October 6, 2014
One of my favorite patients is a lovely Bostonian transplant to New York, a woman who has been cured of her early stage breast cancer but who worries about her health—from her lipid levels to her not-so perfect bladder suspension 30 years ago. When she comes in (more…)
October 4, 2014
Are you, or is someone close to you, having a mastectomy in the near future?
We developed The BFFL Co Guide to Mastectomy to help women and their families through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
It remains one of the most popular pages on the BFFL Co website.
Please pass this valuable link along to your friends and family members!
September 9, 2014
I have always been fascinated by the symbol of a Masthead—a strong female figure, head held high, chest thrust forward, perched at the bow of a ship to guide her fellow sailors through an unfamiliar and stormy sea as they speed toward their destination. The symbol is powerful yet non-threatening. It’s aggressive, but in a positive way. (more…)
August 19, 2014
Should women under 40 worry about breast cancer?
The National Cancer Institute puts the risk of developing breast cancer earlier than age 40 at less than 2 percent. For certain women with genetic predispositions, however, like those who test positive for a BRCA gene mutation, the risk is much higher. (more…)
July 27, 2014
Over the past year I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Massachusetts General Hospital BOTSOGO program, a collaboration with the government of Botswana to launch a cancer treatment center in the southern African nation. Dr Memory Bvochora, who runs the only radiation therapy facility in Botswana, treats both uninsured (“public”) and insured (“private”) patients who need radiation therapy for their cancer. (more…)
June 13, 2014
Women receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer have a lot to do. They must arrange doctor visits, eat a healthy diet, take vitamins, drink enough water, and arrange time off from work.
One activity that is often overlooked, however, is exercise. Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity after breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation should be a serious topic of discussion between doctor and patient for all women diagnosed or undergoing treatment. I encourage my radiation oncology patients to keep up their exercise regimens as long as they have the energy and their skin is intact. (more…)
March 14, 2014
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time people spend on Facebook. Much of it is to share photos of the happy events in their lives. When a new baby is born or your child takes his first steps, it’s wonderful to share these moments with friends far across the country or maybe even on another continent.
Increasingly, people harness all of this friend power to rally around and solve a problem. A few years ago a teen in my neighborhood went missing. Posts that went up (more…)
January 23, 2014
Prostate cancer screening and treatment options were the key topics discussed during a recent appearance on Fox Business News by BFFL Co CEO Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson.
Dr. Thompson talked to Markets Now anchors Dagen McDowell and Connell McShane about the need to increase men’s awareness of prostate cancer treatment options, including new developments in the areas of molecular profiling and hormonal therapy. Many physicians are customizing treatments to optimize outcome and minimize side effects. She also discussed the fact that men are often reluctant to talk about their concerns, particularly regarding side effects like incontinence and impotence. Click here to watch the segment.
January 21, 2014
Few men want to talk about prostate cancer. While the pink ribbon is ubiquitous and women readily talk about breast cancer on the daily talk shows and elsewhere, few men will discuss prostate cancer out in the open. But the harsh reality is that just as many men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year as are women with breast cancer.
The goal of prostate cancer screening and treatment is obviously to catch the disease early and cure the patient, just like for breast cancer. Often there is a similar combination of several different treatments, such as radiation therapy combined with hormonal therapy. (more…)
November 20, 2013
Holidays and special occasions are meant to be joyful times that create lasting memories. Many people enjoy reuniting with family and friends to celebrate traditions during these times. However, for the person who is caring for a loved one with cancer, it can be challenging to balance caregiving responsibilities while preparing for family get-togethers, parties, and other events. By planning ahead and using the tips discussed here, caregivers and their loved ones can find ways to get the most out of these special times. (more…)
October 7, 2013
When 31-year-old LA Dodgers pitcher Tommy John developed a sore arm in 1973, his pitching career appeared to be over. His UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) had become stretched, frayed, and torn due to the extreme repetitive stress of the pitching motion – pretty much a death knell for a big league pitcher’s career.
Frank Jobe, the Dodgers team physician, had been working on an idea. He felt that he could try to replace the damaged ligament with a tendon taken from somewhere else on John’s body. He would drill holes in the (more…)
September 30, 2013
1. Don’t Smoke
If you’re a smoker, quit – even if it takes you 6 or 7 attempts. In cancer survivors, smoking raises the risk for secondary tumors, cancer recurrence, treatment related complications, chronic co-morbid conditions (heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis) and death. Many cancer patients do not understand that they need or should stop smoking. (more…)
September 28, 2013
“I don’t have cancer, there are just a few bad looking cells.”
One of my neighbors called me last spring to talk after her mammogram and biopsy results showed some possibly precancerous cells. It got me thinking about that fine line between “a little abnormal” and “a cause for concern.”
July 25, 2013
Patients often ask me what they can expect when a treatment plan is presented to them. It can be so overwhelming that they forget to ask the “little” questions that end up keep them awake at night.
A good night’s sleep is often key to helping us deal with a difficult situation with a fresh perspective, clear head, and feeling of confidence. Yet when we are facing something like cancer treatment, sleep is an elusive goal.
July 17, 2013
Now that bilateral mastectomy is part of the vernacular (thank you, Angelina Jolie!) we have become all too familiar with the concept of breast cancer, surgery and motivations for action. It all sounds pretty simple, right? You get diagnosed, you go for surgery. You have radiation. Yet, the truth is, women at high risk or the recently diagnosed are bombarded with options, and it can all be very confusing. And although it’s tempting to hear what a celebrity or friend is doing and conclude that you should do the same, every woman’s diagnosis, risk and health profile is unique. What’s right for one could be completely wrong for another, even when symptoms, age, and other factors seem the same. (more…)
July 11, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I got together for lunch with a bright and fashionable friend who had recently battled breast cancer. As we caught up on family, jobs and recent news, I mentioned an article that I had just read in the British Medical Journal about a meta-analysis (large study comparing and contrasting several research studies on the same topic) that found a correlation between breast augmentation (cosmetic implants) and breast cancer. My friend’s jaw dropped. “I never told you this,” she confided, “but my cancer was hidden under my breast implant. They would have never found it, except for the fact that I kept insisting my implant had moved.” (more…)
June 3, 2013
Here are some practical skin care tips for optimal healing and comfort while undergoing radiation treatment:
- Take a warm, tepid shower, rather than a HOT shower before going for treatment, and skip any lotions or preparations until after treatment. Avoid long baths or soaking, because your skin is too fragile and sensitive.
- If you need to bathe, however, skip the bubbles—suds are created by a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which can strip away natural oils.
- No exfoliation- keep everything mild and non-abrasive.
- Wear soft clothing that doesn’t chafe or irritate skin. Natural fibers in soft fabric constructions that are sympathetic to the skin are best. (more…)
May 23, 2013
Middle-aged men better think twice before cutting back on exercise as they get older. According to a study presented in advance of next week’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, exercise can improve this group’s odds of developing cancer.
Authors of the study analyzed data from medical exams of over 17,000 men with a mean age of 50, then tracked Medicare claims to determine cancer incidence. (more…)
April 14, 2013
People caring for loved ones with cancer face a unique set of challenges that can take a physical, emotional and financial toll. Here’s a checklist to help you stay upbeat, healthy and organized while performing your selfless duties:
1. Maintain your own health.
Keep up your regular medical and dental appointments– mammogram, dental appointment, yearly physical, etc. Exercise every day. Make nutrition a priority – don’t skip meals. If you smoke, quit. Get enough sleep. Remember that you are the healthy (or healthier) one. (more…)
April 12, 2013
African-American women have a lower survival rate from breast cancer and tend to have less treatable types of the disease than their white and Latina counterparts, according to information presented at the 2013 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
“The results seem to indicate that although African-American women are more likely to be diagnosed with less treatable subtypes of breast cancer compared with white women, it is not the only (more…)
April 9, 2013
A new generation of cancer drugs has been showing promise for patients with metastatic breast cancer, according to a report published in Chemotherapy Advisor. PI3 kinase inhibitor GDC-0032, which sounds like something from a futuristic movie, will soon be part of the arsenal of drugs to treat ER+/PR+ metastatic breast cancer (disease that has spread from the primary site.) About 40% of hormone receptor–positive breast cancers have PI3 kinase alpha mutations. GDC-0032 has been shown in preclinical studies to be active against this mutation. This is really great news because to-date there are no drugs available that target this critically important component of cancer cells.
The new drug is taken in pill form and the few side effects seem to be manageable. Ask your medical oncologist to consider this if you or a loved might be a candidate.
Click here for the full article.