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.