How to Detect Skin Cancer

May 31, 2018

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more people being diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined. Knowing what to look for can help catch it early when it’s much easier to treat.

The Importance of Skin Cancer Self-Examination

When detected early, skin cancer is almost always curable. This is why getting to know your skin through regular self-exams is so important, so that any new or changing marks or lesions can be caught quickly.

Lesions, ulcers, or tumors on the skin should be checked out by a skin cancer specialist right away. Marks and moles should be documented and monitored for changes during your self-exams. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends head-to-toe self-examinations of the skin once a month and an annual exam by a dermatologist once a year. 

Read More Categories: Cancer Screening, Skin Cancer

Genetic vs Genomic Testing: What’s the Difference?

May 29, 2018

Although the terms “genetic” and “genomic” are often used interchangeably, they are actually very different. Learning more about the differences between them can help clear up some of the confusion we often see related to hereditary genes linked to developing cancer.

Genetic Testing  

Genetics usually refers to the study of specific, individual genes and whether they are passed from one generation to the next. Cancer researchers have studied hereditary gene mutations (changes) that can play a role in the development of cancer.  

Read More Categories: Genetic Testing, Cancer Management, Cancer Risk

4 Ways You Can Show Support for the Cancer Survivors in Your Life

May 28, 2018

Just about everyone knows at least one cancer survivor. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’re a survivor! Recent statistics show that there’s an increase in the number of cancer survivors as we progress with more advanced cancer treatments and technologies. And that’s good news! But when it comes down to it, each cancer survivor has their own experiences and feelings that they need to manage. These feelings may be somewhat different as they are transitioning out of cancer treatment compared to a few years down the road. But the fact remains that cancer has changed their lives forever and will always affect how they think and act.

Read More Categories: Cancer Survivorship, Survivorship and Helping Others

Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults: What You Need to Know

May 24, 2018

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published in February 2017 that colorectal cancer in young adults has risen dramatically in generations born after 1950. Those currently between the ages of 18-27 have 2 times the risk of developing colon cancer and 4 times the risk of developing rectal cancer than people born in the 1950s were when they were between those ages.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum and can be referred to as either colon cancer or rectal cancer. Most begin with a polyp appearing on the inner lining of the rectum. Polyps are more common in people age 50 or above. If a polyp is cancerous, the cells can spread to the wall of the colon or rectum, and then to the blood or lymph vessels of the colon or rectum and eventually metastasize throughout the body. Symptoms of colon or rectal cancers can include: 

Read More Categories: Colon & Rectal Cancer

4 Things That Can Make Your Skin Sensitive to the Sun

May 22, 2018

Have you ever gotten a sunburn even after taking all the necessary precautions, such as slathering on sunscreen or wearing a hat? If so, you’re well aware that it’s not just painful, but frustrating as well.

It may be shocking to learn that certain medications, foods, skin care products, and other agents can actually increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s harmful rays (photosensitivity). While many of these “sunburn boosters” aren’t considered harmful in and of themselves, it is important to use them with caution on days you know your skin will be exposed to the sun.   

Read More Categories: Cancer Prevention, Skin Cancer

When Should Men Get a Prostate Cancer Screening?

May 4, 2018

Prostate cancer is the most common [non-skin] cancer in men. Therefore, it’s important to when to some facts about prostate cancer screenings, and make sure you, or the males in your life, are getting screened for prostate cancer in a timely manner.

Early Detection of Prostate Cancer Changes Outcomes for Patients!

Many perfectly healthy men are screened for prostate cancer as part of their regular health care routine. Doctors sometimes recommend testing simply because of age or family history. Other times, patients have some symptoms, and their doctor may suggest a prostate cancer screening as the first step to understanding the problem.

Read More Categories: Cancer Screening, Prostate Cancer

Surviving Cancer Is About More Than the Disease

March 26, 2018

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the immediate concerns are his/her physical well-being, getting into a treatment center, and starting cancer treatment.

Cancer survivors need more than just chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

One of our licensed social workers here at Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA), Roshonda Poole, says there are many ways in which cancer patients or survivors, their families, and/or their caregivers need support throughout the cancer journey.

Emotional Support

Roshonda says that many cancer patients struggle with the feeling of isolation and that they often believe they are the only one struggling with the impact of the cancer diagnosis. She also says that, “Talking about it with others brings about some mixed emotions. Often, patients do not want to burden their families with the details of their cancer treatment, so having an outlet and someone to talk with can reduce their anxiety.”

Read More Categories: Supportive Care, Cancer Management

The Evolution of Genetic Testing and Immunotherapy in Prostate Cancer

March 1, 2018

By Mark T. Fleming, MD

Genetic testing for cancer and targeted drug therapy regimens have changed how multiple cancers, particularly breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancers are cared for. More and more, we are finding similar benefits in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

High-quality genetic testing now can accurately pinpoint both hereditary and somatic mutations, providing crucial insights into how prostate cancer develops and grows. At the same time, new medications tailored to specific mutations have shown great promise in clinical trials, especially in a metastatic disease that has not responded to standard androgen-deprivation therapy.

Read More Categories: Genetic Testing, Prostate Cancer, Cancer Treatment

Genetic Testing: Personalized Medicine at its Best

February 16, 2018

In 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled against one company owning the patent on genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Changes in these genes are associated with a high risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The ruling cited that human genes are not eligible for patents because they are a product of nature. Since this ruling, the world of cancer genetic testing has opened up both scientifically and financially.

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, only one commercial laboratory was able to offer testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Since the patent has been overturned, multiple laboratories have started to offer testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 and from this, multigene cancer panels have emerged. Multigene cancer panels allow testing for many additional genes associated with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and various other cancers.

Read More Categories: Ovarian Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cancer Screening, Genetic Testing, Colon & Rectal Cancer

Behind Every Great Oncologist Is a Great Oncology Nurse

February 6, 2018

Oncologists get a lot of the limelight in a cancer patient’s care--and for good reason. If you talk with most cancer patients, however, you might be surprised to find out that it’s actually their nurse--not their oncologist--who they have a closer relationship with.

Since doctors must focus their patient time on identifying, treating, and managing the cancer, a nurse can take the time to ask questions about home life, side effects of the cancer treatment, and how to increase a patient’s overall quality of life. This consistent, one-on-one involvement is often why patients share most information with their oncology nurse rather than their oncologist.

Read More Categories: Cancer Management