National Cancer Survivor’s Day

 

 

Observed annually on the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day has been set aside to “demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality.”

Each year on National Cancer Survivor’s Day, events and celebrations are held and hosted around the United States by local communities, hospitals and support groups honoring cancer survivors.  Events may include parades, carnivals, art exhibits, contests and testimonies. President George W. Bush and the National Cancer Institute director each included a commencement at the 2008 celebration.

 

So today is my day and my mom’s day and countless other people’s day.  I’m a kidney cancer survivor – 12 years now!

My mom survived colon cancer TWICE

My sister-in-law survived breast cancer TWICE

My DH survived melanoma and is working hard at surviving prostate cancer.

It hasn’t been all good though.  There have been many more in my extended family who did not survive, including my dad and my aunt. 

 

Congratulations to the survivors on this special “Who Knew” holiday, National Cancer Survivor’s Day

 

 

Unlucky Women! Belly fat tied to lower kidney cancer survival odds in women

Thanks to Cushing’s, I have (and had!) a lot of this.

Belly fat reduces a woman’s chances for surviving kidney cancer, but not a man’s, a new study suggests.

The study included 77 women and 145 men with kidney cancer. Half of the women with high amounts of belly fat died within 3.5 years of diagnosis. Meanwhile, more than half of women with low amounts of belly fat were still alive after 10 years.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found no link between belly fat and men’s kidney cancer survival.

The findings suggest kidney cancer develops and progresses differently in men and women, the study authors said.

“We’re just beginning to study sex as an important variable in cancer,” study senior author Dr. Joseph Ippolito said in a university news release. Ippolito is an instructor in radiology.

“Men and women have very different metabolisms. A tumor growing in a man’s body is in a different environment than one growing inside a woman, so it’s not surprising that the cancers behave differently between the sexes,” he explained.

Excess weight is a major risk factor for kidney cancer, but does not necessarily affect a patient’s chance of survival. This study suggests, however, that the distribution of body fat affects women’s survival odds. But it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“We know there are differences in healthy male versus healthy female metabolism,” Ippolito said. “Not only in regard to how the fat is carried, but how their cells use glucose, fatty acids and other nutrients. So the fact that visceral [belly] fat matters for women but not men suggests that something else is going on besides just excess weight.”

This line of research could lead to better ways to treat women with kidney cancer, Ippolito added.

The report was published online recently in the journal Radiology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on kidney cancer.

From https://www.upi.com/Belly-fat-tied-to-lower-kidney-cancer-survival-odds-in-women/2511523328151/

New Clinical Trials for Kidney Cancer

Two new clinical trials for kidney cancer are available at Lehigh Valley Health Network through its partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, giving patients options for experimental treatment and participation in research that advances kidney cancer treatment.

The immunotherapy trials test combinations of drugs that cut off blood supply to tumor cells and help the immune system find and fight cancer cells.

A decade ago, late-stage kidney cancer patients had a small chance of living past a year after diagnosis, said Dr. Suresh Nair, medical director of LVHN Cancer Institute.

“The amount of progress that’s happened in the year is staggering,” he said. “Kidney cancer has probably progressed the most among all the cancer areas in the past year.”

On Thursday, about 30 patients made it to their second annual celebration of advancements in kidney cancer treatment. The event, which was sponsored by the Andy Derr Foundation for Kidney Cancer Research and hosted by LVHN and Memorial Sloan Kettering at Lehigh Country Club, also featured a talk by leading kidney cancer doctor and researcher Dr. Robert Motzer, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Kidney cancer research had a major breakthrough in 2006, when a Pfizer drug sunitinib won approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Motzer said. The drug cut off blood flow to tumors and prolonged life for late-stage kidney cancer patients.

Since then, survival rates continue to climb due to new generations of sunitinib, including one used by LVHN doctors called cabozantinib, and advancements in immunotherapy, which boosts the immune system to fight cancer.

But there’s a lot more progress to be made.

“That’s why efforts like your own are so important,” Motzer said at LVHN’s event. “That’s what gets the work done.”

Every year, more than 37,000 men and 21,000 women get kidney and renal pelvis cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 13,000 die.

LVHN offers six clinical trials for kidney cancers, including the two newest.

New treatments give patients such as Lackawanna County resident Arlene Townsend a second chance at life. She’s participating in an LVHN immunotherapy trial launched last year.

Before her diagnosis, Townsend, 38, was easily irritated and didn’t have any passion for her job or life.

“It use to be get up, go to work, come home, make dinner,” she said. “It was kind of just going through the motions.”

She had to develop a positive attitude to cope with the physical and emotional toll of her late-stage kidney cancer, which had spread to her bones, lung and the lymph nodes around the heart in 2016, she said. Since her diagnosis, she found a passion for refurbishing furniture, let go of her cynicism and found happiness in life’s small moments.

“If I’m driving — it sounds silly — I notice the clouds,” she said.

“You don’t realize how many great things you have in your life until you think you’re not going to have them anymore.”

The change was so apparent that her husband noticed.

“He thinks I’m much happier,” she said.


CLINICAL TRIALS

Lehigh Valley Health Network and Memorial Sloan Kettering have partnered to bring new cancer treatments to the Lehigh Valley.

What is a clinical trial: A study involving patients who volunteer to receive new medications or treatments under evaluation.

Who may participate: Criteria are unique to each trial but often are based on age, gender, health and medical history. They are designed for participants most like those who will eventually receive the new drugs.

Source: Lehigh Valley Health Network

More information: At lvhn.org, search “clinical trials.”

From http://www.mcall.com/business/healthcare/mc-nws-biz-clinical-trials-kidney-cancer-20180406-story.html

Doctor Offers Cutting-Edge Treatment

EUGENE, Ore. — The Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center offers a cutting-edge treatment to help patients with prostate cancer improve their quality of life.

When William Marshall was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 he said he was concerned about how traditional treatments could impact his life. He said he went to a support group and saw people wearing diapers and colonoscopy bags and worried he wouldn’t be able to do many of the things he enjoys like hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Then he saw a commercial about a new treatment the Cancer Center was offering.

The treatment is called SpaceOAR which is essentially a gel that is put between the prostate and rectum that separates the organs. Its designed for patients who use radiation to treat their prostate cancer. By separating the organs, the gel helps reduce the amount of radiation to organs surrounding the prostate. The gel is temporary and will only stay in the body for about three months before it dissolves.

Dr. Thomas Sroka, a radiation oncologist with the Cancer Center, said inserting the gel is a minimally invasive procedure that can reduce long-term side effects like chronic pain, irritation, diarrhea, and bleeding.

“Radiation treatments are already effective at curing prostate cancer, but this is really something now that is focused on just improving the patients quality of life during treatment and after treatment,” Sroka said.

Sroka said patients getting the treatment done are often able to avoid the negative side effects.

Marshall said the treatment changed his life and helped him manage his cancer.

“I’ve been able to do exactly what I have my whole life without any second thoughts about that cancer that I have that I now believe is gone,” Marshall said.

Marshall said now he wants to make sure other people dealing with similar circumstances know the treatment is an option.

Currently, Sroka is the only doctor in Oregon who can perform the procedure. However, he said Medicare has now recognized the treatment and he expects more doctors to become certified.

From http://www.kezi.com/content/news/Willamette-Valley-Cancer-Institute-and-Research-center-offers-innovative-treatment-for-prostate-cancer-patients-478918853.html

Issues of Aging

Once again, I’ve changed the focus of this blog.  This time to the issues and problems that come with aging.

In January 2018, I managed to do something painful to my thumb.  I finally couldn’t take it anymore and went to the ER on February 1.  They did x-rays and sent me away with a spica splint (I thought they were calling it a thumb spike), a diagnosis of deteriorating thumb joint plus tendonitis, and a referral to an orthopedic doctor.

Here it is the end of March and I still haven’t been able to get to that new doctor.  Maybe soon?


February 6, 2018 we were still living at the Residence Inn due to water damage at our home on November 6, 2017 (more on that in another blog, someday).  My mom and I were coming back from WalMart and she fell in the parking lot.  Luckily, DH was still in our apartment and he came right down.  He couldn’t get her to stand up, so I drove the car over to her.  Although she didn’t want to go, we took her to the emergency room.

They did lots of scans there.  The first determined that she’d broken her pelvis in 2 places.  Thankfully, they don’t do surgery for a broken pelvis.  They thought that they would send her to Mount Vernon Hospital for intensive rehab.

Her white blood count was high, so they assumed infection and started 2 IV meds for that.  Her blood pressure dropped very low several times, causing her to pass out.

A chest x-ray was clear, so no infection there.  Because of the passing out episodes, they sent her for a head scan in case there had been a stroke.  Nope.

About 1 am on the 7th, a hospitalist came in to admit her.  He asked if she had abdominal pain and she said yes.  So, he started palpating various areas and found a tender spot.  He called for an abdominal scan, which showed internal bleeding.  So, the WBC wasn’t from infection but massive blood loss.

They called an ambulance and sent her to Fairfax Hospital for emergency surgery to stop the bleeding.

At Fairfax, they did a new scan with contrast – missed that she was allergic to that – and found that the bleeding was stopping all by itself.  Then, they gave her Benadryl.

She stayed there for 3 nights because Medicare required 3 midnights before going to rehab.  <Sheesh!>

From there, she went to Manor Care for rehab.  She no longer qualified for Mount Vernon.

She was doing really well…until she started having internal bleeding.  Back to Fair Oaks.  Same room.  AARRGGHH!  She was admitted for a few days to stop the bleeding and turned out to have an ulcer.  Then, edema.

Finally, she came home and is doing really well with a walker.  The pelvis is supposed to heal itself in a couple months.


 

 

 

Mild Cortisol Increases Affect Cardiovascular Changes Linked to Heart Disease in Cushing’s

Increases in cortisol secretion, even if mild, induce early heart and blood vessel changes that may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to Italian researchers.

The findings continue to support the role of the hormone cortisol in heart disease, and demonstrate the need for carefully monitoring cardiovascular risk in patients with high levels of the hormone, including those with Cushing’s disease.

The study, “Cardiovascular features of possible autonomous cortisol secretion in patients with adrenal incidentalomas,” was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

While most patients with adrenal incidentalomas don’t have symptoms, nearly half have excess cortisol production. Adrenal incidentalomas are masses in the adrenal glands discovered only when a patient undergoes imaging tests for another unrelated condition.

These asymptomatic, mild cortisol-producing cases are defined as possible autonomous cortisol secretion (pACS), according to the European Society of Endocrinology Guidelines.

Excess production of the hormone, seen in Cushing’s disease patients, is associated with increased mortality, mainly due to heart diseases. Patients with asymptomatic adrenal adenomas and mild cortisol secretion also have more cardiovascular events and generally die sooner than those with normal cortisol levels.

But little is known about the causes behind cardiac and vessel damage in these patients.

To shed light on this matter, a research team at Sapienza University of Rome evaluated the cardiovascular status of patients with pACS. This allowed them to study the impact of cortisol in the heart and blood vessels without the interference of other hormone and metabolic imbalances seen in Cushing’s disease.

The ERGO trial (NCT02611258) included 71 patients. All had been diagnosed with adrenal incidentalomas, 34 of which were pACS with mildly increased levels of the hormone and 37 were defined as nonfunctioning adenoma (NFA) — adrenal masses with normal hormone levels.

The two groups were very similar, with no significant differences in metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. Adrenal lesions in the pACS group, however, were significantly bigger, which was linked to cortisol levels.

Looking at the heart morphology, researchers found that pACS patients had a significantly higher left ventricular mass index (LVMI), which is a well-established predictive measure of adverse cardiovascular events.

Further analysis revealed that LVMI scores were associated with levels of the hormone, suggesting it has an “independent effect of cortisol on cardiac function,” the researchers wrote.

Slightly more than half of pACS patients (53%) also had a thicker left ventricle, a feature that was seen only in 13.5% of NFA patients. The performance of the left ventricle during diastole (muscle relaxation) was also affected in 82.3% of pACS patients, compared to 35.1% in those with NFA.

Patients with pACS also had less flexible arteries, which may contribute to the development of vascular diseases.

The results show that “mild autonomous cortisol secretion can sustain early cardiac and vascular remodeling” in patients who appear apparently healthy, the researchers said.

“The morphological and functional cardiovascular changes observed in pACS underline the need for further studies to correctly define the long-term management of this relatively common condition,” they added.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/03/13/cushings-disease-increased-cortisol-affects-cardiovascular-changes-heart-disease/