House Calls

SPR 2019

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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26 { spring 2019 } h o u s e c a l l s P H O T O G R A P H ( D R . B A K E R ) C O U R T E S Y O F R O P E R S T . F R A N C I S H E A L T H C A R E DECODING THE JARGON No matter who you are or what type of cancer you're facing, a diagnosis can be overwhelming and scary. Understanding the oncology jargon you'll likely hear from doctors and providers can help you better navigate treatment choices with confidence and calm. • Oncology is the study of cancer, including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease. • A tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue. A tumor can be benign, which means it's usually not life threatening, or malignant, which means it's made of harmful cancer cells that can invade nearby tissues or spread elsewhere. • A biopsy is the removal of cells or tissues, often from a tumor, for closer examination. • Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells to another part of the body. • A polyp is a small growth, usually benign, inside your body. • Staging describes how large a cancer is and how far it's spread. — Stage 1: The cancer is small and contained to a single area — Stage 2 & 3: The cancer is larger and may have moved to other regional tissues or the lymph nodes — Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body • When a patient is in remission, their treatment has been effective and signs of their cancer are gone. prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test screening for prostate cancer. Those men who favor screening after discussion should be offered PSA testing. The American Urological Association agrees with this recommendation, but also recommends that certain healthy men age 70 and above should be considered for PSA screening, as well. Colorectal Cancer Screenings for colorectal cancer have also improved in recent years. "The gold standard screening test is colonoscopy, but there are less invasive stool tests that can also be used, including the relatively new at-home Cologuard test," Dr. Akman explains. Because colorectal cancer is increasingly being detected in younger populations (as explained at length in the winter 2019 issue of House Calls), the American Cancer Society recently lowered the recommended screening age for colonoscopy from 50 to 45. Scheduling the recommended screenings is so important—just ask Mount Pleasant resident Farrow DuRant. Two years ago, on a brisk October afternoon, the 42-year-old pediatrician and mother of three had her first mammogram. Thirty minutes later, DuRant's OB/GYN called: The screening had revealed a suspicious spot in her breast. "My husband and I went to Roper Hospital for a biopsy that day," Farrow recalls. The biopsy and subsequent tests unveiled the presence of a Her2 Positive tumor, an aggressive form of breast cancer. "This is a fast-growing cancer but it was caught very early and, thankfully, there was nothing in my lymph nodes," Farrow says. A variety of treatments, including immunotherapy (more on that below), helped her battle the cancer, and since last spring, she has been cancer-free. Advances in Treatment When a patient at Roper St. Francis receives a cancer diagnosis, the Roper St. Francis Cancer Care team begins treatment as soon as is possible. In Farrow DuRant's case, for example, doctors installed a port for administering medicine intravenously within a week, and chemo began a few days later. "It was so fast it was surreal," Farrow recalls. Over the next four months, she received six treatments of four medications—chemotherapy and two immunotherapy drugs—followed by a complete mastectomy. Post-surgery, she got the best news: The pathology report showed no cancer detectable in her breast tissue. "Prognosis-wise, that's the best-case scenario—I think the immunotherapy was spot on," she says. "Years ago, before immunotherapy medications, recurrence of breast cancer was a lot more common." Immunotherapy, the treatment Farrow received, is a relatively recent development on the cancer-fighting scene. There are many different types of immunotherapies: some Dr. Megan Baker

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