Monday, August 14, 2017

Stress Management after Cancer



Cancer treatments can definitely have a physical impact on the body during and after treatments. But did you know that they can also affect the way someone thinks and feels? For many, it’s normal to experience a range of side effects during treatment that can linger for months and sometimes years after treatments end.  In addition, there are a myriad of emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis – such as stress and anxiety.  For some, these feelings can also cause even more physical and emotional disorders like chronic fatigue and depression.

Many cancer survivors experience stress after cancer diagnosis and following cancer treatment. While there is no research that stress actually causes cancer, we do know that stress causes other health problems. “Sustained stress hormones, over a long period of time, may even damage our body on a cellular and molecular level. And, we are just beginning to explore how the mind and body works in relation to our emotional states,” said Teri Hoenemeyer, Ph.D., the director of Education and Supportive Services at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It’s important to have ways to cope with and reduce stress. Many cancer survivors find that spending time participating in activities they enjoy can help them feel calm or relaxed. “Often, patients will say that they feel disconnected from their bodies, their emotions, and even their relationships with others after a cancer diagnosis,” said Hoenemeyer. “Engaging in activities that are comforting and meaningful to patients helps them become more introspective and aware of just how much the stress of their disease and treatment can impact how they feel. Once aware, they can then recognize triggers so they can cope and manage better.” Some of the suggestions Hoenemeyer provides for managing and coping with stress include:
  • Exercise is a common way to reduce stress—whether you have had cancer or not. Exercise can be as simple as a walk down your street or walking with a friend or neighbor for 30 minutes. Check with your healthcare provider before exercising, it is important not to overdo yourself and your body.
  • Mind-Body Techniques refer to activities such as meditation, breathing techniques, or gentle yoga intended to lower your stress level and calm your mind and body. These can be done at-home and whenever you are experiencing stress.
  • Creative Outlets include art, music, or dance and gives people a chance to express themselves. You do not need to have experience with art, music, or dance to participate in these activities and have fun doing them. They can be done at home or by participating in a class offered in your community.

All of these activities are great ways for you and your loved ones to reduce stress after cancer. Rehabilitation of the mind and body is an important part of recovery.

Start reducing your stress today and attend this great art event here at UAB:


Lilly Oncology on Canvas, UAB Arts in Medicine and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center are putting on an art event to honor anyone with a cancer experience. The event will be held in the UAB North Pavilion of the UAB Hospital on Thursday, August 17, 2017 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. You do not need to have any art experience or supplies, everyone is welcome to attend!
For more information about this art event, contact Dr. Hoenemeyer at tgw318@uab.edu or (205) 934-5772.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

The month of May brings our attention to skin cancer. Summer calls for a variety of outdoor activities, such as afternoons at the ballpark, outdoor picnics, trips to the beach or just a day by the pool. As this season is quickly approaching, it is important to understand what skin cancer is and how we can prevent it while still enjoying those long, fun-filled days in the sun.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually. By definition, skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that primarily occurs on skin that has seen excessive exposure to the sun or tanning beds. There are three major skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. If treated early, the prognosis is usually not life-threatening.

Know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer:
  • Signs of non-melanoma skin cancers include new red lesions that steadily grow, non-healing sores or crusted areas on the skin, bumps with a "pearly" or translucent surface, and any tender growths on the skin's surface.
  • Melanomas are darkly pigmented, discolored areas or bumps with an asymmetrical shape, irregular borders, or dark black or multicolored surface. While the majority of melanomas do not arise from moles, new or changing moles in adulthood should be examined.

blake phillips"Over a lifetime, it's quite common for high-risk patients to develop multiple skin cancers on different body sites," says C. Blake Phillips, M.D., a fellow in the UAB Department of Dermatology. "That said, most skin cancers have an excellent cure rate if detected and treated early. I encourage learning the signs of skin cancer and self-exams between clinic visits. Patient awareness is extremely helpful in early diagnosis."




Dr. Phillips outlines several ways in which we can protect ourselves from the sun:
  • Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats with sunglasses when out in the sun.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Also note that "water resistant" does not mean "waterproof," as waterproof sunscreen does not exist.
  • When sweating or swimming, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours or even more. Sunscreen can be rubbed off by a towel, so reapply after drying off as well.
  • Limit your direct exposure to the sun and seek shade, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest.
  • Avoid indoor tanning. Staying away from the tanning bed altogether is one of the easiest ways to avoid skin cancer, yet an estimated 11.3 million Americans engage in indoor tanning. In fact, more than 410,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States may be linked to indoor tanning.
It is important to remember that anyone with skin is at risk for developing skin cancers. "While less common, even those with heavily pigmented skin can develop skin cancer," says Dr. Phillips.

Talk to your doctor or click here to learn more or schedule an appointment at UAB.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Bladder cancer, a type of cancer that forms in the tissue of the bladder, is the fourth most common cancer in men. Despite this, bladder cancer awareness remains surprisingly low. It is important to understand the symptoms of bladder cancer and who it affects, as well as measures you can take to prevent it.
 
The American Cancer Society lists the most common symptoms of bladder cancer:
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation
    • Having to urinate more frequently
    • Pain or burning during urination
    • Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
    • Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full
Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include:
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain
Understanding the symptoms of bladder cancer can lead to early detection, which improves the chances of being treated successfully. Often times, these symptoms are caused by a multitude of things other than bladder cancer, but it is still important to have them checked so that the cause can be found and treated if need be.

 
The American Cancer Society also lists some statistics that we should be aware of:


  • Smokers are 3 times more likely to get bladder cancer than nonsmokers.
  • About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
  • Men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
  • Whites are about 2 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than African Americans and Hispanics.




Jeffery Nix, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Urology and associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center says, "For bladder cancer patients, median age of diagnosis is 75. About 50 percent of cases are related to smoking, so they'll have other health issues as well. They also have high complication rates after surgery."
 
Why UAB?
The UAB urology program is one of the few nationally ranked urology programs in the Southeast. Patients that choose the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for their genitourinary cancer will receive treatment from highly reputable urologists, as well as a personal care plan that utilizes the latest technology and techniques.
 
To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit our website.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cancer Center's Economic Impact

Did you know that for every dollar the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center receives, we can leverage that for as much as $14 from external funding sources, including federal agencies such as the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Turning $1 into $14 makes a definite economic impact, not just at UAB, but across Birmingham. Learn more by watching this short video, and then visit our website to find out how you can get involved in helping us achieve our vision of eliminating cancer as a major public health problem!


video

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What if Birmingham was known as the city that cured cancer?

Birmingham, Ala., is known for many being things. The Magic City. The Pittsburgh of the South. One of the hottest food cities in the nation.


But what if Birmingham was known as the city that cured cancer? With this city being home to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, we think that dream isn't that far-fetched. In fact, we have hundreds of scientists, physicians and other staff working every day to make that vision a reality.




To learn more about the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, and how you can get involved in the fight against cancer, visit our website.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Cancer Center in the News

This month's issue of Birmingham Medical News focuses on oncology, and several articles highlight work being done at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Click on the links below to learn more.

UAB Testing Robotic Platform for Prostate Cancer Detection and Treatment

Immunotherapy: Using the Body's Own Defenses to Fight Cancer

Starve a Cancer, Feed a Patient

UAB Team Identify Protein that Plays Key Role in Brain Cancer Stem Cell Growth

Thank you to the Birmingham Medical News for featuring us, and if you would like to learn more about the Cancer Center, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and despite numerous research advancements and increased efforts in tobacco cessation and anti-smoking initiatives, the disease is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society:

Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer). In men, prostate cancer is more common, while in women breast cancer is more common. About 14% of all new cancers are lung cancers.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2016 are:
  • About 224,390 new cases of lung cancer (117,920 in men and 106,470 in women)
  • About 158,080 deaths from lung cancer (85,920 in men and 72,160 in women)
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women; about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. About 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, while less than 2% are younger than 45. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is offering a free seminar, "Frankly Speaking About Lung Cancer," on November 7 at the Wallace Tumor Institute on the UAB medical campus. Mollie deShazo, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology, will provide fundamental information about current lung cancer treatments, strategies for symptom/side-effect management, and tools for survivorship. We encourage you to learn more, and if you are interested in learning about UAB's smoking cessation programs, click here