Monday, October 18, 2021

Cancer vaccines are new type of immunotherapy that might help in fight against breast cancer

Virtually everyone's talking about vaccines, pro and con, regarding Covid-19 but other vaccines merit major attention as well.

According to an article by Cynthia Weiss of the Mayo Clinic News Network in today's daily Marin Independent Journal, cancer vaccines are "another type of immunotherapy that is being developed and tested for breast cancer."

Weiss' story goes on to say that such vaccines can "help train the immune system to see and 'memorize' antigens, or proteins, found on the surface of cancer cells, so that the immune system can fight these antigens if encountered in the future."

The vaccines, the piece adds, "are being studied in different breast cancer settings: treatment of current cancer; prevention of cancer recurrence; or to decrease the risk of cancer spreading to another part of the body, or metastasis."

Dr. Pooja Advani
Weiss' piece is a question-and-answer format with facts supplied by Dr. Pooja Advani, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and hematologist in Jacksonville, Florida.

Immunotherapy, not incidentally, is a comparatively new treatment for breast cancer that's also been used in treating lung and kidney cancers as well as melanomas. 

It "harnesses the body's immune system to help fight cancer," the Mayo Clinic information indicates.

Currently, Advani's information states, "immunotherapy is approved primarily for patients with metastatic or locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer, representing 10%-15% of breast cancer, with limited treatment options other than chemotherapy."

Immunotherapy is not immune to side effects, however. Typical ones, according to the story, "can include fatigue, chills, body aches, injection site pain, infusion-related reaction, headache, flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal symptoms."

And that's not all. Weiss' Q&A piece asserts that immunotherapy "also can affect live function tests; cause respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough and fever; cause symptoms of overactive or underachieve thyroid glad, or adrenal gland; and rash."

But most of those symptoms, it should be noted, "are mild to moderate and reversible, if detected early and treated in a timely manner."  

More information about recent treatments can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Friday, October 8, 2021

After skin cancer surgery, Rachel Maddow is okay and is back to work as an MSNBC newscaster

Rachel Maddow
Leftist MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow apparently is okay after surgery for skin cancer.

According to a story by Kate Feldman in the New York Daily News, Maddow revealed this week that she'd undergone the operation last Friday, "which explained the Band-Aid on her neck and her few days off the air."

The 48-year-old's partner of 22 years, photographer Susan Mikula, the article says, "a couple of months ago" noticed when they were at a minor league baseball game that a mole had changed. So Maddow visited a dermatologist who did a biopsy that determined that the mole was cancerous.

The surgery took place at NYU Langone.

Felman's story quotes Maddow as saying, "I am going to be absolutely fine. I'm going to be totally fine." — confirmed by a  USA Today quote from her, "They got it, they got it all…I have clear margins and everything."

Skin cancer, the Daily News piece notes, "is the most common of all cancers, affecting 1 in 5 Americans by the age of 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The most prevalent risk factors include indoor tanning, sun exposure and genetics."

When caught early, it says, "almost all forms of skin cancer are treatable" — and virtually all, the foundation says, are curable if diagnosed and treated early enough.

Dermatologists say sunscreen can be a preventative.

Says Maddow, according to the News, "It's only by the grace of Susan that I found mine in enough time that it was totally treatable.… I have been blowing off my appointments forever to get stuff like that checked because I've assumed it will always be fine."

Because "not everybody has a Susan," the story continues, the political commentator "urged people, especially those with moles, to get regular checks by doctors."

Maddow, USA Today reports, "has used her platform in  the past to stress health concerns. In November 2020 she delivered an impassioned warning about the danger off Covid-19 after her partner contracted the illness."

More information about surgeries and recovery can be found in"Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Inaccurate DNA test plagued woman for more than a decade after double mastectomy

A Missouri woman's years of mental anguish stemmed from a DNA testing mistake.

According to Maureen Boesen's online story in the HuffPost, she "made major decisions — like having a double mastectomy — based on a false positive. I was robbed of the chance to breastfeed my babies, and it broke my heart."

The Kansas City mother of three's recent guest article contends she "just couldn't get past the fact that my inaccurate test result meant I had been carrying around a devastatingly unnecessary burden for more than a decade."

Because she and her two sisters have an extensive family history of cancer (ovarian and breast), Boesen not only opted for the preventive bilateral mastectomy at age 23 but was planning to have a complete hysterectomy by the age of 35. A second DNA test, with its negative result, quashed that idea — especially after a third test also showed she didn't have the dangerous BRAC1 gene mutation that would mean a 75% lifetime risk of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of contracting ovarian cancer.

What was surprising, Boesen reported, was that the new results "were even more shocking and overwhelming than finding out I was positive. I was feeling so many emotions — confusion, sadness, anger, anxiety, depression, relief — all at once."

More information about false positives, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, and other prophylactic surgeries can be found in ˆRollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Lumpectomy and radiation treatments fix Minnesota senator's early-detected breast cancer

Sen. Amy Klobuchar admits she underwent treatment for early-stage breast cancer in January.

According to a story by Felicia Sonmez in The Washington Post today, the former 2020 Democrat presidential candidate said in a post on Medium, a platform for professionals, that she'd had a lumpectomy and radiation.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
The 61-year-old Minnesota politician said she was told by her doctors last month that the treatments had gone well and that her "chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person."

Sonmez's article says Klobuchar "urged Americans not to put off routine health screenings, noting that 'doctors are seeing patients who are being treated for more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier.'" 

She also noted that it is "easy to put off health screenings, just like I did. But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through. I am so fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early enough stage and to not need chemotherapy or other extensive treatments, which unfortunately is not the case for so many others."

The senator thanked her physicians, family and friends for their support during her surgery and radiation treatment, which she observed had coincided with the illness and death of her father, a Minneapolis journalist.

"Their support allowed me to continue my work with my colleagues on major pandemic and economic legislation," the story quotes her as saying, "as well as chairing the joint Senate Jan. 6 investigation and the For the People hearings while undergoing cancer treatment."

According to a story by Quint Forgey on today's Politico website, the three-term senior senator also admitted that "this has been scary at times, since cancer is the word all of us fear." Each day, she said, "is a gift."

Further information on early detection can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Actor Stanley Tucci says he overcame tongue cancer, after long treatments, 3 years ago

Screen and television star Stanley Tucci has disclosed —- three years after the fact —— that he beat cancer following long, difficult treatments. 

The tumor was at the base of his tongue and originally "too big to operate" on.

Stanley Tucci

An online story by Cole Delbyck in yesterday's Huffpost maintains that the 60-year-old Tucci had undergone intensive treatments for approximately half a year — including chemotherapy and high-dose radiation that apparently killed the malignancy and made it unlikely that it could return.

Delbyck's story indicates that Tucci feels "much older than I did before I was sick. But you still want to get ahead and get things done.”

The actor's disclosure, which appeared in Vera magazine last week, indicates that cancer "makes you more afraid and less afraid at the same time.”

Tucci's now the star of his eponymous CNN food-and-travel series, "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy," after having honed his culinary skills and developed a following. The show, which earned multiple Emmy Award nominations, has been renewed for a second season.

Tucci's first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci, died of breast cancer in 2009 at age 47. Afterwards, he vowed that he'd never go through chemo and radiation because watching "her go through those treatments for years was horrible," he told Delbyck.

Clearly, he changed his mind.

The Huffpost article points out that he had also been "particularly concerned with how his diagnosis would affect his five children.” The actor has three children from his first marriage and shares a son and daughter with his current wife, Felicity Blunt, sister of his 'Devil Wears Prada' co-star Emily Blunt.

Delbyck's piece quotes the actor as saying that the "kids were great, but it was hard for them. I had a feeding tube for six months. I could barely make it to the twins' high school graduation."

Earlier this year, the article notes, Tucci spoke in an "CBS Sunday Morning" interview about his late wife and noted that "you never stop grieving. It's still hard. And it will always be hard [but she] would never want any of us to ever wallow intuit grief and let it take over our lives. She would never want that. She wasn't like that."

Tucci in recent years has appeared in three films, including the gay romance, "Supernova," in which he co-starred with Colin Firth as a man battling early onset dementia.

Additional information about diseases and their treatments can be found in “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer,” a book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Hundreds of women, men pose topless to show bodies are beautiful even with mastectomy scars

Hundreds of Delaware women, and men, have been posing topless — to make a point about why bodies are still beautiful even after mastectomies.

Members of the Grace Project, a photo shoot by Charise Isis, say their message is body-acceptance even when it's scarred and "may look flawed to the conventional eye."

According to a recent story by Yusra Asif in the Delaware News Journal, the shoots have been "aimed to capture the courage, beauty and grace of the breast-cancer patients." 

Their theme, the story says, "was inspired by Hellenistic goddess sculptures such as Venus de Milo, a broken relic that has survived the trauma of history and yet is celebrated for its beauty."

Asif's article quotes Isis as declaring that "the people I photograph trust me with their greatest vulnerability, the scars that have been written all over their body, a map of their survival…I get to witness such profound beauty and transformation."

The story also says the project aims at creating awareness of the cancer itself, "especially among underrepresented communities, and the importance of self-examination to detect the disease at an early stage."

One of the men who participated in the shoot, Stephen Sala, a member of the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, told Asif that he'd "do anything to help men understand and get rid of the stigma that it's a woman's disease. We have a slogan that men have breasts, too."

The piece explains that while men "are less likely to get breast cancer, they tend to get diagnosed with more aggressive types and their mortality rate is higher."

Isis' aim is to ultimately take 800 portraits — "the approximate number of new breast-cancer cases in the Unites States every day." She's already done 450. She plans to exhibit them fully once she's reach her goal. For now, she's exhibiting a handful at galleries, museums, hospitals and cancer centers throughout the country.

More information on mastectomy is available in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Appeals court backs $86.2 million verdict against Monsanto that found Roundup causes cancer

An appeals court has upheld a $86.2 million verdict against Monsanto that cited the chemical giant's "conscious disregard for the safety of others." 

The decision, which came recently in a 2-1 ruling from the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, confirmed damages awarded to a Livermore couple who developed cancer after spraying Roundup, the world's most widely used herbicide, in their yards for 30 years.

The verdict, according to a story by Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle, marked the third time an appeals court has upheld San Francisco Bay Area jury verdicts that Monsanto knowingly marketed a dangerous product.

Egelko's story quotes Justice Marla Miller's statement from the majority opinion that the "evidence shows Monsanto's intransigent unwillingness to inform the public bout the carcinogenic dangers of a product it made abundantly available at hardware stores and garden sops across the country."

The dissenting justice, James Richman, "did not dispute Monsanto's responsibility for [the illnesses of Alva and Alberta Pilliod] but said the evidence did not show the company knew of the dangers," the Chronicle article reports.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, said glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, was a probable cause for cancer in human beings. Later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demurred, preventing California, in the process, from requiring a warning label on containers of the weed-killer.

The appeals court ruled this week, however, that the jury was "entitled to believe" evidence "that Monsanto had failed to conduct proper studies for the EPA on the safety of the herbicide and that the company's scientists had 'ghost-written' reports in th names of purportedly independent researchers."

The ruling, the Chronicle piece notes, "comes less than two weeks after Monsanto's parent company, Bayer, announced that it would stop selling the current version of Roundup for home and garden use in U.S. stores, starting in 2023."

In addition, Bayer said it would replace glyphosate "with an unspecified active ingredient, subject to federal and state approval, while continuing to sell Roundup with glyphosate for farm use," Egelko writes.

Alva Pilliod was diagnosed "with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of lymph cancer, at age 69 in 2013, and Alberta Pilliod was diagnosed with the same illness four years later at age 70," says the Chronicle piece.

More information on lawsuits against companies whose products cause disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Frequent heartburn, acid reflux could lead to esophageal cancer, which is rapidly on the rise

Increased incidences of acid reflux may be linked to a spike in esophageal cancer.

At least that's the conclusion of a story by Stephen Perrine in an old AARP Bulletin I just unearthed from a storage box in my laundry room closet stuffed between two sheets of paper with other medical advice that I neglected to heed. 

Many people "don't realize that common heartburn symptoms can both lead to and mask something more serious," reads the story and a caption accompanying the article.

"Esophageal adenocarcinoma — cancer of the lining of the soft tube that delivers food and drink from the mouth to the stomach," Perrine's piece says, "has increased sevenfold since the early 1970s," quoting Dr. Paul Oberstein, director of the gastrointestinal oncology program at New York University Langone's Perlmutter Cancer Center in Manhattan.

The cancer's increase "has paralleled the rise of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the medical name for when you have bouts of acid reflux two or more times per week."

According to David Odell, lead investigator on a study of esophageal cancer funded by the American Cancer Society, thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, "it's one of the fastest-growing issues we have in the population," the AARP story reports.

Chronic heartburn, it says, "can sometimes lead to a disorder called Barrett's esophagus, in which the cells of the esophagus…being to change into glandular cells like those of the stomach." Five percent of GERD patients "will develop Barrett's, and 10 percent of those will go on to develop cancer."

The story also notes that one in every five Americans experience heartburn or acid reflux on a weekly basis, with 40 percent dealing with it at least once a month.

Estimates by the American Cancer Society are that roughly 16,000 Americans die of esophageal cancer annually. Approximately four times as many men get the disease as women, with 85 percent of the cancers being found in people 55 or older.

The main causes of GERD are obesity, a tendency toward large meals, and a high-stress lifestyle, Perrine's story indicates.

More information on links between drugs and other treatments to additional disease is available in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.