Swedish News Blog

The Role of Cancer Rehabilitation

David Zucker, MD, PhD

David Zucker, MD, PhD
Medical Director, Cancer Rehabilitation Services

When learning that you have cancer, it's easy to forget that your body has trillions and trillions of healthy cells. This is true whether the cancer is stage 0 or stage IV. While this may be hard to believe, it is true. Your healthy cells support you in getting through the rigors of treatment. Too often, however, the support that your healthy cells offer is forgotten in the flurry of activities surrounding treatment and the dramatic changes in your everyday life. These changes are not only physical, but emotional, psychological and spiritual. After all, cancer affects the whole person from molecule to spirit.

At the molecular level, your healthy tissues are subjected to profound physiologic demands, demands that take an enormous amount of their energy. Cancer treatments— surgery, chemotherapy, biologic therapies, radiation—are taxing. Athletes need to prepare well for any physically demanding event. Why then, should it be different for cancer survivors? While a far cry from an athletic event, you may be surprised to learn that the same training principles that apply to athletes also apply to cancer survivors. These principles include the correct exercise frequency, intensity, duration and type, tuned individually to your needs as ...

Seattle Times Publishes Guest Column by Swedish-Affiliated Naturopathic Doctor on Myths and Facts about Echinacea and Cold/Flu Season

Swedish News

SEATTLE, Sept. 24, 2012 - On Sunday, Sept. 23 The Seattle Times published a guest-written Health page column by Swedish-affiliated naturopathic physician Dan Labriola, N.D., headlined 'The cold facts about echinacea.'

Issaquah Run Benefits Swedish Cancer Institute In Issaquah: Join Team Swedish Issaquah

Natalie Kozimor

The Rotary Club of Issaquah has selected the Swedish Cancer Institute/Issaquah as the primary beneficiary of their 36th annual 5/10K run/walk event.

All of the funds that go to the Swedish Cancer Institute will be put in a special fund for patients being cared for at Swedish/Issaquah. We know this fund will fill a vital need, allowing Swedish to continue to provide charity care and other resources to patients needing the support.

We would love to have a strong showing at the Issaquah Run, so I encourage you to join team Swedish Issaquah!

Race details:
Issaquah Run
Sunday, Sept. 30
10K Run, 5K Run/Walk & Kids Run

To register for our Swedish Issaquah team, please click here. This link goes directly to our team page, and you must use this link to join the team.

Swedish employees and “friends of Swedish” get $5 off registration. The code for Swedish is SMCRUN and will provide a $5 discount; staff can use this code when registering.

We hope you participate in this important community event and support the Swedish Cancer Institute. For more information and general details about the Issaquah Run, visit www.issaquahrun.com.

Exercise and cancer

David Zucker, MD, PhD

David Zucker, MD, PhD
Medical Director, Cancer Rehabilitation Services

There is plenty of research—and it is increasing every day—showing that exercise is beneficial for cancer survivors, whether during or after treatment. In a recent study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Dr. Andrea Cheville, an onco-physiatrist (cancer rehabilitation physician) and colleagues at Mayo Clinic interviewed 20 patients with advanced lung cancer about exercise, its relationship to their symptoms, and the role of their oncology team in counseling them about exercise (video). Not surprisingly, participants considered their usual everyday activities as "exercise". While important in helping to maintain function, everyday activities generally do not reach the threshold to help maintain or improve overall fitness. In Dr. Cheville’s study, exercise was defined as "a systematic way of stressing the body to increase flexibility, stamina, and strength.”

Systematic and regular exercise causes biochemical changes in the body, not unlike medicine. The route of administration however, is different. You can't take an "exercise pill", you have to actively participate. The changes that exercise brings are beneficial. For example, exercise can help reduce fatigue. While this may seem counterintuitive, especially while living with cancer, taking it easy can actually increase fatigue. This is because the body becomes "deconditioned"—the less the body does, the less it can do. Add the fatiguing effect of chemotherapy, and you have a recipe for reduced whole body strength and fitness. Enjoyable and regular exercise is a powerful antidote to the fatiguing impact of cancer and treatment.

In our cancer rehabilitation programs, we often hear survivors express fear that exercise might cause physical harm. Some of the participants in Dr. Cheville's study expressed a similar concern. When exercise is done with a good understanding of what is too much, what is too little, and how to modulate its intensity during cycles of treatment, exercise not only enhances physical and mental well-being, but also helps to reduce symptoms related to cancer and its treatment. In addition to fatigue, these symptoms include shortness of breath, pain, insomnia, malaise and reduced endurance.

The study showed...

Do self breast exams matter?

Ashley Fuller, MD

Self breast exams: to do or not to do?

Remember when there were monthly emails you could sign up for to remind you and your friends to do your self breast exams at home? Remember seeing the news anchors talking about their monthly self breast exams in an attempt to remind you to do your breast “due diligence?” What happened to self breast exams and are they still important?

Initially, self breast exams were recommended as a screening tool to help early detection of breast cancer. Unfortunately long-term studies have not confirmed that they actually live up to their hype. Two large studies looking at over 200,000 women in both Russia and China didn’t show any difference in breast cancer mortality after 15 years between the women who were performing routine self exams and those who were not. In fact, the women that were practicing self exams found more lumps and underwent more biopsies for benign reasons. Reviews of several other studies failed to show a benefit of regular breast self-examinations including no benefit of early diagnosis, or reductions in deaths or stage at diagnosis. Hence in 2009, the US Preventative Services Task Force advised that clinicians no longer recommend routine self breast examination as a screening tool for breast cancer detection.

Even though you don’t need to be doing a monthly self exam, you should...

You've been diagnosed with prostate cancer - now what?

Robert M. Meier, MD

Robert M. Meier, MD
Radiation Oncology Medical Director, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

Almost daily there are new recommendations for how to treat prostate cancer and an equal number of controversies surrounding the recommendations. What is a man to do when faced with the words, “you have prostate cancer”?

The good news is that there are many proven options to consider; but how do you choose the best one for you? The decision can be daunting and the controversies swirling in the news only increase the confusion when wading through the information. You may be considering:

  • Active surveillance (watchful waiting) is an option for those who want to closely monitor their cancer over short intervals. Intervention is considered if the cancer grows quickly, PSA scores increase or other situations arise warranting a more aggressive treatment plan.

  • Surgical options are available and with the advances in robotic technologies, the procedure is less invasive than in the past, recovery times are reduced and fewer side effects are reported. 

  • Radiation options are also available and treat the cancer either with external radiation beams or implanted radioactive seeds.

    • CyberKnife Radiosurgery uses robotic technology to track the prostate in real time and delivers high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy. This is an outpatient procedure where the patient comes to the center for five, one hour sessions over the course of one week. Long term side effects are rare and cancer free survival rates are excellent. (You can learn more here.)

    • Seed Implantation is another method of delivering radiation to treat prostate cancer. With this option, the radiation is delivered internally via tiny radioactive seeds which are implanted into the prostate. This too is an outpatient procedure and long term results are excellent and side effects are few. 

As a radiation oncologist specializing in treating prostate cancer...

Brain Cancer Research in Seattle Leads to New Treatment Options for Patients

Swedish News

SEATTLE, Aug. 27, 2012 – Since its opening in 2008, the Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (the Ivy Center) at Swedish Medical Center's Neuroscience Institute has led the expansion drive of major research projects and expanded treatment options for patients living with brain cancer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world. The Ivy Center was founded in 2008 to create a world-class treatment and research facility focused on delivering excellent patient care and advancing progress toward more effective treatments for brain cancer.

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