Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 11:17 am | Fair 57º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Catching Up With Cancer

This was one of those phone calls I dreaded. Cancer digging its dreadful claws into another of my loved ones.  Wife and mother of twin girls, Eve returned from the Democratic Convention in Iowa with a diagnosis of colon cancer. She and her immense network of family and friends at first were devastated by the news and then sprung into action, determined to fight a heroic battle.

For more than three years I’ve kept my readers updated on the latest research in cancer with information supplied by the National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus.

According to an upcoming article, “Cancer Cells May Be Able to Urge Own Death,” a study was published online at the end of last year that reported that “many cancer cells are equipped with a kind of suicide pill.”  A protein found on their surfaces gives them the ability to send an “eat me” signal to immune cells to destroy them.

A new Dutch study found that patients with rectal cancer who received short-term radiation prior to surgery were roughly 50 percent less likely to experience a return of their cancer.

Use sunscreen daily or run the risk of developing melanomas, warned researchers in Australia. “Sunscreen also seemed to protect from invasive melanomas, which are harder to cure than superficial melanomas because they have already spread to deeper layers of the skin.”

Those taking a type of bisphosponate called zoledronic acid improved their survival rates for multiple myeloma when combined with either intensive or non-intensive chemotherapy. A side benefit was that bone fracture and bone pain were also reduced.

The drug tamoxifen greatly lowered the risk of recurrence of localized breast cancer and decreased the risk of new cancer in the other breast by more than 65 percent. Radiation following surgery reduced the risk even more for invasive cancer in the same breast.

We’ve heard the value of taking a low dose aspirin to combat coronary artery disease. Dr. Peter Rothwell, a professor of neurology at the University of Oxford, reported that 75-milligrams of aspirin also acts as a preventative in high risk patients with for colon cancer and also reduces risk of dying from this colon cancer by 35 percent. The downside to this treatment is the possibility of gastrointestinal bleeding. Sleep is a common complaint for boomers and seniors who suffer insomnia-like symptoms. A recent study suggests that lack of sleep could be one factor in colon cancer. However, more study needs to be carried out on the sleep hormone melatonin and its value in protecting against cancer tumors.

Many American men with terminal prostate cancer are not maximizing the quality of the remainder of their lives because they delay signing up for hospice care.

If you or someone you know has cancer and dreads the possibility of losing hair, help is on the way. Penguin Cold Cap creator Frank Fronda has developed a procedure that prevents hair loss in some kinds of cancer. The process involves frequent changes of freezing head wraps during chemotherapy treatments.

A screening called virtual colonoscopy is a less invasive means to identify colorectal cancer. Dr. Ganesh R. Veerappan at the American College of Radiology suggests that this method of screening “should be considered as an alternative to optical colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening or as a onetime procedure to identify significant treatable intracolonic and extracolonic lesions.”

Imagine a simple breath test to detect lung, breast, bowel and prostate cancers. Israeli researchers are developing an “electronic nose” so that all cancers can be treated before their reach the late stages of cancer.

Eve has had several bouts of chemotherapy for her Stage 4 colon cancer. Multiple surgeries have removed infected organs. She is using all of her contacts, intellect and spiritual pleadings to beat the disease. She is surrounded by family and friends delivering dinners, transporting, applying the Penguin Cold Caps and running errands for her. And there are hundreds if not thousands praying for her. The clock is ticking fast as we are all awaiting some treatment or cure that will keep Eve with us a long time.

If you want to learn what’s on the horizon for cancer screening, treatments and cures, follow me on my blog where I periodically cover the latest in clinical trials.

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