(BPT) - Each year, more people die of lung cancer than any other form of cancer — more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates of the 224,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, 155,000 will succumb to the disease.
Many have heard the statistics about lung cancer, but for those who have lived through it, or who have a friend or loved one battling the disease, these numbers are even more personal and frightening. The low five-year survival rate (five to 14 percent) for late-stage lung cancer patients makes the search for a way to treat this deadly disease all the more urgent.
To beat cancer, early detection is critical. Scientific research over the past several decades has revealed that cancer is a disease primarily caused by changes — or mutations — in the genes. This discovery has led to a major shift in how early cancer can be detected and treated. Now, researchers are able to identify mutations in the genetic code that are most likely to cause potentially deadly cancers. This has led to the development of new testing technology and drugs that target those specific mutations.
This approach is in stark contrast to traditional detection methods that are limited in their ability to test for a small number of specific mutations linked to only one possible treatment. This painstakingly long process can take several weeks to identify an effective treatment.
In a matter of days, modern techniques using next-generation sequencing technology can save valuable time by avoiding the need to run multiple tests by simultaneously screening tumor samples for multiple mutations and multiple potential therapies. The new technology also reduces the likelihood of subjecting patients to unnecessary and invasive secondary biopsy procedures.
New advancements in early detection and treatment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Oncomine(TM) Dx Target Test, a first-of-its-kind genetic screening solution that can detect multiple gene mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from a single tissue sample. The test has also been approved to aid in selecting which specific FDA-approved NSCLC treatment the patient may be eligible for.
Take action and talk to your doctor
A recent survey by the Journal of Precision Medicine showed that only about a third of patients and caregivers had a good understanding of genomic tools for cancer detection. That’s why talking to a doctor, loved ones and others about new techniques like sequencing-based tests to help inform more effective treatment options is important. Doctors and healthcare networks have a responsibility to their patients to provide the most effective innovations so patients receive the best care possible.
(BPT) - Heat and humidity can make anyone feel uncomfortable, but for the 400,000 people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States, warmer weather can make life particularly difficult to manage.
“When it’s warm and sunny, that’s when I want to spend the most time outdoors,” said Wendy Booker, who has been living with MS for almost 20 years. “I enjoy gardening, walking and eating outside, but the heat is sometimes too much to bear, and I find it difficult to even get out the door.”
Symptoms of MS, including dizziness, blurry vision and fatigue, can be unpredictable and often flare up during warm weather. High temperatures and humidity can cause a temporary, slight elevation in body temperature, which impairs nerves and can potentially worsen symptoms.
“The negative effects of temperature and humidity are generally temporary, but they can make the symptoms of MS worse and make it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks or enjoy activities outside,” said Carrie Lyn Sammarco, DrNP, FNP-C, MSCN, nurse practitioner in the NYU Langone Medical Center Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center.
If you or someone you care for is living with MS, what can you do to beat the heat?
1. Dress lightly. Clothing can make all the difference. Look for lightweight, open-weave fabrics that “breathe” by letting air flow in and out more easily. Also, protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays by wearing a hat or other protective covering.
2. Hydrate. Drink plenty of cool fluids. Having a cold drink or summer treat, like an ice pop, can often provide temporary relief. “I often freeze a water bottle the night before participating in an outdoor activity so I know I’ll have a cool drink quickly available,” said Ms. Booker.
3. Stay indoors. It may seem obvious, but sometimes the best way to beat the heat is to avoid it altogether! Chill out inside an air-conditioned space, sit in front of a fan or head out to your local movie theater to see the latest flick.
4. Take a dip. “Exercising in a non-heated pool is a great way to stay both active and cool during warm months and something I often recommend to my patients living with MS,” said Dr. Sammarco.
5. Ask for help. The unpredictability of MS symptoms, especially in the heat, may mean you need to ask for help sometimes. Check out a new online resource, GatherMS.com, that provides links to existing, everyday services — from grocery delivery to free transportation. Ms. Booker, who serves as a spokesperson for GatherMS, uses the resource to help her accomplish daily tasks when the heat gets her down.
No matter how you choose to stay cool, talk to your doctor for the best advice on managing your MS year round, especially during the warmer months.
(BPT) - Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, with a mere 29 percent one-year survival rate. In 2016, pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer.
The time frame between diagnosis and death is often short. Only 7 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive five years. This is incredibly small compared to prostate cancer or breast cancer, where more than 90 percent of patients survive for five years after diagnosis.
"Most people are unaware of how deadly pancreatic cancer is," says Jim Rolfe, president of Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. "These chilling statistics can serve as an eye-opener that motivates people to learn more about their risks and contact their health care professional."
Early detection is important
Although pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, early detection can significantly impact survival rates. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer approaches 25 percent if cancers are surgically removed while they are still small and have not spread to the lymph nodes.
Know your family, know your risk
Family history is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. When you know more about your genetics and which members of your family have been affected by pancreatic cancer, you can better manage your own health.
To make the process easier, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has introduced a new series of online tools. Visit www.KnowMyRisk.org to download a worksheet and access other helpful tools that let you explore your family history and become your own health advocate.
Print out the worksheet and call or visit your grandparents, parents and other extended family members. You may not be aware that someone a few generations removed from you was affected by cancer. Having this conversation can be empowering, because once you know your risks you can take charge of your future.
Consider genetic counseling
When considering how personal a cancer or disease diagnosis can be, it is no surprise that medicine is looking at our DNA to uncover information. This makes genetic counselors an important part of the health care team, helping you ask the right questions and uncover familial genetic risk factors.
If you learn you have a history of pancreatic cancer in multiple family members, you should consider meeting with a genetic counselor to assess your level of risk. From there, the counselor and your doctor can decide on a course of action.
To learn more about genetic counseling and find a local certified genetic counselor at the National Society of Genetic Counselors' database, visit www.KnowMyRisk.org.
Take charge and be empowered
"Don't take a backseat when it comes to your health," says Rolfe. "The first step toward early detection of pancreatic cancer is understanding your family history. From there, you can make informed decisions that help you live a full, healthy life."
Interested in Publishing on The Health IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!