By Megan Silianoff
As a blogger and cancer survivor, I'm knowledgeable about various topics. My favorite television shows, for example, are an area of my expertise. I'm also very good at shopping and can navigate my favorite mall with poise and purpose.
And, when I got my latest mammogram earlier this month, I was reminded that I'm also an expert at getting this important screening exam.
So, first, I'll tell you this: While mammograms can be life-saving, they aren't fun. But learning about them "David Letterman" style could be. (Which is telling of my expertise in watching talk shows.)
10. Plan to wait in a separate waiting room.
I've had mammograms in a number of different hospitals, and they all have separate waiting rooms for people getting mammograms.
Immediately upon checking in for your appointment, they'll call you back, and you'll think, "I'm going to be in and out of here," but that's not necessarily the case. You're actually just getting called to sit in a different waiting room. This is important to know if someone plans to go with you because you won't see them throughout the entire process.
Recently in Screening Category
By Megan Silianoff
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. That means it's a great time to think about scheduling a colonoscopy if needed.
Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is the third most common type of cancer in the United States, not counting skin cancers. But many early stage colon cancers can be prevented through a colonoscopy.
According to Gottumukkala S. Raju, M.D., professor in the Department of Gastroenterology, cancer begins as benign polyps within the colon and develops into cancer over years when left untreated, mainly because they are undetected without a colonoscopy.
Khyrstin Andrews -- better known as Kyssi -- has never met a stranger.
Whether she's waiting for an appointment or receiving treatment, this outgoing four-year-old is full of smiles and personality. Kyssi comforts and befriends everyone she meets, so much that some might call her a hometown celebrity. In fact, it's not unusual for one of her more than 30,000 Facebook followers -- most of them total strangers -- to recognize her around MD Anderson and go up to speak with her.
Kyssi, usually dressed in head-to-toe pink Hello Kitty, sunglasses on top of her head, loves posing for pictures. "She doesn't like to cover up her bald head," says her mother Marla. "Instead, she wears it proud."
"Her big bright smile is now her best accessory."
Kyssi's Wilms' Tumor diagnosis
But as her mom also will tell you, "Kyssi's journey hasn't always been joyful."
Kyssi was diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor, a rare kidney cancer that affects children, on May 1, 2012 -- her father's birthday. She'd had no symptoms until she began urinating blood.
Whether you're celebrating Hannukah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, no holiday celebration is complete without dessert.
Sure, holiday treats are usually loaded with fat, sugar and calories galore. But they don't have to be.
Add a dash of health to your holiday treats by whipping up these dessert recipes from our new online cookbook.
Whole wheat snickerdoodles
We've trimmed fat and sugar from this popular cinnamon cookie without sacrificing flavor. Even better, our recipe replaces the usual white flour with whole wheat flour -- a good source of cancer-fighting dietary fiber.
Looking for a quick, elegant treat? With just six ingredients, these date truffles fit the bill.
And, here's some more good news: the dates are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Plus, the almonds and walnuts in this recipe deliver omega-3 fatty acids, cancer-fighting vitamin E, magnesium and fiber.
Marta Davila, M.D., continues to see the benefits of colorectal cancer screening.
A physician in MD Anderson's Endoscopy Center, Davila recently treated a presumably healthy 52-year-old man who responded to his wife's encouragement to get a colonoscopy.
"The patient kept postponing his colonoscopy appointment because he felt well. He was diagnosed with early stage colon cancer, underwent surgery and is now cured," says Davila, professor in the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. "He was one of the lucky ones."
According to Davila, preventive colorectal cancer screening is particularly important, especially since patients rarely experience symptoms until the cancer is at an advanced stage.
"The reality is we need to encourage our patients to get a screening test. It's the right thing to do," she says.
Research shows screening saves lives
A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine underscored the effectiveness of colonoscopy and colon polyp removal in saving lives. Researchers learned the death rate from colorectal cancer was cut by 53% in patients whose doctors had removed precancerous polyps.
Kimberly Tripp was 12 years old when her grandmother died of gastrointestinal cancer. The loss of the person she most admired led her to a career in health care and, eventually, to MD Anderson.
"My first position here was as a post-op surgical nurse on the GI floor," says Tripp, currently administrative director of Acute Care Services. "I ended up taking care of these very same patients."
She eventually became a research nurse in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, where she worked with colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients. About the same time (in 2002), Cathy Eng, M.D., associate professor, joined GI Medical Oncology, and Tripp began working on a number of her colorectal cancer trials.
A stroll through a "colon"
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer death. However, colorectal cancer, relative to other malignancies, is a preventable cancer.
By Katrina Burton, MD Anderson Staff Writer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, with more than 157,000 deaths reported last year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoke. The longer a person is exposed to the smoke the greater the risk for developing the disease.
"On average, lung cancer is typically diagnosed in the later stages of the disease when it is extremely difficult to treat," says Reginald Munden, M.D., a professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and MD Anderson's principal investigator on the clinical trial. In the NLST, the low-dose spiral CT scan identified more tumors at early stages, when they are more easily treated.
Gottumukkala S. Raju, M.D., professor in the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at MD Anderson, set aside time to address some misconceptions and answer questions about colonoscopy screening. He reviewed a number of questions from MD Anderson's Facebook fans and recorded six video responses.
Lynda Ebanks Harrison said, "I know intellectually the why of how important this is, but how do you help the patient not have the "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than let someone do that to me" kind of fear? And what about the new non-invasive procedure that was recently announced -- is that widely available and comparably priced?"
Anticipation. You've been there at some point in your life. As an expectant mother, I worried about labor pains.
The day before my second marathon, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" when I heard weather reports about possible thunderstorms.
So here I am the day before my first colonoscopy. Friends and colleagues readily offer their chagrin about the disgusting flavor of the solution offered in the bowel preparation, the necessary step preceding the procedure.
As an employee in the Communications office at MD Anderson, I spend the majority of my time reading and learning about others' experiences with cancer.
Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, I have been tirelessly researching colon cancer facts and prevention methods.
Last night as I was having dinner with my family I learned my grandmother had colon cancer and her son, my father who is over 50 (sorry dad), has never had a colonoscopy.
"How could you not do this?" I asked, completely shocked and outraged at this information. "How could someone with a history of this devastating disease not get routine checkups?" My mother admitted that she has bugged him on many occasions to get it done. But he, like many people, never visits a doctor unless his arm is falling off.
If you suspect that cancer "runs in your family," you may be curious about -- or even considering -- genetic testing.
This testing, which involves having a blood sample taken, can reveal DNA mutations that have been identified as causing certain types of cancer.
For some, the tests provide crucial knowledge. Those who test positive for a known cancer-causing mutation can address the risks head on with increased vigilance and screenings.
But testing is not for everyone, says Banu Arun, M.D., professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and co-director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at MD Anderson.
"Most cancers are not hereditary," she says. "For example, only about 10% of breast cancers are inherited. The rest are "sporadic" -- that is, they occur because of a confluence of factors."
That's why Arun suggests that before deciding to be tested, you consult a genetic counselor.
Counselors help assess the chances that a person will develop a disease such as cancer. Often, the first step in the process is making a family tree, then looking for such "red flags" as having had many relatives who:
- contracted cancer before age 50
- contracted more than one primary cancer, or
- had the same or a related cancer (for example, breast and ovarian).
She recommends that women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer and suspect it's hereditary get tested before beginning treatment.
"The results might indicate the risk of contralateral breast cancer (second new primary in the opposite breast) and help with surgical decision making, for example, considering bilateral mastectomy," she says.
"Also, new targeted drugs are in development that specifically target hereditary (BRCA-related) breast cancer, and patients might be eligible for these studies."
Read more about genetic testing in the Winter issue of Network.
Connect on social media
- Your first mammogram: 10 things to expect
- Know your colon cancer risks: Get screened
- Little miss sunshine: How Kyssi kicked cancer's butt
- 5 healthier holiday dessert recipes
- Panel Introduces Final Recommendation on PSA Screening Guidelines
- Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives
- Colorectal Cancer 5K Drives Home Importance of Education and Screening
- New Screening Tool for Lung Cancer Brings Hope
- Colonoscopy Questions Answered
- Diary of a Colon Screening Prep
- Cancer Prevention (108)
- Cancer Research (138)
- Education (71)
- Patient Care (300)
- Global Navigation
- About Us
- How You Can Help
- Children's Art Project
- Contact Us
- Patient and Cancer Information
- Cancer Information
- Patient Information
- Care Centers & Clinics
- Children’s Cancer Hospital
- Services & Amenities
- Clinical Trials
- News and Publications
- Education and Research
- Departments, Programs & Labs
- Research at MD Anderson
- Education & Training
- Resources for Professionals
- For Employees
- Employee Resources
- Doing Business
- Vendors & Suppliers
- Partners & Affiliates
- State of Texas
- State of Texas Home Page
- Statewide Search (TRAIL)
- State Comptroller - Where the Money Goes
- Texas Homeland Security
- The University of Texas System
- Institution Resume
- Legal and Policy
- Legal Statements & Site Policies
- Stay Connected
- Emergency Alerts
- Emergency Alert Information