CaSfA - Cancer Support for All
News from CaSfA's Director

Resources for Meditation and Attaining Mindfulness

A new website that offers FREE guided meditations has been created for cancer survivors.  Kara (https://thisiskara.com) features 12 meditations including the four core qualities whose initials give Kara its name—kindness, awareness, rest and allowing.  The remaining eight tracks are designed to help with specific difficult emotions or challenges that survivors experience, such as feeling overwhelmed, afraid or angry; feeling alone or like you are a burden; or being in pain or sleepless.

Coffee and Colon Cancer

Coffee addicts rejoice!! A number of reports in recent years have suggested coffee consumption may offer some protection against various types of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer, melanoma, liver cancer, advanced prostate cancer and colon cancer. A recent study looking at coffee consumption in colon cancer patients provides more evidence of this effect.  From:http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2015/08/11/JCO.2015.61.5062.full
Observational studies have demonstrated increased colon cancer recurrence in states of relatively high blood insulin, including sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and increased dietary glycemic load.

Treatment Options in Early Prostate Cancer

An important study looking at the treatment of early stage prostate cancer was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1606220?query=featured_home#t=articleBackground).   The use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing has dramatically increased the diagnosis of prostate cancer.  Close to 181,000 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2016 and over 26,000 men will die of the disease.  But many cases of this cancer will progress slowly and not lead to death.

Music Therapy

We were so fortunate to have cancer survivor and CaSfA member, Kathleen M. Howland, Ph.D., present CaSfA’s first evening presentation, “Music Therapy:  A Powerful Support for Cancer Treatment and Beyond". Dr. Howland is a true expert in the field of music therapy.  She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music therapy, neuroscience and positive psychology at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory. She is a certified music therapist and a licensed speech pathologist.

American Cancer Society's 2016 Facts and Figures

CaSfA's most recent newsletter contains my notes from the American Cancer Society's 2016 Facts and Figures.  It's a lengthy document that summarizes current scientific information about cancer in the United States. To download the document visit: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf.

Here's just a few of my notes from the report:

Can Cancer Be Prevented?
“A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented.” Tobacco use is a major cause of some cancers.

Dealing with Breast Cancer



A CaSfA member recently gave meThe Silver LiningCompanion Guide: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancerby Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW.  While this was written specifically for the breast cancer survivor, much is relevant to survivors of all cancers. (The companion guide is availablefree to allat: https://www.directrelief.org/silverlining/).  This publication reminded me of a handout I developed a few years ago:

If you are Diagnosed:
Accept feelings-anger, guilt, denial, despair…

Results from the TH3RESA trial


Results from a study presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium showed patients with metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer who received a combination antibody/chemotherapy drug in a phase 3 clinical trial survived longer, on average, than patients receiving other treatments. (http://news.cancerconnect.com/conjugate-drug-extends-survival-in-patients-with-advanced-her2-positive-breast-cancer/ )“The TH3RESA trial, which enrolled more than 600 participants in the U.S. and overseas, compared survival times in patients randomized to treatment with the conjugate drug trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) to those randomized to treatment of their physician’s choice. All patients had metastatic breast cancer that tested positive for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein – a feature in about 20 percent of all breast cancers – and had previously been treated with chemotherapy as well as the HER2-targeted drugs trastuzumab and lapatinib. The investigators found that those in the T-DM1 group lived a median of 22.7 months vs. 15.8 months for those in the treatment of physician’s choice group – a 44 percent improvement.”  In addition, serious side effects were lower in the TDM-1 group.

The Updated ACS Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS) released its new breast cancer screening guidelines, raising the recommended age for beginning annual screening from 40 to 45, and endorsing biennial screenings beginning at age 55. In addition, the new guidelines suggest physicians should forgo clinical breast exams for women of any age. 

I have an admittedly biased opinion about these recommendations.  My breast cancer was found by a routine annual screening mammogram.  I had a very low risk of developing breast cancer.

The DCIS Controversy

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ is diagnosed by examination of the biopsy of breast tumor.  The cancer cells are within the milk ducts and have not invaded the underlying tissue.  It is classified as Stage 0 breast cancer.  The incidence of DCIS has increased with the widespread use of screening mammography and it now accounts for 20-30% of all newly diagnosed breast cancers.
 
The treatment of DCIS has become controversial.  Even the name is a source of controversy.  Some believe it should not be called cancer at all, since it doesn’t involve tissue invasion.

Loved Ones' Perspectives

Cancer doesn't just affect the patient.  It affects our loved ones too.  I recently read two very moving essays by loved ones and caregivers of cancer survivors.  Read them:  
http://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2015/10/how-to-care-for-a-partner-with-cancer/
http://www.sarah-levy.com/blog-1/2015/10/7/mymomhercancerandme

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