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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...

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...

Certain Cancers Can Crave Sugar

Just as some humans have more of a sweet tooth than others, it turns out some types of cancer cells may crave sugar more strongly than others. The connection between sugar intake and cancer has long been the focus of research aimed at providing help for cancer patients and those at risk — and a new study shows just why it should be. According to a report featured in Nature Communications, the sugary appeal of sweets may be putting people at increased risk for cancer growth and recurrence. Researchers at University of Texas at Dallas sought to investigate if there are any differences in sugar dependence among two types of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC). During their work, the scientists discovered that a protein involved with sugar transport was present at much higher levels in SqCC than ADC. That elevated level increases the cells’ “appetite” for sugar, the researchers found, and fuels cell growth. The scientists also found high dependence on sugar in other types of squamous cell cancers, including esophageal, cervical, head and neck. So how can this information provide help for cancer patients? First, the data has prompted researchers to consider new therapies, including one that would inhibit levels of the protein that carries glucose. In initial tests with such an inhibitor, researchers found slowed — though not completely halted — growth of SqCC. Scientists are now in the midst of organizing a large animal study on lung cancer using a sugar-restricted diet. Depending on those outcomes, scientists could use the data to develop new recommendations — which can offer dietary help for...

New Research Could Provide Assistance for Cancer Patients

Theories abound about how best to curb the growth of cancer cells. One body of thought about a decade ago focused on “starving” cells — an approach that had many hopeful but was ultimately unsuccessful. Recent research, however, adds new dimensions to the theory, which has many in the scientific community working toward breakthrough assistance for cancer patients. ‘Starving’ cancer  The original research approached cancer cells with a basic truth about all human cells: The main ingredient needed for growth is oxygen. A tumor essentially is “fed” through oxygen in the blood vessels but is so dependent on oxygen that it begins to grow its own blood vessels to keep itself supporters. Researchers initially thought that if they could interrupt that growth process, they could effectively starve the tumor of oxygen and kill it. A series of anti-angiogenesis drugs sought to do just that, but researchers found that, when the oxygen supply was lessened, cells were ready with a back-up plan: Protein production went into overdrive to protect the cells. The reactions that followed are known as hypoxia, and that’s where scientists are now focusing their efforts. A new approach Researchers are now working to curb some of the reactions that occur during hypoxia. Particularly, they’re focusing on the production of the proteins HIF-1 and HIF-2, which can help cancer cells thrive and multiply, even when oxygen levels are low. Several years ago, scientists at the University of Texas discovered what could be HIF-2’s Achilles’ heel: The protein has a large cavity inside of it. That revelation led to the development of the drug PT2399, which burrows into and...