Posts Tagged ‘american cancer society’

Prostate Cancer: Statistics That May Surprise You

prostate cancer factsAccording to American Cancer Society (ACS), the cancers that most frequently affect men are prostate, colon, lung, and skin cancers. The most common men’s specific cancer in America, affecting 1 in 7 men, is prostate cancer. One new case occurs every 2.3 minutes and a man dies from prostate cancer every 18 minutes.

You probably didn’t know this shocking statistic, from the Prostate Cancer Foundation; a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yet, despite these realities we don’t talk as openly as women do about a serious health condition. There are disputes about screenings for prostate cancer specifically, but I am an advocate of screening– including not only the PSA but also the digital rectal exam. From the screenings, you and your doctor will determine if biopsies are needed to detect aggressive cancers that need immediate treatment but also pick up cancers that are “quasi cancer” and safe to watch rather than treat immediately. Over a five-to-10-year period, about a third of men whose cancers are considered low risk turn worse and require treatment. When prostate cancer is caught in the early stages the treatment options and outcomes are significantly better.

Nearly 3 million American men currently living with prostate cancer, Emory Healthcare is committed to providing the highest quality health care to its patients, with the most up-to-date treatment options available. A multidisciplinary prostate cancer team — involving urology medical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging– at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute have come together to move novel treatments for advanced prostate cancer forward.

Start today and take control of your wellness.

  • Honestly discuss prostate cancer.
  • Avoid cancer-causing activities like tobacco use and excessive drinking.
  • Be proactive. Commit yourself to regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Know your risks and your family history.
  • Get regular check-ups; speak with your primary care physician about whether prostate screening is appropriate for you.

If you do not have one, find a primary physician through our Emory Healthcare Network or call Health Connection at 404-778-7777 to learn more from a registered nurse.


About Dr. Sanda

Martin G. Sanda, MD is chair of the Department of Urology at Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

As a urological surgeon specializing in cancers of the prostate and bladder, Sanda focuses on developing new surgical and non-surgical approaches to cancer care and to improving the quality of life among cancer survivors. Currently, he is spearheading studies that seek to develop urine tests for detecting prostate cancer; develop benchmarks for improving quality of life among cancer survivors; and develop innovative prostate cancer vaccines.

Cancer Clinical Study Leads to Video Tool for Prostate Cancer Patients
Two Patients Benefit from Two Alternative Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer – A Healthy Debate
Questions on Validity of PSA Test as Prostate Cancer Screening Tool
Prostate Cancer, To Screen or Not?
Winship Cancer Institute Website

New Mammography Guidelines

mammogramAlthough the American Cancer Society (ACS) confirms that mammography saves lives, the organization issued new breast cancer screening guidelines on Oct. 20 that recommend women at average risk for breast cancer start getting annual mammograms at age 45. The previous recommendation was to start at age 40, and I will continue to recommend that women get yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40.

Evidence shows that the most lives are saved when screening starts at age 40. Although breast cancer is a little less common in women aged 40 to 44, this group receives the same life-saving benefit from screening mammography that older women do. As a radiologist specializing in breast cancer detection and diagnosis, I see this first-hand. My colleagues in the American College of Radiology agree and are also continuing to recommend that yearly screenings begin at age 40.

The new ACS guidelines note that the “harms” associated with screening may outweigh the benefits in women age 40-44. It is vital that women compare the magnitude and implication of the harms versus benefits associated with screening mammography. The harms they identify are about getting false positive readings from mammograms that can result in women being called back in for more imaging or an ultrasound. About 10% of women are recalled for these additional tests and the vast majority are cleared at that point. About 1 – 2% of patients who are recalled receive a needle biopsy using local anesthetic.

The benefits include saving lives and finding cancers smaller and earlier so that less aggressive treatment is required. I believe most women will agree that the drawbacks pale in comparison to the benefits of screening, and will choose to proceed with yearly screening. In fact, the ACS declares that yearly screening is beneficial and something that the majority of women would want, as long as they are healthy and have a 10 year or longer life expectancy. It is vital that we preserve a woman’s access to this life-saving technology so that she may choose to screen.


About Dr. Newell

Newell_MaryMary S. Newell, MD, began practicing with Emory Healthcare in 2001 where she is a board certified radiologist specializing in breast cancer imaging and diagnosis. Dr. Newell has interests in emerging imaging technologies, teaching, and healthcare policy.

Dr. Newell chairs the American Board of Radiology Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Breast Committee and the American College of Radiology Joint Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards and Appropriateness Committee on Criteria. She is Head of Curriculum Assessment for the Society of Breast Imaging and Special Consulting Editor for CME for the American Journal of Roentgenology. She also serves as the treasurer for the Georgia Radiologicial Society, is a councilor to the American college of radiology representing the state of Georgia, and serves on numerous committees institutionally and nationally.

Dr. Newell earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School. She then completed her residency in diagnostic radiology and fellowship in body imaging at the St. Francis Hospital in Illinois. Dr. Newell’s research focuses on discovery and evaluation of new imaging modalities for future use in breast cancer screening and detection.

Life After Breast Cancer

supportive-friendsBreast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women according to the American Cancer Society. This year alone, more than 234,000 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Most women with breast cancer do quite well and have long lives after completing treatment. One of the hardest things for survivors is living with the worry that the cancer may come back. We recommend scheduling regular follow-up appointments with an oncologist and following the screening and/or prevention guidelines that your provider recommends. I also tell my patients to try, as best as they can, not to worry.

It is easy to see how breast surgery, radiation, and some of the side effects from systemic therapy (which, depending on treatment, can include hair loss, nausea, fatigue, weight gain, hot flashes, joint aches, or other unpleasant symptoms) can wreak havoc on a woman’s self esteem. In addition, many women are used to serving as a support system for their spouse, children, parents, or other loved ones; and to being responsible for important matters at work and at home. Learning to accept help and support rather than giving it can be very challenging. I always recommend honest conversations with family and loved ones, and involving a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist if patients are interested and willing to pursue this. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk with someone outside of one’s immediate network of family and friends to try to sort through some of the feelings surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Support groups can also be helpful; hearing from others who are going through the same thing (perhaps at similar points in life and/or stages of the disease), can help normalize the experience.

Physical changes to the breast – scars from lumpectomy or mastectomy, getting used to the look and feel of reconstructed breasts (if this approach is chosen), and radiation-related changes – can make women less comfortable with their bodies and therefore less comfortable being intimate. These changes can also make them worry about whether a partner will still find them attractive. In addition, some of the systemic treatments used in breast cancer, such as chemotherapy or anti-estrogen therapy, can change hormone levels and decrease interest in intimacy. I always recommend sharing these concerns with your doctor or health care team. Talking with a social worker, psychologist, or even sex therapist can be helpful in dealing with some of the complicated feelings surrounding the look and feel of the breasts after treatment for breast cancer. There are also a number of options for managing symptoms like vaginal dryness, which can be a result of chemotherapy or anti-estrogen therapy and can make intimacy uncomfortable. Finally, open communication with significant others is critical, as they too may be struggling to find the best way to show affection in this new situation. I have actually seen many situations where the diagnosis of breast cancer actually brings couples closer together, as they navigate the path from diagnosis to treatment and finally to recovery together.

About Dr. Meisel

jane lowe meiselJane Lowe Meisel, MD, joined the Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship Cancer Institute as a practicing physician in January 2015. Prior to her arrival, she was Chief Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Meisel is a medical oncologist with a special interest in women’s health and in cancers that affect women, including breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancers. Her goal is to provide exceptional, state-of-the-art individualized care to patients fighting these diseases and to conduct research that improves treatment options for these patients.


Exercise, Diet and Breast Cancer
Take-Aways from Breast Cancer Chat with Heather Pinkerton, BSN
Advancements in Imaging for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Latest in Breast Cancer Research
Breast cancer care at Winship
Social services at Winship
Support groups at Winship

Exercise, Diet and Breast Cancer

trio-exercisingDiet and exercise can help women who have completed treatment for breast cancer to live longer and feel better. They may even help lower the chance of the cancer coming back (recurrence). The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS) was a randomized study of a low fat diet in women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer. At five years, the women on the low fat diet lost weight about six pounds on average (the control group didn’t lose weight) and had a lower risk of the cancer coming back or getting a new breast cancer than the control group. After longer follow up, the risk of recurrence evened out between the two groups, but the women in the low fat diet group had better survival. Observational studies have also found that women who exercised more had lower risks of the cancer coming back. These kinds of studies have also found that women who gain weight after diagnosis have a higher risk of the cancer coming back. Diet and exercise are key to preventing weight gain.

Women who are obese have an increased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer compared with women who maintain a healthy weight, which means that those who maintain a healthy weight have a lower risk (of getting breast cancer after menopause) than those who do not. Studies have shown that moderate to vigorous exercise is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. This may be in part due to effects on body composition, as well as hormone levels. Exercise can improve fatigue and other symptoms in women with breast cancer in active treatment, as well as maintain their physical function and prevent changes in body composition (like weight gain) that can result from treatment. Women in treatment may have to cut back on their exercise routine for a time (exercise at a lower intensity or for shorter periods) due to side effects of treatment, but it is helpful for them to try to stay active.

So how much exercise is enough? The American Cancer Society recommends that healthy adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. Moderate activities may include walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, and yoga, while vigorous activities may include jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training, swimming, jumping rope, aerobic dance, and martial arts.

About Dr. Kramer:

jkramerJoan Kramer, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Kramer graduated cum laude receiving her Medical Degree from Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She completed her postdoctoral training with a residency in internal medicine at Saint Louis University Hospital and a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Kramer served as Medical Editor for the American Cancer Society until May 2015. She is published in a number of peer-reviewed journals.


Take-Aways from Breast Cancer Chat with Heather Pinkerton, BSN
Advancements in Imaging for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Latest in Breast Cancer Research
Breast cancer care at Winship
Social services at Winship
Support groups at Winship

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

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.