Tag Archive for: cervical cancer

July 2022 Notable News

July brings important advances in cancer research that can lead to better patient outcomes. Research has shown that adult cancer survivors have an increased risk in developing heart disease and heart related complications. More studies are needed to determine why black leukemia patients are having worse outcomes than white leukemia patients of the same age. A portable screening test is bringing early diagnosis of cervical cancer for women in lower income and more isolated areas.

Adult Cancer Survivors have Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Than Those Without Cancer, Study Shows

Adult survivors of cancer have a higher risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD) later in life than adults without cancer, according to results of a large study led by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers reports MedicalXpress.com. Cancer patients that have used treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to the chest area are at a higher risk because of the damage it causes to the heart. These patients have an increased risk for heart failure and stroke. With the advances in treatment, cancer patients are living longer which makes it more likely to have heart disease. The causes of this damage are oxidative stress, inflammation, and cardiac toxicity from treatments, on top of the regular risk factors of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. It is important to teach prevention of heart disease to cancer patients due to their increase risks. Find more information here.

Black Leukemia Patients Have Higher Risk of Death Than White Counterparts

The new study, which looked at outcomes or patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), highlights an urgent need to understand racial and ethnic differences, as well as the inequities in diagnosis, treatment and care between Black and White patients reports UPInews.com. AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that requires treatment immediately upon diagnosis, making the findings of this research even more important. Black people with this cancer have and increased rate of early death and a lower rate of long-term survivability than white cancer patients of the same age. Black cancer patients are underrepresented in clinical trials and research, studies have been primarily focused on people of European descent. Treatment delays and providing lower quality of care also play a role in these results. More research with a more diverse study group is urgently needed to improve patient outcomes. Find more information here.

Easier, Early Cervical Cancer Testing to Save Lives

Prevention and the HPV vaccine is helping to reduce the numbers of women dying with cervical cancer, but new portable screening kits and new types of lab tests will improve diagnosis and earlier treatment of the disease reports MedicalXpress.com. Cervical cancer is the fourth common cause of cancer for women, and it is highly treatable if diagnosed early. Most deaths occur in women from lower income countries that have limited screening available, there can be delays getting results and delays to treatment. If a woman is diagnosed in an advanced stage of cancer, time makes a big difference in survivability. Scientists have developed a portable screening kit called Elevate. This kit requires little training and women can collect it themselves, the results are returned in one day. The kit uses DNA to look for HPV, the virus that can cause cervical cancer. Elevate is being used in isolated areas where medical care is difficult to get to, as well as for women that are too busy to get the care they need. Find more information here.

March 2022 Digital Health Round Up

Cancer screening is the best tool available in the fight against cancer. Thanks to technological advances, one company is using artificial intelligence to transform the future of cervical cancer screening. Rush Hospital in Chicago is also using an artificial intelligence system to improve colon cancer screening. Both cervical and colon cancer often do not present with symptoms in early stages, so screening is important. A company in Madison is using digital technology to analyze tumor biopsies, in turn allowing for more effective treatment options for providers and patients.

AI Transforms Cervical Cancer Screening

Health experts said the new technology could be instrumental in ensuring earlier detection of pre-cancerous cells and cancer cells and has the potential to save lives, reports Newschainonline.com . A hospital in the UK is piloting the technology using artificial intelligence that takes digital cytology images from cervical smear samples that test positive for HPV (human papillomavirus). The AI sorts through all the cell images and pulls out the images of abnormalities. The expert providers use these images to detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Find more information here.

Rush Deploys AI System for Colon Cancer Screening

The Medtronic GI Genius intelligent endoscopy system can help increase the ability to locate multiple polyps during a colonoscopy by 50 percent, resulting in enhanced diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, reports healthitanalytics.com . This Artificial Intelligence helps physicians find polyps that the naked eye cannot see, therefore catching the polyps before cancer can develop. Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer. Rush Hospital in Chicago, Illinois is using the technology during their colonoscopies. Find more information here.

Madison Company Testing New Technology in Cancer Diagnosis

With three-dimensional imaging licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, based on work from the lab of UW-Madison biomedical engineering professor Kevin Eliceiri, Elephas Biosciences can analyze live tumor samples to see how well they respond to therapies, reports Madison.com . This can help diagnose all types of cancer with solid tumors. These live tissue samples from the biopsies can be tested with different treatments to see which is most effective. Physicians can try the treatment on the tumor before using it on the patient; this could eliminate blind testing and provide better outcomes with less side effects for patients. Find more information here.

November 2021 Notable News

Cancer research has come a long way in the last half century. Each month there is an amazing amount of new knowledge. There’s new information this month about childhood cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and a couple of vaccines. The research and advances we learn about each month are due in large part to the programs and systems that resulted from the National Cancer Act of 1971.

National Cancer Act of 1971

Fifty years ago, a few days before Christmas, President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is commemorating the anniversary at cancer.gov. The act established networks of cancer centers, clinical trials, data collection systems, and advanced research. As an amendment to the Public Health Service Act of 1944, by signing the act, Nixon declared a war on cancer. The bill expanded the authority of the director of the NCI and made possible many of the present-day advances in cancer research. Learn more about the National Cancer Act of 1971 and the impact it has had over the past 50 years here.

HPV Vaccine

One of the accomplishments noted by the NCI is the HPV vaccine. The vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is reducing the number of cervical cancer cases by almost 90 percent, says bbc.com. Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV, and cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. More than 100 countries are using the vaccine to help in the World Health Organization’s goal to eliminate cervical cancer. With such positive results in the United Kingdom, the hope is that the vaccine will have an even bigger impact in lower income countries. Read more here.

Covid-19 Vaccines

Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective for most cancer patients, reports usnews.com. In a study that included more than 1,000 vaccinated cancer patients, researchers found that the vaccines were effective in protecting cancer patients from severe Covid-19. Patients who had been treated with chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, or corticosteroids had a weaker immune response, but still benefited from the vaccine’s protection. Cancer patients had similar side effects as healthy vaccine recipients. Get more information here.

Pancreatic Cancer Detection

Researchers have identified two additional symptoms of pancreatic cancer that could help with earlier detection of the disease, reports webmd.com. The newly identified symptoms are feeling thirsty and having dark urine, and they are associated with the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Other symptoms include problems swallowing, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal swelling, tiredness, constipation, back pain, itching, loss of appetite, change in bowel habits, indigestion, abdominal pain, abdominal mass, nausea, flatulence, heartburn, and fever. Patients can have symptoms for up to a year before diagnosis. Get more information here.

Gut Microbiome and Prostate Cancer

A new study shows that there might be a link between the gut microbiome and deadly prostate cancer, reports medicalnewstoday.com. Researchers analyzed different metabolites in the blood serum of study participants and found a connection between aggressive prostate cancer and three of the metabolites. The metabolites, phenylacetylglutamine, choline, and betaine, are either produced by the gut or found in some foods. The metabolites are mostly found in meat and animal products, but also in beans, nuts, and diet sodas with aspartame. Men with high levels of choline or betaine were two times more likely to die of prostate cancer, and men with high levels of phenylacetylglutamine were 2.5 times more likely to die of prostate cancer. Learn more about the study here.

Childhood Cancer Survivors

Childhood cancer survivors tend to have higher risk of lifelong health problems, reports medicalxpress.com. A new study shows that the type of cancer and how the cancer was treated can affect the type of health issues survivors will have later in life. Researchers found that people who were treated with chemotherapy and radiation were most likely to experience later health problems. The lowest risk was for people who were treated only with surgery. Researchers say the long-term health effects should be considered when discussing treatment options for young people with cancer. Learn more about the study and watch an animated video that explains the study in an easy-to-understand manner here.

Here’s hoping that we will have more preventive vaccines and life-saving measures before the passing of the next 50 years.

Notable News: August 2018

The death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin received a lot of attention this month, but the cancer that killed her is in need of more awareness, say experts in a huffingtonpost.com article. The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is a very low eight percent. The disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, spreads early, is resistant to treatment, affects vital functions and, despite being thought of as rare, is increasing in frequency. However, there is some promising new research in the detection of pancreatic cancer (you’ll read about it in the next paragraph). Heightened awareness, funding, and research are needed to help combat this deadly disease. You can start by learning more here and, in case you missed it, you can find this month’s profile in which Alison Greenhill tells the story of her late husband’s experience with pancreatic cancer here.

The promising news is that a blood test could offer early screening for pancreatic and other cancers, according to research reported by dailymail.co.uk. In one study, scientists discovered that they can detect 95 percent of cancers through one blood test thanks to a protein produced by malaria parasites. When ten cancer cells were exposed to the protein, nine of them successfully attached to it. The test can also detect the cancers at any stage and help identify the aggressiveness of the disease. Among the cancers the test can detect are liver and pancreatic. Pancreatic cancer tends to have a low survival rate because it is often not found until the late stages of the disease. This blood test could allow for earlier detection. More can be learned about the potentially life-saving test here.

Another blood test has been found to detect melanoma with an 80 percent accuracy rate, says sciencealert.com. Caught early, the melanoma survival rate is 95 percent, but if it’s not detected early, chances for survival are below fifty percent. The test works by detecting antibodies that the body produces when melanoma forms. Currently, melanoma is detected through biopsies which are invasive and have a slightly lower accuracy rate than the blood test. The researchers hope to take the test to clinical trial and ultimately hope it will be used to detect the disease prior to biopsy in high-risk patients: those with fair skin, a lot of moles, and/or a family history of melanoma. More about this blood test can be found here. There is also a better way to determine which melanoma patients may benefit from immunotherapy. You can learn about that at axios.com here.

Another immunotherapy update comes from a recent study that may offer new insight into immunotherapy treatments, says geekwire.com. While immunotherapy has been a game-changer in treatment for many cancer patients, it doesn’t work at all for others and it can also come with some life-threatening side effects. Researchers set out to better understand the therapies and discovered how the components talk to each other in a process called signaling. It appears that the speed and strength of the signaling affect how the body responds to the treatment. It is the difference in the signaling that may help researchers find a way to reduce or eliminate the dangerous side effects and may also lead to making the treatments more effective. More information about this promising research can be found here.

As important as treatment is, keeping on top of when to be screened can be crucial to successful diagnosis and treatment. There are now more cervical cancer screening options for women aged 30 to 65, and you can learn about those at cnn.com here.

With all the positive research and advances in detection and treatment, it’s important to be aware that not all cancer patients have equal access to the best healthcare. It turns out that the disparities in minority health that we told you about here during National Minority Health month also apply to children. African American and Latino children are more likely to die from cancer, reports npr.org. Race and socio-economic status are factors. A comprehensive look at the research about the inequities in healthcare and survival rates for minority children can be found here.

Hopefully, the healthcare gap and survival rate can be narrowed because a new study shows that life is pretty good for most patients and survivors. The majority of current and former cancer patients who are 50 or older are happy, reports sciencedaily.com. The study showed that two-thirds of cancer patients fit the researchers description of complete mental health which was characterized by high levels of social and psychological well-being and being happy and/or satisfied with their daily lives. The cancer survivors were even happier with three-quarters of them meeting the complete mental health criteria. Learn more about this very happy study here.

Patient Profile: Jennifer Maxfield

Patient Profile

Jennifer Maxfield

Cervical Cancer

Jennifer Maxfield describes herself as a very private person. It’s hard for her to share her story. It’s emotional and it’s out of her comfort zone, but she’s starting to get a little more comfortable with it because she likes the idea of helping others. “That my story may be beneficial for someone else down the road is kind of cool for me,” she says.

If heeded, her story really is likely to help others. Hers is a cautionary tale, because her cancer is one that may have been preventable. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016. She’d gone to the doctor on her lunch break for a routine gynecological check up and during the exam Jennifer recalls the doctor saying, “Whoah. That’s strange.” Her doctor brought some colleagues in to confirm her hunch and Jennifer was immediately referred to a cancer specialist.

A runner and avid tennis player, Jennifer was young and healthy and never expected a cancer diagnosis, but, “I’m healthy,” she says, “not diligent.” You see, it had been a few years since Jennifer had been to see a doctor. It had been long enough that even her boss noticed and it was at her boss’s suggestion that she’d gone for her exam that day.

The good news was that it was a relatively slow-growing cancer and it was isolated. Jennifer’s doctor felt positive that after treatment there would be no recurrence. She wouldn’t need chemotherapy and radiation, but she would need a radical hysterectomy. “It was the absolute recommendation,” Jennifer says. There was another surgery option, but due to the size of her cancer, the success rate was compromised and the cancer was likely to return and then spread. Neither Jennifer nor her doctor wanted to take that risk. Her surgery was October 2016, three months after diagnosis.

But, here’s the thing, Jennifer was 33 at the time she was diagnosed. She hadn’t yet had children and a hysterectomy meant she would not be able to get pregnant. That’s where it gets emotional for her. “That was the scariest moment when all my family left, when the doctor left and I was there coping with this drastic change,” she says. “It was a high price to pay.”

Jennifer doesn’t want anyone else to have to pay that price. She stresses the importance of going to the doctor for regular check ups, but she also emphasizes the need for awareness about the the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the likely cause of her cancer. “It’s something kids can get vaccinated for,” she says. “You can prevent it.” Jennifer says she knows the vaccinations aren’t right for every family, but she hopes people will talk to their doctors and ask about the risks and possible prevention options for HPV.

Every once in a while the magnitude of what she had to give up strikes her, “but I don’t let myself get weighed down by that one thing,” she says. In fact, she says she feels really lucky and thankful for her family and her support network and she’s looking forward to her twin sister starting a family. “I’m hoping my sister gets pregnant,” she says. “I’d love to be an aunt.” She also hasn’t given up on motherhood. She and her sister are adopted so that feels like a very real option for her at some point.

In the meantime she sees her doctor every three months. At the two year mark she’ll do check ups every six months. She’s returned to running and tennis, she’s gone back to school, and she’s moving forward. “I just love my thirties,” she says. “I’m grateful for every single thing.”

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Feature

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month, so we wanted to shine a light on this disease. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease can be preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests). It also can be cured when found early and treated. Women should start getting screened regularly, starting at age 21.

Two tests help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Pap Test

The Pap test is recommended for women between ages 21 and 65, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Women should start getting Pap tests regularly at age 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may say you can wait three years until your next Pap test. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. Your doctor can perform both the Pap and HPV tests at the same time. If your test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. Your doctor may then say you can wait as long as five years for your next screening.

If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost Pap test through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Find out if you qualify.

HPV Vaccine

Get the HPV vaccine if you are in the age group for which it’s recommended. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. HPV can also cause cancers of the penis in men, and anal and head and neck cancers in both men and women.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteens (both boys and girls) aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26.

Make an appointment today for your or your child’s vaccination. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance does not cover vaccines, CDC’s Vaccines for Children program may be able to help.

For a full list of awareness months please visit our Cancer Awareness Calendar 2018.

What Can You Do?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests using this month to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

How can I help spread the word?

We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:


Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/cervicalcancer/index.htm

http://www.nccc-online.org/

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/special-coverage/cervical-health-awareness-month.html

https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/JanuaryToolkit.aspx