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Diet during cancer treatment: Tips to combat nausea

August 25, 2014 | by   

Nausea is the one of the most well-known, and dreaded, side effects of cancer treatment — and with good reason. Beyond the quality-of-life issues that it causes, severe nausea can prevent patients from receiving enough nutrients and calories at a time when they need every edge they can get.

A few simple actions, however, can help alleviate, or at least ease, food-related nausea, ensuring that patients can keep down the food they so desperately need. Here is what the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends to help control nausea.

Nausea

Nausea is one of the most well-known, and dreaded, side effects of cancer treatment. Experts suggest these tips (for starters) on how to control nausea: Eat small meals, choose easy-to-digest food and, counter-intuitive though it may seem, don’t skip meals.

Managing with food

  • Eat foods that are easy on the stomach like white toast, plain yogurt and clear broth.
  • Eat five or six small meals each day instead of three large meals.
  • Do not skip meals and snacks. Even if you do not feel hungry, try to eat something. Having an empty stomach makes nausea worse.
  • Choose foods that appeal to you, and avoid your favorite foods, so you don’t link them to feeling sick.
  • Sip only small amounts of liquids during meals. Eating and drinking at the same time can cause fullness or bloat.
  • Have liquids throughout the day. Drink slowly and through a straw or water bottle.
  • Consume foods at a moderate temperature, not too hot or too cold.
  • Eat dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed if you have nausea in the morning.
  • Plan when is best for you to eat around your treatments.
  • Check out this NCI guide of foods to that are easy on the stomach, along with questions to ask your doctor about nausea during cancer treatment.

» Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Dermatologist Jae Jung on preventing melanoma

August 23, 2014 | by   

With Labor Day just around the corner, summer is on its way out. But just because summertime is ending doesn’t mean we can skip sunscreen. Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is needed all year round. Exposure to UV radiation — whether from the sun or from artificial sources such as sunlamps used in tanning beds — increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

jung-jae-160x190-jpg-160x190

Jae Jung says melanoma is easily treated when caught at the earliest stages.

Here, Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in dermatology at City of Hope, shares simple prevention tips to lower the risk of melanoma. She also explains that the disease is almost always curable if detected and treated in its earliest stages.

What is melanoma and what causes it?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It arises from melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment in our skin. They are most common in sun-exposed areas of the skin, but can arise anywhere including under the fingernails, oral or genital mucosa, and eyes.

Melanoma is usually caused by too much UV exposure, either from natural sun or in tanning booths. Use of tanning beds can increase your risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Patients with fair skin, light hair and eyes, have a propensity to sunburn and are at higher risk of developing melanoma. Patients with many moles (greater than 50), atypical moles, and a family history of melanoma are also at increased risk. » Continue Reading

Most women forgo breast reconstruction after breast cancer, study finds

August 22, 2014 | by   

Undergoing reconstructive surgery may seem like a forgone conclusion for survivors of breast cancer, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. A new study has found that most breast cancer survivors who undergo a mastectomy decide against surgical reconstruction of their breasts.

Breast implant

Only 42 percent of women opt for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, a new study finds. One reason cited was a fear that breast implants would prevent detection of a recurrence; a fear that experts say is unwarranted.

The reasons for such a decision vary, according to the breast reconstruction study published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery. More than 48 percent of those who decide against reconstruction say they don’t want to undergo additional surgery, almost 34 percent say reconstruction isn’t important and 36 percent  cite a fear of breast implants.

In fact, only about 42 percent of women choose reconstructive surgery after their mastectomy.

Not only is Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the Rita Cooper and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center, unsurprised by the number of women who forgo reconstruction, she finds the number of patients who do choose surgery encouraging.  » Continue Reading

For bone marrow transplant patients, outcomes and data matter

August 22, 2014 | by   

Nearly four decades ago, City of Hope began its bone marrow transplant program. Its first transplant reunion celebration was a single patient and his donor, also his brother.

BMT Reunion 2014

City of Hope has performed nearly 12,000 hematopoietic cell transplants, and has the best outcomes in the nation. Here are some of our survivors at the 2014 BMT reunion.

This year, City of Hope welcomed hundreds of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients to the annual bone marrow transplant/HCT reunion. Since the program’s inception, City of Hope has performed more than 12,000 hematopoietic cell transplants, for patients ranging in age from less than 1 year old to more than 79 years old.

The reunion of bone marrow transplant patients, one of the highlights of the year for City of Hope, underscores the close relationships that City of Hope caregivers have with their patients, even those who have been free of their cancer for decades. The outcomes for the program underscore the importance of those relationships and the high level of expertise provided here: They are among the very best in the nation. » Continue Reading

Your chances of regular finger sticks just got a lot higher

August 21, 2014 | by   

The burgeoning type 2 diabetes epidemic casts a pall over the health of America’s public. New research now shows the looming threat is getting worse. Much worse.

DiabetesCheck

Diabetes will be treated differently in the future. City of Hope is committed to understanding the disease better, and to developing better treatments for it.

A diabetes trends study published earlier this month in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for the average 20-year-old man has doubled since the late 1980s from 20 percent to 40 percent. For women, the diabetes risk has risen from 27 percent to 39 percent.

Hispanics and black women face an even steeper threat, with half destined to develop the disease in their lifetimes. » Continue Reading

Aspirin might reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence for obese women

August 20, 2014 | by   

An aspirin a day might help keep breast cancer away for some breast cancer survivors, a new study suggests.

Aspirin closeup

A new study indicates that aspirin and similar painkillers could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in obese and overweight women. More research is warranted, experts say.

Obese women who have had breast cancer could cut their risk of a recurrence in half if they regularly take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, called NSAIDs, report researchers from the University of Texas in Austin. The results of the NSAIDS study were published recently in the journal Cancer Research.

A City of Hope expert says the researchers’ conclusion makes sense. Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Division of Etiology at City of Hope, said the study echoes some of the findings of her own research on obesity. » Continue Reading

Bladder cancer patient and fitness instructor can still wear a bikini

August 19, 2014 | by   

Christine Crews isn’t only a fitness enthusiast, she’s also a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Being active defines her life. So when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 30, she decided she absolutely couldn’t let the disease interfere with that lifestyle.

And it didn’t. For the next 15 years, Crews continued to run marathons, teach fitness classes and train 20 to 30 clients a week, all while fighting her bladder cancer with chemotherapy and periodic tumor removals.

By the age of 45, however, the cancer had spread to 80 percent of her bladder. She was told she would need a cystectomy, that is, the surgical removal of her bladder. » Continue Reading

Diet during cancer treatment: ‘metal mouth’ and managing your taste buds

August 18, 2014 | by   

Cancer treatment and the cancer itself can cause changes in your sense of taste or smell. These side effects typically subside after treatment ends, but there are ways to help alleviate those bitter and metallic tastes in your mouth.

Here are tips from the National Cancer Institute to help keeps tastes and food interaction as pleasant as possible.

During cancer treatment changes in sense of taste or smell can make foods unappetizing, but there are ways to trick your taste buds.

During cancer treatment changes in sense of taste or smell can make foods unappetizing, but there are ways to trick your taste buds.

  • Eat with plastic forks and spoons if you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Chopsticks are a good alternative, too.
  • Cook foods in glass pots and pans instead of metal ones.
  • Use special mouthwashes, brush often and floss. Ask your dentist or doctor about mouthwashes that may help.
  • Choose foods that look and smell good. Avoid foods that do not appeal to you. Red meat may taste or smell strange, so try chicken or turkey instead.
  • Marinate foods. You can improve flavor of meats and poultry by soaking them in marinade. While marinating it, keep meat in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  • Try tart foods and drinks. These include oranges and lemonade or adding lemon or lime juices to food or water. Tart lemon custard might taste good and help add extra calories. (Note: do not consume tart foods if you have a sore mouth or sore throat).
  • Make foods sweeter. If foods have a salty, bitter or acidic taste, adding sugar or sweetener can help.
  • Experiment with adding extra flavor or flavors you’ve never had before so you have no expectation of how it should taste. Try bacon bits, onions or herbs like basil, cumin, coriander and rosemary. Use barbecue sauce on meats and chicken.
  • Avoid foods and drinks with smells that bother you.

» Continue Reading

Adoptive T cell therapy: Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer

August 15, 2014 | by   

Immunotherapy — using one’s immune system to treat a disease — has been long lauded as the “magic bullet” of cancer treatments, one that can be more effective than the conventional therapies of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. One specific type of immunotherapy, called adoptive T cell therapy, is demonstrating promising results for blood cancers and may have potential against other types of cancers, too.

In adoptive T cell therapy, T cells (in blue, above) are extracted from the patient and re-engineered to recognize and attack cancer cells. They are then re-infused back into the patient, where it can then target and kill cancer cells throughout the body. (Photo credit: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory)

In adoptive T cell therapy, T cells (in blue, above) are extracted from the patient and modified to recognize unique cancer markers and attack the cells carrying those markers. They are then reinfused back into the patient, where they can kill cancer cells throughout the body. (Photo credit: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory)

Here, Leslie Popplewell, M.D., associate clinical professor and staff physician in City of Hope’s Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, explains what this treatment entails.

What is adoptive T cell therapy and how does it work to treat cancer?

Every day, our immune system works to recognize and destroy abnormal, mutated cells. But the abnormal cells that eventually become cancer are the ones that slip past this defense system. The idea behind this therapy is to make immune cells (specifically, T lymphocytes) sensitive to cancer-specific abnormalities so that malignant cells can be targeted and attacked throughout the body.

Who would be good candidates for this type of therapy? » Continue Reading

Metastasis creates a battle between the brain and invading cancer cells

August 14, 2014 | by   

Today, when cancer spreads from its original site to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis, patients face an uphill battle. Treatments are poorly effective, and cures are nearly impossible. Further, incidence rates for these types of cancers are increasing – particularly for cancers that have spread to the brain.

brain metastasis

In the August issue of Cancer Research, City of Hope scientists provide insight on cancer’s spread into the brain.

City of Hope researchers are trying to change that scenario.

City of Hope neurosurgeon and scientist Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Neurosurgery, and John Termini, Ph.D., researcher and professor in molecular medicine, want a deeper understanding of how cancer cells metastasize to the brain in order to find more effective treatments.

In the August issue of Cancer Research, the two scientists provide insight on how cancer spreads in the brain. Their review, published online in July, provides research data along with a new assessment of cancer metastases.

“Given that the brain is the most complex and dynamic biological system, there was a surprising lack of research about the brain’s response to tumor cells that arrive after migrating away from the organs in which they originated,” Jandial said. » Continue Reading