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Financial Counselors Can Advise Cancer Patients

Cancer patients are likely inundated with questions. At first, they may be focused on their diagnosis and prognosis, but more issues may arise as treatment and therapies begin, such as how to manage their everyday tasks like work and raising kids when they’re dealing with such pressing medical problems, or the best way to tackle mounting medical bills. Many of the uncertainties cancer patients have regard finances, which have been very intertwined with cancer care. Increasingly, patients are turning to financial counselors to seek guidance and explore resources, such as financial assistance and programs that allow patients to borrow against life insurance. Benefits of a financial counselor A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, as can the financial problems a diagnosis brings. In such a time of crisis, patients should be focused on their physical and mental health, not their financial wellness. That’s where a financial counselor can come in. Such individuals are trained to know the ins and outs of the financial world, and it’s becoming more common for financial counselors to have specific training regarding assistance for cancer patients. With that knowledge, they can walk patients through how to work with insurance companies, identify financial pitfalls to watch out for, suggest ways to save or cut corners and teach them which medical bills to prioritize. In addition to financial education, financial counselors can offer important resources they’ve learned about from their work in the industry. For instance, with Life Credit’s programs, patients can borrow against life insurance to provide needed financial relief. Things to consider While financial counselors can be extremely beneficial, patients should also keep some aspects...

Chemotherapy May Cause Cancer to Spread

Chemotherapy is one of the primary methods of cancer treatment, utilized to kill cancerous cells and stop the continued spread of the disease. However, a new study is raising questions about the effectiveness of chemo, suggesting that, in some instances, it could be doing as much harm as it is good. This research could provide much-needed financial assistance for cancer patients in the form of less treatment. Researchers recently published a study that explored the impact of chemotherapy for breast cancer patients. Breast cancer is among the forms of the disease most impacted by metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body, which can significantly increase the patient’s risk of death. While chemo was found to be effective in killing tumor cells, researchers also found a number of unintended outcomes. As the chemo attacks the cells, it was also found to activate a repair mechanism that in some instances could allow tumors to ultimately reform. It also facilitates a process known as intravasation, which scientists likened to the development of gateways that introduce cancer cells to other parts of the body. Currently, most breast cancer patients undergo chemotherapy before any attempts at surgery, but the research suggests some alternate approaches. Researchers proposed breast cancer patients should be monitored in the beginning stages of chemo, with tumor tissue extractions after a few doses to identify any spread of the cancer. If so, chemo should be discontinued in favor of surgery, the researchers said. The study was focused on breast cancer, but researchers plan to expand the scope to see if the results are similar for...

Japanese Researchers Capture Cancer Spreading on Film

The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is both hard to control and greatly contributes to a patient’s risk of death. Understanding how and why cancer cells spread is key to lowering one’s risk and providing potentially lifesaving help for cancer patients. New research out of Japan taps into technology to explore this process. According to BBC News, a team of scientists devised a method for observing cancer cells in mice as they grow and evolve, giving researchers a firsthand look at that process. In the study, the lab animals were injected with cancer cells, targeted toward their lungs, intestines, and livers, which were enhanced to light up on imaging. The cancer was left to grow before scientists administered a chemical that made the mice’s internal organs nearly transparent. The materials used caused the healthy tissue to reflect a shade of green and the cancerous cells to appear red, allowing researchers to see very clearly clusters of cells, patterns, and shapes, which were previously harder to identify without such imaging technology. With the new breakthrough, researchers can not only better identify where cancerous cells are located, but they can also gain integral insight into how the disease spreads from one area to another. That knowledge can inform new therapies that offer needed help for cancer patients to avoid further spread or recurrence of cancer. The method is still in its early stages and has so far only been tested in mice, but researchers envision human trials as the next phase of the project. “I hope this tissue-clearing and 3D imaging of human samples will...

Treatment Could Help Skin Cancer Patients

More than 3-million Americans are diagnosed every year with non-melanoma skin cancer. While the numbers are staggering, the survival rate for most skin cancers is high, with new therapies emerging to help patients overcome cancer with minimal, lasting impact. One such treatment is Superficial Radiotherapy, which, as its name suggests, provides skin-deep treatment that attacks non-melanoma cancer cells. The procedure is quick, virtually painless and often affordable, allowing money for cancer patients’ care to stay in their own pockets instead of going to hefty hospital bills. But, SRT may not be right for everyone. What is SRT? SRT is most often used to treat basal and squamous cell cancers, which are not forms of melanoma, a more serious type of skin cancer. SRT uses low doses of radiation to kill the cancer cells. The treatment takes only about 30 seconds, and is delivered once or twice a week for several weeks. Pros of SRT SRT can be performed in a doctor’s office, eliminating the need for a hospital visit. The treatment lessens the risk of scarring that’s often associated with the Mohs procedure, in which skin is removed layer by layer. There are relatively few side effects associated with SRT, except for some mild redness and irritation. SRT is typically a low-cost alternative to other treatments. The treatment is especially beneficial for people who face risks with surgery or who shouldn’t undergo anesthesia. Cons of SRT SRT is not as thorough as Mohs, which is still considered the front-line defense against non-melanoma skin cancer. The doses of radiation associated with SRT could increase the risk of recurrence of skin...

Minorities Less Likely to Get Genetic Testing

It is an accepted truth that the availability of and access to affordable health care can have a significant impact on cancer patients’ care and health outcomes. Unfortunately, that means that many Americans are falling through the cracks. Minority communities statistically live in lower socioeconomic conditions, with less access to health care than white communities. High co-pays, medication costs and prohibitive hospital bills can discourage cancer patients from receiving the best care possible. While cancer financial assistance programs exist to help cancer patients navigate the financial burdens of cancer, the disproportionate impact of cancer on financially disadvantaged communities continues to be a serious challenge. A new study from the Yale University Cancer Center found that black and Hispanic women with breast cancer were less likely than white women to undergo a genetic test that can help doctors create an action plan. The report focused on Oncotype Dx, which helps doctors understand the genetic impact of early-stage breast cancer, information that can determine whether chemotherapy or other approaches would be most effective. The test can also suggest if the patient is at a high risk for recurrence once the cancer cells are eliminated. In a study of 8,000 Connecticut women, more than 51 percent of white women who would be good candidates for the test received it, compared to just 47 percent of Hispanic women and 44 percent of black women. The disparity was also present for women who didn’t fall within the guidelines for the test but received it anyway — 21 percent of white women, and just 9 percent of black and Hispanic women. While the test itself...