4 Tips to protect your colon

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, and the third leading cause of cancer death. Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum, and grows slowly. In 2014, there will be an estimated 141,000 new colorectal cancer cases in the United States and 49,000 related deaths.  But colorectal cancer is preventable and curable when detected early. Here are my top four tips to help lower your risks for colorectal cancer. Tip 1: Get screened for colorectal cancer Screening remains the most important method to prevent colorectal cancer. People at average risk, age 50 and older, should get a colonoscopy every 10 years. A colonoscopy enables your doctor to detect potentially cancer-causing lesions or polyps early, and remove them. Tip 2: Don’t be afraid of the exam  Patients shouldn’t fear a colonoscopy. It’s a straight-forward procedure which doesn’t, in most cases, cause discomfort. It also has a very low complication rate. And, knowing what is going on in your colon could save your life. Tip 3: Prep the right way for a colonoscopy      Most people complain about the laxative preparation.  It requires that you drink a large volume of liquid that generally doesn’t taste very good. However, we now split the liquid into two doses. You drink one the night before the exam and the second four to six hours before the exam. And, there have been efforts at improving the taste. The laxative procedure is very important. It ensures that your colon is completely clean for your exam. And, a clean colon means your doctor can spend...

Phase I clinical trial gives renal cell carcinoma survivor life

Because of his father’s prostate cancer history, Carl “Travis” Klimitchek always made health screenings a priority. But he didn’t expect his doctor to spot blood in his urine during a 2005 checkup. “I told him, ‘You’ve got to have my stuff mixed up with somebody else,’” says Travis, who was 44 at the time. A CT scan and X-ray revealed a grapefruit-sized tumor on his left kidney. His doctor diagnosed him with renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. “I was shocked,” Travis says. “I hadn’t noticed any symptoms.” Choosing MD Anderson for renal cell carcinoma treatment Within a week, Travis had surgery to remove the tumor and kidney in Victoria, Texas. Tests revealed a spot on his lungs, but the doctor suggested it was only scar tissue. That’s when Travis decided to seek a second opinion. He’d heard MD Anderson was the place to go for cancer treatment, and it wasn’t far from his home in Hallettsville, Texas. Within 10 days, he had his first appointment. At MD Anderson, Travis began renal cell carcinoma treatment under Nizar Tannir, M.D. “He was very professional,” Travis says. “He didn’t sugar-coat anything, and he encouraged us to ask questions.” After further testing, Travis learned the spot on his left lung was cancer. Dr. Tannir started him on the oral chemo drug Sorafenib. The next summer, he switched to Sunitinib. Then, in September 2006, Travis had surgery to remove six nodules on his lung. Travis’ chemotherapy side effects Over the next three years, Travis tried more chemotherapy drugs – Afinitor, Gemzar, Xeloda, Avastin and Velcade. The cancer continued to...

Phase I clinical trial gives renal cell carcinoma survivor life

Because of his father’s prostate cancer history, Carl “Travis” Klimitchek always made health screenings a priority. But he didn’t expect his doctor to spot blood in his urine during a 2005 checkup. “I told him, ‘You’ve got to have my stuff mixed up with somebody else,’” says Travis, who was 44 at the time. A CT scan and X-ray revealed a grapefruit-sized tumor on his left kidney. His doctor diagnosed him with renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. “I was shocked,” Travis says. “I hadn’t noticed any symptoms.” Choosing MD Anderson for renal cell carcinoma treatment Within a week, Travis had surgery to remove the tumor and kidney in Victoria, Texas. Tests revealed a spot on his lungs, but the doctor suggested it was only scar tissue. That’s when Travis decided to seek a second opinion. He’d heard MD Anderson was the place to go for cancer treatment, and it wasn’t far from his home in Hallettsville, Texas. Within 10 days, he had his first appointment. At MD Anderson, Travis began renal cell carcinoma treatment under Nizar Tannir, M.D. “He was very professional,” Travis says. “He didn’t sugar-coat anything, and he encouraged us to ask questions.” After further testing, Travis learned the spot on his left lung was cancer. Dr. Tannir started him on the oral chemo drug Sorafenib. The next summer, he switched to Sunitinib. Then, in September 2006, Travis had surgery to remove six nodules on his lung. Travis’ chemotherapy side effects Over the next three years, Travis tried more chemotherapy drugs – Afinitor, Gemzar, Xeloda, Avastin and Velcade. The cancer continued to...

Breast reconstruction: 4 things to know

For many breast cancer patients, breast reconstruction is an important part of cancer treatment. The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to recreate part or all of the breast that has been removed during breast cancer treatment. Reconstruction is known to benefit a patient’s body image and quality of life. But recent research shows that, in the U.S., fewer than 25% of breast cancer survivors understand the options for reconstruction, as well as the risks and benefits. Here are four things to keep in mind when considering breast reconstruction surgery.    Include your plastic surgeon early on Talking with your plastic surgeon as early as possible in your treatment will help ensure you have the best possible breast reconstruction experience. It’s important to see someone who has extensive experience in breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients so that he or she fully understands the challenges of your unique situation. Here at MD Anderson, the patient’s care team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, breast surgeons and plastic surgeons so that your care is coordinated. This means we’re thinking about reconstructive surgery as we’re planning and going through the different parts of your treatment. Radiation therapy doesn’t limit your options Radiation therapy may affect timing or the type of reconstruction your plastic surgeon recommends, but reconstruction is almost always an option. In general, if we think that you need radiation therapy, we recommend staging your breast reconstruction. This often involves a tissue expander placed at the mastectomy and then using your own tissue in a second surgery. If you have already had a mastectomy with radiation, your plastic surgeon will need to...

Phase I clinical trial takes colon cancer prognosis from hospice to healing

Tim Givens considers himself blessed. Despite being diagnosed with chemotherapy-resistant colorectal cancer three years ago, the 71-year-old is not only alive; he’s also in remission. “Tim realizes he’s a miracle,” says his wife, Janie. “His prognosis went from hospice to life.” It’s all due to a Phase I clinical trial at MD Anderson, and a doctor’s willingness to experiment with a drug that was originally used only to treat advanced melanoma. Colorectal cancer signs Tim’s journey to MD Anderson began in May 2013, when he started feeling weak and full, even though he hadn’t eaten very much. “I thought I had ulcers,” Tim says, “It was always just a small ache.” But one day Tim called Janie while she was traveling for work and asked her to come home. “My husband had always been very active, and he was never sick,” Janie says. “So I knew something must really be wrong.” Choosing MD Anderson care close to home Janie took Tim to a doctor close to home in northwest Houston. That physician discovered Tim was severely anemic. A lower gastrointestinal tract test also revealed a large tumor in Tim’s colon. It was removed at a nearby hospital, but Tim opted to come to MD Anderson for additional treatment. “We knew he was going to have to have an oncologist,” Janie says. “We called several, but didn’t like their responses. Finally, we called MD Anderson and got in within a week at the Woodlands location. We established a really good rapport with our care team there. And we were excited that Tim could get his care so close to home.”...