Novel Treatments in Lung Cancer See Expanded Use

January 4, 2019

By: Graham T. Watson, MD – Virginia Oncology Associates

The quickly expanding knowledge of cancer biology has led to new, highly effective treatments for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Advances in genetics have brought about targeted therapy with drugs that “target” a specific driver mutation. With deeper understanding of the immune system’s interaction with cancer cells, we can uncloak cancer cells that previously hid from immune destruction. For years, we have leveraged these therapies only in Stage IV lung cancer, but research has shown that that Stage III patients treated first with chemoradiotherapy can also gain benefit.

 Immunotherapies such as nivolumab (Opdivo®) or pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) have helped patients with incurable, Stage IV, lung cancer live longer. While these drugs represent a major breakthrough, limiting their use to Stage IV patients is a frustration for both patients and doctors. While the goal of treatment in Stage III lung cancer patients is cure, the rates of recurrence are high. Finding treatment that can reduce this risk of recurrence is a worthy goal.

Read More Categories: Lung Cancer, Cancer Research, Cancer Treatment

Bone Health After Cancer Treatment

November 29, 2018

It’s no secret that cancer treatment takes an emotional and physical toll on patients, and leaves cancer survivors dealing with some long-term side effects. According to the American Cancer Society, the goals of cancer treatment include shrinking cancerous tumors to make them easier to remove surgically, killing cancer cells in the body, and/or controlling cancer so it does not grow and spread. Chemotherapy, steroid medications, and hormonal therapies used to achieve these goals sometimes have unwelcome side effects, such as accelerated bone loss, potentially leading to osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.

Read More Categories: Survivorship and Side Effects

3 Ways to Connect With Loved Ones While Undergoing Cancer Treatment During the Holidays

November 21, 2018

When you have cancer, even the most joyous of holidays can leave you feeling sad. On top of all the physical stresses, the thought of missing out on your traditional get-togethers can make it hard to get into the holiday spirit.

Of course, you should first talk to your cancer care team before the holidays to determine what would be reasonable for you. Sometimes travel isn’t recommended; however, for some, it can be done as long as you have a solid plan in place. Your plans should include what to do if you experience new pain or side effects while traveling.

Read More Categories: Cancer Management

What Happens After Ovarian Cancer?

November 12, 2018

I’m done with Ovarian Cancer Treatment, now what? 

It’s understandable that women who have recently gone through treatment for ovarian cancer want the answer to this question. While the thought of remission can bring a sense of relief, there are also questions and concerns about what it means to be an ovarian cancer survivor--What lifestyle changes will I have to make? Will there be fertility challenges? What are the chances my cancer will come back?

If you have recently finished ovarian cancer treatment it is important to remember to give yourself time to adjust to any physical and emotional changes you are going through. Eventually, ovarian cancer survivors re-establish a daily routine--and you will too, at your own pace.

Read More Categories: Ovarian Cancer, Cancer Survivorship, Gynecologic Cancer

Can I Donate My Organs After Cancer?

October 31, 2018

As a cancer survivor, it’s probably safe to assume that during your journey you’ve developed a true appreciation of life. You know firsthand what it feels like to receive a serious diagnosis, the uncertainties of living with cancer, and the feelings of joy, relief, and gratitude when you beat it. Thanks to your unique life experiences, you may feel compelled to sign up as an organ donor so you can give the gift of life to someone else.

Read More Categories: Survivorship and Helping Others

Alcohol After Cancer?

October 26, 2018

As a cancer survivor, your goal is probably to resume your familiar lifestyle as quickly as possible. You may be feeling more like your old self again with a growing appetite and the ability to enjoy the flavors in food once again. If you also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage before cancer, you may be wondering if that’s acceptable after cancer treatment. You may be right to think twice about drinking alcohol after cancer.

Read More Categories: Survivorship and Nutrition

HPV and Cervical Cancer: What’s the Connection?

October 19, 2018

 When it comes to cervical cancer, nearly all cases are caused by exposure to the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Thankfully, cervical cancer is almost always preventable. Understanding more about HPV and cervical health in general can greatly help in the prevention of this kind of cancer. Here’s some important information every woman should know.

HPV: The Root Cause of Cervical Cancer 

Cervical cancer is a disease that forms in the tissues of a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that connects to the vagina (birth canal). According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted disease (STD), is found in about 99% of cervical cancers.

Read More Categories: Cervical Cancer

5 Ways to Thank Your Cancer Caregivers

October 10, 2018

Having cancer is emotionally and physically draining. Looking back on your journey, you’ll probably agree that the unwavering support of your cancer caregivers played a huge role in your recovery. Maybe you had friends and family members who seemed to instinctively know what you needed and stepped up to help without being asked? From giving you rides to and from your appointments, making you meals, doing your laundry, taking care of your yard, helping with your children and pets, and simply providing a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, your cancer caregivers were an unofficial yet important part of your care team. Thanks to their help, you didn’t have to “sweat the small stuff” and were able to focus on your recovery.

Read More Categories: Survivorship and Family

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips: How to Read a Sunscreen Label

September 27, 2018

The state of Virginia has so much to offer. From its beaches to its mountains, as well as its “Goldilocks Climate” (not too hot; not too cold), there are so many reasons and opportunities to get outside. With that said, as you enjoy those outdoor activities, it’s important to keep your skin protected from the harmful rays of the sun.

Exposure to ultraviolet light is the primary cause of skin cancers and premature aging. Both of these can be largely avoided by protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. If you’re going to be outdoors enjoying any of the 5 distinct climate regions Virginia has to offer, one of the best things you can do to protect your skin is to wear sunscreen. Wearing protective clothing and avoiding the sun at the hottest times of the day (10 am - 4 pm) can also reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

Read More Categories: Cancer Prevention, Skin Cancer

Cancer Research is Advancing Breast Cancer Treatment Options

September 25, 2018

By David Z. Chang, MD,PhD, FACP

Recent developments in breast cancer treatment have continued to fuel our movement toward tailored treatment for each individual patient.

Two of the newest and most promising fronts are targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Both aim to more effectively kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue, thereby causing fewer debilitating side effects as compared to traditional chemotherapy.

Read More Categories: Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Healthcare Providers

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