10 Biggest Cancer Clinical Trial Myths BUSTED

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According to the National Cancer Institute, less than 5% of adult cancer patients sign up for cancer clinical trials.  But how is this possible if clinical trials are considered the backbone of medical research?  It may boil down to the fact that many people have misconceptions about what clinical trials are and how they operate.  In fact, I have been guilty of this… I remember when our Oncologist suggested a clinical trial for Alan’s sarcoma… I immediately assumed that meant we were out of treatment options and at the end of our rope.

Fast forward to today… I read a fantastic article on cancer clinical trials written for the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub, a free health information website and eNewsletter.  It was so good that I’m reposting the article below … after all, knowledge is power.  Let’s share the power!

“People have a lot of misconceptions about cancer clinical research trials. They might think patients mostly just take sugar pills instead of receiving actual treatment.  Or they may think clinical research studies are only for people who have no other options.

These and many other common beliefs about cancer clinical research trials are simply not true, says Joshua Beaver, Research Program Manager for Solid Tumor Oncology at Cleveland Clinic.

Mr. Beaver and his colleagues lined up a list of the Top 10 myths that they frequently hear about clinical trials and set about shooting them down one by one:

Myth 1: Participating in clinical research provides no benefit to me as the patient

In fact, trials give patients access to the latest drugs and procedures. Studies show that patients who participate in clinical trials have outcomes at least as good, if not better, than the general patient population.

Myth 2: My doctor can tell me whether or not to consent to clinical research

A physician’s job is to help a potential clinical research patients weigh the pros and cons and otherwise educate them.  Your doctor can’t give you a “yes” or “no” answer or try to predict whether a particular treatment will work or not. Instead, think of your doctor as a helpful resource in making an informed decision.

Myth 3: Researchers treat patients like guinea pigs

This is far from the truth,” Mr. Beaver says, mentioning a survey finding 97 percent of trial participants experienced respectful treatment and care exceeding their expectations.  Often, patients will not even feel like they are part of a study because clinical trials incorporate the best available medicine. Researchers will then adjust treatment to see if enhancements can improve patients’ quality of life or response rates.

Myth 4: Clinical research patients are taking sugar pills

Researchers never use sugar pills in place of the best known treatment for a given cancer, and they are very rarely used in clinical cancer trials whatsoever, Mr. Beaver says. “Patients who join clinical trials will never sacrifice quality of care.”

Myth 5: Health insurance won’t cover the cost

Check with your carrier but the chances are good that coverage will extend to the full cost of your treatment.

Myth 6: Cancer clinical research studies are for people who have no other options

Sometimes clinical trials are a last resort. But many times they simply involve a simple addition or adjustment to a standard treatment plan that can provide patients with a better quality of life.

Myth 7: You need to live near a major hospital to participate

Many clinical trials take place at regional hospitals. “Some trials even extend to local cancer clinics and doctor’s offices,” says Mr. Beaver.

Myth 8: Informed consent exists primarily to protect researchers’ legal interests

Informed consent provides patients with information about their rights as a participant to help them decide whether to participate. Mr. Beaver adds, “The consent process is actually designed to avoid ‘legalese’ and to make absolutely sure that it is understandable to everybody.”

Myth 9: Once you sign the informed consent form, you’re legally bound to participate

Patients have the right to decline participation at any time. Their doctors will then switch to the standard treatment for their condition.

Myth 10: Patients can’t expect medical personnel to keep them informed

Physicians, medical professionals and research staff are all available at any time to help patients. “We know and appreciate that patients’ willingness to participate is what makes cancer trials possible,” Mr. Beaver says.”

(Source: Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic)

Check Out Cleveland Clinic’s FREE Clinical Trials App

Cleveland Clinic has created a free Clinical Trials app for cancer patients to keep abreast of their 130+ active cancer clinical trials. This Cancer Clinical Trials app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

With this app, you can:

The app also includes contacts for patient resources, financial services information, support groups and treatment guides.

FREE Running Program for Cancer Survivors in MD, DC, VA, NY & Chicago

Andy & Alan 2004 Bay Bridge 10K

Andy & Alan @ Rockville Rotary Twilighter 8K Runfest 1992

 

Pictured above is my husband Alan (on the right) with his childhood friend Andy.  Since this picture was taken, Andy has run more than 30 marathons, completed 13 triathlons and has become a certified running coach.  Despite all these accomplishments, Andy always made time to go for a run or walk with Alan, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

 

It was no surprise to me that Andy connected with The Ulman Cancer Fund’s CANCER to 5K Training Program - a FREE 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to training for and completing a 5K road race.  Amazing, right?!

ABOUT The CANCER to 5K Training Program:

Research has now shown that exercise is especially important for cancer survivors both in and out of active treatment.  Regular exercise not only improves mood, boosts self-confidence and reduces fatigue, but there is loads of evidence suggesting that higher levels of physical activity can help keep the cancer from recurring.

 

The Cancer to 5K Training Program is a progressive run/walk program designed to get cancer survivors to the 5K finish-line happy, healthy and injury-free.  

*  Who can join?  Cancer to 5K is open to any cancer survivor regardless of age, location, treatment status or fitness level.  Survivors who have completed treatment as well as survivors who are currently undergoing treatment can participate.

*  Where is training held?  If you live in the following areas, certified running coaches and experienced volunteer runners (aka “Sherpas”) will help train you in a small group setting.  Each 12-week session is limited to 10 participants.  Click HERE for exact locations in:

      • Washington DC/Northern Virginia
      • Montgomery County Maryland
      • Howard County, Maryland
      • Baltimore, Maryland
      • New York, NY
      • Chicago, IL.

* What if you live elsewhere?  If you live outside the current group training areas, you can still participate with The CANCER to 5K “At Home” Training Program.  As a Cancer to 5K “At Home” participant, you will receive one-on-one coaching with a Cancer to 5K coach. Workouts will be sent to you via email, and you will have access to your coach via email and phone.

Registration for the fall training season is now OPEN!  
Group workouts will begin in August 2014.
“At-Home” participants can begin training anytime.

 

For more information, contact Program Manager Laura Scruggs via email at laura@ulmanfund.org  or via 410.964.0202 x108.  

Please note:  A medical waiver must be signed by the participant’s current primary care physician to ensure that training for a 5K won’t negatively impact treatment or recovery.

 

Financial Assistance from Walk In My Shoes Cancer Foundation

 

 

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are having a hard time making ends meet, check out the Walk In My Shoes Foundation.

Walk In My Shoes Foundation assists cancer patients with paying rent, mortgages, utility bills, medication, purchasing gas cards, buying groceries, etc.  To qualify for assistance, which is based on availability, the following guidelines have been set:

  • Only patients undergoing cancer treatment are eligible for assistance.
  • Only bills in patient’s name are eligible for payment.
  • Maximum assistance is $500.00 per patient per calendar year.
  • First come first serve basis.
  • No income guidelines.
  • Men, women, children are welcome to apply regardless of type of cancer.
  • Cash will not be disbursed.

To apply, please complete the form on the Walk In My Shoes Foundation CONTACT US page or email them directly at info@walkinmyshoesfoundation.com.  Someone should contact you within 48 hours.

All Hail Kale & This Yummy Salad Recipe

 

Eating healthy, good-for-you foods during and post-treatment can help cancer patients feel better and stay stronger.  Proper nutrition can help them keep up their body weight and strength, keep body tissue healthy, and fight infection.

 

Dark leafy greens are the rockstars of the produce department as they have the most concentrated source of nutrition we have.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse.  Calorie for calorie, kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk.  Kale is also loaded with vitamin K.  According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer.  Needless to say, I’m always in search of new ways to eat kale.  BTW, whenever possible buy organic kale as kale typically ranks very high on the EWG’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce listing (the higher the ranking, the more pesticides used)

 

Meet Eris Norman, a certified health coach who lost her mother at the young age of 58 to sarcoma.  Eris shared with me one of her very favorite kale salad recipes…  she says this preparation keeps all of the kale’s nutrients in tact.  The dressing is a hit, even with kids.  Raw garlic is nature’s antibiotic and is best eaten after it’s been chopped up and sitting for 10 minutes to release all its essential oils so we can most benefit.  Nutritional yeast is a vegan food which contains Vitamin B12, high protein, high fiber, folic acid and is gluten-free.  It has a cheesy flavor and is great in recipes or sprinkled on top of food.  As Mikey from the old Life cereal ads used to say “try it, you’ll like it!

 

Cheesy Goldfish Kale Salad

By Linda Petursdottir of www.simplewellbeing.com

Ingredients:

1-2 bunches organic curly kale, stem removed and leaves rinsed and chopped

Optional additions: cut up apple, sliced onions, siced avocado, dried fruit and toasted seeds

Dressing:

1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Tamari
 sauce

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves garlic

1 cup Nutritional Yeast

1 cup organic extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients for the salad dressing except olive oil in a blender and then gradually pour the olive oil in while blending.

2. Pour a desired amount over the rinsed and dried kale. With your clean hands or salad utensils, rub and mix the dressing into the kale.  The lemon juice and salt from the Tamari will begin to break down the cellular wall of the kale which provides greater nutrient absorption. 

3. The dressing keeps in fridge for 3-5 days. Be sure to take it out of the fridge a few minutes before using it as the oil gets coagulated.

D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and oh so very nutritious!  Enjoy!!!

 

(Sources:  WebMD, Environmental Working Group)

 

 

The 4 Stages of Mesothelioma & Their Treatment Options

doctors Meet GUEST BLOGGER Michelle Whitmer.  Michelle has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.

Accurately diagnosing a mesothelioma patient’s stage of cancer development is essential to getting appropriate treatment. The stages of mesothelioma are determined by the degree of tumor growth and spread. Stage I represents minimal tumor growth and stage IV indicates extensive tumor growth and spread.

Diagnosing the correct mesothelioma stage is challenging, but crucial to providing effective treatment recommendations. Unless your first opinion came from a mesothelioma expert, most people diagnosed with mesothelioma should seek a second opinion from one of the nation’s specialists. Because the cancer is relatively rare, few oncologists have experience diagnosing and treating mesothelioma. Seeking the opinion of a mesothelioma specialist could lead to better treatment.

For example, pleural mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker pioneered one of the most effective surgeries for the cancer, the extrapleural pneumonectomy. Patients with early-stage mesothelioma often qualify for his aggressive treatment approach that may significantly extend survival.

The same goes for people with peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Specialist Dr. Paul Sugarbaker pioneered the most effective treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma, which is cytoreductive surgery with heated chemotherapy that is circulated throughout the abdominal cavity rather than systemically throughout the whole body. The treatment approach significantly improved survival rates for the cancer.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a challenging cancer to diagnose. There’s no officially adopted standard protocol for diagnosing mesothelioma, so patients will have different experiences. However, certain diagnostic tools are universally used to reach a mesothelioma diagnosis, such as imaging scans and biopsies.

In many cases, the first imaging scan patients receive is an X-ray, which is followed with more scans if anything unusual is seen in the X-ray. More detailed imaging scans like CT, PET and MRI come next. These scans help provide a clearer indication of how far the cancer may have spread.

To confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis, a biopsy is necessary. A thoracoscopy is a common biopsy for pleural mesothelioma that involves the use of a camera-tipped tube to collect a tumor sample. A mediastinoscopy might also be used to determine if the cancer has spread to the mediastinal lymph nodes, which are located between the lungs in the center of the chest. Spread to the lymph nodes is an indication of stage III cancer.

Treatment for Mesothelioma by Stage

Treatment recommendations are made based upon a patient’s stage. Early-stage tumors respond best to surgery, while stage IV mesothelioma has spread too far for surgery to be effective. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used at any stage, except when a person’s general health is too poor to withstand the side effects.

Most people with mesothelioma receive multimodal therapy, which is the combination of two or more cancer treatments. The most effective combination for mesothelioma to date is surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This approach is most effective for stage I patients, but stage II and III patients often qualify for the aggressive approach with life-extending results. Stage IV patients may receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to relieve symptoms and extend survival.

Stage I Treatment

Because tumor growth is minimal at stage I, surgery is highly recommended to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. There are two surgeries patients may qualify for, a pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) and an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). An EPP removes one lung while a P/D keeps the lung intact and only removes the lining of the lung.

Chemotherapy with the drugs cisplatin and Alimta is commonly administered after surgery in stage I patients. Radiation therapy is used after surgery to prevent local recurrence, though some centers are having improved success administering radiation prior to surgery to shrink tumors.

Stage II Treatment

Stage II surgery for pleural mesothelioma is usually an EPP. A P/D surgery wouldn’t be as effective since the cancer has spread to the lung in stage II. Following recovery from surgery, chemotherapy is recommended to kill remaining cancer cells the surgery couldn’t remove. Radiation therapy is then used to prevent recurrence, especially along surgery incisions (which is a common place for the cancer to recur).

Stage III Treatment

Certain patients in good health with stage III mesothelioma can qualify for an EPP. The surgery is extensive, so the person must be in adequate physical health to undergo the surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are given to destroy lingering cancer cells. If the cancer returns, second-line chemotherapy with other drugs, such as gemcitabine and vinorelbine, are recommended.

Stage IV Treatment

Stage IV tumors have grown too much and have spread too far for an EPP surgery to remove all the cancer. However, less aggressive surgeries might be recommended to otherwise healthy patients to reduce tumor size, which can help to relieve pain and improve breathing.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used to shrink tumors, which can help to relieve pain and improve breathing as well. They might also help to prolong life expectancy by several months.

Other therapies are given to alleviate symptoms, such as medication for pain, pulmonary rehabilitation to improve breathing and occupational therapy to reduce discomfort.

Because the cancer rarely causes symptoms in the early stages, the majority of mesothelioma patients are diagnosed in stage III or IV. Aggressive treatment is most effective at early stages, which stresses the importance of annual physical checkups for anyone who may have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

Sources:

Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. 

Malignant mesothelioma: Review.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma: Update on treatment options with a focus on novel therapies. 

 

Personalizing YOUR Cancer Treatment (part 4): Do you know your cancer biomarkers?

Personalized-Medicine

In the near future, instead of saying, “I have breast cancer,” a patient will say something like , “I have a HER2-positive carcinoma with a KRAS mutation.”  Cancer will be defined by it’s own unique molecular profile and biomarkers rather than the body part where it originated.

To learn more about the dozens of biomarkers already being used to guide cancer treatment, check out the table below. Please note: there are thousands of known biomarkers without currently known effectiveness or relevance to cancer care. This table only represents the biomarkers that are currently known to be significant in informing cancer care today.*

Biomarker About Cancers that may benefit from testing Treatments associated with response or lack of response/resistance*
ALK anaplastic lymphoma kinase, an enzyme that can form a oncogenic fusion gene with EML4 lung (non-small cell), lymphoma (anaplastic large-cell), nervous system (familial neuroblastoma) crizotinib (Xalkori®), pemetrexed (Alimta®)
AR androgen receptor, part of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily, active in cell signaling and therefore cell multiplication and growth prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, lung (non-small cell) bicalutamide (Casodex®), flutamide (Eulexin®), goserelin (Zoladex®), leuprolide (Lupron®), abarelix (Plenaxis®), gonadorelin (Factrel®)
BRAF also know as v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1, a proto-oncogene in the RAF/MIL family of molecules active in MAP/ERK cell signaling, promotes cell multiplication and growth colon, skin (melanoma), lung (adenocarcinoma), thyroid (papillary thyroid carcinoma), nervous system (pleomorphic xanthoastrocytomas with and without anaplasia) cetuximab (Erbitux®), panitumumab (Vectibix®), vemurafenib (Zelboraf®)
BRCA1 a so-called “breast cancer gene”, its expression in many cancers can indicate potential response to certain types of therapies lung, ovarian cisplatin (Platinol®)
c-Kit cytokine receptor also know as CD117, a proto-oncogene that interacts with cell growth factors, plays a roll in cell survival, multiplication and differentiation GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor), skin (melanoma), blood (acute myelogenous leukemia) imatinib (Gleevec®), sorafenib (Nexavar®), sunitinib (Sutent®)
c-MET also known as MET (mesenchymal epithelial transition factor) or HGFR (hepatocyte growth factor receptor), a proto-oncogene active in cell signaling, promotes cancer cell growth and multiplication lung (non-small cell), ovarian erlotinib (Tarceva®), gefitinib (Iressa®)
COX-2 cyclooxygenase-2, also known as protaglandin-endoperoxide synthase-2 (PTGS2), an enzyme important to creation of prostaglandins, which are messenger molecules that play a role in many cancers lung (non-small cell) celecoxib (Celebrex®)
EGFR epidermal growth factor receptor, also known as ErbB-1 or HER1, a receptor tyrosine kinase active in cell signaling, promotes cell growth and multiplication lung (non-small cell) cetuximab (Erbitux®), erlotinib (Tarceva®), gefitinib (Iressa®), panitumumab (Vectibix®)
EGFR secondary mutation (T790 M) a mutation of the EGFR gene associated with acquired resistance to certain treatments lung (non-small cell), colorectal, head and neck resistance to erlotinib (Tarceva®), gefitinib (Iressa®)
ER estrogen receptor, part of the nuclear hormone family of intracellular receptors, active in cell multiplication breast, ovarian, female genital tract cancer anastrazole (Arimidex®), exemestane (Aromasin®), letrozole (Femara®), tamoxifen (Nolvadex®), megestrol acetate (Megace®, Megace® ES), fulvestrant (Faslodex®), toremifene (Fareston®), medroxyprogesterone, (Provera®, Amen®, Curretab®, Cycrin®), goserelin (Zoladex®), leuprolide (Eligard®, Lupron®, Viadur®)
ERCC1 excision repair cross-complementation group 1, an enzyme active in DNA repair and therefore a sign of resistance to treatments that work by disrupting tumor DNA lung (non-small cell and small cell), gastric, ovarian, colorectal, bladder resistance to cisplatin (Platinol®), carboplatin (Paraplatin®), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®)
HER2 human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, also known as HER2/neu or ErbB-2, a receptor tyrosine kinase active in cell signaling, promotes cell growth and multiplication breast, gastroesophageal, gastric, ovarian, colorectal lapatinib (Tykerb®), trastuzumab (Herceptin®), doxorubicin (Adriamycin®, Rubex®), liposomal doxorubicin (Caelyx®, Myocet®), epirubicin (Ellence®)
KRAS proto-oncogene of the Kirsten murine sarcoma virus, active in cell signaling in the EGFR pathway, promotes cell growth and multiplication lung (non-small cell), colon, pancreatic cetuximab (Erbitux®), erlotinib (Tarceva®), gefitinib (Iressa®), panitumumab (Vectibix®)
MGMT O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase is a gene that encodes a DNA repair enzyme, loss of MGMT may play a role in cancer formation, MGMT can also interfere with treatments that work by disrupting tumor DNA breast, lung (non-small cell), esophageal, brain (glioblastoma multiforme, oligodendrogliomas), skin (melanoma), pituitary gland (carcinoma) lack of response to temozolomide (Temodar®)
MRP1 multidrug resistance-associated protein 1, an ATP-dependent transmembrane drug efflux pump associated with resistance to many drugs breast, lymphoma, head and neck lack of response to anthracyclines such as doxorubicin (Adrimycin®), vinca alkaloids, and methotrexate (Trexall®)
PGP p-glycoprotein, also known as P-gp, an ATP-dependent transmembrane drug efflux pump associated with acquired resistance to many drugs breast, ovarian, lymphoma, head and neck lack of response to anthracylines such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), epirubicin (Ellence®) and liposomal-doxorubicin (Doxil®), and other drugs such as paclitaxel (Taxol®), docetaxel (Taxotere®), vinblastine (Velban®), vincristine (Oncovin®), vinorelbine (Navelbine®)
PIK3CA a specific mutation within the PI3 (phosphoinositide 3) kinase pathway or a gene copy number variation, aberrations along the PI3K pathway are associated with many cancers colorectal, brain (glioblastoma), gastric, breast, lung, ovarian lapatinib (Tykerb®); resistance to cetuximab (Erbitux®), panitumumab (Vectibix); decreased response to trastuzumab (Herceptin®)
PR progesterone receptor, also called PGR, part of the nuclear hormone family of intracellular receptors, active in cell multiplication breast, ovarian, female genital tract cancer letrozole (Femara®), tamoxifen (Nolvadex®), fulvestrant (Faslodex®), toremifene (Fareston®), exemestane (Aromasin®), anastrozole (Arimidex®), goserelin (Zoladex®), gonadorelin (Factrel®), leuprolide (Eligard®, Lupron®, Viadur®), medroxyprogesterone (Provera®, Amen®, Curretab®, Cycrin®), megestrol acetate (Megace®, Megace® ES)
PTEN phosphatase and tensin homolog, a tumor suppressor active in EGFR, HER2 and AKT cell signaling pathways breast, colon, lung (non-small cell), brain (glioblastoma), head and neck low expression associated with lack of response to cetuximab (Erbitux®), gefitinib (Iressa®), trastuzumab (Herceptin®), panitumumab (Vectibix®), erlotinib (Tarceva®)
RRM1 ribonucleotide reductase subunit M1, an enzyme required for DNA synthesis from RNA and therefore can interfere with treatments that work by disrupting RNA activity lung (non-small cell), pancreatic high expression associated with lack of response to gemcitabine (Gemzar®), hydroxyurea (Hydrea®, Droxia®)
SPARC secreted protein acidic rich in cysteine, a protein active in tumor growth and spreading skin (melanoma), breast, gastric, pancreatic, head and neck albumin-bound paclitaxel/nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane®)
TLE3 a member of the transducin-like enhancer of split family of proteins, implicated in creation of tumors breast, ovarian taxane therapy such as paclitaxel (Taxol®), docetaxel (Taxotere ®)
TOPO2A topoisomerase IIA, an enzyme active in DNA synthesis and repair breast, colon, ovarian, lung (small cell) doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), epirubicin (Ellence®, Pharmorubucin®), liposomal doxorubicin (Caelyx®, Myocet®)
TS thymidylate synthetase, an enzyme active in DNA synthesis and repair, can be inhibited by certain compounds breast, colon, gastric, head and neck, liver, pancreatic, lung (non-small cell) lack of response to 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil®), cytarabine (Cytosar-U®), pemetrexed (Alimta®)
TUBB3 Class III -tubulin, protein found in microtubules which are important cell structures ovarian, lung (non-small cell) taxanes such as paclitaxel (Taxol®), docetaxel (Taxotere ®), vinca alkaloids such as vinorelbine (Navelbine®)

* Biomarker status (overexpressed, underexpressed, positive or negative for specific mutations, etc.) determines whether that biomarker is associated with response, lack of response or resistance to each treatment. Treatment associations are from published, peer-reviewed medical literature. Citations available upon request. Only your doctor can decide which treatments are appropriate for you.

**Got questions about YOUR biomarkers, e-mail PatientNavigator@carisls.com.  A Patient Navigator who is well versed in molecular profiling and biomarkers will answer your questions.  (this is a FREE service provided by Caris Life Sciences.) 

*** Source:  MyCancer.com (an educational resource sponsored by Caris Life Sciences®) is a fantastic website for cancer patients and their caregivers that provides information about personalizing your cancer treatment using molecular profiling and cancer biomarkers.

If You’ve Been Touched By Breast Cancer & Are Planning A Wedding, Read On…

Image credit:  123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: 123RF Stock Photo

 

It’s that time of year again when The Wedding Pink presents one couple whose lives have been recently touched by breast cancer with a FREE dream wedding, valued between $30,000- $40,000.  OMG! So amazing!!

 

Founder Cheryl Ungar is a 23-year breast cancer survivor and a wedding photographer.  She has put together an extraordinary team of some of Colorado’s top wedding vendors — all of whom have generously agreed to donate their services and products to ensure The Wedding Pink is a spectacular event for one very special couple.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  If your life has been recently touched by breast cancer (fyi, the experience is not limited to the bride, but could be with the bride or groom’s extended family member) AND are engaged or soon-to-be-engaged, you could be the lucky winner of this fairy tale wedding.

 

This year’s Wedding Pink will will take place May 15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  Applications are open to ANY legal resident of the US regardless of what state they live in.  Submissions will be open from August 1 – August 10.  The winning couple will be selected in early September 2014.  There are no income qualifications.  Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.  To learn more about the submission criteria, click HERE.

Wishing you all a lifetime of health, love & happiness together….

Personalizing YOUR Cancer Treatment: Questions to Ask Your Oncologist (part 3):

Molecular profiling to identify cancer biomarkers has the potential to identify new treatment options for your cancer. As with any treatment selection, you and your Oncologist need to work together to determine what will work best for your particular situation.  Below are questions you can ask your Oncologist to begin the conversation on personalizing your cancer treatment:  

MyCancer.com – Questions to Ask Your Doctor

What Does It Mean to Personalize Your Cancer Treatment? (part 2)

 

FACT:  Over the past 40+ years, oncologists have taken a “one size fits all” approach to treating cancer.  The only efforts at personalization have been to tailor specific chemotherapies to the original location of the cancer. 

 

FACT:  We know that two people with the same cancer diagnosis often times respond differently to the exact same treatments.  Researchers have found that the genetic differences in people and their tumors explain many of these different responses to treatment.

 

FACT:  Because each person’s cancer is unique, finding the right treatment can be difficult.

 

FACT:  You may have heard the terms “targeted therapy”, “personalized therapy” or “precision therapy”.  These are simply different terms for individualizing cancer treatments.  Regardless of what you call it, personalizing your cancer treatment will require some form of advanced genetic and molecular tumor analysis (called molecular profiling). 

 

FACT:  Molecular profiling searches for unique genes, proteins and molecules (called cancer biomarkers) that provide information about how your particular cancer functions.  This information can help identify potential treatments to guide doctors on which medications are likely to work best for a specific person’s cancer. 

 

To learn more about molecular profiling, cancer biomarkers and personalized treatment, check out these 2 fantastic sites:

MyCancer.Com

Is My Cancer Different?  

 

To speak with a Patient Navigator about molecular profiling, please e-mail PatientNavigator@carisls.com.  This is a FREE service provided by Caris Life Sciences.  

 

 

Personalizing Your Cancer Treatment (part 1)

Personalized-Medicine

 

I’ll never forget the heartbreaking moment when we heard Alan’s cancer was not cureable. In fact, my heart just skipped a few beats as I recall that day. One of my very favorite doctors (Dr. David Sidransky of Champions Oncology) told us not to give up hope. He explained that the oncology community was making great strides in turning cancer into a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. He said, New medical advancements that personalize cancer treatments are exploding.  The key is to be alive when the next breakthrough is discovered. So let’s figure out how to extend Alan’s life so that he has a shot of being here when that breakthrough happens.”

 

Fast forward to today-4 ½ years later- much progress has been made in personalizing cancer treatments.  Although still not considered mainstream, personalized medicine is absolutely changing how cancer drugs are developed and prescribed and how many cancer patients are treated.  Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of posts about breakthroughs and medical advancements that help doctors personalize cancer treatments such as molecular profiling, biomarker testing, immunotherapy, tumorgrafts and more.  If you read a post that resonates with you, share it with your doctor as you can help guide decision making when it comes to your own healthcare.  You are your own best advocate!