Although the terms are often used interchangeably, palliative care and hospice care differ in several important ways for cancer patients – most notably, the stage of treatment at which they are given. Both types of care focus on relieving patients’ pain and discomfort, whether caused by the cancer itself or the side effects of treatment. The goal of such care is not to cure a disease, but to improve someone’s physical, social, and emotional well-being. Palliative care can take place at any stage of a patient’s illness, often beginning shortly after diagnosis and continuing through the course of treatment. Dana-Farber …
by Amy Atwood SWF, Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation… Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – is never easy. Finding someone when you happen to be bald, going through chemo and/or making daily trips to the hospital for radiation makes it a zillion times more complicated. I know. I’ve tried it.
While chemotherapy can kill cancer cells, certain chemotherapy drugs can also cause an uncomfortable and distressing condition that may produce numbness, tingling, and discomfort in the arms or legs. This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), can make it difficult for people to perform day-to-day activities. Although there is no sure prevention for CIPN, there are ways to control the pain and minimize its effects on quality of life, says Cindy Tofthagen, PhD, ARNP, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of South Florida and post-doctoral fellow at Dana-Farber and the University of Massachusetts.
by Richard Saltus Living with cancer is a physical and emotional challenge, but people may also find it hampers their thought processes and memory. Often the deficits are temporary, but sometimes they persist or appear months or years later as delayed effects. Cognitive difficulties, says Clare Humphreys, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “are caused not just by the direct effect of cancer, but also the effects of treatment, as well as factors like pain, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression.”
There are many decisions parents face after testing for genetic cancer risk, including whether to tell their children and how to approach the conversation. If you decide to talk to your children about the test results, allow yourself some time to process the information; you want to be calm and clear when you talk with them. Remember that you know your children best and there are no set rules for talking to kids about genetic tests.
By Melanie Graham Patients undergo different types of scanning procedures to produce detailed images of potential cancer growth. Depending on the cancer, physicians may use MRI, mammography, CT, PET/CT or other technologies. While some of these procedures use only x-rays or radio waves to create images, a PET/CT scan uses a combination of traditional x-rays and computer imaging. A radioactive substance similar to glucose is given to the patient, and because cancer cells tend to use more glucose than normal cells, PET/CT scans can help detect the biological activity of those cancer cells.
By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In Health, is located in a rural, mountainous area where most residents are farmers. Because most homes do not have running water, people fill up 5-gallon jugs at the local water spigot.
By Eric Schuller Palliative care is often misunderstood. People may associate it with end-of-life care or “giving up” – especially when facing a serious health challenge like cancer. But palliative care may not be what you think, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Here’s a closer look at what palliative care is – and isn’t.
Dana-Farber celebrates cancer survivorship in June with Living Proof, an annual series of events that includes workshops and programs as well as a keynote reception on June 20. The end of treatment is an important milestone for any cancer patient, but it can also be a time of anxiety. In fact, some new cancer survivors say leaving the routine of regular visits with their health care team can be downright scary. That’s why Dana-Farber and other leading cancer centers offer programs to help survivors transition from active treatment to living well beyond cancer.
When solid tumors are diagnosed, they are often assigned a grade and a stage. The grade of a tumor is an indication of how quickly it is likely to grow and spread. In general, low-grade tumors grow slowly and higher-grade tumors grow more rapidly. Tumors are assigned a grade based on the appearance of their cells under a microscope: Low-grade tumor cells resemble normal cells more closely than high-grade tumor cells do.