No matter where you are in your journey, cancer can raise
more questions than answers. But by doing your research and adhering to the
adage that "knowledge is power," you can make your cancer journey more
Here's some of the most helpful advice and insight shared by
our doctors and other experts in 2013.
4 common myths about cancer doctors
In getting to know his patients, Nikesh Jasani, M.D., has learned that
there are a lot of misperceptions about oncologists. Find out what he wishes more patients knew.
CT and MRI scans: Tips for coping with
Do upcoming MRI or CT scans cause you to lose sleep and interfere with your
daily life? Good news: it is possible to manage this so-called scanxiety. Learn how to reign in scanxiety.
Continue reading Best of Cancerwise 2013: Our experts' most helpful insight.
At MD Anderson, we're constantly looking for innovative new
ways to provide the best possible cancer treatment options for our patients as
we work toward our mission of Making Cancer History®. To help with this, we've
enlisted a cognitive computing system powered by IBM Watson.
This technology, known as Oncology Expert Advisor™ (OEA),
will soon be used by our doctors and researchers as part of our Moon Shots Program, starting
with our fight against leukemia.
Ultimately, we hope to use the OEA in all of our clinics to help our patients
regardless of their cancer type.
By pulling together and analyzing vast amounts of
information from patient and research databases, the OEA is expected to help our
care teams identify and fine-tune the best possible cancer
treatments for our patients, while also alerting them to problems that arise
during a patient's care. The OEA is also expected to help our researchers
advance new discoveries in our fight against cancer.
We recently spoke with Courtney DiNardo, M.D., assistant
professor in Leukemia, who's been testing the OEA before it debuts in our leukemia
clinic. Here's what she had to say.
What are the benefits
of using the OEA to organize and collect data about
The OEA can extract patient information from various data sources and
synthesize all available medical records into a clear, concise and accurate
synopsis. It can analyze clinical information, medical history, as well as
leukemia-related information, such as specific genetic and molecular features,
and look at all available information in the context of published
evidence-based guidelines and available clinical
Continue reading The future of cancer treatment and research: What IBM Watson means for our patients.
By Erin Buck, Ph.D., and Martha A. Askins, Ph.D.
are faced with changes to their appearance or bodily functioning as a side
effect of cancer and cancer
treatment, they often struggle with what to tell their children. To protect
their kids emotionally, parents sometimes delay or avoid talking
to children about cancer treatment.
But that can
lead to confusion, isolation and anxiety for children. These conversations can
be helpful for both kids and parents.
Here is our advice for talking to your kids about physical changes resulting
When should I talk to my children about
the conversation depends on your child's development and maturity. School-aged kids
and adolescents benefit from preparing for a parent's surgery weeks to months
in advance, but very young children tend to benefit from a shorter preparation
It may not be possible to give your child the optimal amount of time
to prepare, so make the most of whatever time you do have. Just remember: advance
preparation is key.
Continue reading Parents: Helping kids cope with your physical changes from cancer treatment.
By Harley Hudson
If you are wondering what it's like to be in a clinical trial, I have an answer: It's different from other types of leukemia treatment.
I have been through every drug available to treat my chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), all of them infusions taking up to six or seven hours. I have had cancer treatment side effects ranging from insomnia to hair loss and a few reactions in between. I know chemotherapy. I have friends with other types of leukemia who have been taking a pill for several years. I was jealous, but not anymore.
My clinical trial for CLL treatment
ABT-199, the trial drug I am on, is a pill. It's nice not having to sit in a recliner to get an infusion for a whole day. What isn't nice is the requirement that I take the pill at exactly 8a.m. every day within 30 minutes of a low-fat breakfast.
Every morning no later than 7:25 a.m., I head to the hotel breakfast room and choose oatmeal, dried cranberries, granola and brown sugar, although what I really want are sausages and waffles. I sometimes supplement that with a slice of brown bread and jam -- no butter.
Yeah, it is a boring breakfast, but the selections are very limited for a low-fat breakfast. I'm back in my room in time to take the bright yellow pill.
Continue reading Participating in a clinical trial for CLL treatment: What it's really like.
by Michael Keating, M.D.
Last year, on Sept. 21, 2012, MD Anderson took another step toward
fulfilling our mission of Making Cancer History when we officially launched our
Moon Shots Program.
This ambitious and innovative program seeks to significantly reduce the
mortality rates for several cancers -- including melanoma, triple-negative
serous ovarian, chronic
lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute
myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic
syndromes (MDS), lung
-- and ultimately find cures for these and other cancers.
Over the last year, the Moon Shots Program provided a tremendous boost
to cancer research. My colleagues at MD Anderson and I have spent the last 12 months
collaborating to make significant advancements for our patients as well as those
patients not yet diagnosed.
Meaningful progress made in the
The Moon Shots Program became a reality after MD Anderson's president Ronald DePinho, M.D., issued a formidable challenge to our doctors and researchers: to develop a comprehensive action plan to significantly increase survival rates of cancer patients in the near-term and accelerate cures in the long-term.
Continue reading A year of progress for our Moon Shots Program.
cancer is the number one fastest rising cancer in women. Although it
accounts for about 1% of all cancers, it is becoming much more common. At least
450,000 people in the United States have completed treatment or are living with
spoke with Steven Sherman,
M.D., chair of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, about the rise in
thyroid cancer cases, thyroid cancer symptoms, thyroid
cancer diagnosis and thyroid
cancer treatment. Here's what he had to say.
About 75% of people diagnosed with thyroid
cancer are women. Why are women more likely than men to develop this disease?
aren't sure why more women develop thyroid cancer. All thyroid diseases are
more common in women than men.
But when it
comes to thyroid cancer, the difference of occurrences in gender disappears for
children who have not entered puberty and older adults. So, thyroid cancer may
be related to female hormones.
Continue reading Thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment: What you should know.
By Matthew T. Ballo, M.D.
"Dr. Ballo, I want to go on your Road to Wellness Program."
I love it when I hear this from patients, but there's one problem. It's not exactly a program. It's just the starting point for helping patients get and stay healthy.
What is The Road to Wellness?
The Road to Wellness was designed to help cancer patients and survivors live a healthier lifestyle. It introduces the concept of cancer survivorship to patients receiving active cancer treatment, while promoting wellness, reducing stress and fatigue, and preparing patients for life after cancer treatment. The Road to Wellness does all of this through education aimed at exercise, nutrition, stress management and smoking cessation.
The Road to Wellness was designed to be rolled out in the Regional Care Centers in the Houston suburbs, but the strategies it uses are available to patients at our Texas Medical Center Campus as well.
Continue reading Healthier living for cancer patients: Embarking on The Road to Wellness .
By Gerard Neumann
When I was diagnosed and hospitalized with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), I received cards from many places. One card came from a new friend who told me I was beginning a journey.
One might think a cancer journey wouldn't be something to remember fondly, but I do have some really good memories associated with mine.
Remembering my first trip to MD Anderson
Flying to Houston for my AML treatment was not the exciting trip it had been just a month earlier when my wife and I went there for the birth of our grandson.
Continue reading AML patient remembers cancer treatment fondly.
By Stewart Miyamoto
In winter 2001, I had this full feeling in my tummy. Kind of like I feel after eating Thanksgiving dinner. But the bloated feeling wouldn't go away, so I made an appointment with my doctor.
He ordered an x-ray of my abdomen. That x-ray changed my life. It showed my spleen was the size of a football. This alone was life-threatening, and my spleen needed to be removed.
Next came the pathology report. It said I had mantle cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Looking for my bone marrow transplant donor
Bone marrow transplants and stem cell transplants are often used to treat mantle cell lymphoma, and that's what the doctors prescribed me.
Continue reading Bone marrow transplant patient meets his donor.
cancer and health issues seems to conjure up a great deal of paperwork, and that
paperwork can stack up quite quickly.
a necessary evil since you need to deal with insurance companies, hospitals,
tests and medications. By organizing and managing your paperwork up front, you
can keep ahead of the battle and stop it from overwhelming you and your family.
October is Organizing Your Medical
Records Month, here are a few tips for you to organize your medical papers and
other health-related information.
Continue reading Cancer patients: Tips for organizing your medical records.
By Harley Hudson
It was supposed to be a routine annual physical, and that is
how it started. Lungs ... check. Heart ... check. Prostate ... check. Everything was
At the close of the physical, I pointed out a swollen place
on my neck. I thought it was a fatty tumor.
"I'm going to send you to an endocrinologist," my doctor
said. "He will probably do a biopsy."
About that time, the nurse brought in the results from my complete
blood count. My white blood count was high, way high. "No. I'm going to
send you to an oncologist," my doctor said, correcting herself.
Scary words indeed. Something I never thought I'd hear nor
wanted to hear in December 2006.
"What do you think it is?" I asked. My doctor suggested it
lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
She felt really bad for giving me the news. I hugged her and
told her it was OK. She was right.
Six days later, I saw an oncologist who confirmed my chronic
lymphocytic leukemia diagnosis, but ran further tests to verify it. Thus began
my dance with cancer.
My first seven years of CLL treatment
In reality, my journey began like that of many other CLL
patients -- with a routine checkup. Until lumps or swollen
appear or the white
is off the charts, CLL usually goes undetected. Once
discovered, many patients are only watched for continued progress until
treatment is needed, perhaps years down the road.
Continue reading My dance with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
By Mindy Loya
Woodard, M.D., says her practice at MD Anderson hasn't yet produced any
But that isn't her only measure of success. It's been less
than nine months since Woodard started offering consultations to patients who
seek guidance on fertility
testing and treatment options for fertility preservation through the
Oncofertility Consult Service housed within Gynecologic
Oncology and Reproductive Medicine.
Along with Andrea
Bradford, Ph.D., she's offering patients comprehensive resources for sexual
health and reproductive function. Both services lead with conversations.
"Just having a conversation during an initial consultation
doesn't commit anyone to fertility treatments or counseling sessions," Woodard
says. "But it means a patient can make an informed choice about whether to seek
further services, and it means a lot to patients to know they have options
where their fertility and intimate relationships are concerned."
conversation about cancer and reproductive health
Thanks to advances in cancer treatments, patients are living
longer. But those same lifesaving cancer treatments can take a heavy toll.
"We recognize that people don't just go back to being
'normal,' says Bradford, who points to the long-term impacts that chemotherapy,
major abdominal and pelvic surgeries, and hormone therapies can have on
patients' sexual function, body image and fertility.
But sexual and reproductive health aren't always high on a
patient's list of questions for his or her oncologist.
Continue reading Fertility, sexual function and cancer treatment: Help for cancer patients and survivors.