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'cancer' posts

Importance of swallow exercises during throat cancer treatment

In the past decade, there has been a significant increase of “throat” cancers (tonsil and base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma) in younger patients, especially in non-smoking, Caucasian males. This type of cancer is caused by the high-risk HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and tends to have a better cancer survival than conventional tobacco-related throat cancers. This improved survival is aided by precision targeted radiation and transoral robotic surgery (DaVinci Robotic System). However, some of the side effects of these treatments can cause ...

Give Back with the 2014 Holiday Drive for Thrive

If you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, the Holiday Drive for Thrive is in full swing! Thrive Through Cancer is a group dedicated to helping young adults who were newly diagnosed with cancer. Thrive offers many great resources to young adults, but is well known for their Hope Totes. Hope Totes are filled with comforting and encouraging items and are given to young adults that were newly diagnosed with cancer. Join us in the distribution of hope and joy by participating in this year’s Holiday Drive for Thrive.

There are a few ways to get involved including ..

Swedish Lung Screening Program Meets and Exceeds the Standard of Care

Lung cancer screening is conducted by low dose CT scan and now widely accepted as a standard of care for those who are at high risk for lung cancer.  A low dose CT (LDCT) scan is about 8 times less the radiation exposure than a standard diagnostic CT scan and very sensitive to picking up something as small as a grain of rice in the lungs including an early stage lung cancer; this is when you want to pick up a lung cancer.  In fact, this sensitivity means there is a 24%-30% chance there will be abnormal findings on CT scan but largely, these findings will not be cancer or ever pose a problem.

This is an exciting and pivotal time for those at risk for lung cancer and those caring for patients on the front lines of healthcare.  This recent recommendation and understanding that LDCT screening in high-risk people saves lives and also means ...

Subtle, early symptoms of head & neck cancer

Patients often ask me how long they have had the cancers that they are consulting me for. This question is not intended to shift any responsibility nor accountability, but patients are genuinely trying to understand what they could have done differently. Although the treatment course would not have changed regardless, there were probably some early subtle symptoms that patients might have ignored:

Rising Colorectal Cancer Rates in Young Adults

Most people know that colorectal screening is on the “to do” list when they reach 50 years of age, barring any high risk concern for where screening would begin earlier.  Screening saves lives and prevents many colon cancers.  With the increase in public awareness and availability of colonoscopy screening, the rates of colon and rectal cancers have been declining and survival rates increasing for people between the ages of 50 and 74. This is great news for our mature population, but a recent study indicates a concerning trend of increased risk of colorectal cancer in young people, ranging from ages 20 to 34 and 35-49 year olds. 

Winter 2014 Life to the Fullest Newsletter from Swedish Cancer Institute

The Winter 2014 Life to the Fullest newsletter has hit the stands and this issue is packed with helpful hints and resources. Written by three health education interns at the Swedish Cancer Institute, the focus of this issue is to offer assistance in becoming your own advocate and discusses what resources are available to you and your family. The newsletter also discusses ...

On breastfeeding & breast cancer survivors

When I was a surgical resident, I donated 150 ounces of breastmilk to a woman I’d never met, a woman who had undergone a bilateral mastectomy for cancer. It was an easy decision – I had more than I could use, she had none that she could provide. This experience became a major one in my decision to specialize in breast surgery. The dichotomy of breasts fascinated me. Breasts are highly sexualized, yet the source of comfort and food to babies. Breasts can make life-sustaining milk, and they can develop a cancer in up to 1 in 8 women that can be life-threatening. It is no wonder that society’s relationship with breasts and breastfeeding is complicated.

I have had many patients (too many) in my practice who were young and pre-childbearing, or even pregnant or breastfeeding at the time of diagnosis. Most experience the same terror that Ms. Wax-Thibodeux felt. Many choose bilateral mastectomies, prioritizing their health and a minimization of future risk. I also care for young women with benign breast disease, that still require surgical biopsies. I do discuss the potential impact of any surgery on breastfeeding. For a lot of women, this is a side effect they hadn’t even considered. It often does not ultimately change their mind about their own most appropriate surgical choice, but there can be a pause. A moment where they consider what that means, when they reconcile themselves to that consequence, when they have the moment to grieve. Unfortunately, I suspect that not all of my colleagues do this. I wasn’t ever trained to discuss it. We spent more time, significantly more time, discussing ...

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