Recently in Cancer Treatment Category

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Cancers of the nose and sinuses account for less than 1% of all tumors, but the nose and sinus give rise to a greater variety of tumors than any other site in the body. In fact, there are hundreds of types of tumors that can arise in the nose and sinuses. The most common are:

• squamous cell carcinoma
• adenoid cystic carcinoma
• adenocarcinoma
• esthesioneuroblastoma and sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC)

Other nose and sinus cancers include neuroendocrine carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, melanoma and all types of sarcomas.

To learn more about nose cancer and sinus cancer, we spoke with Shirley Su, M.D., assistant professor in Head and Neck Surgery. Here's what she had to say.

physical intimacy in cancer patientsBy Erika Ames

A cancer diagnosis can affect many aspects of your life. You may find that priorities shift, roles and relationships change, and unexpected challenges pop up. With all of these changes and challenges, you may even put your relationship with your significant other on the back burner and neglect emotional and physical intimacy. 

But intimacy is no less important for cancer patients. A close connection with your significant other can make it easier to face your diagnosis and endure the new challenges you're facing -- together. Here's what you should know if you're intimidated about addressing intimacy concerns. 

What are common concerns about sexual intimacy during cancer treatment?

Many people have concerns about intimacy and sexual functioning during and after cancer treatment. These include:

sexual intimacy in cancer patients

By Clayton Boldt

Sexual intimacy problems are one of the most common long-term side effects that cancer patients face. In a survey of MD Anderson cancer patients, almost half of men and women said they had new sexual intimacy problems after treatment. Common sexual intimacy problems include:

  • Erection problems in men
  • Vaginal dryness and pain in women
  • Loss of sexual desire

Below, Leslie Schover, Ph.D., professor in Behavioral Science and Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, answers common questions about sexual problems affecting cancer patients and how to address them.

Why do cancer patients often experience sexual side effects?

A major cause of these issues is physical damage or changes from cancer treatment. Radiation or surgery in the pelvic area can make sex painful or difficult, and may damage blood vessels or nerves critical for male performance.

In women, chemotherapy may cause premature menopause, and hormone therapies can be linked to pain during sex.

Debra Ruzensky on being a dietitian and caregiver

By Debra Ruzensky

As a registered dietitian at MD Anderson, I know that nausea and other side effects of cancer and treatment make eating difficult, if not impossible. Even though our doctors, nurses and mid-level providers do a great job of educating our patients and caregivers about these possibilities, it is hard to prepare for them.

I didn't realize just how hard it can be, though, until I became my husband's caregiver during his B-cell lymphoma treatment, which included chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Diet challenges after chemo
My husband Bob is a fighter and a very compliant patient. But the chemo leading up to his stem cell transplant caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mouth and throat sores. Together, they made it almost impossible for him to eat and drink enough for over a month. He lost about 25 pounds -- mostly muscle. 

room service for cancer patients

By Trevor Mitchell

Picking up the phone to order a nutritious, freshly prepared meal that's delivered by an attendant wearing a tuxedo might seem more common at a four-or five-star hotel than a cancer center. But it's a luxury our patients have enjoyed for more than 15 years.

The days of traditional hospital food on pre-prepared trays brought to all patient rooms at the same time are long gone, says Mohammad Tekrouri, associate director of Room Service. Room Service programs like ours that provide efficient, high quality, cooked-to-order culinary options have become essential to ensuring a better patient experience.

"Patients prefer to be in control of their dining experience because there are times when they're resting, the medical staff is in the room, or they simply don't feel like eating," Tekrouri says. "Our service offers them the flexibility to order food when they feel like it at multiple times throughout the day."

A personalized touch
When cancer patients are admitted, they receive a brief orientation from our room service staff. They're given menus and told how to place their orders. Room Service is included in each patient's stay and is available 365 days a year, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Family members also can order meals for a fee.

"Patients and family members eating together can encourage the patient to eat and offers convenience for those who can't leave their loved one even for a minute," Tekrouri says.

working and parenting through chemo

Rashe Bowie hadn't been working at her current company very long when she and her colleagues played Two Truths and a Lie during an offsite meeting. When it was her turn, she shared her son's name, that she'd been in pageants growing up and that she was undergoing chemotherapy.

The lie, they guessed, was the chemo part. But the lie was her son's name.

"I'm undergoing chemo for breast cancer, and this is a wig I'm wearing," she revealed.

"They were in total disbelief," recalls Rashe, who was 37 years old at the time of her diagnosis.

The company's CEO told Rashe to take time off if she needed to.

But she has yet to accept that offer. A single mom to a high school senior, Rashe never missed a day of work while undergoing 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation.

KarenFore - multiple myeloma.jpgBy Karen Fore

As a volunteer with CanCare and myCancerConnection, MD Anderson's one-on-one program that connects cancer patients and caregivers with others who have been there, I talk to a lot of other multiple myeloma patients. Most ask about the stem cell transplant process and my experience.

Here's what I tell them.

What to know about autologous stem cell transplants
A transplant infuses health cells -- also known as stem cells -- into a cancer patient's body to replace damaged cells.

Stem cells for transplants can come from three sources. I had an autologous stem cell transplant, which means cells from my own bone marrow were used. Some people undergo an allogeneic transplant, which means they receive stem cells from a donor. Some patients receive umbilical cord blood instead. Not all patients are eligible for a stem cell transplant.

To help kill some of the cancerous cells and get the body ready to accept the new stem cells, most patients need very strong chemotherapy. For me, this was the strongest chemo I had, and the idea was daunting.  

Mariana Torrado BRCA1

By Mariana Torrado

No one expects to hear she has breast cancer two months after turning 30. I didn't.

I danced flamenco, exercised frequently, was neither overweight nor a smoker -- and I was only 30! How could this happen to me?

My unexpected breast cancer diagnosis
After feeling a second of pain -- a small pinch -- in my left breast, I noticed a large bump. I was in shock, scared. I reached out to my OB-GYN right away.

A mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy later, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

I was in shock. I had two cousins (sisters) with breast cancer in their 30s, an aunt with breast cancer, a cousin who died from brain cancer, and two cousins and an uncle with melanoma. But I'd never expected to have cancer, not now.

Debra-Ruzensky caregiverBy Debra Ruzensky

In 2013, my role at MD Anderson changed when my husband was diagnosed with stage three diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Now I wasn't just a registered dietitian. I was a caregiver, too.

Seeing a new side of MD Anderson during lymphoma treatment
Every three weeks, my husband was admitted at MD Anderson for five to six days. Each time, I moved into his hospital room with him. I worked here during the day and went up to his room in the evenings. I ate here, showered and dressed here, heated my meals in the family lounge and made my morning cup of coffee here.

It was mentally difficult to "change hats." My eyes and ears were always in tune to his nutrition and the value it plays in treatment tolerance and recovery. Meeting some of the other caregivers on the floor and comparing notes was helpful, but at times it added to my worry and stress. I didn't want to hear any negative stories. I was trying to hold it all together and stay positive.

I had a great support system of family, friends, and coworkers praying and offering to help in other ways. The chapel was a special place for me to quietly sit and pray or just be calm.  Sunday morning masses were also a huge comfort to me.

Thyroid_Lockey_249.jpgBy Lori Baker

Hugh Lokey travels 497 miles each time he comes to MD Anderson for thyroid cancer treatment. Then it's 497 miles back home to Broken Arrow, Okla. He's been making the trip for five years, sometimes twice a month.

"It's been tremendously worth it," says Hugh, a 70-year-old Marine Corps veteran who's benefited from, and perhaps even survived because of, lenvatinib. This new thyroid cancer drug was tested here and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February.

Like Hugh, the drug had a long journey, and each step was taken at MD Anderson.

New hope after decades with one treatment
Until recently, patients with radioiodine-refractory thyroid cancer had only one treatment option. And it didn't work for more than half.

Their fates took a turn for the better in 2006.
"In 2006, we began testing a drug called E7080 and found that several tumor types responded," says David Hong, M.D., in Investigational Cancer Therapeutics. "The response was particularly remarkable in thyroid cancer patients."

bryanframe611.jpgBy Bryan Frame

In 2011, I was diagnosed with aggressive metastatic prostate cancer. Because of this, my doctors had very little hope I would still be here four years later.

But after hormone treatments, injections, a radical prostectomy and lymphectomy to treat my metastatic prostate cancer, I'm still here. Not only that, but my doctor, Ana Aparicio, M.D., tells me I have reasons to hope.

Finding hope at MD Anderson after my metastatic diagnosis
Dr. Aparicio told me there are two immunotherapy treatments coming down the pike that could be game-changers for metastatic prostate cancer patients like me. They are in the last stages of clinical trials and are showing very encouraging results. Prostate cancer treatment is progressing at a very rapid pace. The longer I'm alive, the greater the chances that more therapies can benefit me.

Because of my prolonged successful time on hormone therapy, Dr. Aparicio indicated that I may respond well to other treatments.

Stephanie_madsen 611.jpgBy Stephanie Madsen

Three years after my large cell neuroendocrine cervical cancer diagnosis, I've defied the odds. The statistics gave me less than a 20% chance of surviving one year.

But I have yet to make it an entire year without cancer. I've hit the three-month mark and have even made it to eight months cancer-free. Soon, I'll lie on the cold, hard, metallic table while a machine takes pictures of my insides from head to toe. Then, I'll wait for my results. I'm hoping this time I'll be able to say I've been cancer-free for a whole year.

Praying to remain cancer-free
Once I learned that my life was not guaranteed, my prayers were taken to new heights. 

Have you ever had a prayer so desperate it crashed loudly in the torrential storm of your spirit? A plea so full of depth, it couldn't be given an audible voice? One equally full of hope and fear? Lately, my prayers have been carnal cries or petitions that bring me to my knees.

Not one of my prayers ends without the utterance of a plea to remain cancer-free for the rest of my life here on Earth. I ask for my dreams to come to fruition.

"I'd love to grow old with my husband. Please allow me to experience motherhood. I want to watch my children grow into adults and have their own children. I ask that I live until I'm wrinkled, hard of hearing and gray."

Truth be told, I'm desperate.


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