Almost all of us have discovered a lump or bump on our bodies at one time or another. In the majority of cases, these growths are not cancerous and pose no reason for concern – but that still doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Even trained physicians like myself don’t rely on visual examination to identify every lump, and I certainly don’t recommend patients self-diagnose. While not every lump or bump is cancer, I always advise patients to err on the side of caution.
For years, the health community has been waging a debate on the connection between soy and cancer. Now a new study published this month in the journal Cancer indicates that soy appears to not only be safe for women with breast cancer –it may even be beneficial.
A recent analysis published by the American Cancer Society revealed colorectal cancer diagnoses and death rates have decreased for those 50 and older in recent years, while colon cancer rates are on the rise in younger adults. The retrospective study found that colon cancer diagnosis in adults over 50 fell 32 percent since 2000, and death rates dropped 34 percent during the same period. I believe the reduction in colorectal cancer rates can be credited to a vigorous screening protocol. Unfortunately, the falling number of colon cancer cases in older adults is in sharp contrast to those of younger Americans who have seen a 1 to 3 percent annual rise in the incidence of colorectal cancer over the past several decades.
In the United States, 1 in every 2 men will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. For women, this number is 1 in 3. In the past this difference was attributed to male's industrial work environments and the fact that more men smoked cigarettes. However, as more women entered the workforce and began to smoke, the cancer diagnosis rates did not change. Recently, a team of researchers from Harvard and MIT discovered a genetic difference between the genders that may be the cause of this difference.
February is National Cancer Prevention Month - a great time to take a look at ways to lower your cancer risk. Of course, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and not smoking are great cancer prevention tools. But vaccines also play an important role in cancer prevention. HPV vaccines prevent against HPV-related cancers, including cervical cancer. There are three effective, well-tolerated HPV vaccines available today. Unfortunately, the vaccination compliance rate for HPV is extremely low when compared to other vaccines. Steps must be taken to increase the number of teens getting vaccinated.
The use of proton beam therapy is expanding to include a diverse range of tumor sites, thanks to emerging research revealing the effectiveness of this advanced radiation treatment modality. Originally used in the treatment of prostate, brain, and pediatric tumors, we are seeing more and more types of tumors being treated with proton therapy. This is due to its ability to precisely deliver large amounts of cancer-fighting radiation directly to tumor sites while producing minimal side effects and reducing exposure to surrounding organs.
After years of consistent decline, the incidence of metastatic prostate cancer is now on the rise. A number of cancer experts, including myself and the other physicians at Ackerman Cancer Center, suspect the increase is likely due to changes in PSA screening recommendations that have come about in recent years.
As a radiation oncologist, I cannot stress enough the importance of cancer screening tests. The implementation of cancer detection tests has greatly reduced deaths from certain types of cancer. And while effective screening tests are not yet available for every cancer, others including cervical, breast, and colon cancer, have seen a sharp decline in mortality rates due to routine screening tests.
Brain metastasis is a condition in which cancer spreads from one part of the body to grow one or more secondary tumors in the brain. Cancers that may cause brain metastasis in their later stages include: lung, breast, and renal cancers, as well as melanoma and lymphoma. Most brain cancers are actually secondary cancers; in fact, primary brain tumors are quite rare. All of that said, brain metastases are treatable, and treatment plans can be created to make the patient comfortable. It is important to remember that not all cancers are equal, so treatment options will change to fit the individual patient and their prognosis. The treatment options available to the individual patient may depend on factors such as the size, quantity of, and origin site of the tumor(s).
Colonoscopy has been the colon cancer-screening test of choice for many years, but fecal immunochemical kits may now be a viable alternative to invasive testing. Fecal testing is not new, but, in the past, some healthcare professionals have steered away from it in favor of colonoscopy. However, recent studies show that the two tests are equally effective in identifying potential colon cancers.