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Cancer Matters

Perspectives from those who live it every day.

The Top Ten of 10

The Top Ten of 10

As we look ahead to a 2011 filled with new cancer discoveries, let’s take a moment to revisit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center’s top advances of 2010:

#1:  Personalized Cancer Medicine Becomes a Reality

World renowned investigator Bert Vogelstein, M.D., and team pioneered the science that has led to personalized therapies for cancer patients. Within the next few years all cancer patients at the Kimmel Cancer Center will have their tumors analyzed to reveal a unique genetic “fingerprint” that represents the combination of genetic and epigenetic alterations specific to their cancer.  Targeting these alterations, say the scientists, will improve treatments outcomes, thwart cancers before they develop, and speed new cancer drug discoveries.

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Cancer News Review: Top Stories

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Three stories top the list of major developments in cancer research during the past month.  Listen to these topics discussed in the most recent Cancer News Review podcast.

First, to treat or not to treat is the question for low-risk prostate cancer.  Whether to give aggressive treatments for low-risk cancer contained within the prostate is a controversy that many experts in the field still debate. Prostate cancer expert and Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson reviews a study analyzing how treatment decisions for these cancers are made and how quality of life expectations are communicated.  He says the current problem is that screening, which has helped decrease mortality from prostate cancer, has identified some men who could live their entire lives with prostate cancer but die of other causes.  He believes there are certain groups of men who should consider active surveillance programs to carefully monitor low-risk, organ-confined prostate cancer.

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Getting Personal About Personalized Cancer Medicine

I got into this business 25 years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.  I was a newlywed, and at 22-years-old, I faced the prospect of being a widow.  The evening we learned the shocking news, I remember leaving the hospital to return home. I was numb with fear.  I went into our bedroom and picked up the T-shirt he had casually dropped on the bed before we left for what we believed would be a brief doctor’s visit.  I didn’t expect to be returning to our home alone. I pressed the shirt to my face and breathed in his scent and sobbed uncontrollably.

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Medicare, The A,B,C,D’s…Let’s Talk D

Louise Knight
Louise Knight, MSW, LCSW-C, OSW-C

You may be confused by the list of letters after the word Medicare.  A, B, C, D...  Who can keep them straight?  There is a web page that can give the answers.  It is

Let's Talk D:  Let me give you the important Medicare D news for 2011.    I am going to start with the letter D and the reason is:  the deadline to apply ends soon.

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Why I Run

As an avid runner, I participate in many races each year.  I enter these for many reasons. I love to run, it’s a challenge, and sometimes it’s for a good cause. At the beginning of each race, I like to look around at the starting line at the wide range of people running the event.  Each participant is running for a different reason. For some, it’s a personal goal, a hobby, or even a response to a challenge.  For many, the race has a special meaning -- it could be in honor or memory of a loved one, in support of a friend or family member, or to simply celebrate life.

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Know Thy Pathologist

When you are facing potentially life-changing treatment or surgery for cancer, you may want to have several opinions from the best surgeons, the most experienced oncologists, and top experts in radiation therapy, right?  Well, there's another expert whose double-checking may be worth your while -- the pathologist. 

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Cancer Caregiving

--The following blog post is Part 2 of a blog series written by Brenda Boitson, a 26 year-old widow, writer, and speaker who resides in Lancaster, Pennyslvania.  Her husband, Kevin, lost his battle to angiosarcoma at the age of 36 on October 28, 2008.  Brenda detailed their journey through his disease at and now continues to blog about widowhood at  She advocates locally for sarcoma and grief awareness while working full time and attending school for business.   Read Part 1, posted last week. 

My husband became ill in June 2008 and within just two months he went from having a sore throat, to being on life support and having an emergency esophagectomy at Johns Hopkins.  Our life drastically changed, and that change included a sudden move from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Baltimore, Md.  While Kevin was in full care of the Hopkins staff, I could not bring myself to leave his side.

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