Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Breast Cancer in Pregnancy: Chemo OK

Researchers Say Aggressive Treatment Is Safe for the Babies of Pregnant Women
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 18, 2008 -- Facing a diagnosis of breast cancer is challenging enough, but facing breast cancer during pregnancy can be nothing short of devastating.

Can I have chemotherapy? Will the treatment hurt my baby? New research helps to answer these questions, and the findings should serve to reassure patients and their doctors.

In a German study examining outcomes among 122 pregnant breast cancer patients, researchers concluded that pregnant patients can often be treated as aggressively as non-pregnant patients, with little evidence of ill effects to their babies.

The findings were presented this week at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin.

Sibylle Loibl, MD, of the University of Frankfurt, tells WebMD that it is now clear that most pregnant breast cancer patients do have options.

"The evidence now shows that women who are pregnant are often good candidates for standard breast cancer treatments," she says.

For the rest of the story click on the title of the post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cancer Pain

This comes from Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a really wonderful M.D. whom I have seen speak.

Dear Reader,

Besides concerns related to dying, the main fears and problems facing people with cancer are the fear of pain and the fear of social isolation. The latter often occurs because people are afraid to talk about death and dying, and therefore have trouble being present with those with cancer. Because of this, I encourage you to let those you know with cancer talk about their feelings, fears, concerns and hopes. It is not as necessary to offer them hope and reasons for optimism (though these can be helpful after they've shared their feelings) as it is to let them express how they feel and know they've been heard. A simple hug after hearing them out (or even crying with them) can be very healing and set the stage for healing.

I personally believe that death here is simply a rebirth elsewhere (whether one chooses to call it heaven or another name) and is not the enemy—simply a transition to be made when the time is right. For those who hold this belief and a belief in God, talking about this can also be healing. For those who do not believe in an afterlife, a key is letting the person know how they have positively impacted your life, that they are loved, and that they will be remembered lovingly—while giving both the person and the listener the chance to share whatever feelings are present (even if this means "clearing the air"). In this way, they know they will live on in the memories of those who love them. Either way, let them know they will not be alone, and that you will be their advocate to be sure they stay pain free. At the same time, take care of yourself as well (see "Caring for the Caregiver in Chronic Illness").

Let me make a simple statement. It is never acceptable for cancer patients to be in ongoing pain, and the treatments discussed in this article and my book "Pain Free 1-2-3" can be very helpful in eliminating cancer pain. In addition, cancers that physicians have no treatment for are often still very treatable.

Read more »

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Preventing Cancer Is More Possible Than You Think

By Hillary M. Wright, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Health Publications//Harvard Medical School

2Next >

A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) found nearly half of Americans think that preventing cancer is either impossible or highly unlikely. This is despite the belief that cancer is our number one health concern. The survey also found that Americans' awareness of several proven links between diet and cancer remains alarmingly low.

  • Only 49% were aware that diets low in fruits and vegetables increase cancer risk.
  • Only 46% cited obesity as a risk factor for cancer.
  • Only 37% knew of alcohol's link to cancer.
  • Only 36% were aware of the link between diets high in red meat — particularly processed meat — and cancer.

At the same time, Americans are increasingly likely to attribute cancer to factors that lack a proven link to the disease. For example:

  • 71% view pesticide residue on produce as a carcinogen.
  • 58% see food additives as causing cancer.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

N-Acetylcysteine prevents ifosfamide-induced nephrotoxicity in rats

British Journal of Pharmacology (2008) 153, 1364–1372; doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.15; published online 18 February 2008

Ifosfamide nephrotoxicity is a serious adverse effect for children undergoing cancer chemotherapy. Our recent in vitro studies have shown that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is used extensively as an antidote for paracetamol (acetaminophen) poisoning in children, protects renal tubular cells from ifosfamide-induced toxicity at a clinically relevant concentration. To further validate this observation, an animal model of ifosfamide-induced nephrotoxicity was used to determine the protective effect of NAC.

NAC is a common nutrient that I often use to thin mucous secretions for people with colds, and to help balance the immune system for autoimmune conditions.

For more information about this abstract as always click on the title of the post.

For detailed information about NAC and many other herbs and supplements click on the Memorial Sloane Kettering website. Mskcc.com/aboutherbs. Here you will find monographs, with footnotes and their studies. Good stuff

Friday, April 18, 2008

Acupuncture relieves hot flushes in breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen

Berlin, Germany: Acupuncture provides effective relief from hot flushes in women who are being treated with the anti-oestrogen tamoxifen following surgery for breast cancer, according to new research presented today (Friday) at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) in Berlin.

Mrs Jill Hervik, a physiotherapist and acupuncturist at the Vestfold Central Hospital (T�nsberg, Norway), told a news briefing that breast cancer patients who received traditional Chinese acupuncture had a 50% reduction in hot flushes, both during the day and the night, and that this effect continued after the acupuncture ceased.

Other recent post-breast cancer acupuncture studies:
Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients.

search http:www.pubmed.com for more studies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PBS Documentary: The Truth About Cancer

About the Program


Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker Linda Garmon Takes on the Question "How Far Have We Come in the War on Cancer?"

News Journalist and Cancer Survivor Linda Ellerbee
Hosts Post-Broadcast Panel Discussion

What is the truth about cancer? Is it the same deadly killer it was 30 years ago - or are we making progress? Find out through the poignant stories of patients battling the disease. Written, produced, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Linda Garmon, The Truth About Cancer premieres nationally on PBS Wednesday, April 16, at 9:00pm ET (check local listings). Comprised of a 90-minute documentary followed by a 30-minute panel discussion, the two-hour broadcast event takes a deep look inside the cancer field gauging how far we have come in this decades-old war and asking, "Why does anyone still die of cancer?"

There is a lot of information here in addition to the documentary itself that is worth checking out, particularly the Resources section.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Will Chinese Medicine Help Basketball Star Yao Ming?

The decision of NBA superstar Yao Ming to head to China to seek traditional Chinese medical treatment for his stress fracture has orthopedic physicians and traditional medicine experts at odds over whether the healing techniques will do any good.

Basketball star Yao Ming has returned to his home country of China, reportedly to seek traditional treatments for a stress fracture in his foot.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

The 27-year-old, 7-foot-6 all-star center for the Houston Rockets was forced out of the season by a stress fracture in his left foot — specifically, a crack in the tarsal navicular bone, between the ankle joint and the middle of his foot.

Yao underwent surgery early last month when surgeons inserted a screw to stabilize the bone. Doctors involved with the surgery reported that the procedure was successful and that Yao would begin an aggressive rehabilitation program once he was up to it.

The surgery carries with it a normal downtime of four months. But it appears Yao is also looking to traditional Chinese medicine — a system that includes acupuncture and herbal remedies — to help speed his healing. On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Yao had arrived back in his home country to consult with the nation's top experts.

For the rest of the story and to read the differing opinions from medical experts click on the title of the article.

I think what is interesting here is the preliminary scientific research, the long empirical history of the use of traditional Chinese Medicine and the Western Doctor not knowing anything about it. This is a typical pattern. Plus think about this: Yao does not have anything to lose by doing TCM. He can do his rehab exercises anywhere. To spend a bit of time taking herbs, and getting acupuncture has very little downside. And of course following his own culture's medicine has the added benefit of a very strong placebo effect (not to mention home cooking). This is not to be discounted. If the normal recovery time is 4 months for his injury and he feels he can shorten that with TCM treatment, than that idea alone is very important. This is true in all human endeavors particularly medicine. It will be interesting to see in Yao's case if he is actually able to shorten his recovery time. Let's see what happens.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Is Some Alternative Medicine Still Alternative?

Despite significant research showing the benefits of some complementary and alternative treatments such as acupuncture, they are still considered outside the mainstream...

Follow the link to the audio podcast from Dr. Michael Wilkes. He does a weekly commentary on politics and ethics in medicine on KCRW.

Good stuff!