Improving cancer treatment with a simple change

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It is said that when diagnosed with cancer, a patient becomes a survivor. But what does this really mean?

Across the country, new efforts are being made to help people survive their often toxic therapy with a different goal – dividing doctors to tackle both disease and the body’s overall health.

New study finds chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not enough.

Thus armed with a new plan, oncologists do not only prolong life, they prolong a good life.

Kanesha Broadwater had breast cancer, but during a recent cancer survivorship visit to Northwestern Medicine, they take a close look at her heart.

Karen Kinahan is a nurse practitioner with the program.

“It’s not just about healing the patient and moving on to the next, but following them through their journey and the trajectory of their cancer journey,” she said.

Breast cancer survivors may also have problems with bone strength, requiring the addition of vitamin D and calcium.

“They definitely help manage the long-term effects of the treatment,” Broadwater said. “I love it because the practitioners here not only know you, but they know you through the lens of your cancer treatment.”

Intensive treatment for stage 3 ductal carcinoma in the 45-year-old man included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy after a diagnosis that created a lot of fear, which adds stress to the body and heart.

“My first concern was that I had to go home and tell my parents that I had cancer,” Broadwater said. “They are getting old …”

As she ages, Broadwater knows the value of focusing on her life beyond cancer and that includes aftercare.

“They know exactly what kind of chemo I’ve had. They know the effects it can have on your long term health. They know how different things in your life can affect these treatment effects, ”said Broadwater. “During our visit, we talked a lot about heart health because of one of the chemotherapy drugs I received. And so we talk at length about the kind of exercise I do. Is it cardio? Is it bodybuilding? That sort of thing to come up with a very specific logistics plan of how to deal with those side effects. “

At City of Hope, the philosophy is to consider side effects even before treatment begins. The researchers started a study with older patients, some who received standard care, the other half a little more care.

Dr Daneng Li is Assistant Research Professor of Medical and Therapeutic Oncology and Oncologist at City of Hope.

“Now that we are able to potentially identify patients who are at risk for treatment-related toxicity, how can we potentially minimize that risk? Li said. Whatever vulnerabilities were identified, we would respond next. So we had a group of different types of specialists, including an oncologist, nurse practitioner, social worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, to identify some of the areas where there might be needs and then make recommendations. . “

In previous studies, patients who received less chemo felt better but potentially didn’t get the final blow for their cancer. In this study, the patients were given the full dose of the drug, but they received full body care and that made a difference. There were 10% fewer side effects and long term complications. They lasted longer in treatment while increasing their chances of survival.

“Basically we’re saying we can support you no matter what chemotherapy you are getting,” Li said. “And by doing that, we can alleviate a lot of toxic side effects from chemotherapy that you might have.

In the age of precision cancer medicine targeting tumors, this approach has a different target.

“This is a more patient-centered approach to precision medicine that really allows us to detect each patient’s own vulnerability and thus allows us to better effectively care for all of our elderly people with cancer,” said Li. “Ultimately, it helps them not only live longer, but also live better. “

The concept of survival is gaining ground across the country. At City of Hope, they know their multidisciplinary approach will work for younger patients as well. If you or someone you care about is diagnosed with cancer, seek an oncology specialist and survival specialist.

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