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'Cancer Prevention & Screening' posts

Misconceptions & Misunderstandings About Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancer: Don’t Test Me, Test My Family!

As a genetic counselor with 30 years of experience, I have met with many families who have been concerned about their hereditary risks to develop cancer and other disorders. I have found that the complexity of genetics can sometimes cause misunderstandings about some critical information.

A common question that patients ask is this: I already have cancer, it makes no sense for me to have genetic testing, so why don’t you test my family instead?

As it turns out, the best strategy for most families is to for genetic testing to start with a relative who has already been diagnosed with cancer.

  1. If that person has a normal genetic test result, there is usually no need to test any other healthy family members.
  2. Because of the complicated nature of cancer genetics, accurate interpretation of a negative result usually requires an affected relative to have a positive genetic test.
  3. If a patient has a positive genetic test, the cost of testing all other family members will usually be considerably less expensive and increases the likelihood that health insurers will cover the test.

Let’s clarify this with a specific example.

Three sisters, all in their 30s, want to undergo genetic testing because their mother is a breast cancer survivor, and ...

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...

New Cancer Center to Open April 1 at Swedish/Edmonds; Outpatient Facility to Provide Medical Oncology, Infusion Services Close to Home


 
 


  
Cancer-Center-Opening-2.jpg

Swedish Cancer Institute at Edmonds opens to the public at an April 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Swedish/Edmonds campus. (Left to right) David Loud, aide from Congressman Jim McDermott, M.D.; Swedish Cancer Institute Medical Oncologist Richard McGee, M.D.; Swedish/Edmonds Chief Executive Dave Jaffe; and Swedish Cancer Institute Executive Director Thomas D. Brown, M.D., MBA, cut the ribbon during the event that attracted 250 visitors. The two-story facility, located at 21632 Highway 99 in Edmonds, provides high-quality and comprehensive medical oncology to patients through an infusion unit, laboratory, pharmacy, and access to Swedish’s electronic medical record system.
 
EDMONDS, WASH.
, March 21, 2013 – Swedish Health Services will open a new outpatient cancer center at the Edmonds campus on Monday, April 1, 2013 in response to the growing need for medical oncology and infusion (chemotherapy) services in the south Snohomish and north King County area. The new two-story, 17,102-square-foot facility is anticipated to handle as many as 175 patient visits each day and provide increased access to cancer-care services for people living north of Seattle.

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:

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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 ....

Marijuana smoking and the risk of lung cancer: time for pause

While smoking marijuana may have recently been legalized, one shouldn’t conclude that it is necessarily healthy.

For individuals who treat lung cancer patients in the states of Washington and Colorado, the recently passed legislations raise serious concerns. Ironically, this happened on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first US Surgeon General Report by Dr. Luther Terry in January 1964, which concluded that lung cancer is causally related to cigarette smoking. This report had followed decades of warnings by so-called common sense alarmists who had identified this as a major public health issue but who lacked the data to fully support their claims.

It is estimated that, in the US, we saw just over 225,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2012, 80 to 90% of these occurring in active or former cigarette smokers. That year, close to 160,000 American men and women died of their lung cancer. In the state of Washington alone, about 4,200 new cases were diagnosed. These numbers are quite disheartening considering the links that were clearly established and disseminated in the 1964 report and subsequently validated by a multitude of others since. This clearly shows that legal does not guarantee healthy.

Additionally, there is a 20-year lag in between the time when a population starts smoking and the time when the incidence of lung cancer begins to increase. In reverse, it takes 20 years before a decrease in consumption of cigarettes leads to a drop in the incidence of lung cancer.

Having recognized that clear link between tobacco and lung cancer, we are often asked if such a relationship exists with marijuana use as well...

Patient Education Classes at Swedish Cancer Institute

I know how overwhelming it can be when someone is diagnosed with cancer. A wealth of information is presented to you and a lot of it can be hard to remember. Yes, resource packets are wonderful tools and information sheets are extremely useful but sometimes sifting through all of the documents can be cumbersome, especially when you have specific questions. For this reason, the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) wants to ensure that you have access to education and information in a way that works for you.

SCI offers education programs to assist you, your family members and your caregivers in making treatment decisions, managing your symptoms, and accessing programs to help your mind, body and spirit to heal.

One of the programs is patient education classes. These classes offer practical tips that you and your family members can take home with you. The classes are intended to complement your treatment here at Swedish but also provide an opportunity where you can ask questions in a safe and secure environment.

Whether you are interested in exploring how the healing powers of art-making can help during your experience with cancer treatment or learning how naturopathic medicine complements conventional cancer treatments (or maybe you want to gain skills and confidence in creating hair alternatives) – whatever the area of focus is, we have classes that fit your needs:

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