Swedish News Blog

Gift Basket Programs at the Swedish Cancer Institute

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES
Health Education Specialist

The Swedish Cancer Institute has community partnerships with several local and national organizations that strive to promote education, hope and healing to newly diagnosed patients with cancer. Specifically, two local organizations have partnered with Swedish Cancer Institute in a unique way, offering moments of inspiration and comfort in times of distress. Northwest Hope & Healing and Thrive Through Cancer are two local non-profit organizations focused on offering assistance and support to those newly diagnosed with cancer and aim to empower and connect community members with resources needed to flourish....

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

Robert Resta

Robert Resta
Genetic Counselor

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 ...

Cardiac risks associated with radiation therapy following breast cancer

Vivek K. Mehta, MD

Recently, there has been increasing media attention to the risks of heart damage associated with adjuvant breast cancer radiotherapy.

This observation and debate has been ongoing for a long time in medical literature. Most recently, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer increases the rate of ischemic heart disease. The authors conclude that the risk is associated with the dose of radiotherapy to the heart and begins a few years after the treatment. Dr. Kesarwala, an expert radiation oncologist from Bethesda, reviewed the data and provided a report in the April issue of the ACR Journal Advisor. She noted that “nearly 80% of patients in this study had mastectomies and over 90% had adjuvant chemotherapy with regimens very different from those currently used. This study mixed lymph node-positive patients (48%) with lymph node-negative patients, two sub-populations with different expected overall survival who would also have received different types of radiotherapy.” Other variables such as stage, presence of internal mammary nodes, type of surgery, or details of radiotherapy were not matched between the control and treated patients.

Because the study does not provide details regarding the radiotherapy specifically, it is difficult to interpret the conclusions. The doses of radiotherapy delivered ...

Facts and myths about colorectal cancer

Darren Pollock, MD

Darren Pollock, MD
Colorectal Surgeon

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...

Non-invasive advances for treating early stage non small cell lung cancer

Vivek K. Mehta, MD

Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy is a new term that has been coined to describe the delivery of very high doses of radiation delivered over a handful of treatment sessions. This precise method targets small tumors located in the lung. This new treatment has been pioneered and studied extensively in patients who are not suitable candidates for an operation but have been diagnosed with early stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

The advantages of this approach are that the treatment can be completed in 1-2 weeks (including the planning time), and only requires 3-5 treatments. The treatment requires highly specialized planning and preparation and is delivered using state of the art linear accelerators like the CyberKnife®. Our team has been offering stereotactic ablative radiotherapy for over 4 years.

The results are outstanding for this population of patients. A number of studies have demonstrated that the local tumor control rates exceed ...

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

Swedish News


 
 


  
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

Karlee J. Ausk, MD

Karlee J. Ausk, MD
Gastroenterologist

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...

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