EXPERT VOICES

Timely insight on cancer topics from the experts of the American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society Expert Voices

The American Cancer Society

Get Past the Yuck to Help Save Lives

September 26, 2011

By Durado Brooks, MD


Has your doctor ever talked to you about collecting part of your bowel movement to be examined (referred to as a "stool test")?  If you're anything like the patients I've treated, you recoiled in shock and horror!  The idea just sounds disgusting, doesn't it?  Without getting too technical, stool tests have what we doctors call a high YUCK factor. (No, it's not an acronym; it's what patients say when we ask them to do the test: "Are you kidding, doc?  Yuck!") 


But stool tests are one of the tried and true approaches to finding colorectal (colon) cancer early and saving lives.  There are a number of different tests for colon cancer that are recommended by the American Cancer Society and other organizations, including colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography (a special type of x-ray test, sometimes called "virtual colonoscopy").  But the fact is, out of all the tests that are recommended for colon cancer screening, stool tests actually have the strongest evidence that they save lives - a fact that most patients (and many doctors) don't appreciate.  More...

What to Say When Someone Has Cancer

September 20, 2011

By Greta Greer, MSW, LCSW


Nearly 12 million people living in the United States today were diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives; some are undergoing active treatment and others are living cancer free. Most of us know at least one person with cancer, but how confident are you in your ability to communicate well with someone who has recently been diagnosed or is in treatment for cancer?


Feeling insecure about how to communicate well with a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who is facing cancer is quite common. If I only had a nickel for every time I've heard "I don't know what to say!"  And it's especially confusing if you heard about the diagnosis "through the grapevine."


Communication is challenging even in the best of circumstances. So when cancer enters the picture, lots of deep emotions and concerns take it to a new level. It raises the stakes in terms of how it can affect your relationship. Saying or doing the "wrong" thing takes on added significance to your partner, family member, or friend when they have cancer. What you don't say or do is equally important. More...

Filed Under:

Greta Greer | Survivorship

Beating Lunchbox Boredom the Healthy Way

September 13, 2011

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD


I read a recent study from a group of Harvard researchers who wanted to determine what foods and/or beverages are most likely to cause that slow and steady weight gain that many of us see over time as we get older - those things we eat or drink that may contribute to the number on our scale inching up ever so slightly year after year.


Interestingly enough, what topped the list were potato chips, potatoes (especially french fries), sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats (think hot dogs).  And that got me thinking about my kids and what they eat at school. More...

Filed Under:

Colleen Doyle | Diet/Exercise

Ovarian Cancer: Do Screening Tests Work?

September 01, 2011

By Debbie Saslow, PhD


For years, patients, doctors, and researchers have been trying to find a way to catch ovarian cancer early, when it's most treatable. For women, the chance of getting ovarian cancer is about 1 in 70.  In most cases, the cancer is found at an advanced stage and survival is, sadly, quite low.


Most women get tested regularly for breast cancer and cervical cancer, and hopefully colorectal (colon) cancer. Why aren't they checked for ovarian cancer, too?  Unfortunately we don't have tests like mammograms or Pap tests for the ovaries. Doctors often do a pelvic exam, which includes checking the ovaries, but this exam rarely finds ovarian tumors unless they have grown very large.


Some other tests, like the CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound, have been studied to see if they can be used to test for ovarian cancer, but none have proven to be accurate enough to consistently find cancer. More...

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