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'Cancer Prevention & Screening' posts

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:

Make a new year's resolution to be screened for colorectal cancer

We have come upon the time of year when we reflect back on the events of 2012 and look forward to new beginnings in 2013. About 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year and frequently these resolutions are health-related.

Why not let 2013 be the year you resolve to be updated on colorectal cancer screening?

Why should I worry about colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The average lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 5%. In the colon, cancer usually arises over time from abnormal polyps, called adenomas. This provides us the rare and life-saving opportunity to intervene and remove polyps to prevent cancer from developing. Pre-cancerous polyps or early cancers do not always cause symptoms, highlighting the need for routine screening.

Simply stated, there are large studies showing that screening for colorectal cancer prevents cancer. Screening saves lives. Screening detects cancer at an early and more treatable stage. How can you argue with that?

Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?

Regardless of your age, you should discuss any GI symptoms you are concerned about with your healthcare team.

If you are without symptoms...

Two key questions to answer in a suspected cancer workup

There are two questions to be answered if cancer is suspected:

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The Story Behind the Voice of 1-855-XCANCER (1-855-922-6237)

Being diagnosed with cancer is the beginning of a difficult time. The entire process – from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship – can be exhausting. And, I am sure that when you have questions that come up, you would like to have them answered, respectfully and responsively.

As health professionals we want to ensure that you, your family, friends and caregivers have access to all resources available at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI). For this reason, Swedish launched a customized phone line tailored to the Cancer Institute where callers can find out more information on services available.

Whether you want to know more about different treatment options, learn more about research studies or locate community cancer resources, I am here to assist you. If you are a new patient and would like to be seen by a provider at the Swedish Cancer Institute, I can help get the process started for you by connecting you with the most appropriate SCI specialist.

To put a story behind the voice over the phone, I would like to officially introduce myself to the Swedish community! I am Swedish’s Integrated Care Services Coordinator and Telephone Liaison for the Swedish Cancer Institute and True Family Women’s Cancer Center – which means I get to work with the entire network of Swedish campuses (including First Hill, Cherry Hill, Issaquah, Ballard and Edmonds) and can help you get connected to the appropriate areas of service that you may need.

I can help to answer any questions you may have, or connect you to the following:

Health Disparities and Breast Cancer

Just as all breast cancers are not alike, the impact of breast cancer is not the same for all women. African American women are less likely to get breast cancer than Caucasian women, but they are about 40% more likely to die of it when they do get it. African American women are also more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age than Caucasian women and to have more advanced cancers at diagnosis.

There appear to be multiple reasons for these disparities - including cultural beliefs / misperceptions about screening and cancer; lack of access to screening; inequities in healthcare delivery and treatment; concerns about being exposed to racism by healthcare institutions; and biological differences in the cancers themselves.

Let’s look at some of these more closely.

  • Cultural beliefs / misperceptions about ....

Are you or someone you know at risk for lung cancer and should you be screened?

As lung cancer awareness month approaches us in November, we think about what lung cancer risk means to ourselves, friends, family members, and our patients. Many don’t know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., far surpassing the rates of other cancers like breast, colon, and prostate.

What’s the risk of getting lung cancer?

The health risks from cigarette smoking are considerable and pose the largest risk for lung cancer; more than any other risk factors combined. Men who smoke are at 23 x the increased risk and women at 16 x the risk for lung cancer. This lung cancer risk is directly correlated with the concentration of (numbers of cigarettes smoked each day) X (number of years smoked).

Fortunately, the number of those who have quit smoking is growing, but sadly, more than half of all newly diagnosed lung cancers today are occurring in former smokers or non-smokers. People who have quit smoking remain at continued risk for lung cancer and there is also concern about lung cancer in second-hand smoke exposure.

The positive news on lung cancer is that two large multicenter research trials have been conducted in the past 12 years. The Swedish Cancer Institute was a major study site for one of these trials in association with Seattle Radiology. These trials have very clearly and consistently shown significant benefit in the early detection of lung cancer with low dose CT scan, reducing lung cancer mortality by 20%.

Who should be screened and how?

Understanding who is at risk for lung cancer is helpful but identifying...

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