The Importance of Cancer Screenings

The prospect of treating cancer is daunting for any patient—especially so if the person is diagnosed with late-stage cancer. One of the best ways to help catch the disease before it progresses or spreads is through regular cancer screening. What is a cancer screening? A cancer screening is a type of evaluation that looks for potential signs of cancer before a person develops symptoms. This can be particularly effective, as symptom development may not arise until the cancer has progressed and may be harder to treat. By looking for and diagnosing cancer through early screening, patients stand a much better chance at surviving and thriving after a diagnosis. What does a screening look like? Now that you’ve answered what is a cancer screening, you may wonder what it entails. There are many different types of screenings and they can be employed separately or together, based on the patient’s medical history and risk status. A physical exam may be the most common and involves a physician closely examining the patient’s body to look for anything unusual while also taking a history and learning about the patient’s habits or other problem areas. Other screening procedures involve lab tests, imaging, and genetic tests, all of which can flag potential signs of cancer. Should I get a cancer screening? Those who have a risk for cancer should consider regular screening. For instance, patients who have survived cancer or who have close relatives who have been diagnosed are advised to be screened periodically. Similarly, smokers, those with blood clots, patients with genetic mutations, and those who are of advanced age are also prime candidates...

How Can I Help a Cancer Patient’s Caregiver?

Caregiving comes in many forms: nurturing a child, aiding an elderly parent through his or her final years or serving as a valuable support system to someone grappling with a serious illness. While all types of caregiving come with both their own pressures and rewards, the latter is often the most unknown and least often talked about—yet it can carry with it some of the greatest challenges. Cancer is among the many medical conditions that often necessitate a caregiver stepping in to help—with countless medical appointments, treatments, side effects and an overall major disruption to one’s routine, cancer patients often need all the help they can get. But, caregivers do as well. If you have someone in this role in your life and have wondered, “how can I help a cancer patient’s caregiver?” then this is the best time to ask that question. November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time when those who provided this valuable service are given just a fraction of the recognition they deserve. Apart from thanking the caregivers in your life, this is a good opportunity to also give them a bit more—as resources, knowledge, and support can be a lifesaving help for those who do so much to help others. 3 ways to give back to a cancer patient’s caregiver Introduce them to support groups: The American Cancer Society operates a comprehensive database of support groups for cancer caregivers. Connect them to these valuable resources so they can meet others with similar experiences. Research respite and adult care: Though many don’t realize it, cancer caregivers can and should take a break. Caring for...

Creating a Plan After a Cancer Diagnosis  

Planning is essential for any major life experience: going to college, buying a house, having a baby. The same can be said for a cancer diagnosis. Preparing and staying organized before for cancer treatment is often overlooked yet a highly essential component of a person’s journey through and beyond cancer. From the day a diagnosis is delivered to the moment the news of remission comes, having a cancer care plan can make each step a bit easier. How do I prepare for cancer treatment? Proactively consider the different areas of your life that will be changed by your diagnosis, and then explore the options and opportunities that exist within each to make those changes more manageable. A personalized cancer care plan should include: Treatment:  Among the most important aspects of a cancer care plan is treatment. This portion of the strategy should include research about healthcare facilities, physicians and different treatments available. Patients should education themselves about the most common types of cancer treatment, including the costs, side effects and recovery times. Finances:  A personal cancer care plan should address the patient’s overall financial picture, including estimated costs for treatments, co-pays, and other medical expenses. If you are looking for financial assistance and loans that cover medical expenses, contact Life Credit for immediate assistance at 1-888-274-1777 Caregiving:  Cancer can interrupt daily responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly parents. A cancer care plan can address how those obligations will be handled during a patient’s treatment and recovery, including rotating schedules of family and friends willing to pitch in and a rundown of the daily responsibilities related to each caregiving relationship.Cancer patients may find that in...

New Approaches to Managing Cancer Pain

Pain management for cancer patients is one of the many unfortunate necessities of the disease. Whether it’s from the tumor itself, the treatment or a combination of both, pain is a severe reality for many cancer patients. While there have long been a number of drugs on the market that relieve pain, with the surge in the opioid epidemic, many people are looking for pain-management strategies that don’t involve an addictive medication or even any medication at all. Adding to the issue is the fact that many more people are surviving cancer, and living longer after a diagnosis, which has generated a new demand for pain relief. Fueled by continued research in the area, cancer pain management is a rapidly changing issue, with a number of promising new approaches in development. New Antibody to Reduce Bone Pain Bone pain is a common complaint from those whose cancer has metastasized into the bones, or who had a tumor in the bone to begin with. Prolia was the first drug approved for cancer-related bone pain, and was followed by Fosamax. Now, they may be joined by a new antibody that seeks to block a molecule called nerve growth factor, which signals to the brain that the body is pain. The antibody proved successful in a series of testing with mice and is now in clinical trials with humans. Cannabinoid for Cancer Pain Cannabinoid, a chemical used in marijuana, has also proven promising for its ability to suppress pain. For instance, a study out of the UCLA School of Dentistry found that cannabinoid reduced pain in rats; and because the researchers used...

CALM Therapy: Treating Depression in Cancer Patients

Depression is a common mental health condition affecting millions of Americans — and those who are facing serious health challenges, such as cancer, are at an increased risk of developing depression and related mental-health struggles. Thankfully, there is cancer mental health support available, including popular group therapy sessions, where patients can find vital support from others who are facing similar physical and mental obstacles. A new type of psychotherapy for cancer patients is also proving highly successful. Known as CALM therapy, the technique was recently studied by a team of researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In their clinical trial, the team found that three to six sessions of CALM therapy — which stands for Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully — were able to lessen symptoms of depression in those with an advanced form of the disease. The results also suggest that the therapy approach can also stem the development of depression in those with advanced cancer. What is CALM therapy? This approach to psychotherapy for cancer patients involves three to six sessions, lasting between 45 and 60 minutes, over a three- to six-month period. The trial participants who attended the CALM therapy sessions reported less severe symptoms of depression than those who did not participate, and the symptoms continued to decline the longer the patients were attending the sessions. The sessions focus on issues including symptom management, communication with care providers, life changes, spiritual wellbeing and fears about the future. Patients are allowed to bring a caregiver to one or more of the sessions if they would like, and sessions can be led...

Cost of Care for 3 Common Types of Cancer

While a cancer diagnosis of any kind brings with it a wealth of financial worries, not all types of cancer are the same — so the cost of cancer treatment can vary greatly. Costs depend on a number of factors, such as the method of treatment — radiation therapy versus chemotherapy versus surgery, or sometimes a combination of all of these approaches. Costs also impacted by the type of imaging needed, the extent of the medication regimen, length of hospital stays and level of home care required, as well as many other considerations. Despite many differences, the cost of cancer treatment is often very significant, no matter the type of cancer, which is why it’s important for patients to have an idea of total costs before starting treatment, so they can be prepared and also explore all of the options for financial assistance for cancer patients. Here are some of the projected costs for treatment of the most common forms of cancer: Breast Cancer  NCI predicts women diagnosed with breast cancer will pay a mean of $23,078 in the first year after diagnosis, followed by annual costs of $2,207. If the diagnosis ends up coming within the patient’s last year of life, the cost is a staggering $62,856. Prostate Cancer  For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, NCI estimates they will pay $19,710 for the cost of cancer treatment in the initial year, followed by annual costs of $3,201. If it is a late-stage diagnosis and the patient dies that year, the projected cost of care is $62,242. Lung Cancer  Lung cancer is among the more costly types of cancer....