Here’s a quick summary of notable recent health and cancer news:
‘Navigators’ for cancer patients: A nice perk or something more?
The Washington Post looks at whether patient navigators are really beneficial to cancer patients. Navigators–who are sometimes a nurse, social worker, or volunteer cancer survivor–guide patients through the complex system of cancer care, helping with everything from scheduling appointments to deciphering medical bills. While patients tend to see navigators as a positive contribution to their care, SCCA’s Dr. Scott Ramsey, who was interviewed by the Post for the article, says navigation may not have that big of an impact on the kind of care patients receive. Ramsey is a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutch and studied the cost-effectiveness of patient navigators in a National Cancer Institute project. Says Ramsey:
One question worth asking is why do [patient navigators] exist. And the reason is the cancer community has done a very poor job of helping patients through the system. The fact that navigation exists is kind of an indictment of the cancer-care system.
Bring Back Prostate Screening
In 2012 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against screening men for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. In this New York Times op-ed, Dr. Deepak A. Kapoor, a urology professor at Mount Sinai Hospital, argues that it’s time to reconsider the task force recommendation. He describes how PSA tests can now be better analyzed to interpret readings for age and race, among other factors, which can affect what is considered “normal.” In a similar vein, SCCA’s Dr. Bruce Montgomery talked about the need for the PSA test at last month’s ASCO meeting (starting at 4-minute mark in the video below):
In Other Health and Cancer News
NPR reports on a study that concludes that frequent mammograms don’t always mean fewer cancer deaths. A new study reported on by the Los Angeles Times states that combinations of multiple “safe” chemicals may increase cancer risk. And the Washington Post looks at research that casts doubts on the benefits on fish oil.
Summer is in full swing, but are you still looking for activities to fill out your calendar? Check out these two events that will allow you to get outside and be active while supporting and benefiting cancer research.
Fred Hutch Obliteride: Aug. 7-9
For our cycling enthusiasts, Obliteride is the perfect opportunity to get some miles in while raising money for our partners at Fred Hutch. And, don’t worry if you consider yourself more of a casual rider. The weekend will feature five different routes including 10, 25, 50, 100, and 150 miles. All courses will end at Gas Works Park with a post-race celebration. Also, if riding on two wheels isn’t your thing, consider volunteering for the event.
Swim Across America: Sept. 12
If you prefer water over land, mark your calendar for Swim Across America. SCCA is the beneficiary for this Lake Washington open water swim event where participants will fundraise for SCCA and have the option of swimming a ½ mile, 1 mile, or 2 miles. There is also a Kid’s Splash for children 11 and younger who are able to swim 50 meters. To date, Swim Across America has raised more than $1,000,000 for cancer research, prevention, and treatment at SCCA since the event started in 2009. And even if you’re not a swimmer, you can help out in a variety of ways as a fundraiser or as a volunteer on land or on the water.
Dungeness crabbing is projected to reach record numbers this summer in the Puget Sound area. What more of an omen do you need to get out and go crabbing this summer? How about if it’s also for a good cause? The Third Annual Speed-Crabbing Derby benefiting cancer research at SCCA is set for July 11. Speed-crabbing is essentially the same as regular recreational crabbing – except faster! Check out the video below for details on how the derby works:
The derby is free to enter and the team that weighs in the 10 largest Dungeness crabs by weight will be crowned Puget Sound’s Greatest Recreational Crabbers. But, we know that all participants will walk away winners since the derby directly benefits SCCA. The derby begins at 8 a.m., Saturday, July 11 at the Port of Everett. Refer to the event website for more information on registration and rules. Happy crabbing!
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting earlier this month where medical professionals across the country presented findings on cancer treatments. Several SCCA doctors talked with Patient Power’s Carol Preston about their specific fields. Below are videos of those interviews that discuss colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.
The Importance of Genetics in Colorectal Cancer
It used to be that a standard course of treatment for colorectal cancer was based on the cancer’s stage—the size and extent of where the cancer has spread inside the body. In this interview, Dr. Stacey Shiovitz explains that looking at the genetics of the tumor itself can help determine which treatment course may be more successful. Dr. Shiovitz also reports on how a new class of drugs, called PD1 Inhibitors, are working to treat colorectal cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments
In this interview, Dr. Sasha Stanton discusses some of the challenges associated with using immunotherapy to treat breast cancer. Where this approach has shown the most promise is in treating certain types of triple-negative breast cancer. Dr. Stanton also talks about treating tumors caused by BRCA mutations and those tumors which are caused by BRCA-like mutations.
Prostate Cancer: Use of Chemotherapy and PSA Screenings
While some men may be reluctant to undergo chemotherapy for their prostate cancer, in this interview, Dr. Bruce Montgomery discusses how it can be an option for those in the early stages of cancer. Chemotherapy has proven to prolong survival that other drugs cannot. Dr. Montgomery also explains how PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is the only test that currently screens for prostate cancer. While the blood test has been controversial, Dr. Montgomery encourages men to ask their healthcare provider to run the test because it is the only one available associated with prostate cancer.
Seattle Magazine is out with its 15th Annual List of Top Doctors in the Puget Sound region. And, to no one’s surprise, many of SCCA’s doctors—37 in all—were included in this year’s list of 459 doctors. Selections were based on an online survey of physicians throughout the Puget Sound area who were asked “To whom would you send a loved one for medical care?”
The SCCA doctors on this year’s list include:
- David R. Byrd, MD
- Keith D. Eaton, MD
- Alessandro Fichera, MD
- Neal Futran, MD
- Barbara A. Goff, MD
- Julie R. Gralow, MD
- William P. Harris, MD
- Fuki Marie Hisama, MD
- Sara H. Javid, MD
- Scott D. Lee, MD
- Daniel W. Lin, MD
- David K. Madtes, MD
- Renato G. Martins, MD
- Michael S. Mulligan, MD
- Brant K. Oelschlager, MD
- James O. Park, MD
- Jason K. Rockhill, MD
- Michael D. Saunders, MD
- Douglas Wood, MD
- Kristine E. Calhoun, MD
- Richard G. Ellenbogen, MD
- Michele B. Frank, MD
- V.K. Gadi, MD
- Ajay K. Gopal, MD
- Heidi J. Gray, MD
- Douglas S. Hawkins, MD
- Wui-Jin Koh, MD
- Hannah M. Linden, MD
- Michael L. Linenberger, MD
- Gary N. Mann, MD
- Dana C. Matthews, MD
- Peter Camillus Neligan, MD
- Julie R. Park, MD
- Colin C. Pritchard, MD
- Hakim Said, MD
- Mika N. Sinanan, MD
- Jonathan L. Wright, MD
Congratulations to the doctors who made this year’s list!