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'Cancer Prevention & Screening' 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 ...

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. 

Celebrating Lung Cancer Awareness Month in a BIG Way!

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in our country and this far exceeds those deaths for breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancers, combined.  85% to 90% of the people diagnosed with lung cancer are current or former smokers; the risk of lung cancer is directly related to tobacco smoke exposure (smoking).  Until recently, there was not a well-established means for detecting lung cancer and survival rates were dismal.

Swedish Cancer Institute and Seattle Radiology have been screening for lung cancer by low dose CT scan since 2000 as Principal Investigators in the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program, an international screening registry.  This program, in addition to the large National Lung Screening Trial by the National Cancer Institute and several other international lung screening research trials, has been instrumental in delivering the need for lung cancer screening to the forefront and addressing this dreadful cancer in a complete face off.  This research has clearly demonstrated an ability to significantly improve survival and save lives by early detection of lung cancer through routine low dose CT scan imaging.

Nearly a year ago the United States Preventive Services Task Force made a formal Grade B recommendation for lung cancer screening, by low dose CT scan, in high-risk people.  People ..

Why "Movember" means talking about prostate cancer

It is now the beginning of November, marked by colorful foliage, leftover candy and thoughts of the upcoming holidays. It will also be the first of Movember, the last day to cleanly shave that upper lip for a month. The rest of the month we are to let the mustaches emerge and flourish as a reminder of prostate cancer in the community. 

The Movember movement began ...

Bilateral Mastectomies: a patient’s personal decision

Last week the Seattle Times reported that women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in one breast are choosing to have bilateral mastectomies to reduce their chances of getting cancer again, but recent research shows that that there is no survival benefit, even in younger women. Researchers at Stanford and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California evaluated the outcomes of over 190,000 women from the California Cancer registry who were diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast between 1998 and 2011. The rate of bilateral mastectomies rose from 2% to 12.3% over the study period, yet there was no survival benefit to bilateral mastectomies versus lumpectomy and radiation.

To those of us who work in the field, this data comes as no surprise; the trend of bilateral mastectomies is a known phenomenon. More than 10 years ago, I remember the chatter among surgeons at national meetings asking if others noticed that more and more, younger women were coming in asking for bilateral mastectomies. Back in 2007, Dr. Todd Tuttle authored a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that found that the rate of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy was on the rise, from just under 2% in 1998 to 5% in 2003. This week’s study only validates that this upward trend shows no sign of leveling off.

Why do patients choose bilateral mastectomies?

Many women ....
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