By Sarah Feldman, MD, MPH Healthy young women should get their first Pap test at age 21. If that test is normal, they should have additional Pap tests every three years. If they have symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or are found to have an abnormality on their cervix during an exam, they may need a diagnostic Pap for cervical cancer earlier. Immunosuppressed women should start Pap testing with the onset of sexual activity, then repeat annually.
By Wendy Chen, MD Dana-Farber Breast Oncology Center Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers Millions of women in the United States have sought treatment for fertility-related problems over the past 35 years. Because many of these treatments –including fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF) – use hormones to stimulate ovulation, researchers have explored whether such therapies might increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
By Eric Schuller Getting cancer can be particularly difficult for young adults – classified by the National Cancer Institute as ages 15 to 39. Because the disease is relatively rare in this age group, these younger patients may find themselves isolated – too old to fit easily into childhood cancer programs, and too young to find peers in adult clinics (most people diagnosed with cancer are 55 or older). But the outlook is getting brighter.
By Tara Shuman Before Oct. 31, 2012, I would have probably guessed that desensitization was a process invented by mental health professionals to make really sensitive people less sensitive. I might have inquired about the cost to put my four-year-old son through “desensitization” so that he wouldn’t throw such a fit when he lost a game of knee hockey in our basement. Now I know that desensitization is a life-saving process necessary to treat cancer patients like me.
Asking an editor to pick his or her favorite story is like asking a kid to pick out just one piece of candy. It’s a tough task. Luckily, we’re not bound by the one-piece rule. So here are a few stories that you might have missed, or might want to view again.
Alyssa Ywuc was a 23-year-old nursing student when she was diagnosed with leukemia. After seeing first-hand the work of oncology nurses as a patient, she decided to specialize in oncology nursing. We talked with Alyssa about both sides of the cancer experience – her time as a patient and her future career as a caregiver.
For anyone who’s been out of circulation for a while, re-entering the world of dating can be awkward. It’s extra-challenging for cancer survivors. “Concerns about when to disclose health status, and the feeling that they don’t know how to deal with these questions, make dating relationships more difficult for cancer survivors,” says Karen Fasciano, PsyD., a clinical psychologist and director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber.