Maryland Oncology Hematology is a guest on Great Day Washington

Dr. Surupa Sen Gupta and Dr. Colette Magnant represented Maryland Oncology Hematology on Great Day Washington to explain the importance of screenings, self-exams, and living a healthy lifestyle for breast cancer awareness month.

 

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Managing the Holidays with Cancer

Even people in perfect health often feel exhausted and overwhelmed during the holiday season; that feeling is often magnified when you’re battling cancer. You may not have the stamina to battle Black Friday crowds, deck the halls and entertain as lavishly as you have in years past, and that’s OK. If you’re a cancer patient try not to overexert yourself, but don’t isolate yourself either. Here are some ways cancer patients can manage and even enjoy the holidays while undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.

Accept Help

When you were diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment, you were probably inundated with offers of help and support. Now is the time to accept those offers. Whether you need help hanging Christmas lights or wrapping gifts, don’t hesitate to ask friends, neighbors and family members for help. Most people will feel honored that you asked, and you’ll probably enjoy both their help and their company.

Tweak Traditions

It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and become overwhelmed. This year, try to focus on the underlying reason for your traditions: Celebrating relationships and enjoying spending time with loved ones. If your tradition involves gathering the family for Christmas dinner, you can achieve that without spending hours in the kitchen. Ask each guest to bring a dish and have a pot-luck, have the meal catered, meet at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Maryland, or move the dinner to someone else’s house.

Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping

One of the most daunting aspects of the holidays is battling traffic and crowds to buy gifts. You certainly don’t have to buy gifts. However, if you want to consider shopping online. You’ll save time and energy, and you’ll probably also save money. Visit sites such as Retailmenot.comOffers.com, and freeshipping.org for online coupon codes. Another benefit of online shopping is that many sites offer a gift wrapping option. You can buy your gift and arrange to have it wrapped and shipped directly to your loved one.

Carve Out Time for Yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed during the holidays, so take care of yourself by taking breaks to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, take a bath, or take a nap. This is a good idea for cancer patients, even when it’s not the holidays. But it’s almost critical during the holiday season.

If it becomes clear the festivities will carry on into the wee hours, it’s OK to excuse yourself and make an early exit. If you’ve accepted an invitation but aren’t feeling well, feel free to send your regrets at the last minute. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. Make your health top priority, and those around you will understand.

You Don’t Have to be Cheerful All the Time

When you have cancer, that fact is always on your mind. For most people, the holiday season is a time for reflection. As a cancer patient, it’s only natural that you’ll mourn your life before cancer and feel anxiety about the future. Anger, sadness and frustration are common, understandable emotions that don’t go away during the holidays. Express your feelings, as your honesty gives your loved ones permission to express their feelings, too. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it’s cathartic to acknowledge that. It’s OK to laugh and to cry.

Celebrate Life, Love and Happiness

You may have cancer, but cancer does not define you. Celebrate and enjoy your life. Whether you spend time with friends and loved ones, volunteer to help others or meditate in preparation for a brand new year, take time during the holiday season to celebrate all the wonderful things about your life, and know that our cancer specialist at Maryland Oncology Hematology are here to help you.

 

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What is a Cancer Clinical Trial?

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, learning about what a clinical trial is and deciding what treatment to pursue can be daunting. When you’ve exhausted the available cancer treatment options, whether through radiation oncology, hematology-oncology or some other specialty, it can be scary to think that’s there isn’t a treatment option left. Fortunately, clinical trials can provide hope and alternative treatment options for cancer patients who need them.

What Are Cancer Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are the last phase in getting regulatory approval for new pharmaceutical medications, devices or protocols. After months or years of research and testing in the lab and, in many cases, on animals, human testing is needed to ensure safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials are conducted at many research institutions, hospitals, and community based clinics (or practices) around the world.

Why Clinical Trials Exist

Clinical trials exist to get new treatment options to patients. For instance, a clinical trial about investigational breast cancer treatments may lead to more successful outcomes for breast cancer surgeons and their patients. In addition to measuring safety, clinical trials can determine if a new therapy works, makes no difference or further impairs patients.

Who Benefits From Clinical Trials

Many people benefit from clinical trials. First, patients involved in clinical trials receive life-saving treatment earlier than it would normally be available. This is ideal for cancer patients who haven’t responded to approved therapies. For patients who cannot afford treatment, involvement in a clinical trial is sometimes at no cost to the patient. Second, researchers, doctors, and pharmaceutical manufacturers benefit by having humans to test their experimental cancer treatments on.

Third, no matter what the outcome of the trial, future cancer patients strongly benefit from clinical trials. If a new medication or treatment proves to be successful, future patients will be able to use it as a regular part of their treatment. If the clinical trial fails, future patients will not be exposed, and researchers can identify drugs that could provide better outcomes in the future.

How Clinical Trials Are Conducted

Human clinical trials are conducted in three different phases. Depending on the actual trial, there might be more phases. The first phase involves a small number of patients, and the primary concern is the safety or side effects of the treatment. Clinical trials do not aim to hurt people, so at first, the first phase stays small so researchers can closely monitor what happens. This phase happens after a lot of research has already been conducted in the lab, so there is less chance of a foreseeable adverse reaction.

The second phase also uses a small group of people. Instead of just focusing on safety, this phase examines how well the proposed treatment works. If the results still look promising, a third phase involves a larger number of people with less stringent guidelines. For example, if an earlier phase only allowed geriatric patients to be involved, this phase might expand the parameters to evaluate possible side effects and compare alternative treatments to see which is better for whom.

How to Participate in a Clinical Trial

For patients interested in participating in a clinical trial, the first step is to try conventional cancer treatment options, if possible. Many trials will ask what you’ve already tried. Next, patients need to find clinical trials through online databases, their oncologist or a local cancer center to see who’s eligible to participate.

Maryland Oncology Hematology currently has active clinical trials for breast cancer, lung cancer, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), metastatic malignancies, multiple myeloma, supportive therapies and gastric cancers. These include clinical trials for many different stages of these cancers. To participate, you should ask your oncologist or contact Maryland Oncology Hematology directly.

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Men: Are You at Risk For Prostate Cancer?

Every man and those who love him should know how to prevent prostate cancer. This is because a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer every three minutes. Fortunately, thanks to strides in cancer research and cancer clinical trials, this disease is often preventable and has a very high survival rate, if detected in the early stages.

Who is at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer?

Some men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, but that doesn’t seem that they will develop the disease. Also, it is possible that a man with several risk factors will never develop the disease.

These risk factors include:

  • Age

The chances of developing prostate cancer drastically increase when a man turns 50. However, over half the cancer cases are discovered in men who are 65 or older. It is rare for a male under the age of 40 to develop prostate cancer; however, it can happen.

  • Genetics and Family History

Most prostate cancer occur in men without a family history, but there are some links that suggest their are inherited factors in developing prostate cancer. Discuss your family medical history with your doctor to help determine if you should have a genetic cancer risk assessment. If you have a family history of prostate cancer or many of the risk factors be sure talk to your doctor about things you can do to lower your risks.

  • Geographic Location

North Americans have a slightly higher risk than men in many other parts of the world. The reasons for this are still unknown, but are believed to be related to the more advanced screening methods in the United States.

  • Race

Race is another factor; your chances of dying from prostate cancer are over two times higher if you are a Caribbean man of African descent or African-American male. Studies indicate that this is because a high majority of African-American males have one or two copies of a genetic variant, which is a variation in the DNA sequence of their genomes. Also making them more than two-times more likely to die from the disease than white men.

It is best to be aware of risk factors and seek help with your doctor if you notice any abnormal changes.

How do you lower your risk of prostate cancer?

The success in treating prostate cancer has also provided more knowledge on how to lower our risks of prostate cancer. While there are many factors, such as genes, age and race, that we aren’t able to control; there are a few factors that we can control to help lower risks, including:

  • Schedule a physical with your doctor each year. This is important because the beginning stages of prostate cancer have few or no symptoms. An annual physical can help detect the disease in the earliest stages.
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, and cauliflower are especially good.
  • Avoiding obesity by keeping your body at a healthy weight.
  • Exercising on a regular basis.
  • Avoid smoking, or quit if you already smoke.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you feel that you are at a greater risk to develop prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about additional vitamins, mineral, or medications that you can take to help lower your risks.

Talk to your healthcare provider about what’s best for you and to schedule your yearly prostate cancer screening. However, increased urination or a weaker flow of urine can be signs of advanced prostate cancer, and while these problems can also be caused by other problems that have nothing to do with cancer, we recommend making an appointment to see your doctor about these symptoms. There are tests can detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages, whether or not you have any symptoms. If the test result is abnormal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disease. Your doctor will conduct other tests to find out for sure.

For help with this disease in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area, contact us to make an appointment with one of our prostate cancer specialists. Our staff members are up-to-date on the latest clinical trials and cancer research and will help you choose the best treatment option to successfully battle this disease.

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Oncology Radio now Available on your Android Device

Maryland Oncology Hematology‘s podcast “Oncology Radio” now has an application available in the Google Play store for anyone with an Android device. Get updated when a new episode airs and listen to old episodes right from your mobile device. You now have access to some of the top Oncology information from some of the leading oncologists in the area and across the nation. Oncology Radio broadcasts a new episode on the 1st and 15th of every month at 8 PM Est. Listen as one of Maryland Oncology Hematology’s physicians interview their guests about cancer research, cancer screenings, non-profits, clinical trials, and the history and statistics of cancers that many are struggling with. Follow the link that will take you directly to the Google Play store and download the Oncology Radio application today.

 

Download Here: CLICK

 

 

 

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What Is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancers, as you may have guessed, affect areas of the head and neck. These cancers aren’t common (they account for about 3% of all malignant cancers in the United States). And, according to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancer diagnosis have been declining for decades. So have mortality rates.

Continue reading “What Is Head and Neck Cancer?”

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4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Cancer Research Trial

Have you wondered whether there might be a new or different cancer treatment option available to you through cancer research trials? Or maybe your doctor has talked to you about the possibility of participating in a clinical trial for your cancer treatment. (Read more to understand “What is a Clinical Trial?”) Here are four things that patients and family members should feel free to ask their oncologist and research team before agreeing to participate.

Continue reading “4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Cancer Research Trial”

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A Cancer Survivor’s Guide to Returning to Work

Chances are you or a coworker will face the question of returning to work after cancer treatment. Cancer now affects 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men, while the survival rate for many cancers is increasing.

While the risk of cancer increases with age, it also affects many younger adults still in the workplace. An estimated 46% of patients diagnosed with cancer are between the ages of 20 and 64.

Surveys find that most cancer survivors who return to work say that it’s beneficial for their recovery. In addition to needing the income, you may enjoy using your skills and maintaining personal relationships.

For some cancer survivors, it’s gratifying just to have experiences apart from their medical condition.

Your individual needs will depend on many factors, including your specific diagnosis.

Use these suggestions to help you deal with health and career issues if you’re considering going back to work after cancer treatment.

Protecting Your Health:

  1. Follow up. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for aftercare. Let your doctor’s office know if you need to arrange appointments and medications in a way that will have the least impact on your job.
  2. Manage stress. Some cancer patients experience depression and anxiety, in addition to the usual job-related stress. Find relaxation practices that work for you like meditation and physical exercise.
  3. Seek support. Be willing to accept assistance. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers what you need. Reach out to other cancer patients or call your local hospital to find a support group near you.
  4. Understand your rights. There are several government programs and policies that may help you make the transition back to work, including the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. Ask your HR department or contact a social worker or advocacy group for more information.
  5. Guard your privacy. You also have the right to keep your medical information confidential if you wish. Many employers are supportive, but you may sometimes face discrimination. Let your doctor know if you want to avoid any reference to cancer when they fill out forms from your employer.

cancer survivors guide

Readjusting to Work:

  1. Stay in touch. Returning to the office will be easier if you can find ways to stay involved during your treatment. Maybe you can attend some meetings or read industry publications. Maybe you have an office buddy you can call occasionally.
  2. Prepare for questions. You may find that some colleagues are eager to welcome you back while others seem uncomfortable. Rehearse what you want to say about your condition or your time away, so you’ll be ready with a response that works for you.
  3. Reduce your hours. Part-time work is one of the simplest ways to transition back gradually. Many cancer patients experience fatigue, so respect your limits.
  4. Ask for accommodations. Evaluate your workspace and usual tasks. Talk with your employer about modifications that can help you to do your job. For example, you might need to keep your office scent-free to avoid triggering nausea.
  5. Write things down. Some of your symptoms may have more to do with the side effects of your treatment rather than cancer itself. If chemotherapy affects your concentration, make written notes to remind you of any details you might forget.
  6. Change jobs. You may still be able to work even if your current position poses difficulties for your recovery. Research other fields or apply for jobs with less demanding responsibilities.

With skillful communication and planning, you may be able to continue working after your cancer treatment. Talk with your doctor to ensure that you’re well enough to do your job and work with your employer to make any necessary adjustments.

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