Before any patient begins treatment for cancer, oncologists should discuss first- and second-degree family cancer history, according to new recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The ASCO recommendations, published recently, are the first to focus on family history and a person’s genetic risk of cancer.
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Whether it’s yoga, meditation, massage, or nutrition counseling, integrative therapies can offer a wide range of benefits for patients.
“The whole concept of integrative therapies is about improving the overall quality of life for cancer patients,” says David Rosenthal, MD, medical director of Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. “Integrative and complementary therapies are helpful in all stages of diagnosis, from pre-cancer to survivorship.”
The number of deaths from breast cancer has dropped over the past decade in the United States, but around the world, especially in less-developed countries, the number is rising. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2013 said 522,000 women died from breast cancer in 2012 – a 14 percent increase compared with 2008.
Getting the nutrients your body needs isn’t always easy, especially when certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, may make food less desirable. Many people consider taking vitamins and supplements to ensure optimal health, but, according to Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, it is important to think about the benefits of “food first.”
Following radiation treatment or surgery to remove lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy), patients can develop lymphedema, a condition that involves abnormal swelling, usually in the arms or the legs, due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluids. This fluid buildup is caused by blockage or removal of lymph nodes or lymph vessels.
In addition to discomfort, lymphedema can also lead to infection, as the fluid buildup can increase bacteria growth. Pay attention to signs of infection, including pain, heat, swelling, rash blistering, redness, and fever. If you notice these symptoms, call your physician immediately.
Below are some ways to prevent infection and manage lymphedema symptoms that arise:
CVS Caremark announced this week it will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in order to promote the health and well-being of its customers. The new policy will take effect October 1, 2014.
“This step sends a powerful signal that tobacco products have no place at a retail organization dedicated to health,” says Dana-Farber President Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD. “We hope that other retailers will see the enormous contribution they could make to the nation’s health if they were to join CVS in ridding their shelves of these products.”
Cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, can make eating well and enjoying food a challenge for many patients. Food may start to taste strange, appetite may diminish, and other symptoms, such as fatigue, bowel changes, nausea, and mouth sores, may make finding nutritious, delicious foods difficult.
“During chemotherapy, it’s very common for patients to not feel like eating, for appetite to be low, or the taste of food to be off,” says Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, who stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy diet to manage symptoms. In the video below, Kennedy explains how to combat symptoms by incorporating tart or sour flavors, eating small and frequent meals, and staying hydrated:
Chemotherapy and radiation are often prescribed because they are both very effective at destroying cells that grow rapidly, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, they can also harm healthy cells that grow quickly, such as the cells lining the inside of your mouth. Patients undergoing chemo or radiation treatment often report mouth problems, such as sores, dry mouth, or infections, because the treatments make it difficult for the mouth to heal itself and fend off germs.
To help prevent or minimize mouth problems, consider these tips: