Entries in Cancer (194)


Proportion of Cancer Patients who Die Much Higher in Latin America

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Though there are fewer cases of cancer in Latin America than there are in the United States or Europe, experts say that the percentage of people who die from the disease in the region is much higher, according to BBC News.

The Lancet Oncology report find that this disparity can be explained mainly because treatment is not as accessible or advanced in Latin America as it is in the U.S. or Europe, and that it’s often detected later.

This problem is made more apparent as life expectancies increase.

Though cancer is generally rarer in Latin America, the study finds that as the region becomes more modernized, people begin to take up unhealthy habits and live a more sedentary lifestyle, making them more prone to cancer, and when treatment isn't readily available, it's a problem.

There are 163 cases of cancer per 100,000 people, compared to 300 in the Unites States. However, in Latin America there are 13 deaths for every 22 cancer cases, compared to the U.S.’s 13 deaths for every 37 cases.

"This burgeoning cancer problem threatens to cause widespread suffering and economic peril to the countries of Latin America,” said the leader of the research team, Paul Goss, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"The region is poorly equipped to deal with the alarming rise in cancer incidence and disproportionately high mortality rates compared with other world regions, underscoring the magnitude of the cancer-control problem," Goss said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Documentary Spotlights Beauty Parlor Catering to Cancer Patients

Image courtesy of HBO(NEW YORK) -- Joining the Oscar-nominated stars on the red carpet this Sunday will be two Long Island, N.Y., beauty salon owners, Cynthia Sansone and Rachel DeMolfetto.

Sansone and DeMolfetto, who are sisters, are the subject of the Oscar-nominated short documentary Mondays At Racine.  The film follows the cancer patients who come to the sisters’ beauty parlor once a month for a day of free beauty treatments.

The sisters came up with the idea more than 10 years ago as a way to honor their mother, who passed away from breast cancer in the 1980s.

Sansone says that her mother initially felt like a pariah and an “alien” after her hair fell out from her cancer treatments.

“We did not have the tools to know how to help her.  I remember vividly my father walking her into the house,” she says.  “The grimace on her face.”

Sansone says the idea behind the free day of beauty is to provide a support system for the cancer patients, most of whom are women, as they deal with a life-threatening illness.

“We got the script down on what we need to say to soothe and heal,” she says.  “No one wants to [hear], ‘You look good.’  People want to hear, ‘What can I do?’”

The film’s director, Cynthia Wade, says the one common and most surprising response among the cancer patients she interviewed was that they were terrified of losing their hair.  One patient even felt like she was being “erased” as a result of her cancer treatment.

“Every single woman I spoke to said it was much easier to lose their breast than their hair,” says Wade.

Sansone hopes that after the Oscars, more cancer patients feel comfortable coming to the salon for a day of beauty and support.

“It’s grown into one of the most wonderful things to be a part of,” she says.  “To anybody if you are diagnosed, do not feel alone.  Come and talk, come be with us.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Report: Many Cancer Screenings Not Necessary Unless High Risk

Comstock/Jupiterimages(NEW YORK) -- Are all cancer screenings equal?  No, says Consumer Reports.

In its March issue, the magazine evaluated 11 cancer screenings and found that eight can be avoided -- unless you are at high risk.  These include screenings for bladder, lung, oral, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, skin and testicular cancers.

Consumer Reports says tests for cervical, colon and breast cancers are the most effective.  But even with these screenings, age matters, as Dr. John Santa, the director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, points out.

"If you're not a high risk person, you don't need to worry about screening of the colon until you're 50," he says.

He adds, "The benefits of mammography, for women in their 40s, is small.  There is a benefit, but it's small."

Santa says there is concern because there's more and more advertising out there for various types of cancer screenings, even for tests that aren't very good.  He advises patients to act like consumers when they are in their doctor's office.

"They need to become more savvy buyers, ask questions, understand what they are getting here, understand what's going to happen if this test is positive.  Are there other alternatives to this test?  How good is it?" he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Tiny Tim, Houston's Beloved Fat Cat, Has Cancer

Courtesy Southside Place Animal Hospital(HOUSTON) -- Tiny Tim, the hefty Houston feline that gained national attention for his overweight figure and subsequent strict diet and exercise plan, has been diagnosed with cancer in his leg that could prove fatal.

Dr. Alice Frei, who has been monitoring the 30-pound cat's progress at the Southside Place Animal Hospital, Thursday announced Tiny's "aggressive tumor" on his Facebook fan page, "Tiny Tim at Spah."

"Tiny Tim has cancer," Frei wrote. "There is no radiation or chemotherapy for such an aggressive tumor."

Frei said Tiny was rushed to Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine for treatment on Wednesday after SPAH staff noticed his elbow was swollen and pathology results showed cancer. A&M veterinarians confirmed the pathologist's findings, and "said the cancer was so rapidly growing that they could not define the cell of origin," Frei wrote.

Tiny is scheduled to have a CAT scan on Friday to see how far the tumor has spread and assess a treatment plan, but options for the beloved cat seem dire.

"If Tiny Tim's CAT scan does not show [the] tumor has invaded his chest, we have decided that the only course of treatment is to have the leg amputated," Frei wrote. "If the tumor has spread to his chest his treatment options are basically zero."

They are now waiting to see if Tiny Tim will need surgery, but even that will be a difficult decision for the staff.

"Surgery for Tiny Tim is a huge risk because of his size, and if he makes it through the surgery he has a long road back," Frei wrote. "It will be rough. With it he may die. Without it he will die."

Tiny, who's about 9 years old, weighed in at a hefty 35.2 pounds when he arrived at the animal hospital around Christmas 2011, but testing showed that Tiny was otherwise healthy. When a search for his owner proved unsuccessful, the hospital took him in as a permanent resident -- provided he'd lose weight.

By New Year's, the "super sweet cat" had been placed on a strict diet for the year.

"He has been on a very, very regimented diet -- measured meal plans, the whole works, and he is at 28.6 pounds," SPAH manager Debbie Green told ABC News in a recent interview. "He weighs in twice a week, and he gets meals measured in little bags throughout the whole week, so we know exactly what he's eating."

Tiny is fed a precise 307 calories per day, and his team of doctors would be "really, really excited if he got closer to 20 pounds," Green said.

Earlier this year, Tiny seemed to plateau at 30 pounds. The cat, somewhat ironically, lives in a food pantry in the animal hospital because he is too big for the normal cat cages at Southside. A staff member figured out Tiny had clawed a small hole into a bag of food and had been having midnight snacks.

Tiny's doctors make sure Tiny exercises by making him work for his bed and board. He is carried to the front of the clinic at least three times a day, and he has to walk the 50 feet back to his room for meals.

"He doesn't voluntarily walk around the office," Green said. "He used to move 10 steps and then sit down. Now he can get from the front to the back, which is about 50 feet, without much trouble at all."

Tiny's cancer hasn't been the only health concern for the SPAH staff. He is also at risk for feline diabetes or thyroid problems in the future because of his weight, Green said. They believe arthritis could become a problem for him too.

Regardless, the popular feline is pretty quiet and prefers the peace of his pantry to the business of the hospital's waiting room, but he enjoys the attention and brushing he receives from friends and fans who often stop by to visit him.

On Thursday night, he remained at the A&M veterinary hospital, where "he is doing fine, has the entire cat ward to himself and is getting lots of attention," according to his Facebook fan page.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Did Doping Cause Lance Armstrong's Cancer?

Harpo Studios. Inc(NEW YORK) -- Before his disgrace, Lance Armstrong was known for his seven Tour de France victories, his comeback from cancer and the yellow bracelets of his foundation, Livestrong.

Armstrong launched the cancer charity after being diagnosed with a testicular tumor in 1996.  The cancer had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain, but he beat the odds to survive and continue his spectacular -- or notorious -- racing career.

Now that Armstrong's titles have been tainted by his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs, questions have also been raised about whether those banned substances caused or contributed to his cancer.

The answer is not as clear cut as a confession for cheating.

"One could infer that these agents could potentiate the growth of a cancer cell," said oncologist Dr. Arjun Vasant Balar of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, describing how steroids, growth hormones and erythropoietin fuel cell division and growth.  "Could they create a cancer cell?  That's unclear.  We don't know."

While studies in cells and lab animals have linked doping agents to cancer, evidence in humans is anecdotal at best.

"Several cases of cancers associated to the use of anabolic steroids as doping practice have been reported," said Dr. Lucio Tentori, a cancer researcher at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and author of a 2007 review on doping and cancer risk.  "Unfortunately, to evaluate this cancer risk in controlled clinical studies is difficult since these substances are frequently used at very high doses and in combination with other licit or illicit drugs."

Despite the dearth of human research, Tentori wrote in his report that "athletes should be made aware that long-term treatment with doping agents might increase the risk of developing cancer."

Armstrong might have suspected as much, according to Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former friend and teammate Frankie Andreu.  Andreu testified in an insurance-related civil suit that the cycling champ told his oncologists he had used steroids, growth hormone and erythropoietin.

"When he stood to gain, it appears he was willing to talk about his rich pharmaceutical intake with his doctors," said Art Caplan, a bioethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center.  "If he was worried enough to think there might have been a connection, he should have been worried enough to think lot of other people need to know, too."

"I think he owed it to his fans, particularly the young ones that looked up to him and wanted to train like him to say, 'Maybe my use of performance-enhancing drugs had something to do with it,'" Caplan added.

But cancer is a complex problem triggered by a mix of genetic and environmental factors, meaning doping alone was probably not to blame, according to Balar.

"We can never say definitively, but it's highly unlikely," he said.

Balar stressed that the better-known complications of steroid abuse like bone loss, hormone disruption, hypogonadism and mood disorders "are far greater concerns than any potential link with early cancer."

While the cause of Armstrong's cancer may never be known, the consequences of his doping activity and attempts to conceal it are quickly piling up.  Five weeks after stepping down from the Livestrong board of directors, Armstrong "expressed his regret" to staff Wednesday and asked that they "stay focused on serving people affected by cancer," according to a statement from the foundation.

Livestrong did not respond to ABC News' request for comment on whether doping might have played a role in Armstrong's cancer, but the charity voiced plans to distance itself from the disgraced athlete in a statement by "charting a strong, independent course forward that is focused on helping people overcome financial, emotional and physical challenges related to cancer."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Overall Cancer Deaths Down 20%, Report Finds

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of Americans dying from cancer is dropping, according to a new annual report from the American Cancer Society.

The organization finds that overall cancer deaths in the U.S. declined 20 percent in 2009 from its peak in 1991.

"Much of that decline has come from the most common cancers.  So cancers of the lung, cancer of the breast, prostate, there have been significant decreases in deaths from those diseases," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, explains.

The drop in lung cancers, Lichtenfeld says, can be mostly attributed to people using less tobacco.

"Clearly because people are not smoking and their not using tobacco any where near as much as they did, both men and women have had a significant decrease in lung cancer deaths, for example," he says.

But despite the good news, some cancer rates are still on the rise.

"We have seen an increase in pancreatic cancer over the past number of years consistently.  We're not quite sure why that is.  Perhaps that is because pancreatic cancer appears to be related to obesity," Lichtenfeld says, adding that increases have also been seen in liver cancer and melanoma in men.

While approximately 1.2 million deaths from cancer have been averted since 1991 thanks to early detection and prevention, and better treatments, Lichtenfeld says more needs to be done.

"We have so much to do.  The unfortunate reality is that our successes reducing deaths from cancer are not uniform across the country," he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


'Cancer-versary' Is the Latest in Medical Sharing Parties

Bethany Kandel pictured center in brown. (Courtesy Bethany Kandel)(NEW YORK) -- Last October, New York City journalist Bethany Kandel passed an emotional milestone: She celebrated the fifth anniversary of being cancer-free after numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer.

"I've been doing great and I didn't want to have a 'party' for fear of jinxing it, but wanted to somehow mark the occasion as being special and as a way of paying back for all that was done for me," said Kandel, 55.

She called her celebration a "gratitude gathering" and invited her mother and 15 of her best girlfriends for tea and dessert.  The name seemed "less of a jinx," she said.

She served "boobie" cupcakes -- white frosting with pink blobs -- pink ribbon chocolates on a stick and champagne.

"In lieu of gifts, I asked each woman to bring a bag of wrapped hard candies and I delivered a huge basket of them all to my chemo ward where the nurses give them to the patients who get parched while in chemo," she said.  "In this way, my gratitude over my clean bill of health and five-year milestone turned into a way for my friends to give back as well."

Cancer-versaries are the latest in medical sharing trends.  There are others, too.

Women now hold festive mammogram events -- called "mamm" parties -- with refreshments and maybe even a spa treatment thrown in to make the diagnostic test less intimidating.

Mandy Kiser was recently invited to such a soiree by her employer, a bank in Wichita, Kan.  For all its female employees, the bank provided chocolate fondue, paraffin wax hand treatments, back rubs and beauty consultations.

"What a great way to take the preconceived notion that a mammogram is a horrible, uncomfortable experience and make it into lovely evening," she told ABC News last year.  "It turned into a nice, relaxing time hanging out with friends and co-workers."

From Florida to California, certified ultrasound technicians are offering 4-D videos of the baby growing in the womb at sonogram parties sponsored by family and friends.  Surprise baby showers and gender-reveal events can be held at home or even at a country club.

Viviana Aguilera, a 25-year-old teacher from Cape Coral, Fla., held her own sonogram party in her home so close friends and family could watch a moving image of her 29-week-old fetus moving in her womb.  Long-distance family joined in by streaming the ultrasound on Facetime.

"It was awesome," said Aguilera recently.  "The house was packed."

Dr. Allen Gabriel, a reconstructive surgeon from Vancouver, Wash., said celebrations are important psychologically for women, especially cancer-free parties.

"What it does is bring friends and family together so they can acknowledge what has happened and what they have gone through," he said.  "It brings them closer together and gives them an opportunity to reflect.  Like a funeral, one year, two years, 40 years out after a person has died, some people go to church to reflect on the day."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fighting Cancer's Effects One Makeover at a Time

Look Good...Feel Better(NEW YORK) -- When Nancy Lumb was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was sure she could beat it.  She had found the small lump herself, and the cancer had not spread; her doctors were optimistic.

But as calm as Lumb was just after her diagnosis, what really knocked her off her feet was something she never expected to feel so upset about: losing her hair.

"I never cried when I was diagnosed, but I cried when I shaved my head," Lumb, 45, told ABC News.

Cancer patient Dawn Charles understands that all too well.  Charles, a 43-year-old British transplant who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., has battled breast cancer too.  She endured a mastectomy and four months of chemotherapy.  Losing her hair, she said, makes you "suddenly feel like you look sick."

"You almost can't look at yourself," she added.  "You felt like an alien."

For these women and other cancer patients, treating the appearance side effects of cancer can be as important as managing the medical side effects.  It may sound superficial, but for those who have faced grueling months of chemotherapy and radiation, looking better can be an important part of healing.

"If you look sick, people treat you like you're sick and you buy into it," Lumb said.

Both Lumb and Charles found their way to a program called Look Good Feel Better.  The organization is a collaboration of the American Cancer Society, Personal Care Products Council, and the National Cosmetology Association.  Look Good Feel Better is designed to do just that: help cancer patients look good and, consequently, feel better.

"It really kind of changes and transforms the way they think about their treatment and the disease itself," said the program's executive director, Louanne Roark.

The group's sessions are free and offered in 3,000 locations around the United States, and in 24 countries.  They help nearly 110,000 women a year worldwide, about half of those in the United States.

It's not just women cancer patients who are concerned about their appearance; the organization also offers advice for men and teens.

Cancer patients attend a group session to learn how to compensate for the sudden changes in how they look.

"Side effects include a lot of significant skin changes, dryness, redness, itching, blotchiness, discoloration, and loss of hair that includes brows and lashes," Roark said.

"We give them little tips, such as sleep in a little turban when you lose your hair because it's cold; it's really the full gambit of information," she added.

The hands-on workshops also include lessons in skin care and make-up, such as techniques for drawing on a realistic looking eyebrow.  And there's advice on how to use wigs, scarves and hats to make up for the hair loss.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


HPV-Related Cancers on Rise as Vaccination Rates Stay Low

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As cancer rates overall continue to decline, HPV-related cancers of the esophagus and anus are on the rise, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

At the same time, vaccination rates, which could stem the number of cancer deaths, still remain low.

The report, published Monday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concludes that the spike in cancers thought to be caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV, underscores the need for additional prevention efforts, including immunization.

Since the 1990s, deaths for cancer of the lung, colon, breast and prostate have been declining, according to the report. However, death rates from melanoma and cancers of the pancreas, liver and uterus all appear to be on the rise.

For years now, doctors have urged young women to be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is believed to cause cervical cancer.

But in 2010, fewer than half of girls aged 13-17 had received even just one dose of the vaccine against HPV, while only 32 percent had received the recommended three doses, according to the report.

And now, growing research in Europe and the United States is implicating HPV in a rising number of cases of head and neck cancers in men, and many doctors are recommending that all boys be vaccinated as well.

Doctors say that changing sexual behaviors -- earlier sex, more partners and especially oral sex -- are contributing to a new epidemic of orpharyngeal squamous cell cancers, those of the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue.

These cancers can be deadly, and are striking men at a younger age and in increasing numbers.

"There's a lag in information," Dr. John Deeken, a medical oncologist at Georgetown University, told ABC News in a report on HPV-related cancers in 2010. "We physicians have done a poor job of advertising the fact that boys and girls should have the vaccine."

"This kind of cancer traditionally affects males who have been smoking and drinking all their life, and now in their mid-60s they are getting head and neck cancer," he said. "However, HPV cancer we are seeing in younger patients who have never smoked."

Two decades ago, about 20 percent of all oral cancers were HPV-related, but today that number is more than 50 percent, according to studies published by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Similarly high rates have also been seen in Europe, where a 2010 Swedish study showed a strong correlation between oral cancers and oral sex.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Gardasil for girls in 2006 and for boys for treatment of genital and anal warts in 2009. The vaccine can be given at any age, though it is most effective when given to young people before any sexual exposure.

Doctors say it could prevent 10,000 more cases of oral cancer a year.

Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx are diagnosed, and more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cure rates are higher than for smoking-related throat cancers, but still only 50 percent.

Today, men are more likely to get oral cancer than are women, but as the epidemic grows, that could soon change.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Those who are infected often have no symptoms and pass it on to their partners through genital contact during vaginal and anal sex. It can also be transmitted during oral sex and, more rarely, during deep kissing through saliva.

There are more than 100 strains of the virus. Some cause genital warts, but others can result in cell changes that decades later can become cancerous. Each strain is identified by a number; oral and cervical cancers are caused by HPV sub-types 16 and 18.

HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva, vagina and penis, and there is some evidence it is associated with lung cancers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Oklahoma Sooners Player Says Tackling Cancer Was 'a Team Effort'

ABC News(NORMAN, Okla.) -- Austin Woods, an offensive lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners, plays hard, whether it's on the football field, in the classroom or tackling cancer.

"A lot of it is up here, between your ears," Woods said, "you know, your attitude and the heart you have and just the mentality you attack every day with."

During early spring practices, the 6-foot 4, 293-pound junior offensive lineman felt something wasn't right.

"I thought it was mono. I didn't know what it was," he said.

In late April, Woods was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.

It seemed inevitable that he would be sidelined for the season while he underwent twice-monthly chemotherapy treatments, but Woods was determined to not let cancer get the best of him.

"One day, he'd miss a Monday practice because he was at the hospital getting chemotherapy, and then Tuesday he'd be out there on the practice field," said coach Bob Stoops.

Despite the harsh rounds of chemotherapy, Woods continued to excel on the field and in the classroom, doing well enough to be named an academic All-American.


He posted updates and affirmations on his Twitter feed, all of them tagged #BeatCancer50, a reference to his number on the field.

His fellow offensive lineman supported him by tweeting back and shaving their heads in solidarity.

"It was my teammates, my coaches, my family and all my friends," Woods said. "It was truly a team effort."

Woods said he also took inspiration from his mother, Liz Woods, who didn't miss a single day of work when she was treated for breast cancer 15 years ago.

In early October, Woods announced that his cancer was in remission.

"Done with chemo!!! Thanks everyone for all the support throughout all my treatments!" he tweeted.

On Friday, the junior offensive lineman fulfilled a lifelong dream to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Sooners lost to Texas A&M 41-13, but for Woods, it was a triumph after a tough year.

"It really taught me a lot about myself and what, you know, attitude and the right mentality can do towards overcoming obstacles in your life," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio