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COPD Care Management Insights for Better Lung Health

COPD Management

Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, is a team of board-certified pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, and administrative support staff. The team adds to Comprehensive’s multidisciplinary approach by offering an entire division dedicated to treating lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which is a chronic disease and has been known to lead to lung cancer.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. COPD is a chronic disease, meaning it either lasts for a long period of time or never goes away. There are many different medications that can be prescribed for COPD. Two kinds are rescue medicines and maintenance medicines, which can help manage COPD:

  • Rescue Medicines – These therapies provide fast relief for sudden symptoms, but they aren’t meant for long-term control.
  • Maintenance Medicines – These medications are taken every day, whether symptoms present or not and can help improve lung function, and control COPD symptoms over the long term.

Discussing COPD Treatment with Healthcare Providers

The following are some tips to help patients have a better conversation with their healthcare provider, so they know what questions to ask and what treatment options may be available if they are diagnosed with COPD:

Know Your Inhaler – Keep in mind that different medicines come in different inhalers. Each type of inhaler has a different way of delivering medicine to the lungs. All inhalers take a bit of training to use correctly, so ask a healthcare provider, someone on their staff, or even a pharmacist to show how an inhaler works. Patients may even show their healthcare provider how they use the inhaler to confirm it’s the right way, or make adjustments, if necessary.

Other things a patient should know about treatment include the fact that inhaled medicines used to treat COPD contain steroids. Know that there are treatment options for COPD that do not contain steroids. Patients should always ask if such a treatment might be right for their personal needs. This includes talking to healthcare provider if concerned about side effects of any treatment exist.

Understanding COPD Medicines – Having COPD means patients may need to take medicine to help control their symptoms. That’s why understanding what your medicines do and how to use each one is so important. Talking control of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms, it’s important to have an action plan for using medicines. An action plan should consider the following questions each day, to see how a patient is feeling, and what steps to take if they are not:

If a Patient is Doing Well They Are:

  • Breathing with less shortness of breath
  • Doing daily activities
  • Coughing up usual amounts of phlegm and mucus
  • Sleeping well
  • Having a good appetite

If a Patient is Not Doing Well They Have:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty completing daily activities
  • More coughing than usual
  • More and thicker mucus
  • Using a rescue inhaler or nebulizer more often
  • Trouble sleeping

If patients are not doing well, they are urged to contact their primary care provider, their pulmonologist, or in case of emergency go directly to the Emergency Room.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant risk factor for lung cancer, which adds to the importance of proper treatment of the disease to the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Approximately one percent of COPD patients develop lung cancer every year, which may be associated with genetic susceptibility to cigarette smoke. With this risk factor, the team at Lung Center of Nevada will work closely with patients to manage their care as best as possible.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers provides a variety of treatment options for patients with lung disease, such as COPD.  To learn more about the other diseases our pulmonary division treats, click here. To schedule an appointment with the Lung Center of Nevada please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

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How the Cancer Community Helps Advance the Treatment

Organizations Supporting Research and Treatment

Raising awareness about cancer and participating in fundraisers for notable organizations that support research and help advance the treatment of cancer. The team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers is often asked specifics about how these efforts work together and how progress is measured. To get an idea of how advancements in cancer treatment and research work, it’s best to look at how different approaches come together to raise awareness and improve treatment outcomes, as well as how Comprehensive participates in these efforts.

The first step is to help people gain a basic understanding of how cancer is not a single disease, but actually many different disease types. This is accomplished at all levels and through large organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, Cancer.net, National Cancer Institute and Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). These organizations take complex issues and science to create simple messages and action plans that reach audiences. This is done at a more granular level through the following activities:

Raising Awareness and Understanding – Helping people gain awareness about cancer is critical. This includes how one gets cancer and how the many variations of the disease are treated. Comprehensive Cancer Centers helps raise awareness through patient education in clinics and through its participation in community events that benefit organizations such as Coaches vs. Cancer, Susan G. Komen Foundation of Nevada and American Cancer Society to name a few.  Programs like Coaches vs. Cancer, in turn, raise funds to advance research, all while elevating public awareness about the benefits of healthy living and annual screenings for early detection.

Combating Myths and Misinformation – It’s important to offer online resources to websites like National Cancer Institute and cancer.net so people can read and learn about cancer, treatments, side effect and research in more detail. This will help them understand the disease and obtain the correct information. While the alternative and eastern medicine can be used in complement to standard of care, it’s always best to consult your physician first and be aware of the benefits of treatment through tested, proven scientific protocols. Increased awareness and accurate information can empower everyone to recognize early warning signs, make informed decisions about healthcare and counter fears and misperceptions about cancer.

Prevention and Risk Reduction At least one third of all cancers are preventable, proving plenty of opportunities to champion healthy choices and prevention strategies for everyone. Comprehensive Cancer provides numerous resources for awareness of prevention and risk reduction, including sun safety, and tips for improving diets and environments in the home, along with dietary resources in our blog. 

Access to Cancer Services – Life-saving cancer diagnosis and treatment should be accessible for all – no matter who you are, your level of education, level of income, type of insurance or where you live in the world. This is why non-profits and social workers are some important. Comprehensive is proud to support many local non-profits that provide much needed services in Southern Nevada. 

Government Action and Accountability – Proactive and effective actions on national and local health planning from government organizations is critical, and Comprehensive Cancer Centers plays a role in these efforts by working with local, state and national elected officials to help advocate for research, access and smart policy that puts patients first.

Reducing the Skills Gap – Skilled and knowledgeable healthcare workers are one of the most powerful ways to deliver quality cancer care. Addressing the workforce shortage of healthcare professionals is one way to achieve progress, and Comprehensive Cancer is a proud to partner with our local universities, colleges and professional partners like Las Vegas HEALS to help address workforce issues in our community. The practice has established scholarship programs to support future health care professionals in the community at Touro University of Nevada, UNLV College of Sciences and the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Scholarship at UNLV School of Medicine to cover one student’s four years of medical school tuition.

Strategic collaborations that involve professional organizations, local businesses, local and state-wide elected officials, non-profit organizations and academic institutions are ways to help expand awareness and support, convert political will into action, and deliver comprehensive solutions. Comprehensive Cancer Centers is proud to work with all of these entities to raise awareness, support the advancement of research and help connect people to resources that provide the best possible care for patients in Southern Nevada.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Comprehensive Cancer Centers provides a variety of treatment options for patients who’ve been referred to the practice for treatment of cancer, serious blood disorders, breast health conditions and lung diseases.  For certain cancer patients, clinical research studies currently being conducted at Comprehensive Cancer Centers may offer help, please click here to learn more. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Support Kidney Cancer Awareness Month this March

March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and Comprehensive Cancer Centers is hoping to offer education and bring awareness to a disease that effects so many. Additionally, we hope to call attention to a noteworthy advancement that has been made in recent years to treat kidney cancer, of which we were a part of.

Kidney Cancer, what is it?  

Kidney cancer is just that, cancer that develops in the cells of the kidneys. According to the American Cancer Society, the kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that are attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen and protected by the lower rib cage. The kidneys’ main job is to filter the blood coming in from the renal arteries to remove excess water, salt, and waste products. These substances become urine.

Kidney cancer is also sometimes referred to as renal cancer. It is one of the ten most common cancers in both men and women and accounts for more than 73,000 cancer diagnoses each year.

What are the risk factors?

  • Family history: People with family members, especially siblings, who have had kidney cancer are at an increased risk.
  • Smoking: Smoking may increase risk of getting kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressure: The risk of kidney cancer is higher in people with high blood pressure.
  • Certain medicines: A once popular pain-reliever called phenacetin and some prescriptions used to treat high blood pressure may be linked to kidney cancer.
  • Advanced kidney disease: People with advanced kidney disease and need to be on dialysis are at a higher risk.
  • Lack of exercise: People who are not active and/or are overweight have a higher risk of kidney cancer.

How do you know if you have kidney cancer?

Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a physician.

  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles and legs
  • Persistent fever not from an infection

There are no recommended screening tests for kidney cancer in people who are not at increased risk. This is because no test has been shown to lower the overall risk of dying from kidney cancer. Sometimes kidney cancer is detected when imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs are performed for other illnesses, such as gallbladder disease. For patients with an increased risk of kidney cancer, imaging tests may be recommended to specifically screen for kidney tumors.

Recent advancements in treatment for kidney cancer

There are many treatments available for patients with kidney cancer, but Comprehensive Cancer Centers has been actively involved in research to advance the treatment options.

The practice is currently participating in a phase 3b/4 safety trial of Nivolumab combined with Ipilimumab in patients with previously untreated, advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The trial was opened in February 2017.

At Comprehensive Cancer Centers, research and the participation in clinical trials is a vital part of our mission. Our physicians are dedicated to finding new ways to treat kidney cancer and other cancers on a daily basis. Through research, we have been able to offer our patients access to groundbreaking treatments closet to home, some of which are not available anywhere else in the world. To learn more about the clinical trials we offer at Comprehensive Cancer Centers, click here. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions

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Comprehensive Cancer Supports Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 145,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. In Nevada alone, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis and second leading cause of cancer deaths behind lung and bronchus cancer.

Colorectal cancer is often underestimated by patients because many have dismissed the early symptoms. As a result, it is not unusual that the cancer is often detected in its advanced stages. Most of the population feels as though they are not personally at risk. However, it’s time to reinforce that everyone could be affected and address the warning signs as colorectal cancer can be prevented through early screening.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is a part of the large intestine and the rectum is a passageway connecting the colon to the anus.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

There are several factors which may increase a person’s chances of getting colon or rectal cancer, including:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Diet
  • Ethnicity
  • Genetic alterations
  • History of colorectal polyps
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • History of bowel disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • Overweight

Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Men and women who experience any of the following signs or symptoms should consult their healthcare provider:

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Blood in the stool
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas pain or bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Colorectal Cancer Screening

There are a number of early detection measures and tests for colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends both men and women begin screening at age 50 with one of five options.

  • Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) – stool blood tests, which can detect small amounts of blood in the stool, should be administered yearly.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – every five years a physician should check inside the rectum and lower colon for polyps with a lighted tube.
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema – every five years patients should have an enema with a barium solution and air pumped into rectum. Then x-rays are taken of the colon and rectum to detect polyps.
  • Colonoscopy – every 10 years a physician should examine the inside rectum and colon using a long, lighted tube called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is longer than a sigmoidoscope, which is used during a sigmoidoscopy, and allows physicians to view the entire colon.

Some earlier and more frequent screening is recommended for individuals with confirmed hereditary cancer predisposition such as Lynch Syndrome or Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. These patients not only tend to have numerous family members with different cancers, but they might also be diagnosed at a younger age or could endure more than one type of cancer in their lifetime.

Hereditary Colorectal Cancer

Inherited cancer syndromes account for approximately five to 10 percent of all cancers. Colorectal Cancer can be considered on that is inherited. While not everyone with a cancer gene will develop cancer, but their risk is greatly increased. Many people with these genes develop cancer at younger ages than the rest of the population. It is important to know if you or your family members have a hereditary predisposition to cancer, as there are now options to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Genetic testing for those who are at high risk is now highly recommended and is becoming more of an expectation in oncology.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ cancer genetic nurse practitioner, Barbara Caldwell, MSN, APRN, is 1 of only 9 healthcare professionals in Nevada to receive their training from an intensive cancer genetic risk assessment program at City of Hope. She offers a thorough consultation and can put together a comprehensive medical care plan tailored to the individual and their family.

Call to schedule an appointment with our cancer genetic nurse practitioner if someone in your family meets any of the following criteria:

  • Colorectal Cancer (CRC) < 50 years
  • Colon cancer < 60 years with MSI-H histology (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, Crohn’s like lymphocytic reaction, mucinous/signet-ring differentiation or medullary growth pattern)
  • Two or more primary CRC’s or Lynch related tumors*
  • More than three family members, same side of the family, with CRC, uterine, ovarian or other Lynch related tumors
  • More than 10 GI adenomas (pre-cancerous polyps)
  • Multiple hamartomatous (juvenile) GI polyps

*GI , Uterine, Ovarian, Pancreatic, Urinary Tract Cancer, Sebaceous Tumor

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

The team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provides a multi-specialty approach to treating patients with colorectal cancer through world-class care and groundbreaking treatment options and research.

Treatment options are different for colorectal cancer and rectum cancer, but may include surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.  Each treatment option may be used alone or in combination.  Comprehensive Cancer Centers also participates in clinical research trials as part of our mission to provide the latest in cancer treatment to our patients. Please click here to learn more about the clinical trials being offered at our practice. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

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The Ultimate Detox Salad

Spring is in the air. And with warmer weather comes the urge to eat lighter. We’ve chosen The Ultimate Detox Salad as our featured recipe for March because its light and flavorful, but it’s also packed with cancer-fighting ingredients.

We’ve mentioned before that it’s a good rule of thumb to “eat the rainbow.” Foods that come in a variety of colors, like those of the rainbow, are important in helping fight cancer. They contain many active ingredients like Allyl Sulfides to help destroy cancer cells, antioxidants which protect your cells against free radicals, Beta-Carotene to help keep the immune system strong and Vitamin C to detoxify your body of harmful substances. The Ultimate Detox Salad certainly contains a rainbow of cancer-fighting vegetables.

Serves 6, as a lunch or dinner course

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the salad:
2 cups dinosaur kale, tightly packed and thinly sliced
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
2 avocados, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing (or put everything in a small blender and blend) and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Add the kale, cabbage, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots to a large serving bowl.
  3. Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss until everything is coated.
  4. Add the parsley, diced avocado, sesame seeds and walnuts and toss again.
  5. Serve as an entrée salad or as a side salad to your favorite meal.

Notes

  • You can use any type of kale you like.
  • You can also use avocado oil or olive oil in place of grapeseed oil in the dressing.

Credit: Eat to Beat Cancer

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A New Promise Arrives for Stage IV Prostate Cancer Patients

Groundbreaking Clinical Research for Prostate Cancer

By: Nicholas J. Vogelzang, MD, FASCO, FACP, medical oncologist, and Michael J. Anderson, MD, radiation oncologist

One in six men will face prostate cancer in his lifetime.

According to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 2019 Facts & Figures report, 1,180 Nevadans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. This marks a slight decline compared to last year’s projection of 1,190 diagnoses in the Silver State, but it’s still important to recognize the significance of the disease.

Prostate cancer is more likely to be cured when detected or treated early via recommended screenings. The five-year survival rate, encompassing all stages, is 99 percent and the 15-year survival rate is 96 percent. ACS recommends men with an average risk of prostate cancer begin screenings at age 50. Those at higher risk, including those having a family history or who are of African-American descent, are advised to start screenings as early as 40 years-old.

While the statistics surrounding a Stage IV diagnosis are not quite as promising, it is treatable. According to the National Cancer Institute, those whose prostate cancer metastasizes regionally to nearby lymph nodes have a 5-year survival rate of 99 percent. For those whose metastasizes to distant parts of the body, the rate is 28 percent.

A promising new therapy for those with advanced stage prostate cancer – a radionuclide treatment known as 177Lu-PSMA-617 – is currently in Phase III of testing. The intravenous therapy acts like a lightning bolt – it kills a cancer that is dividing by destroying its machinery for cell division. And, with the small handful of patients that have received the treatment thus far, 30 to 40 percent have had a positive response.

A New Promise Arrives for Stage IV Prostate Cancer PatientsOn December 6, 2018, local grandfather and Comprehensive Cancer Center patient William Cooley became the very first in Nevada to receive the treatment.

Leading up to the treatment, Mr. Cooley had exhausted all of his options. With a Stage IV diagnosis, he had undergone chemotherapy, radiation and testosterone deprivation therapy, among other measures. Nothing was having a lasting impact, and he was given one to two years to live. After being screened by Comprehensive’s research team, Mr. Cooley was found to be a genetic fit for the trial.

Thus far, the treatment has worked well for Mr. Cooley. His Prostate-Specific Antigen Test (PSA) figures which were rising rapidly pre-treatment have been reduced dramatically. His PSA at the start of the 177Lu-PSMA-617 treatment was 33ng/mL and is now at 5ng/mL (with 4ng/mL or less being normal).

Given the targeted nature of the therapy, he has also had no side effects and is incredibly optimistic about his journey moving forward. “I feel great and everyone can tell a difference,” Cooley said, “I am gaining weight back and I have so much energy now. I can spend time with my wife and family again without getting tired. I am at the top of my game. It is such a blessing.”

Mr. Cooley will visit the Comprehensive team once every six weeks for a total of six treatments.

Given the positive impact that 177Lu-PSMA-617 has had on patients like Mr. Cooley, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to fully approve the drug in one to two years. Simultaneously, other radionuclides (including Actinium-225) are currently being explored that may very well have a similar or even greater results.

An affiliate of The US Oncology Network, Comprehensive participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical research studies each year and has played a role in developing more than 70 FDA-approved cancer therapies. With these clinical trials, there have been incredible successes, some of which have ultimately impacted patients throughout the world.

And for so many, just like Mr. Cooley, these trials mark another path forward and an unwillingness to give up hope.

Nicholas J. Vogelzang, MD, FASCO, FACP, is a medical oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers and sits on the GU Committee for US Oncology Research. He serves as Clinical Professor of Medicine for UNR and UNLV School of Medicine as well as Vice Chair GU Committee SWOG. In his roles, he leads cutting-edge clinical trials in genitourinary malignancies (prostate, kidney and bladder cancers) and mesothelioma, and is involved in developing new therapies for patients with metastatic cancers of all types.

Michael J. Anderson, MD is a radiation oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers. He specializes in the use of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and High Dose Rate Brachytherapy for treating various cancer types as well as uses radioisotope for prostate cancer. He has served as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Sunrise Hospital Cancer Committee and has been a member of the Institutional Review Board Committee at University Medical Center. For more information on Dr. Anderson or Comprehensive, visit www.cccnevada.com or call 702-952-3350.

 

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Combatting ‘Dr. Web’: Recognizing Fake Medical ‘News’ Before It Becomes Lethal

Dr. Web Lied

By Fadi Braiteh, MD, medical oncologist

Fake news: It’s a recently adopted term that, by its means of adoption by politicians, both in some Western democracies and other authoritarian regimes, has permeated and affected so many aspects of society. And, here in 2019, the medical realm is unfortunately not yet immune to an influx of false and potentially harmful information.

The internet can be a useful and powerful source of education for everyone that touches healthcare – not only healthcare providers, students and researchers, but particularly patients and their caregivers, often left at the mercy of search engines, advertisers, and non-curated postings. That’s where the majority of people are spending a good chunk of their time these days. A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that more than 26 percent of Americans are “almost constantly” online and 43 percent of Americans go online several times a day.

So, with the internet being an integral and often time-consuming component of the average American’s day, some folks are naturally seeking out medical guidance as part of their searches, too.

It’s where this guidance evolves into a self-diagnosis and, often self-treatment, where the specific information harvested (literally without tools to judge veracity, value, context by a layperson) can be harmful. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Seattle’s Tinker Law Firm and published by Becker’s Hospital Review, 44 percent of Americans self-diagnose online instead of visiting a medical professional. Thirty percent of respondents also said they prefer home remedies to address health issues and 41 percent said they believed in homeopathic remedies.

In the oncology realm, turning to “Dr. Web” – and trusting the advertised therapies or remedies that can stem from a rabbit hole of searching – can be the difference between life and death.

As healthcare practitioners, we are custodians and guardians of the welfare of our patients. In addition to providing recommendations and courses of meaningful action, to treat and prevent ailments, our duty is to shelter patients from harm to health, including misguidance to wellbeing. This practice is the essence of modern medicine in United States, rooted at the turn of the 20th century with drastic reform of medical education in 1910 with the Flexner Report, the establishment of laws in 1906 leading to the birth of the Food And Drug Administration, and the foundation of the National Institute of Health in the 1880s. This was, in part, in response to the spread of information (including advertisements, journalism, items off the printed press and the pouring in of new mechanical devices), equally spreading verified facts and falsified claims.

A century later with the boom of the web, information – which is most often not curated or verified, often with an ill intention – in the hands of everyone.  Anyone who ventures on the internet can acknowledge that such a flood of advertised information sometimes isn’t even the result of a guided search but imposed through pop-ups. There is plenty of information out there, but unfortunately there is little solid knowledge that can result spontaneously: it requires a tremendous effort to verify and verify with trusted sources!

The layperson must navigate a furious ocean of information when it comes to his/her health – similar to navigating the seven seas and doing so safely. In most cases, this is no easy task – there is simply not enough time or expertise for the average person to decipher all of the information out there on an existing or prospective condition and make a responsible decision. This is the case with trusted sources, the problem becomes catastrophic when it’s a source that strives for financial gain, sells futile treatments or creates sensational misinformation to profit from inflated visitor statistics.

This is where the physician-patient relationship has never been more important. It is the physician’s responsibility to know and summarize the latest information and help the patient make an informed decision. It all must start by addressing the questions of, “How do you surf the internet for information and who helps you with that?”

How We Got Here

Two-thousand years ago, there was a near absence of medical information. Within our lifetime, a plethora has emerged. This abundance of information unfortunately consists of some intentionally misleading information by third parties.

For example, think of a popular news site you have visited recently. Below the article you intended to read, there are clickbait-esque pieces trying to lure you in, with headlines like “Where are these 10 child prodigies now?” and “How to lose 50 pounds in one week!” If you click on something of interest, the process to get to any information whatsoever can be painful, often involving 20-plus different pages or clicks. Those clicks equate to marketing value which is primarily why they exist.

Unfortunately, when you scour the internet enough about a certain condition – e.g., cancer – the third parties can start to leach on to you, promoting fake items and these bogus stories. Before you know it, seemingly everything you engage with online is surrounded by inaccurate information and messages. Here is where a patient can easily be misled by promises of herbal medicines or the harm of traditional cancer treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation.

Some of these sites are pushing for one among many of its “conspiracy theories” such as claiming that doctors or pharmaceutical companies have the cure for cancer, but they hide it. Other sites or stories are getting sophisticated and laying down a few facts – with study-driven evidence – and then complementing them with an abundance of lies.

To everyone, these sites are distractive. But, to some, it can very easily become literally destructive, if one is not vigilant. It is time to recognize the enemy. And, unfortunately, it is not just one enemy inundating our lives – it is several that are creating chaos.

Determining Real Versus Fake

Fortunately, we can combat the chaos with a proactive approach. When it comes to deciphering helpful versus harmful information, there are some tips to keep top-of-mind:

  • If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
  • Has the claim been clinically researched or proven time and time again? By whom? Are the sources trustworthy?
  • Understand the word “trial,” especially the differences between a “research clinical trial” and a “30-day free trial of product X.” While both phrases have the word “trial” in them, they are fundamentally different.
  • If a website is asking for money or your credit card information, run away.
  • If it is torturous to get information – e.g. clicking through 20 brief pages of photos – the end result likely isn’t trustworthy.
  • If more than half the page is comprised of advertisements, be skeptical.
  • What do reputable sources say in comparison to what you’re reading. Some great go-to sources in the oncology realm include net(comprised of doctor-approved patient information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology) and cancer.org (the American Cancer Society’s website).

The Harm in Trusting ‘Dr. Web’

There are certainly downsides to trusting “Dr. Web” over a physician or second opinion. Most importantly, opting for alternative therapies may equate to missed treatment opportunities. The difference between weeks or months exploring an Internet-sourced treatment way be life-altering, when one could have been receiving a reputable and fully researched treatment all along.

And, alternative medicines can certainly be costly. The time and money wasted on therapies with little proven value can be invested in proven and impactful treatments from the get-go. This is a perfect time to remind you: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exists for a reason. Formed in 1906, its mission statement reads:

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation… FDA is responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medical products and foods to maintain and improve their health.

The FDA and industry regulations exist to protect Americans. But unfortunately, amid the guidelines and pertinent warnings, some folks continue to opt for what they find online. Unfortunately for the cancer patients that I have encountered that have insisted on their own unproven findings, many are not alive to tell their stories.

An example: Two years ago, I had a young man, in his early 20s, visit me with an early, treatable stage of cancer. During our visit, he told me that he went online and found numerous articles that said he would die from chemotherapy and not from the cancer itself. In fact, he insisted that if we did any sort of surgery, the cancer would spread. I explained why this was wrong and how cancer did not resemble a wasp’s nest. He researched serious and valid pre-clinical laboratory papers about effect of some of the cannabis products on certain cancer cells in certain conditions. But he ignored the context and the limitations, even when stated by the authors, and instead he chose to stretch these basic observations to become as they were verified outcomes in patients. He did not recognize that such validations require decades of research, thousands of researchers, and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of funding, before a compound or interventions are proven helpful.

His mother decided to visit me with him at a subsequent appointment. Unfortunately, her views aligned with his. Following that visit, he chose not to return to the clinic, and disappeared. Eight months later, after adopting alternative approaches (fundamentally non-medical) he returned very sick, bleeding to near death, with stage four widespread cancer, relentlessly and graphically eating away at his body. He finally accepted and came to terms with science and modern medicine and accepted chemotherapy and radiation. Since it was late in the course of his disease, it was palliative in nature to alleviate his suffering and control his symptoms, until his passing few months later.

Unfortunately, this is certainly not an isolated rare case. A study of 840 cancer patients, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in January 2018, found that patients using alternative medicines were 2.5 times more likely to die than those that opted for conventional cancer treatments.

There is real danger in exploring and ultimately trusting fake medical news. While it is always important to stay informed, it is equally as important to turn to reputable sources and obtain a second opinion.

Fadi Braiteh, MD is a medical oncologist and director of the Translational Oncology Program Phase I and GI Malignancies Program for Comprehensive Cancer Centers. He is a clinical associate professor at University of Nevada School of Medicine and is board certified in Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine and specializes in the area of Gastro-intestinal and Thoracic oncology. Dr. Braiteh is also a principal investigator of numerous clinical research studies available at Comprehensive

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Is There Any Amount of Sun Exposure That’s Good For You?

Being Sun Smart: Sun Safety Tips

The physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers caution patients, and the general public, about the dangers associated with excessive exposure to the sun. With nearly 300 sunny days per year in the Las Vegas Valley, and dangerous UVB rays finding their way through even cloudy days during the winter to the skin, has helped earn our home the top ranking for worst cities for your skin.

Las Vegas earned the worst city for skin ranking due to the combination of the region’s relatively high elevation, prevalence of smoke in places like casinos, and high temperatures. The combination contributes to approximately 22 high ozone days per year. These factors may all help contribute to increased risks for health issues including skin cancer and melanoma.

All of the warnings for skin cancer raised the question: is there any amount of sun that can be enjoyed outdoors safely? A recent story by Outside Magazine brought about some questions on that very topic, with some recommendations that people may lose some health benefits by completely avoiding the sun.

Researchers are showing that vitamin D supplements show little to no benefit to people. In November of 2018, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted—in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years—found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke through taking Vitamin D supplements.

With vitamin supplements not providing necessary results, and risks from the sun a challenge in Southern Nevada, the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer recommend that people look to find vitamin D from natural sources, which are more efficiently processed by the body. These foods include fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, orange juice, soymilk, and cereals. Vitamin D can also be found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.

“Being sun smart includes wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, among other precautions, but it also means being aware of your skin and getting regular check ups to stay on top of your health management, “ said Dr. Wolfram Samlowski, medical oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers. “Remaining in good health requires a 360 degree approach and we urge everyone to be mindful of everything they can do, each day, to make that happen.”

Also noted by Dr. Samlowski, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are highly treatable. Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

In sum, while it can be good to get a bit of natural sun exposure, the benefits from being sun smart should always be the top priority when being outdoors.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Comprehensive Cancer does its part to help fellow residents of the community be sun safe through partnerships with Wet‘n’Wild Las Vegas, The soon-to-be Las Vegas Aviators, Springs Preserve, Downtown Summerlin and the Cadence master-planned community by providing free sunscreen at kiosks in each location, along with sun safety tips.

Should you receive a skin cancer or melanoma diagnosis, the Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with cancer.  For certain patients, clinical research studies currently being conducted at Comprehensive Cancer Centers may offer additional treatment options. Please click here to learn more. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Comprehensive Raises Awareness for Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

Support Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

Every February, Comprehensive Cancer Centers honors Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month. The month is sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research and is critical since gallbladder cancer and bile duct cancer are relatively rare forms of cancer.  Raising awareness for these diseases is critical for early diagnosis and treatment.

An estimated 12,000 people living in the United States will be diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in 2019, according data from the American Cancer Society.

The goal of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month is to educate the public about the gallbladder, which is a pear-shaped organ in the abdomen, below the liver. The organ collects and stores bile, a fluid made by the liver, to aid with digestion of fats. The bile ducts are thin tube-like vessels that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. Extrahepatic bile duct cancer is a rare form of the disease in which cancer cells form in the ducts that are outside the liver. Cancer can also develop in the bile ducts inside the liver. Bile duct cancer is also called cholangiocarcinoma.

What are Symptoms of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer?

Symptoms of both gallbladder and bile duct cancer include yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes (jaundice), abdominal pain, and fever. In addition, gallbladder cancer symptoms include nausea and vomiting, bloating, and lumps in the abdomen.

How do Gallbladder Cancer and Bile Duct Cancer Develop?

Gallbladder cancer begins in the inner, or mucosal, layer of the organ, most commonly in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. It then spreads into the muscle and outer layers. Bile duct cancer forms in cells in any portion of the bile duct network.

Scientists have found that individuals who fit the profile below are more likely to develop gallbladder cancer:

  • Females – In the U.S., gallbladder cancer occurs more than twice as often in women. Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation are important risk factors for gallbladder cancer and are also much more common in women than men.
  • Older age – More than 2 out of 3 people with gallbladder cancer are 65 or older when it is found.
  • Obesity – Patients with gallbladder cancer are often overweight or obese. Obesity is also a risk factor for gallstones, which might help explain this link.
  • Ethnicity and geography – In the U.S., the risk of developing gallbladder cancer is highest among Mexican Americans and Native Americans.
  • Family history – A history of gallbladder cancer in the family seems to increase a person’s chances of developing this cancer, but the risk is still low because this is a rare disease.

In addition to the above demographic considerations, many risk factors are related in some way to chronic inflammation (irritation and swelling) in the gallbladder, which includes:

  • Gallstones – At least 3 out of 4 people with gallbladder cancer have gallstones when they are diagnosed.
  • Porcelain gallbladder – This is a condition in which the wall of the gallbladder becomes covered with calcium deposits.
  • Choledochal cysts – These are bile-filled sacs that are connected to the common bile duct, the tube that carries bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.
  • Bile duct abnormalities – Ducts that flow pancreatic juice into the small intestine to help digestion sometimes experience reflux (flow backward) into the bile ducts. People with this abnormality are at higher risk of gallbladder cancer.
  • Gallbladder polyps – A growth that bulges from the surface of the inner gallbladder wall.
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) – Inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts.
  • Industrial and environmental chemicals – Working in the rubber and textile industries, and exposure to chemical compounds called nitrosamines may increase the risk of gallbladder cancer.
  • Typhoid – People chronically infected with salmonella (the bacterium that causes typhoid) and those who are carriers of the disease are more likely to get gallbladder cancer.

Risk factors for bile duct cancer include having chronic colitis, certain liver diseases, and infection with a worm parasite known as the clonorchis sinensis, or the Chinese liver fluke. Risk factors for gallbladder cancer are being a woman and being Native American.

Both forms of cancer are often diagnosed at later, more advanced stages because most people display few, if any, recognizable symptoms at early stages.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients who’ve been referred to the practice for the treatment of gallbladder and bile duct cancers.  To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Comprehensive Cancers’ Award-Winning Radiation Oncology Team

Radiation Oncology at Comprehensive

The American College of Radiology (ACR) awarded a three-year term of accreditation to Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ Radiation Oncology Division. Comprehensive has received the accreditation for seven consecutive three-year terms. The most recent renewal extends the division’s accreditation through December 31, 2021 and is a testimony to the excellence of the practice’s subject matter experts, who assist patients when the need for radiation-based treatment arises.

The ACR awards this accreditation to select facilities, such as Comprehensive Cancer Centers for the achievement of high practice standards after a peer review evaluation. Board-certified physicians and medical physicists conduct the evaluations of practices, assessing the qualifications of personnel and adequacy of facility equipment. The surveyors report findings to ACR’s Committee on Accreditation. The committee provides the practice with a comprehensive report, with earning the accreditation a symbol of the highest standard awarded to radiation oncology practices.

The Comprehensive Cancer Centers Radiation Oncology Team

Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ radiation oncology team that earned the ACR Award consists of the following physicians: Michael J. Anderson, MD, Andrew M. Cohen, MD, Dan L. Curtis, MD, Farzaneh Farzin, MD, Raul T. Meoz, MD, FACR, Matthew W. Schwartz and MD, Michael T. Sinopoli, MD.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers offers radiation oncology services at medical practices located across Southern Nevada. Locations with radiation oncology include the Northwest Treatment Center located on Peak Drive near Mountain View Hospital; the Summerlin Radiation/CyberKnife Treatment Center located on the Summerlin Hospital Medical Center campus; the Southwest Treatment Center located on the Southern Hills Hospital campus; the Central Valley Treatment Center located on South Eastern Avenue near Flamingo Road; and the Henderson Treatment Center located on the St. Rose Dominican Hospital – Siena Campus in Henderson.

At its clinics, Comprehensive Cancer Centers offers the most precise radiation applications and state-of-the-art equipment available, including:

  • Three-dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy
  • CyberKnife® Radiosurgery
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery
  • High Dose Rate Brachytherapy, Prostate Seed Brachytherapy
  • Partial Breast Irradiation

Comprehensive Cancer Centers and CyberKnife® Radiosurgery

An example of Comprehensive’s radiation treatment options comes in form of CyberKnife®, which uses computer-operated robotics and precise image guidance technology to treat tumors. The technology tracks and destroys tumors in the body or brain while accounting for the patient’s breathing, which can cause tumors to move during the procedure. This delicate process eliminates the need for patients to wear invasive stereotactic head frames to target localization.

CyberKnife® offers a non-invasive approach to Stereotactic Radiosurgery, which uses precisely targeted doses of radiation to treat tumors, lesions and other select medical disorders. An outpatient procedure, CyberKnife® destroys tumors without the risks and complications of conventional surgery and can treat malignant and benign intracranial tumors, and many other tumor sites in the body such as liver, head and neck, pelvis, lung, pancreas, spine and brain. CyberKnife® has also become the treatment of choice for medically inoperable stage I non-small cell lung cancer.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.  For certain patients, clinical research studies currently being conducted at Comprehensive Cancer Centers may offer additional treatment options. Please click here to learn more. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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