negative patients, two sub-populations with different expected overall survival who would also have received different types of radiotherapy.” Other variables such as stage, presence of internal mammary nodes, type of surgery, or details of radiotherapy were not matched between the control and treated patients.

Because the study does not provide details regarding the radiotherapy specifically, it is difficult to interpret the conclusions. The doses of radiotherapy delivered ...

Cancer and the culture of desperation

Cancer “diagnoses” are popularly characterized as death sentences preceded by periods of horrible suffering. This characterization, popularized by media of all types (from movie to the pages of the New York Times), is in fact what motivates much of the real problem of cancer … desperation.

What if the conditions for success could be known?

Facts and myths about colorectal cancer

March is Colorectal Awareness Month and I would like to invite anyone over the age of 50 who has not had their first screening colonoscopy to come in and get screened.

If Colorectal Awareness Month isn’t motivation enough to get you through our door, let me convince you by sharing a few facts and by debunking some of the myths surrounding colorectal cancer, colonoscopy, and the preparation:

  • Fact: In 2013, American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death in the United States.
  • Fact: Approximately 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year. 55,000 will
    die from colorectal cancer.
  • Myth: Colorectal Cancer is more common in men.
    (Fact: Colorectal cancer is diagnosed in as many women as men.)
  • Myth: No signs or symptoms mean I do not need to be screened.
    (Fact: Even if you are asymptomatic you should get screened. When a colorectal cancer is found and treated in its early stages, the 5 year survival rate is approximately 90%.)

Colonoscopy is still recognized as the best, and most accurate test used to diagnose colorectal cancer...

Non-invasive advances for treating early stage non small cell lung cancer

Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy is a new term that has been coined to describe the delivery of very high doses of radiation delivered over a handful of treatment sessions. This precise method targets small tumors located in the lung. This new treatment has been pioneered and studied extensively in patients who are not suitable candidates for an operation but have been diagnosed with early stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

The advantages of this approach are that the treatment can be completed in 1-2 weeks (including the planning time), and only requires 3-5 treatments. The treatment requires highly specialized planning and preparation and is delivered using state of the art linear accelerators like the CyberKnife®. Our team has been offering stereotactic ablative radiotherapy for over 4 years.

The results are outstanding for this population of patients. A number of studies have demonstrated that the local tumor control rates exceed ...

Colorectal Cancer Prevention

In March, we commemorate National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

To do so, we take the time to recognize the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. We honor loved ones who have been affected by colorectal cancer and raise awareness about colorectal cancer with the hopes to decrease the number of people dying from this disease.

What causes colorectal cancer?

There are a variety of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of colon polyps. Only a small fraction of adenomatous colon polyps develop into colorectal cancer, but nearly all colorectal cancers arise from an adenomatous polyp. The role of colonoscopy is to identify and eradicate any adenomatous polyps so as to minimize future risk of colorectal cancer.

Several studies show that obesity increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 1.5 times. Cigarette smoking and moderate-to-heavy alcohol use also increase colorectal cancer risk. There is good news for Seattleites, however. Regular coffee consumption seems to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.

How can I prevent colorectal cancer?

We have talked before about why you should be thinking about colorectal cancer screening. Simply put, it saves lives!

Besides...

Tips and resources for Colon Cancer Awareness Month

You may have heard that March is National Colorectal (or Colon) Cancer Awareness Month, and wonder what that means. You can find out more about colorectal cancer here, or from some of the resources below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, we hope you will come walk or run at the Mercer Island Half and support Colon Cancer Research!

The Swedish Cancer Institute is the title sponsor of the Mercer Island Half on Sunday, March 24. The event offers a Half Marathon Run/Walk, a 10K Run, a 5K Run/Walk and a Kids’ Dash. There is ....

Clinical Trials and Personalized Medicine - Interpreting Studies

Medicine does not search for truth. It searches for cure. It does not look for the universal, it tries to create exceptions.

Medicine emerged from witchcraft. It has always utilized the most advanced technology of its day. Medical models and reasoning always evolve and that evolution makes the previous model obsolete. One of the foundation models of modern medicine is the randomized controlled clinical trial.

The principal of the randomized controlled clinical trial is that a single observation needs to be validated and reproduced. The clinical trial provides an estimate of how often a particular observation will occur. It tells us that chemotherapy improves survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer at one year from 20% to 29%. It tells us that FOLFOX treatment for advanced colon cancer gives a median time to progression of 8.7 months, response rate of 45%, and median survival time of 19.5 Months. This is accurate information about populations. It's use for the individual is a difficult problem.

Every person is a unit, no one is 20% or 29% or 45%. The question is...

 

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