Swedish News Blog

Subtle, early symptoms of head & neck cancer

Namou Kim, MD, FACS

Namou Kim, MD, FACS
Medical Director, Swedish Head & Neck and Reconstructive Surgery

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

Amir L Bastawrous

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!

Joelle Thirsk Fathi, DNP
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

Joel D. Lilly
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

Claire L. Buchanan, MD, FACS

Claire L. Buchanan, MD, FACS
Breast Cancer Surgeon

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 ....

Swedish Cancer Institute and community events in August

Nicole Filbert

Nicole Filbert
Health Education Intern, Swedish Cancer Institute

Can you believe the month of August has already arrived? Some may see the end of August as an end to summer, but it doesn’t mean the end of community events. Two particular events taking place toward the end of August are the American Cancer Society Relay for Life—Capitol Hill event and the Northwest Hope and Healing Alki Beach Run 5K. We are happy to announce the Swedish Cancer Institute will be supporting both!

On Saturday, August 23rd ...

Detecting thyroid cancer using ultrasound

Joseph C. Sniezek
The incidence of thyroid cancer is steadily increasing in the U.S. while the reasons for this increase are still unclear.  No environmental exposure or lifestyle trend has been linked to this recent rise but interestingly, some researchers believe that the increasing use of ultrasound in evaluating the neck and thyroid has raised the number of cancers being detected at earlier stages. Regardless of the cause of this recent uptick in thyroid cancer, there is no doubt that ultrasound has fundamentally changed the way in which thyroid lesions and cancers are evaluated and followed.
 
Ultrasound technology has undergone a dramatic improvement in recent years providing clear and precise images without exposing the patient to any radiation.  Thyroid nodules that are suspicious for malignancy can now be identified before they are large enough to be felt in the neck by the patient or health care provider.

 
When a  ...
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