New Guidelines Could Cut the Number of Lung Cancer Deaths

By Michelle Wehrly, Alegent Creighton Health Nurse Practitioner If you’re a healthy adult between 55 and 80 and at high risk for lung cancer, an independent panel of medical experts says you should be screened once a year for lung cancer. The 12-year-long study of more than 50,000 patients finds as many as 20,000 deaths a year could be prevented with low-dose computed tomography, or CT scans, because cancer would be detected at an earlier stage where curative treatment is still possible. The total of lung cancer deaths is about 160,000 every year. Some 10 million people meet the task force’s definition of “high risk:” those 55 to 80 who have a 30 pack-year history and currently smoke or quit … Continue reading

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Support Groups Greatly Enhance Quality of Life for Cancer Patients

By Lori Simpson, Cancer Support Services Specialist, MSW Many patients need someone to lean on for support during their battle against cancer. Alegent Creighton Health Cancer Centers have all kinds of support available, from social workers and financial counselors to nurse navigators and our Image Recovery Centers. Sometimes patients and their families need to talk with someone who’s going through the same thing to cope better. Alegent Creighton Health has more support groups than any hospital system in the metro. Some are educational, others involve group discussion, and most offer a combination of both. According to the American Cancer Society, support groups make a difference. One clinical trial found that support groups helped relieve tension, anxiety, fatigue and confusion. Other … Continue reading

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Interleukin-2 Immunotherapy Can Mean “Disease-free” for Some Patients

By P.J. Meyer, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist For metastatic kidney cancer patients, there is only one therapy that offers them the chance to have no evidence of the disease long-term. The same therapy also can give hope to melanoma patients. It’s called Interleukin-2 (IL-2). I work with melanoma and renal cancer patients when they’re admitted for IL-2 immunotherapy.  IL-2 is FDA-approved and it boosts the body’s natural immune defenses against cancer. One advantage is that the doctor and patient know in about four weeks whether the treatment helps.  If it doesn’t, the patient can turn to chemotherapy and medications as another option. Here’s what the patient can expect when he or she is admitted to the hospital for IL-2 treatment: … Continue reading

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Important Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

 By Nicole Peterson, RN, BSN,OCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator Hearing you have cancer can be very overwhelming. Your mind may be racing with questions–questions you forget in the presence of your physician. Here are some tips on how to make sure you ask everything you need to know to make your treatment successful. *Leading up to your appointment, write down all questions *Remember no question is a stupid question when it comes to your treatment *Ask for specifics on your diagnosis and for an explanation of the pathology report *Find out the stage of your disease *Determine if there are additional workups that need to be done *Learn the recommended treatment for your diagnosis *Ask about frequency and duration of treatment … Continue reading

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Prostate Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month By Cam Nguyen, M.D., Radiation Oncologist Perhaps one of the most hotly-debated subjects in the medical field today is whether or not to treat prostate cancer. It can be very slow-growing and is very common: studies have shown that 90 percent of men aged 90 and over have microscopic evidence of prostate cancer. Two tests are commonly used to screen: a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen test (PSA). PSA levels can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The big question is once you have a diagnosis in front of you, what do you do next? Because prostate cancer is so slow-growing, a treatment decision often is difficult. Which patients … Continue reading

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