How to Support Employees with Cancer

While it’s common for family, friends and loved ones to step up and lend a helping hand when a person is battling cancer, there’s another area where assistance may be just as vital, but perhaps less available: at the office. Workplace support for employees with cancer can come in many forms — from policies and procedures that make easing back into the job a bit easier, to informal help from co-workers eager to make the daily grind a little less difficult. Both employers and employees can take steps to make sure workplace support for employees with cancer is available and being put to use. For the Employer A new guide from the National Business Group on Health and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network outlines steps employers can take to offer workplace support for employees with cancer. Key among them are providing short-term disability for cancer treatment, along with disability case managers to walk patients through the ins and outs. The guide also suggests employers put in place an Employee Assistance Program and return-to-work strategies that involve case managers, HR leaders, and the worker’s supervisor to ensure a smooth and sensitive transition. For the Employee It’s also important to be proactive about seeking workplace support for employees with cancer. Cancer.net points out that there are three steps involved in a successful return to work: preparation, adjusting physically and adjusting mentally. Cancer patients should understand the parameters of policies like FMLA and short-term disability for cancer treatments and ensure they’re taking maximum advantage of leave and other benefits available to them. When a doctor approves, contact the company and request a...

How Expensive Is Cancer?

Just how much does cancer cost? It’s difficult to pinpoint, but what is easy to determine is that cancer can be extremely expensive, even financially toxic for some people. The Cancer Action Network estimates that the 2014 cost of cancer care in the United States was a staggering $87.8 billion, a number shared by patients, employers, insurance companies and public programs. CAN notes it’s difficult to put a price tag on the individual costs of cancer because there is so much variation in treatment methods and insurance options, but out-of-pocket expenses may easily exceed $200,000, according to the organization’s cancer treatment cost statistics. Forbes estimates that the average cost of cancer treatment was equal to about 11 percent of patients’ income in the United States. Where does all the money go? There are a number of things that drive expenses, such as high prescription costs, copays for doctor visits, exorbitant costs of treatments like chemotherapy and hospital fees for surgery. Then there is the indirect, and often unexpected, cost of cancer care. Expenses like childcare, mental-health treatments, transportation to appointments, lost income from reduced working hours and potentially a job loss all add onto the cancer treatment cost, and can significantly overwhelm patients. Financial Help For Cancer Patients Some may be so eager for quick cash that they decide to sell their life insurance policy in what is called a viatical settlement. Such an agreement involves the transfer of a policy to a third party for less than what it is worth, with the policyholder able to use the lump sum proceeds to address his or her immediate financial needs....

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....

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...

Blood Test Can Provide Help for Cancer Patients in Remission

Help for cancer patients may be coming quicker than ever before, thanks to a medical breakthrough. Nearly half of all people in remission from lung cancer will experience a recurrence. That’s why that population was chosen as the target demographic for a study that sought to prioritize early detection of cancer recurrence. What did the study find?  The research was led by scientists at Francis Crick Institute in London, who used samples from patients’ lung tumors to develop a unique genetic analysis of each patient’s cancer. Once the tumors were removed, researchers drew blood from the patients every three months and analyzed the samples for traces of cancer DNA, which could suggest that a tumor was re-growing. The method ultimately was able to tip off 13 out of 14 patients who did eventually see a recurrence. While other tests and scans would have likely been able to pinpoint the return of cancer, the blood test was able to pick it up when a tumor was just .3 cubic millimeters in size. That means the news came up to a year ahead of any other detection method. Interpreting the results The speed at which the blood test can alert a patient to the recurrence can ensure help for cancer patients is provided swiftly, lessening the likelihood that a tumor will grow unnoticed. Early detection is key when it comes to catching and treating cancer, so researchers are hailing the test as a significant breakthrough. The team that pioneered this method also saw another milestone with the genetic-testing portion of their research. In that portion of the work, the researchers found...

Vitamin C Could Provide Help for Cancer Patients

We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but new research suggests that another fruit should also be on our radar. Scientists in Great Britain found that Vitamin C — found in great volumes in oranges — can provide significant help for cancer patients. Instead of buying oranges in bulk, however, researchers suggested introducing the vitamin in a more direct way. They injected patients with very high doses of Vitamin C — about 500 times more than what they would get by increasing their consumption of oranges, kale, peppers and other Vitamin C-rich foods. Researchers found that this method was actually able to combat cancer 10 times more effectively than some cancer drugs. The vitamin, comprised of ascorbic acid, prevents the breakdown of glucose in cancer stem cells, which stops the mitochondria from thriving. The process ultimately starves the stem cells, which are vital to the growth of a tumor. The benefits of Vitamin C for cancer treatment have been studied for decades, but this is the first study to specifically examine the impact on cancer stem cell growth. Researchers involved with this trial said the results were “promising” and could signal a new course of help for cancer patients, especially when combined with chemotherapy. But, the study is not without controversy, or critics. Some scientists have cautioned that previous studies on Vitamin C have shown the nutrient can trigger a process that damages DNA, and others suggested it could actually interfere with some elements of chemo. Most importantly, researchers emphasized that, since the study focused on injectable Vitamin C, cancer patients need to...