Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month: 5 Things You Need to Know

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a time when those affected by the disease, researchers and others assess all that we know about thyroid cancer, and all that there is still to learn. From signs of thyroid cancer to treatment options, it’s important to keep yourself apprised of the latest research so that, should your life be touched by thyroid cancer, you can be more prepared to face the diagnosis head-on. Here are five things you should know about thyroid cancer to protect yourself and your loved ones: 1. Rates are on the rise: According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer is the fastest-growing cancer in the country, with rates more than tripling in the last decade. While there are a number of factors that could contribute to that growth, among them better screening and testing techniques, more aggressive forms of the cancer are also becoming more prominent. 2. It is most common among young women: Because the cancer is less complex than some other forms, which may involve a number of genetic mutations, it’s often diagnosed earlier. Women are disproportionately affected, with only about a quarter of diagnoses in America in men. 3. The signs of thyroid cancer: While thyroid cancer is most commonly diagnosed after the presence of a lump, the vast majority of thyroid-related lumps are benign. Other signs of thyroid cancer include pain in the thyroid area, trouble swallowing and persistent hoarseness. 4. Survival rates are decreasing: Mortality rates vary depending on a number of circumstances, but survival is usually quite common, especially if the cancer is caught early; however, survival rates are lowering,...

Cancer Research: Killing Dormant Tumor Cells

It’s an unfortunate reality that, many times, even when oncology teams are able to target and kill active cancer cells, the patient may not be out of the woods — as cancer cells frequently spread, or metastasize. These cells may lie dormant for years, hiding within the bones, lymph nodes or other areas of the body — making effective treatment an ongoing challenge. However, a new research study has highlighted one approach that showed promising results for rooting out and killing cancer cells that are hiding in the body. How Does Cancer Spread? First, it’s important to understand, how does cancer spread or metastasize? Infected cancer cells can break away from the primary tumor and become insulated within healthy cells. These normal cells surrounding the tumor, known as the tumor microenvironment, can provide unfortunate protection for the surviving cancer cells. In their experiments with mice, the researchers found that these escaped cells were often clustered around blood vessels in an area called the perivascular niche. In particular, the vessels’ endothelial cells were guarding the cancer cells, making them resistant to treatments like chemotherapy. The researchers also found molecules called integrins that were interacting with the endothelial cells. Integrins are a natural part of healing and are designed to protect cells — but that tendency may be helping infected cells continue to thrive and spread. What’s Next for Cancer Researchers? Using this data, researchers developed two antibodies designed to target the integrins. In mice that were administered only chemo, 75% experienced metastasis; however, those who were also treated with the anti-integrin antibodies had much more success, with only 22% of...

What is Sarcoma Cancer? 5 Things You Need to Know

Sarcoma is called the “forgotten cancer,” as it’s a form of the disease that is much more rare than others, and because of that, it often doesn’t get the attention it should. However, although it’s less common, sarcoma can still pose a serious risk to someone’s health, so it’s important to be educated about the condition. July is a perfect time to do that, as it’s Sarcoma Awareness Month. What is Sarcoma Cancer? Before you can dive in and do your part to encourage sarcoma awareness, it’s helpful to first understand what the condition actually is. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that can be found anywhere in the body and typically is defined as either soft tissue or bone, with dozens of different categories of each. Sarcomas are often difficult to detect and diagnose, though they unfortunately claim more than 6,500 American lives every year, with more than 15,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research. How Can I Promote Sarcoma Awareness? Keeping those statistics in mind, spreading sarcoma awareness can be a vital tool in helping to save lives. Here are five important things you need to know — and that you should tell others in your life! — about sarcoma cancer: Most sarcomas have no known cause: Unlike other forms of cancer, there are no known risk factors for sarcoma. However, certain genetic conditions such as Gardner syndrome or lymph-system damage can enhance the risk, and exposure to radiation, certain herbicides and other chemicals are also thought to play a role. Sarcomas are rare among adults, but...

Unique Ways to Help with Cancer Research

Donating money for cancer patients is one way to help those in need—but, as cancer continues to ravage countless lives around the globe, support for cancer research is just as vital. Often when a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she may start looking into ways to access assistance: programs that offer transportation to appointments, loans that provide money for cancer patients, employment-assistance initiatives to help people in recovery get back to work. While all of those efforts are vital, cancer patients may also find a source of comfort from giving back. Patients with cancer are part of a worldwide community, and investing in efforts to make that community smaller year by year can help those fighting their personal battle feel a bit more empowered and inspired. Here are a few ways that cancer patients, along with their loved ones, can support cancer research: Donate tissue: To really understand the root causes of cancer, researchers need to see the disease in action, and one of the best ways to do that is through live tissue. Agencies like the National Cancer Institute run large-scale research studies to which patients can donate tissue. Healthy tissue may also sometimes be needed, so family and friends of those fighting cancer should also explore this option. Organize a penny drive: A penny may not seem like much in the grand scheme of the need for money for cancer patients, but every cent counts. A penny drive in your neighborhood, through a child’s athletic group or at a local business can be a good way for the entire community of supporters surrounding a patient...

Could a Virus Help Kill Cancer?

The search to find help for cancer patients is never-ending. New research is focused on methods that “attack” or “kill” cancer cells through alternative ways including using one’s own body to fight the disease. The term “poliovirus” has long been deemed to be associated with the deadly disease polio. However, new research may have some looking at it in a new light. Scientists at Duke University recently unveiled a study that found poliovirus may be able to provide unique help for cancer patients. The study revealed that the virus can attack cancer cells, setting off a process that jumpstarts the body’s immune system to fight back against cancer. What Does the Research Say? Researchers introduced poliovirus to subjects suffering from melanoma and breast cancer and observed that the proteins in the cancer cells served as receptors for the virus. Once it attached itself, the virus attacked the cancer cells, which responded by releasing toxic antigens. After the toxins began circulating, the body’s immune system responded, attacking the tumor. The cyclical process that the poliovirus touched off halted tumor growth. What Now? The research points to a potentially significant breakthrough in cancer treatment and prevention. Scientists plan to continue to study the role poliovirus can play in reducing the growth of melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer. In particular, researchers intend to use combination treatments to explore even more effective ways to generate responses from the immune system. While poliovirus has traditionally been thought of as a threat to one’s health, modern innovations in cancer research highlight the potential health-saving benefits of the virus. This type of research is among...

Targeting Health Cells Could Provide Help for Cancer Patients

Promising research suggests a new method for attacking cancer cells, which scientists hope can ultimately lead to even more breakthroughs to prevent the spread of the disease. Researchers recently found that blocking the enzyme NOX4 can slow or halt the progress of cancer. Though many more studies are needed on the subject — pointing to the overall need for financial help for cancer patients and the research community — the recent report identifies a potential way forward. What does the science say? Scientists at University of Southampton focused their study on fibroblasts, which help hold together organs. However, when a person develops cancer, fibroblasts transform into cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which have been known to speed up the spread of tumor growth. NOX4 is vital to the development of CAFs — meaning that if that enzyme could be stopped, the cancer itself may be as well. What happens next?  There are several potential impacts of the study, among them the development of new drug therapies. If a pharmaceutical regimen can be developed that specifically attacks NOX4, that could be a lifesaving intervention for cancer patients, researchers say. Cancer Research UK is also using the results of the study to examine current chemotherapy and immunotherapy practices. Researchers will explore if there are ways to enhance modern techniques to specifically target NOX4, ultimately making them more effective. Life Credit CompanyWe are a licensed consumer lender that is dedicated to providing financial assistance for patients who are facing serious illness. With a Living Benefit Loan, from Life Credit Company, you can receive up to 50% of your life insurance policy’s death benefit today....