Posts tagged ‘American Cancer Society’

9 questions and answers about cervical cancer

January 18, 2014 | by

Cervical cancer, once one of the leading cancer killers in women, is now one of the nation’s most treatable cancers — thanks in large part to early detection, preventive measures and increased knowledge about the human papillomavirus, which can lead to the disease.

In fact, cervical cancer is almost 100 percent preventable. Regular gynecologic care and pap smears can detect precancerous changes before they develop into cancer, and the precancerous changes themselves can often be prevented as well.  

Ernest Han, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and surgeon in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at City of Hope.

One of the most common questions that City of Hope surgeon Ernest Han gets about cervical cancer is: What causes it? His answer: HPV.

But much progress is needed in the treatment of patients with advanced disease, a fact especially relevant during January, which Congress has designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Annually, almost 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and almost 4,000 die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ernest Han, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and surgeon in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at City of Hope, discusses some of the confusion and concerns about cervical cancer.

What is the most common question you get about cervical cancer?

One of the most common questions from patients is: “What’s the cause of cervix cancer?”

We know that the primary cause is the human papillomavirus (HPV), and we say that it causes almost 100 percent of cases. We don’t say that it causes 100 percent, because there are probably some cervix cancers that are very rare that are caused by other unknown factors or maybe other viruses or other things that are not as well understood. But those are rare, and predominantly everyone here has a cervical cancer that is HPV-related. That is really where the focus for our cancer prevention lies. » Continue Reading

Yearly mammograms can lower risk of breast cancer spread

December 31, 2013 | by

Preventive mammogram guidelines have long been a hot topic for debate.

Medical professionals and health care organizations are divided on how often a woman should be screened and at what age a woman should start preventive screening.

A new study found that women who have preventive mammograms every 12 to 18 months had a lower risk of cancer spreading to the lymph nodes.

A new study reaffirms women should be receiving mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing to receive them every year.

Health care organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women be screened every two years starting at age 50.

A new study, however, found that women who had mammograms every 12 to 18 months lowered the risk that cancer would spread to the lymph nodes.

“[The new study] adds more power behind the fact that we do need screening mammograms starting at age 40 and every year,” said Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center at City of Hope, in an interview with HealthDay.

» Continue Reading

Annual report finds U.S. cancer deaths on decline (w/VIDEO)

December 22, 2013 | by

Although there is still much progress to be made in treating, preventing and educating about cancer, the incremental improvements are bearing fruit. This is exemplified by the national Annual Report to the Nation on the status of cancer — published online in the journal Cancer on Dec. 16 — showing that death rates from all cancers are still declining, continuing a trend that began in the early 1990s.

Stop smoking

A new report finds that cancer deaths are on the decline, thanks to better treatments and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.

The report — from the American Cancer Society, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries — showed that between 2001 and 2010, overall cancer death rates dropped 1.8 percent annually for adult men, 1.4 percent annually for adult women and 2 percent for children.

Additionally, the researchers found that death rates from the four most common cancers (lung, breast, prostate and colorectal) dropped significantly during this time period, too. Combined, the decreases accounted for over two-thirds of the cancer death reduction through the decade.

Although research and better treatments have contributed to the decline in cancer deaths, Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of City of Hope’s lung cancer program, said better education, earlier detection and lifestyle changes are key factors in this trend, too. » Continue Reading

Cavities can lower risk of head and neck cancers? Expert not convinced

September 16, 2013 | by

Cavities – commonly regarded as a sign of poor oral health – might not be so bad after all, suggests a new study linking cavities to a decrease in the risk of some cancers. But don’t toss the toothbrush just yet.


An expert affiliated with City of Hope found the study to be extremely limited, so limited in fact that he doubts the findings.

“The authors and correlation do not prove cause and effect,” said Joel Epstein, D.M.D., M.S.D., a consultant with the Division of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at City of Hope. “Also, even if caries [or cavities] are associated with reduced cancer risk –seems very unlikely – the dental damage, and infection risk of dental disease carries its own risk.”

The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and led by researchers at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, found that people with the most cavities in their teeth are significantly less likely to be diagnosed for some head and neck cancers, compared to those with the fewest cavities. » Continue Reading

Thyroid cancer: Growing incidence, but highly treatable

September 12, 2013 | by

Thanks to highly effective treatments, thyroid cancer is among the most treatable of cancers. But Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month — which is this month — brings attention to its challenges, including its growing occurrence and lack of routine screening.

Thyroid Screening

Better screening tools have led to improved detection of thyroid cancer, particularly smaller nodules that may have been missed by older tests.

Although thyroid cancers are relatively rare — with approximately 60,000 new cases expected this year — incidence rates have doubled since 1990, in a time when many other cancers’ incidences have stayed stable or dropped.

However, Robert S. Kang, M.D., assistant clinical professor in City of Hope’s Division of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, said the trend isn’t particularly worrisome.

“The [growth] statistics may be somewhat misleading … due to increased utilization of and access to imaging and health care,” Kang said. The American Cancer Society concurred, noting that better screening tools have led to improved detection of thyroid cancer, particularly smaller nodules that may have been missed by older tests.

» Continue Reading

Caregiver study aims to reduce burden, improve outcomes

July 1, 2013 | by

Caregivers are profoundly impacted by their loved ones’ cancer diagnosis and treatments, and they themselves are at risk for a variety of problems. These include physical ailments due to neglect of their own health, emotional difficulties arising from their new responsibilities and their loved ones’ disease, and financial constraints caused by caregiving expenses and a potential loss of income.

Caregivers' needs are often neglected in healthcare; City of Hope aims to change that with an early intervention strategy.

Caregivers’ needs are often neglected in health care; City of Hope aims to change that with an early intervention strategy.

Common problems among caregivers are depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also estimates that the typical caregiver spends more than $5,000 each year in out-of-pocket expenses related to caregiving.

For patients and caregivers in poor, underserved populations, these burdens can be magnified. City of Hope hopes to reduce those burdens through an early intervention strategy.

It will be testing that strategy in a study, starting in July, funded by a $1.5 million research grant from the American Cancer Society.

“Family caregivers are instrumental to the well-being and outcome of cancer patients, but they only received minimal attention in the health care system,” said Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., the study’s principal investigator and professor in City of Hope’s Division of Nursing Research and Education» Continue Reading

Mammogram rates not falling for women 40 to 49, despite U.S. advice

April 24, 2013 | by

Since 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended routine mammograms only for women age 50 and older. But a study published in Cancer on April 19 found that despite those recommendations, screening rates among women age 40 to 49 have not fallen.

Mammogram rates among women ages 40-49 have not change, despite recommendations against them from the US Preventive Services Task Force in 2009.

Mammogram rates among women ages 40 to 49 have not changed, despite recommendations against them from the US Preventive Services Task Force in 2009.

In fact, between 2008 and 2011, the screening rate for that age group has risen slightly, from 46.1 percent to 47.5 percent.

Looking at this data, the study’s authors speculated that the rate may have stayed stagnant due to conflicting screening guidelines from other professional organizations.

The American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network both recommend annual mammograms for women starting at age 40. But the USPSTF suggested that women between 40 and 49 talk with their doctors about the benefits and risks of mammograms, and personal risk factors — such as a genetic mutation or a family history of breast cancer — that may warrant earlier, more frequent screenings.

In making its recommendation, the USPSTF evaluated breast cancer screening, incidence and mortality data. The task force considered the lower incidence of breast cancer in young women and the negative impact of earlier, more frequent screenings, particularly  “false positives” that can result in unnecessary costs, additional tests and emotional burden. » Continue Reading

Sequestration’s impact on cancer could last for generations

March 9, 2013 | by

All Americans will feel the blow of the sequestration’s cuts in the federal budget, but cancer clinicians, researchers and patients face a double whammy. The cuts will impact not just current efforts to treat and prevent cancer, but future efforts as well.

Cuts to  basic scientific research will have repercussions for years to come, warns Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research at City of Hope.

Cuts to basic scientific research will have repercussions for years to come, warns Linda Malkas, deputy director of basic research at City of Hope.

Trimming 5 percent from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s $5 billion budget might not sound like much, but the expected $250 million loss could cut grants for new research by 40 percent. That’s because much of the current funding is already committed to ongoing, multi-year studies, according to NCI’s director Harold Varmus, M.D.

And the greater competition for the remaining funds may lead to a brain drain of talent as promising researchers look for more lucrative and less stressful lines of work. Such an impact will be long-term.

“That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Some brilliant young scientists will just say there are easier ways to make a living than cancer research,” said Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research at City of Hope, in a Daily Beast article. » Continue Reading

To fight cancer, get screened – regularly

February 22, 2013 | by

One in a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of cancer…

The adage “you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken” rings particularly true for cancers, where early detection means more effective treatments and better survival odds.

Mammograms and other recommended screenings can help catch cancer in its earliest, most treatble stages

Mammograms and other recommended screenings can help catch cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages

However, too many Americans neglect to get these potentially lifesaving tests. According to a 2012 Frontiers in Oncology study surveying more than 170,000 U.S. participants, aside from colorectal cancer screening, Americans fell short of meeting the screening goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010  initiative.

The researchers also analyzed a subset of participants who are cancer survivors. Although the survivors had better overall adherence to getting screened regularly, even they did not meet Healthy People 2010 goals for cervical cancer screening.

Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Chair and Professor of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, said Americans should do a better job of getting screened.

“It is the easiest way to catch cancer in its earliest stages, when it is the most curable,” Stein said.

For example, the five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with stage I colorectal cancer is 74%, whereas by stage IV the odds drop to a dismal 6%. This drastic decline is also seen in many other cancers.

With this in mind, it should be a no-brainer for everyone to get screened in accordance to current recommended guidelines. According to the American Cancer Society, this includes: » Continue Reading

Folic acid and cancer risk? Relax and have another cracker

January 25, 2013 | by

Folic acid is now a staple in U.S. diets, added to bread, flour, cereals, pastas and other baked goods as a way to reduce neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Most Americans simply take it for granted.

Bread and crackers

The Food and Drug Administration requires that folic acid be added to bread and grain products in the U.S. to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

But in some countries, people wonder. And they worry. Despite some studies linking folic acid to a lower risk of colon cancer, they worry whether fortification might increase the risk of some types of cancer. As the American Cancer Society points out: “Whether folic acid works against cancer may also depend on when it is taken. Some researchers think that folic acid may not be helpful, and could even be harmful, in people who already have cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.”

A new study should help put those concerns to rest.

In a report published this week in The Lancet, researchers analyzed previously published research to assess just what the effect of folic acid supplementation might be on cancer incidence overall or on the incidence of cancer of the large intestine, prostate, lung, breast or any other specific site. They could find no connection.

Further, they pointed out, the amount of folic acid found in fortified foods is considerably smaller than the folic acid supplements used in the trials.

“The study provides reassurance about the safety of folic acid intake, either from supplements or through fortification, when taken for up to five years,” study author Robert Clarke, from the University of Oxford, said in a journal news release reported by HealthDay News.  

“The nationwide fortification of foods involves much lower doses of folic acid than studied in these trials, which is reassuring not only for the U.S.A., who have been enriching flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects [such as spina bifida] since 1998, but also for over 50 other countries where fortification is mandatory [such as] Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Brazil,” Clarke said.

All of this is not to say that folic acid supplementation is perfect. It’s not. Folic acid can hide the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which is common in older people, and by the time the deficiency is diagnosed, the nervous system can be permanently damaged.

Further, high doses can pose a problem to cancer patients on some chemotherapy drugs, the American Cancer Society notes.  

But overall, as Clark says, the results are reassuring.

They’re likely especially reassuring to nutritionists, dietitians and others concerned about our overall nutritional intake. Although folic acid can be found naturally in a variety of food sources,  including leafy green vegetables, dried beans and peas, the healthfulness of the average American diet shouldn’t be overestimated.

But crackers, cookies, baked goods? Americans are in no danger of giving up on those.