Posts Tagged ‘american cancer society’

The Role of Support Groups in Cancer Survivorship

Cancer Survivorship Peer Partners Web ChatAs an Oncology Social Worker at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, I provide resources and support to patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. During my first visit with a new patient, I often suggest that he or she try out one of the many support groups offered at Winship or in the community. The response I get from this suggestion varies depending on the patient from enthusiasm to absolute fear.  As a facilitator of two support groups at Winship, I am admittedly a strong advocate of joining a group. However, I understand the apprehension some feel towards sharing the ups and downs of the cancer journey with other people.

For those uncomfortable with participating in support groups, I often outline the benefits of using support groups as a method to cope and connect to others in similar situations. Research from The American Cancer Society provides the following about support groups:

  • Support groups can enhance the quality of life for people with cancer by providing information and support to overcome feelings of aloneness and helplessness.
  • Support groups can help reduce tension, anxiety, fatigue and confusion.
  • There is a strong link between group support and greater tolerance of cancer treatment and treatment compliance.
  • People with cancer are better able to deal with their disease when supported by others.

Dr. Sujatha Murali, Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship, endorses the use of support groups. Dr. Murali states, “support groups are an integral part of treating the whole patient. At Emory, we believe in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, which not only includes physicians and nurses, but social workers, pharmacists, and nutritionists. We believe this approach results in the best chance of treatment success.”

Still not convinced joining a support group is right for you? Fortunately, support groups come in different forms and sizes. For those uncomfortable with face-to-face group settings, online or telephone groups are great alternatives. Some groups are lead by professional clinicians while others are organized by cancer survivors themselves. Groups can be disease, age or gender specific and some meet weekly, monthly or have no time limit at all.  With all these options available, there’s bound to be a support group to fit anyone’s needs! And if you’re still not sure where to turn, you can always contact me or other social workers at Winship with your questions or by using the comments field below. You can also join Joan Giblin, Director of the Survivorship Program at the Winship Cancer Institute in our upcoming online chat on the Cancer Survivorship and Peer Partners Program at Winship.

Interested in joining a support group, but do not know how to select the right one? The first step is to speak with your oncology social worker!  If you aren’t sure who your social worker is, simply ask your doctor or nurse to point him or her out. Most cancer centers have oncology social workers dedicated to support your psychosocial needs and overall well-being.  Some recommended and approved groups are available through the following sites:

To close, I’d like to share a quote I often share with my patients. It’s out of Mr. Fred Rogers’s book, Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers: Things to Remember Along the Way. He writes, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we’re not alone.”

The cancer journey can be overwhelming, especially if traveled alone. The benefit of allowing others to provide support and care can be life-changing, and possibly life-saving. Join us as we kick-off some of our new support groups, including the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Support Group on Thursday, June 14, 2012. For more information, please see visit our website at http://winshipcancer.emory.edu/groups.

About the Author
Margaret “Maggie” K. Hughes is a Licensed Master of Social Worker at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She works with Drs. Hawk, Murali, Kucuk, Carthon and El-Rayes. Maggie facilitates the Pancreatic Cancer Support group and co-facilitates the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Support Group at Winship.

Related Resources:

Intro to Pancreatic Cancer Part I: Stats, Types, & Risk Factors

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Before we dig a bit deeper into pancreatic cancer in this two-part blog post, below are some important stats you should be aware of. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Cancer Society:

  • pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S.
  • 1.41% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas at some time during their lifetime
  • the median age for diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was 72 years old (based on data from ‘04-’08)
  • the median age of death as a result of pancreatic cancer was 73 years old (based on data from ‘04-’08)
  • 0.53% of men will develop cancer of the pancreas between their 50th and 70th birthdays compared to 0.39% for women
  • About 44,030 people (22,050 men and 21,980 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Types

According to the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, “A pancreatic cancer type is based on the location of the tumor’s origin within the pancreas. More than 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas of the exocrine pancreas. Tumors of the endocrine pancreas are much less common and most are benign.”

  • Acinar Cell Cancers: Acinar cell cancers are tumors that form on the ends of the pancreatic ducts.
  • Adenocarcinoma: An adenocarcinoma is a cancer that begins in the cells that line certain internal organs and have secretory properties. In the pancreas, this is a cancer of the exocrine cells that line the pancreatic ducts.
  • Cystic Tumors: Cystic tumors derive their name from the presence of fluid filled sacs within the pancreas. The fluid is produced by the lining of abnormal tissues or tumors. These tumors may lead to cancer in some patients; however, most cystic tumors of the pancreas are benign.
  • Sarcomas: Sarcomas are tumors that form in the connective tissue that bonds pancreatic cells together and are rare.

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

  • Age:  Nearly 90% of those with pancreatic cancer are older than 55 years and over 70% are older than 65.
  • Gender: Pancreatic cancer incidence rates are higher among men than women, but it is possible that this can be attributed to higher tobacco use incidence rates among men.
  • Weight: According to the NCI, “In a pooled analysis of clinical data,  higher body mass index was associated with an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, independent of other risk factors.”
  • Cigarette Smoking: According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer risk is 2-3x higher for smokers than non-smokers. About 20% to 30% of exocrine pancreatic cancer cases are thought to be caused by cigarette smoking.

Next week, we’ll follow up with more information on pancreatic cancer, including steps you can take to lower your risk (prevention), symptoms of cancer of the pancreas, and how pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and treated.

In the meantime, if you have questions about pancreatic cancer, please leave them for us in the comments below. All comment responses will be provided by physicians of Emory Healthcare and/or the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

7+ Reasons to Quit Smoking on November 17th

Great American Smokeout American Cancer Society

Image source: American Cancer Society

More than 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes, despite the fact that tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the U.S. To help lower this number and the heightened risk for disease caused by cigarette smoking, the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is Thursday, November 17. The event is held each year to encourage smokers to set a quit date with a community of peers and support.

Along with the Great American Smokeout event, November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, meaning there are multiple opportunities to make a change and choose to quit smoking today. If the momentum and support created through these events and efforts aren’t enough, there is plenty of data to prove the benefits of quitting smoking today:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate are reduced to almost normal.
  • Within 48 hours of quitting, damaged nerve endings begin to repair themselves, and sense of taste and smell begin to return to normal as a result.
  • Within 2-12 weeks of quitting, your heart attack risk is lowered.
  • According to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Health, within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30-50% of that for the smoker who didn’t quit.
  • Smoking can reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it difficult to get the physical activity you need to stay healthy.
  • If you smoke one pack of cigarettes per day, at roughly $5 per pack, you’ll save $1825 over the next year alone by quitting today.
  • Quitting smoking today will lower your risk for heart disease, aneurysms, blood clots, stroke and peripheral artery disease (PAD). More details.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes kills more Americans every year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined. It is also responsible for 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, a disease that is extremely hard to treat, but that could be prevented.

For more information on the Great American Smokeout, check out the American Cancer Society’s website on the event.

If you’re interested in discussing lung cancer, including diagnosis and treatment options, in more detail with us, we’re holding a lung cancer web chat this week on the same day as the Great American Smokeout, November 17th. This one-hour web chat is a free event for our community to get your lung cancer questions answered. If you want to participate, fill out this short form to receive your link to join Thursday’s chat.

Make Your Plans to Quit Smoking

American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is scheduled for November 18th.

Smoking cessation represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives.  That’s why smokers all over the country are encouraged to participate in the American Cancer Society’s 35th Great American Smokeout on November 18, 2010 and take this opportunity to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.  Not only does the event challenge people to stop using tobacco, it helps to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and the many effective ways available to permanently quit smoking .

The numbers are astounding.  According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes kills more Americans every year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined.  Smoking is responsible for almost nine out of 10 lung cancer deaths – a disease that is extremely hard to treat but could often be prevented by avoiding tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, so successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment, not luck.  For most people, the best way to quit is to attack not only the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal but the mental/emotional aspects of quitting as well.  A combination of medicine, a method to change personal habits, and emotional support will encourage success.

The benefits of quitting begin immediately.  Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rate and blood pressure drops.  Within hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.  Over the following weeks, months and years your overall health increases and your risk of heart disease, lung and other types of cancer decreases.   And on top of all that, food will taste better, your teeth will get whiter, your sense of smell will return to normal, and everyday activities will no longer leave you out of breath!

To get help making your plans to quit on November 18th, contact our Lung Cancer Program at (404)778-PINK or (404)-778-7465.