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'cancer' posts

Facts and myths about antioxidants and cancer

Some of the most popular misconceptions surrounding cancer, cancer prevention and cancer treatment are about the role of antioxidants. Like many of the popular myths about cancer, there are facts, half-facts and outright falsehoods.
 
Fact: Damage to genes, particularly those involved in the regulation of cell division and cell death, is the key event in the development of cancer. 
Fact: Oxidants are substances, most often generated by our own body, that cause damage to chemicals, including the DNA that makes up our genes, by oxidizing them. The oxidation reaction most familiar to us is when metal rusts. 
Fact: Our bodies’ oxidants can contribute to cancer.
 
Half-fact: Antioxidants are chemicals we ingest that then run around neutralizing oxidants, rendering them powerless to promote cancer. The so-called antioxidant vitamins, of which vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene are the most well known are more properly called redox agents. In a particular environment, they prevent or reverse oxidation, called reduction. But they may change the acidity or even just the concentrations of the components of the reaction, and they may facilitate just the opposite. For example ....

The Swedish Cancer Institute Launches Personalized Medicine Program

Richard Sherman, Swedish donors support new program that combines genomic medicine, supportive care


News Release
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           
 

Contacts: Clay Holtzman, Swedish, 206-386-2748, clay.holtzman@swedish.org


SEATTLE — April 28, 2014 — The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) today announced its new Personalized Medicine Program that combines advanced medical treatments based on the unique, molecular signature of a patient’s cancer with supportive care that is designed to serve each individual’s physical and emotional health.
 
“Patients diagnosed with cancer often find themselves having to choose between advanced treatment programs typically associated with academic or research centers, and the patient-centered care they expect from their community hospital,” said SCI Executive Director Thomas Brown, M.D. “The Swedish Cancer Institute has a long history of extraordinary care, and with the addition of genomic medicine, we are continuing our legacy of giving patients the best of both worlds, now through our Personalized Medicine Program.”
 
Each patient is unique at the cellular level, so understanding the molecular fingerprint of an individual’s cancer helps guide treatment decisions. Combined with the comprehensive social services available to address the complex needs of patients and their families, SCI is striving to provide the most comprehensive, best-practice approach to treating cancer.
 

To kick-off the Personalized Medicine Program, SCI is launching a public awareness campaign that includes informative content on SwedishCancerInstitute.org as well as television spots, the first of which features Seattle Seahawks All-Pro Cornerback Richard Sherman. The video is available for viewing here.

 
“When I was asked to support the Swedish Cancer Institute’s Personalized Medicine Program, I realized I had a new opportunity to continue my passion for supporting the Seattle community,” said Sherman, who was recently named one of the 2014’s 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME. “I’m honored to be a part of the innovative work the Swedish Cancer Institute is doing on behalf of patients and families across our region.”
 

Talking to kids about cancer

What do I tell my kids?” 

This is often the first question I’m asked by a parent with a new cancer diagnosis.  One of the most important things for parents to remember is that they know their children better than anyone else and they love them more than anyone…they can trust themselves to do this well.
 
Beyond that general reassurance, however, there are some practical tips for talking with children about a cancer diagnosis. 
 
Prepare for the conversation 
 
Think about your goals for the conversation.  What does your child need to know?  How you can help your child understand what’s going on?  How do you want your child to feel after the talk?  Who should tell your child you have cancer and can the person talking to your child stay relatively calm?
 
When and where should I have this conversation?  You don’t have to wait until you have all the answers.  Be prepared to ...

Guest Column: Select the Right Cancer Treatment

In the second of his three-part Seattle Times guest column series, Swedish Cancer Institute Medical Director for Naturopathic Services Dan Labriola, N. D., guides readers through their options when selecting a cancer treatment approach. In the column, Dr. Labriola examines how patients can weigh the benefits and risks of multiple treatment options, approved therapies vs. clinical trials, how to seek a second opinion and what to do if it is different from your initial evaluation. In his final installment set for next Sunday, Dr. Labriola will discuss survivorship, including complementary and alternative medicine strategies.

Style '14 Fashion Show Benefit

Northwest Hope & Healing, a non-profit organization supporting women battling breast cancer, is hosting the 12th Annual Fashion Show at the Showbox in SODO on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
 
More than 30 breast cancer survivors will be modeling spring looks from several Seattle boutiques. Proceeds from this event benefit the Northwest Hope & Healing’s Patience Assistance Fund at the Swedish Cancer Institute, which helps provide everyday basics such as groceries, childcare and emergency rent for women battling breast cancer.
 
Northwest Hope & Healing has been supporting Swedish Cancer Institute patients since early 2000 and is deeply rooted in our community. We are proud to support this event and hope to see many of you there!

To Mammogram or Not to Mammogram? A note on recent studies

A Canadian medical research study has recently been published questioning the value of doing screening mammograms on women in their forties. The article has spurred controversy because the results contradict multiple other similar research studies which showed that women in that age group who get regular mammograms actually are spared death from breast cancer more often that women who are not invited to screening.

Some problems with the methods of Canadian study, published in the journal BMJ, were pointed out by a scientist at the University of Washington, Judith Malmgren, who has worked with Swedish Medical Center doctors to see how women in their forties have fared in our system. Click here to read Dr. Malmgren’s letter to the editor of BMJ.

There are two ironic features to the Canadian study. First, the authors say it is okay for women to not get screening starting in their forties “when adjuvant therapy for breast cancer is readily available.” This means that it is okay to diagnose breast cancer later because you can mop up bigger and more advanced cancers with treatment like chemotherapy, radiation and bigger surgery. But at Swedish, we do not think that many women prefer more severe therapy rather than earlier detection.

Secondly ...

Is it ok to laugh with cancer?

“Is it okay to laugh?”

The question caught me off guard for a moment, then its meaning sunk in.  She was really saying, “Cancer is serious stuff, my breast has been cut on and radiated, and you’ve given me cancer fighting poisons in my veins. My hair has fallen out, food tastes funny, and I’m on a first name basis with the muzak at my insurance company. I’ve done my crying, but is it appropriate to laugh at it all?”

I remembered back to an intimidating nurse critiquing a tape of my very first patient interview during my second month of medical school. Her eyes were sharp and piercing and her brow furrowed as she watched the tape. Half way through she stopped it, turned it off, and said, “You are flippant…. I don’t much care for it.” My heart sank, and then she continued without a smile, but with a twinkle in her eyes, “but it works for you, so don’t mind me and keep on doing it.”

I believe that humor is therapeutic. Of  course, that is not a new idea. The saying, “laughter is the best medicine” did not originate with Readers Digest. The biblical record states, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit drieth bones” (Proverbs 17:22). I don’t know that a merry heart will add time to a cancer patient’s life, but I know that it will add life to the time that they have.  

We don’t know a lot about the physiological effects of humor. It does ....
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