Cancer

CyberKnife, VATS + other surgical and less invasive treatments for lung cancer

Surgery is among the most common treatments for people with lung cancer. Let’s take a closer look at various types of surgery for lung cancer, as well as emerging non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments, like CyberKnife or “SBRT,” cryosurgery and “VATS.” Huh? Read on… we’ll explain. Common types of lung cancer surgery Before we explore some of the newer and less invasive treatments, let’s review the most common surgical treatments for lung cancer these days. These are the most frequently reported treatments on PatientsLikeMe (to access the links below, join the community or login): Lung lobectomy – In this procedure, a surgeon removes the entire lobe of the lung that contains a tumor. The right lung has 3 lobes, and the left lung has 2 lobes. See members’ evaluations of this treatment here. Lung wedge resection – This procedure involves removing a small, wedge-shaped portion of the lung (containing cancer), along with a certain amount of healthy tissue that surrounds the area. See treatment evaluations here. Pneumonectomy – Also called “radical pneumonectomy,” this means surgically removing an entire lung. Read treatment reports here. Lung segment resection – This procedure usually removes more than a wedge resection would but not the entire lobe of the lung. See treatment reports here. Check out additional treatment …

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Speaking out for Lung Cancer Awareness Month: “We’ve got to get rid of the stigma”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re sharing members’ encounters with stigma and the automatic association with smoking. Lung cancer rates are increasing among nonsmokers, and some members of your community are raising their voices. One concern? The assumption that lung cancer only affects smokers could delay diagnosis and treatment for anyone (especially never-smokers) with symptoms. Some say that stigma also affects funding for lung cancer research. Lung cancer rates rising among nonsmokers As many as one in five people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. every year do not smoke or use any other form of tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). “In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the United States,” the ACS says. Two studies presented at the 2015 World Conference on Lung Cancer showed that lung cancer rates among nonsmokers (especially women) have been increasing over the past decade. The ACS says that avoiding or quitting tobacco use is still the most important way people can reduce their risk for lung cancer, but researchers have found several other causes or risk factors, including: Radon gas Secondhand smoke …

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation? What is inflammation? Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals. But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic. Which diseases or conditions does it affect? Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases. You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s …

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How cancer affects diet + pointers for trying to eat well

Many PatientsLikeMe members have talked in the forum about the dietary impact of lung cancer treatment and how it has hindered their eating. As many as 40 to 60 percent of patients with lung cancer experience unintentional weight loss. Eating well (or as best you can) during and after cancer treatment can help you keep up your body weight, strength and ability to fight off infection. With the help of our Health Data Integrity Team, we’ve rounded up some diet and nutrition pointers for people with lung cancer. Treatment side effects impacting diet Everyone responds differently to treatments, and side effects vary in severity for patients, but here are some common ways treatments can affect your diet. Surgery – Recovery requires extra energy and nutrients to heal wounds, fight infection and recover (physically and emotionally). If your weight is below normal, either before or after surgery, work with your care team to develop a nutrient-rich eating plan. Chemotherapy – It aims to kill cancer cells, but chemo may also damage healthy cells in the mouth, stomach and intestines. This may result in mouth sores, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. When more than one drug is given (as is …

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10 hot weather and sun-safety pointers for people with lung cancer

On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 7,000 members are sharing their experiences with lung cancer. The dog days of summer have arrived, so we’ve rounded up some tips for handling the weather’s impact on breathing troubles and the side effects of chemo, radiation and surgery. Hot weather tips for people with breathing issues The American Lung Association reminds those with lung disease that your lungs might be working harder in the summer air. Taking some extra steps may help you breathe easier. Hot and humid weather can cause airway inflammation and add to breathing difficulty. Tip: Use air-conditioners (with clean filters) in your home, if possible. Air pollution (which worsens in the summer due to increased ozone from smog) can also bother your breathing when you have lung disease. Tip: Keep tabs on the air quality forecast in your region, and avoid high-pollution areas (such as jammed highways), if you can. When your body is working harder to breathe, you can easily become dehydrated. Tip: Drink plenty of cold water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Sun- and heat-safety for people undergoing cancer treatment Certain kinds of chemotherapy can make you more sensitive to the sun. Radiation therapy sites and surgical scars also …

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It’s Melanoma Awareness Month, let’s talk famous faces who’ve battled melanoma

Do you know anybody who has or had melanoma? If you answered yes, you’re among many others – melanoma is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in the United States. Rates of the skin cancer are increasing rapidly, particularly among younger people and in fact, cases of melanoma just in the last 30 years alone have tripled. To encourage more awareness of this serious disease, a number of celebrities have publicly shared their battles with skin cancer, here are just a few…   Jimmy Carter The former president announced he was battling melanoma in 2015. Thankfully he made a full recovery after treatment with Keytruda (Pembrolizumab), an immunotherapy drug.     Maureen Regan The daughter of former president Ronald Regan sadly passed away in 2001 after a five year battle Melanoma.       Troy Aikman This football legend had spotted a suspicious mole on his shoulder that turned out to be melanoma. He later had an operation to remove the melanoma and is now doing fine.       Eva Cassidy The singer was only in her thirties when she had a malignant mole removed from her back. Three years later, the melanoma returned and she sadly passed …

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“Every morning that I wake up feeling well is a day to celebrate life.” Revisiting member Gloria’s journey

We first met member Gloria (Glow4life) in 2015 when she shared her journey on the PatientsLikeMe blog. She opened up about her experiences from receiving a lung cancer diagnosis (adenocarcinoma), to the sudden loss of her husband and going through several rounds of treatment. Despite it all she never gave up hope, and two years later Gloria still lives by her motto: “Never give up, never give in.” Gloria was recently accepted for treatment with Keytruda, a groundbreaking new immunotherapy drug. Read on to find out more about how treatment with Keytruda is going, what she’s been up to since we last spoke to her and what she’s looking forward to. What have you been doing over the past two years, since we last spoke? From October 2013 to October 2015, I was stable, until a scan revealed that the primary site, right lung, had increased from 3mm to 16 mm, and I had a new growth in the liver. Because it had been so long since my last chemo, Dr. Brown, my oncologist, was able to offer further chemo, this time Carboplatin and Pemetrexed, four treatments every three weeks. My prognosis was 6 to 9 months without treatment, up …

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World Cancer Day – Voices from the community

Over the last year, we’ve shared many stories from the cancer community on the PatientsLikeMe blog. This year, in honor of World Cancer Day, we’d like to highlight some of those stories:   Member Iris (Imartinez), shared her story for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Iris opened up about getting diagnosed at just 28 years old, the challenges of her treatment journey and her passion for riding her motorcycle. For Iris, attitude is everything: “Having a POSITIVE mindset, I believe, makes a big difference.” Revisit her story.         Member Clare (Riverdale) shared her story – a diagnosis of non small-cell lung cancer while her husband was already living with prostate cancer. While supporting each other through chemotherapy and radiation, the couple has made an effort to eat healthy and keep up the active lifestyle they led before. Learn about her journey.       Member David, a member of the 2015-2016 PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors, opened up about living with Stage IV lung cancer and how he hopes to be an inspiration to other cancer patients. David stresses the importance of forging a strong partnership with his care team and reflects on what he calls “some of the …

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Meet Jacquie from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

Say hello to Jacquie (@Jacquie1961), another member of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors. We chatted with Jacquie recently about how she lives with her condition and what it meant to become part of this year’s Team of Advisors; “Joining the team is allowing me to…help others who are newly diagnosed or those who think they have something wrong with them.” Jacquie also opened up about her passion for animals, especially her dog, Roman: “He’s precious, loving, beautiful and really has the personality of a human.” What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face? I would have to say I get the most joy out of being with my dog, he’s been the greatest addition to my life right before I was diagnosed. He’s precious, loving, beautiful and really has the personality of a “human.” Of course my new kitty is an added bonus of love and fun. All in all, I have a tremendous passion for animals. What has it been like for you managing multiple conditions? First off, I had Lung Cancer. Fast forward months, I have a new oncologist and stage 4 metastatic lung to colon cancer. I became the 13th documented case …

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PatientsLikeMe Welcomes Next Patient Team of Advisors

  CAMBRIDGE, Mass, November 14, 2016—PatientsLikeMe has named 11 members to its patients-only 2016–2017 Team of Advisors, which this year will focus on elevating the patient voice. Team members will share their stories, participate in community initiatives, and give real world perspectives to our industry and research partners. “Each year, our Team of Advisors has proven an invaluable source of inspiration and support for the PatientsLikeMe community,” said PatientsLikeMe CEO Martin Coulter. “We look forward to learning from this year’s team as we partner to identify how we can change healthcare for the better.” More than 500 PatientsLikeMe members submitted applications for this year’s Team of Advisors. Those selected represent a range of medical and professional backgrounds and ages. They are living with a cross-section of conditions, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autonomic neuropathy, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), lung cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. Members named to the team include: Cris Simon, Gary Rafaloff, Ginny Emerson, Glenda Rouland, Hetlena Johnson, Jacquie Toth, Jim Seaton, John Blackshear, Kimberly Hartmann, Laura Sanscartier and Lindsay Washington. John Blackshear is living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and looks forward to the opportunity to share his story with others, and …

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