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friends walking.jpgResearch shows that exercise is safe and beneficial for most cancer patients and survivors. In fact, in most cases, it is important to keep exercising during cancer treatment.

"Exercise has the potential to help reduce some of the fatigue experienced during and after treatment, especially if you're undergoing radiation therapy. And, it can help prevent weight gain commonly experienced during chemotherapy treatment," says Carol Harrison, senior exercise physiologist.

Exercise also has the potential to improve your psychological outlook and improve your quality of life. But you may need to make some adjustments before you exercise during cancer treatment.

"It depends on treatment, type of cancer and when you need to get back into what you were doing before," Harrison says.

Use this advice to help you get started.

victorhassid.jpgBy Victor Hassid, M.D.


Breast reconstruction and symmetry procedures following mastectomy are very personal decisions that breast cancer patients need to carefully consider.

Fortunately, patients have choices when it comes to breast reconstruction. There is no cookie-cutter approach, and patients need to discuss their options in depth with their physician.

Here are five of the most common breast reconstruction myths I hear.

Myth: Breast reconstruction must take place immediately after a mastectomy.
Some women aren't certain they want breast reconstruction and wait months or even years before having surgery. Patients still undergoing breast cancer treatment may want to wait until after they have completed radiation, as radiation can limit your options for reconstruction and affect the final result. However, other women want to have breast reconstruction when they have their mastectomy.

There is no right time to undergo breast reconstruction. The timing of your reconstruction should be up to you and your physician.

Rob.jpgBy Robert Matney

Once you've received a cancer diagnosis, you're faced with a series of sometimes urgent choices, including which type of cancer treatment you undergo. We make a personal and nuanced choice when we select treatment, and I believe that the best choices come from the best information about the best options.

After my melanoma diagnosis, I underwent surgeries to remove a wide area around the original site and 39 lymph nodes (sentinel node followed by those in the region). I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma and needed to quickly determine what treatment to keep the cancer at bay. After much research, deliberation and discussion with family and doctors, I chose a clinical trial.  

Selecting the right clinical trial
After consulting my doctors at MD Anderson -- Patrick Hwu, M.D., and Merrick Ross, M.D., -- I decided that a clinical trial would help further future treatment for myself and others, and would also be a sober, smart choice based on the relative risks and successes of the available treatments.

Rehab_Walker_008_master.jpgBy Lindsay Lewis

When Susanne Stanley started working at MD Anderson nearly two years ago, she never imagined the challenges associated with cancer recovery.

For many patients, recovering from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation -- or some combination of the three -- is a long and difficult process, says Stanley, an occupational therapist in Rehabilitation Services.

"Our job is to help patients function again, and find the strength and motivation to resume their lives."

Helping patients return to daily living
Stanley is one of more than 100 clinical professionals and support staff that make up Rehabilitation Services, which offers physical and occupational therapy to more than 10,000 inpatients and outpatients a year.

Linda Ryan and her sons65.jpgBy Linda Ryan

When I talk with others who have received a cancer diagnosis, they often want to know my secret: What did I do to survive cervical cancer and thyroid cancer? They are looking for a glimmer of hope. 

Give your body what it needs
People don't ask me what I specifically did to beat cancer. Rather, they ask about the chemotherapy drugs that were given to me -- Cisplatin and Alimta.

I often share that I was in the best shape of my life when I received my second cervical cancer diagnosis, as I had just run a marathon. I also tell them that I continued to exercise during my cervical cancer treatment. It was important to me to keep moving and let cancer know what I thought.   

amanda62.jpgBy Amanda Woodward

Let's be honest, chemotherapy sucks. But during my own melanoma treatment, which included surgery and chemotherapy, I found a few ways to make the whole experience a little less miserable.

Of course, every cancer, every patient and every treatment is different, so what worked for me may not work for everyone. I'm speaking in generalities. Here are my tips for making chemo a little less miserable.

Pack right: My hospital bag always included my computer, some music, a blanket, something to read, a change of clothes and lip balm (goodbye, dry lips!).  

distressed woman.jpgFatigue is a common side effect of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

We asked our Facebook community for advice for coping with cancer-related fatigue. Here's what our patients suggested.

Be as active as possible

  • Exercise. We know it can be tough when you're tired, but even walking from your door to the mailbox can help you feel better. If you're feeling up for it, try an activity like yoga.
  • Take naps. Your body is healing. It's OK to rest.

frank52.jpgBy Steven J. Frank, M.D.

As the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center marks its eighth year, we have a lot to celebrate. We've made phenomenal progress, and we're standing on the forefront of an extremely exciting time in cancer treatment.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Thanks to the advances in technology, research and science behind proton therapy, we are changing the way that people around the world fight cancer. As new breakthroughs are pioneered at MD Anderson, cancer patients everywhere stand to benefit from a new standard of cancer care.

Proton therapy, a form of external beam radiation that uses protons instead of photos (i.e., X-rays) to treat tumors, is developing by quantum leaps, as we continue to expand our understanding of the science and technology behind it. We're discovering cancer treatment methods that are more effective and less toxic than we could have imagined eight years ago.

iStock_000011519043Small.jpgBy Brian M. Bruel, M.D.

Some cancer patients believe that pain is simply a part of cancer treatment, but pain is usually very treatable.

About one-third of cancer patients experience pain as a cancer treatment side effect. The severity and duration of pain differs widely from one patient to the next, depending on disease type, course of treatment and many other factors.

The best way to treat pain is to find the combination of treatments appropriate for each person's condition. It may even be possible to treat your cancer-related pain without medications.

How to alleviate pain during cancer treatment
Below are several ways to alleviate cancer-related pain alongside the medical treatment your doctor may prescribe. As with any symptom or side effect, it's important to discuss your pain with your physician so he or she can identify the best treatments for you.

chemobrain22414.JPG

By Janet Tu, M.D.

You might forget an appointment, or where you last saw your car keys. Or you might struggle with remembering the name of an acquaintance you run into at the grocery store. Sometimes after chemotherapy, people experience side effects of cancer treatment including "foggy" moments or lapses in memory that can be frustrating, particularly since it can linger for a few months to long after chemotherapy is complete. Chemobrain can be challenging, but there are methods to help you cope.

Keep a calendar
Between work, family and social engagements, we all have a lot on our plates. Chemobrain can make keeping up with dates and appointments even more difficult. Spend time entering important dates in your calendar and check it regularly. Similarly, make lists of tasks you need to accomplish and cross them off when you've completed them.

erikaevans21314.jpgBy Erika Evans

You're getting ready to go to the hospital for your stem cell transplant. You've made your list, you've checked it twice. You're ready.

But there's nothing like the wisdom that comes from experience. I underwent an umbilical cord blood transplant as a part of my acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treatment. Here are five things I wish I would have known before checking in.

1. Bring walking shoes.
You've heard this thousands of times: You'll walk a lot with the nurses. This is no exaggeration.

Each time you complete a lap, you'll get some sort of paper recognition from a nurse.
Display these tokens on your door.

Many times when I felt too tired or sick to walk, I looked at my door and saw what I had already accomplished. This helped me feel better, either by reminding me of my strength or reassuring me that it was OK to take a day off. Plus, the signs on your door may help motivate other patients.

nurse with patient.jpgPreparing for chemotherapy may cause you anxiety, but talking to fellow cancer survivors can help. 

We asked our Facebook community for advice on preparing to start chemo during cancer treatment. Here's what our patients suggested:

Pack a bag.

  • Bring warm clothing layers in case you get cold. Pack jackets, sweatshirts, scarves and warm socks. At MD Anderson, we have blankets available for all patients and a bed or recliner available depending on what type of chemotherapy you'll receive.
  • Bring something to do. Patients recommend books, laptop computers or tablets. We provide television and Internet access for our patients. Many patients also suggest listening to music that makes you feel good.
  • Include healthy snacks or chewing gum.

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