Melanoma is a skin cancer many of us are familiar with. But have you heard of a skin cancer called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC)? If not, you might be surprised to learn that CSCC is actually one of the most common skin cancers in the world – even more common than melanoma with an estimated 700,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. annually. CSCC can also be a deadly skin cancer. Every year, an estimated 7,000 people in the U.S. die of CSCC.
(BPT) - Most of us look forward to the balmy breezes and cheerful sunshine brought about by spring and summer, especially those of us living in climates where winter is long, gloomy and bitterly cold. Yet as we get our shorts, polo shirts and swimsuits out of storage, it’s important to remind ourselves to stay sun smart and vigilant against skin cancer.
Melanoma is a skin cancer many of us are familiar with. But have you heard of a skin cancer called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC)? If not, you might be surprised to learn that CSCC is actually one of the most common skin cancers in the world – even more common than melanoma with an estimated 700,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. annually.
CSCC can also be a deadly skin cancer. Every year, an estimated 7,000 people in the U.S. die of CSCC. And in the southern part of the U.S., the number of deaths from CSCC may actually be higher than deaths from melanoma.
“The good news is that CSCC is usually highly treatable when detected early,” notes Dr. Sunandana Chandra, a medical oncologist at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Northwestern University. “That’s why it is important to know about CSCC, so you can take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, know how to identify early signs of the cancer, and to understand your treatment options if it progresses. Being vigilant about your skin and reaching out to your doctor early with any concerns will allow you to consider more treatment options and possibly have better outcomes.”
So what do you need to know about CSCC? Here are three important tips:
If you think you or someone you know may have CSCC, contact a doctor and visit SkinCancer.org.
(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) - 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."
(BPT) - It's the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, affects more than 5 million Americans and one out of every three seniors will die from it. Yet misconceptions surround Alzheimer's disease.
Contrary to what many people think about Alzheimer's, it's not a normal part of growing older. And while there's not yet a way to prevent, cure or even slow the progression of the disease, people with Alzheimer's can benefit from detecting it early. During June - Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month - the Alzheimer's Association is encouraging everyone to learn the truth about Alzheimer's disease.
"Misunderstanding crucial facts about the disease can have consequences that can lead to stigma, delayed medical attention and inadequate support for caregivers," says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services, Alzheimer's Association. "Greater understanding of Alzheimer's is urgently needed given the dramatic impact of the disease. It devastates too many families for it to remain a mystery. We need everyone to know the truth about Alzheimer's so we can bridge current gaps and build greater support toward advancing treatments and finding a cure."
Debunking common myths
Alzheimer's is most often associated with memory loss, but the truth is the disease can appear through a variety of signs and symptoms. A progressive and fatal disease, Alzheimer's attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and brain tissue, which affects a person's ability to remember, think and plan.
While the majority of people who have Alzheimer's are seniors, it can also affect people in their 30s, 40s and 50s - a form of the disease known as younger-onset Alzheimer's. About 5 percent of people with the disease have younger-onset Alzheimer's. Everyone is, technically, at risk of developing Alzheimer's, but certain groups have elevated risks; African-Americans are twice as likely as whites and Hispanics one and a half times as likely to develop Alzheimer's. Nearly two-thirds of all people who have Alzheimer's are women.
Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Detecting the disease early may help the person with Alzheimer's, caregivers and loved ones in multiple ways.
People who receive an early diagnosis may have more time to explore treatments that could help relieve some symptoms, and help them stay independent longer. They may be able to participate in a clinical drug trial to help advance Alzheimer's research. Resources such as Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch can help you find current studies.
Detecting Alzheimer's early can also give people with the disease, their caregivers and loved ones more time to plan for the future. If you are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, you may be able to participate in decisions about your care, living arrangements, and financial and legal matters.
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but the Alzheimer's Association has developed 10 warning signs and symptoms that may help you decide it's time to consult a physician, including:
* Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
* Challenges in planning and solving problems.
* Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
* Confusion over time or place.
* Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships.
* New problems with spoken or written words.
* Misplacing things and not being able to find them by retracing your movements.
* Decreased or poor judgment.
* Withdrawal from others at work or in social situations.
* Changes in mood or personality.
"If a person is having trouble doing something that they routinely did for years or they demonstrate a significant shift in personality that lasts over time - those are warning signs that need to be explored," Drew says. "Too often people dismiss these changes as stress or having too much to do, but when they persist over time, it's best to get it checked out. Ignoring the situation is the worst way of handling it."
To learn more about Alzheimer's disease and to find resources for caregivers, families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer's Association.
(BPT) - Did you know a simple test of your legs may be able to tell you if you have a higher risk for heart disease?
The test is quick, painless and non-invasive. A health professional fits pressure cuffs around your ankles and upper arms, and uses a small ultrasound device to measure the systolic blood pressure in your limbs. It is simple and painless. The disease is called Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD.
Why is this important?
Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans of all age groups, races and genders. Detecting heart disease risks early is important in order to live an active and healthy life for as long as possible. Yet the general public remains largely unaware of PAD as indicator of heart blockages.
A recent study by University of California researchers, published in the journal Circulation Research, found a strong link between PAD and coronary artery disease and stroke. PAD occurs when fatty deposits build up in the small arteries outside the heart, and it usually affects the arteries that supply blood to legs and feet, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The condition can not only cause tissue damage in the affected area, it could be a sign of chronic blockages throughout the arteries in a person’s body. About 8 million Americans have PAD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shockingly, the CDC says that 40 percent of people who have PAD may have no symptoms at all, and so be unaware they have the condition. This is why it is important to get screened. You may not have any idea that you are at risk. Having a screening may give you a hint at what lie in your future – in time to do something about it.
People who do have symptoms may feel muscle pain in the calves, hips and thighs while doing any kind of exercise that involves leg muscles — such as walking or climbing stairs, or experience cold legs, wounds that heal poorly or slowly, and burning, tingling or numbness in the legs.
Common PAD risk factors include:
* Smoking — The AHA says people who smoke may have four times the risk of developing PAD.
* Being overweight or obese
* A sedentary lifestyle
* High cholesterol
* High blood pressure
* Family history
* Age — Approximately 12-20 percent of people older than 60 have PAD, according to the CDC.
Because you can have PAD and experience no symptoms, many people may be unaware they have it — and that they’re at greater risk for developing heart disease. While health insurance may cover a PAD test for people who show symptoms of the disease, health experts recommend anyone with certain risk factors should be screened.
You don’t need a doctor’s prescription or a trip to the doctor’s office to have the test done; Life Line Screening performs affordable PAD testing in community settings throughout the country. To find out when a screening clinic may be scheduled in your area visit www.lifelinescreening.com/HeartCheck or call (877) 754-9631.
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