Cancer is basically caused when changes take place in a cell’s DNA. These changes are also referred to as mutations, and they can cause the affected cells to grow without any control. These cells are then known as cancerous cells and can then invade body tissues or crowd out the healthy cells. There are many causes of cancer, with the common ones including infections, frequent contact with cancer-causing substances, radiation, and even genetics. 

If you know the risk factors associated with cancer, it is possible to prevent this disease in many scenarios. At My Cancer Journey, we would like to provide helpful insights into the most common cancer-causing risk factors so that you can avoid this disease to the best of your abilities.

Common Cancer Risk Factors

It is not possible to tell with accuracy why one individual develops cancer while another one doesn’t. Still, research shows that some risk factors increase the chances of someone developing this disease. Here is a list o the most suspected and studied cancer risk factors that you should know of. While some of these factors are available, others aren’t. It is recommended to avoid exposure to avoidable factors to lower your chances of developing cancers.

The common risk factors are as follows:

  • Age
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Hormones
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Certain substances
  • Obesity
  • Immunosuppression
  • Sunlight
  • Infectious agents
  • Tobacco
  • Radiation

 

Environmental Factors

Your environment can increase your chances of developing cancer. When you come in contact with carcinogens, your chances of developing cancer increase significantly. These substances may be found at home, workplace, or anywhere outdoors. Examples of such substances include tobacco, asbestos, and benzene present in gasoline and pollution.

Infections

Infections you already have may also increase your risk of developing cancer. Certain virtual infections can affect the DNA in ways that cause mutations. Some types of infections cause long-term inflammation, which is also a cancer risk factor. Then, there are infections that affect the immune system.

Exposure to radiation

Exposure to sunlight increases your exposure to harmful UV rays. This is the most common form of radiation exposure. Radon gas can also cause radiation exposure. It is present in the soil in certain areas. Medical imaging is another source of radiation exposure. 

Genetics

Studies show that in up to 10% of cancer patients, a family cancer syndrome is a cause. If you have a history of cancer in your family, it is important to take extra precautions. Breast cancer is one of the most common examples of such cancer. Since genetic tests are available for certain forms of cancers, it is recommended to get tested in time. It is important to realize that a family history of cancer only increases the risk and is not a certainty that you will develop the disease.

Lifestyle Factors

There are a number of lifestyle risk factors that can also increase your risk of cancer. Examples include a lack of physical activity, smoking, or use of tobacco in any way, alcohol consumption, and a diet containing high amounts of processed meats, refined carbohydrates, red meat, and sugar-based beverages.

 

If you want to learn more about cancer risk factors, feel free to get in touch with us at My Cancer Journey. You can give us a call at 737.307.0077 or write to us.

Making the most informed treatment decisions is vital for new patients and their families. Shared decision-making allows patients to have a say in their treatment methods while also allowing healthcare professionals to provide the best individualized treatment possible. Because nobody knows a patient better than themselves, allowing patients a voice in their care can change their outlook on their treatment journey. By creating a collaborative environment, patients are encouraged to ask cultivated questions to fully understand their treatment.

The treatment team benefits from making educational tools and resources accessible to patients and allowing them the opportunity to better understand their diagnosis and treatment because it leads patients to be more receptive to the information the team provides. As a result, the patient also benefits, as doctors are more likely to provide additional information to high-participation patients. Giving patients access to all treatment options and allowing them time to process their diagnosis can help them better understand how to best move forward. 

Shared decision-making empowers patients in the following ways:

  • Reduces counseling time and increases satisfaction with the consultation process. 3
  • Improves clinical outcomes quality of life. 3, 4 
  • Increases patient and physician satisfaction throughout treatment.
  • Patients better understand the risks and potential outcomes of treatment. 4 
  • Decreased anxiety as they are involved, informed, and confident about their care plan.

Increases compliance and the likelihood of their making and keeping their appointments. 3, 4 

MyCancerJourney empowers patients with actionable information tailored to their unique characteristics and clinical conditions to feel more confident in discussions with their care team, understand the available treatment options and make treatment decisions that best align with their personal goals.

For more info, get in touch with MyCancerJourney via this Online Form, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.

Sources:

 

  1. Diefenbach M, Turner G, Carpenter KM, et al. Cancer and patient-physician communicationJ Health Commun. 2009;14 Suppl (Suppl 1):57-65. doi:10.1080/10810730902814079
  2. Cegala DJ, Street RL Jr, Clinch CR. The impact of patient participation on physicians’ information provision during a primary care medical interviewHealth Commun.2007;21(2):177-185. doi:10.1080/10410230701307824
  3. Staren D. The consumer benefits of patient shared decision making. Healthcare Value Hub; 2019. Research Brief No 37. Accessed February 24, 2022.https://www.healthcarevaluehub.org/advocate-resources/publications/consumer-benefits-patient-shared-decision-making
  4. National Learning Consortium. Shared Decision Making. HealthIT.gov; 2013. Accessed February 24, 2022.https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/nlc_shared_decision_making_fact_sheet.pdf

AA patients are more comfortable working with providers of the same race. Still, only about 3% of US oncologists are Black, reducing participation during medical visits. Providers believed AAs care could be improved by increasing cultural sensitivity through education and training initiatives and increasing staff diversity. A recent study indicated a need to develop new to increase awareness of EOL care options for underrepresented minorities.

This is underscored by the fact that prognostic estimates and treatment decision-making in cancer care are primarily based on clinical trials and statistics published by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Both data sets suffer from low participation by ethnic and racial minorities, even though members of these groups generally experience disproportionately higher mortality rates relative to the entire US population. The lack of widespread participation in clinical trials thus leads to problems in the scientific quality of the research, generalizability of the results, and speed of scientific discovery.

 

What can we do about it?

MyCancerJourney empowers newly diagnosed cancer patients with information tailored to their unique characteristics, clinical condition, and goals for care. MyCancerJourney combines personalized, high-tech analytics based on millions of real-world patients with the human touch of board-certified cancer support professionals to help you make informed care decisions.

 

First, our data sets reflect millions of patients, including those not included in clinical trials and individuals with other health issues common in minority groups, such as diabetes and heart disease. With this information, we can personalize treatment to minority patients.

 

Having the information is the first step; relating it to the individual makes the real difference. We can match patients with cancer with board-certified patient navigators of the same race to share information and provide support from a human perspective. When patients are provided information and support, they can better understand their treatment options and better advocate for resources available to them, such as genetic counseling and testing referrals.

 

The final step is awareness. Patients deserve to know this information and that support is available to them. MyCancerJourney provides answers to some of the most critical questions patients with cancer ask. Its groundbreaking data platform leverages the largest cancer outcomes dataset of its kind, offering the most comprehensive information available.  Get in touch with MyCancerJourney via Online, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.

 

References:

  1.  Smith AK, McCarthy EP, Paulk E, et al. Racial and ethnic differences in advance care planning among patients with cancer: impact of terminal illness acknowledgment, religiousness, and treatment preferences. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26:4131–4137. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  2. Special Editions Volume 30, Issue 3S.” Scientific American, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/magazine/special-editions/2021/special-editions-volume-30-issue-3s/

 

A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, and treatment choices are complex, with profound impacts on finances and quality of life. There are usually several treatment options presented to patients, depending on the patient’s age, other medical conditions, and the severity of the disease. All treatments are associated with their benefits and tradeoffs. As a result, physicians are faced with the challenge of foretelling the future and recommending appropriate treatments to each patient. Leaving patients to make difficult and emotional choices about survival, treatment, quality of life, and cost.       

Every patient is unique, yet our current system comprises treatment protocols based on research conducted on a select group of participants. Existing clinical standards do not adequately address questions like, “What is the right treatment for me, given my risk factors?” As a result, patients are often recommended treatments with no clinical benefit. The impact of these unnecessary treatments and procedures is a high cost to the patients and the system. Consequently, a critical goal in healthcare is to create strategies to stop treating patients with therapies that generate little or no clinical benefit and focus on determining which treatment is right for each patient. 

 

Personalization is the future of healthcare. Outcomes information and analytical tools are necessary to enable true personalization.

Personalized medicine employs advanced analytics, such as statistical models, big data, and AI, to explore an individual patient’s unique genetic, demographic, and health conditions. These are often referred to as “patient-specific factors.” A unique patient profile is a starting point for weighing various treatments and expected outcomes, and this information can then be used to develop a treatment plan. 

Disease-Specific Factors

Disease progression is different for everyone; a patient’s stage and other health conditions significantly impact prognosis and treatment decisions. It is important to define the pre-existing health conditions that affect the patient and incorporate these factors into the patient profile. These factors often have profound effects on outcomes and the treatment decision process.

 

New scientific discoveries and technologies are emerging to test for genomic and genetic mutations. This information is significant in creating targeted treatments. Genetic mutations are linked to how well certain medications will work for an individual, how well an individual will handle a certain drug, and can determine an individual’s risk of genetic diseases. 

 

Quality of Life and Functioning

An additional concern for patients involves the tradeoffs and comparative costs of different treatment options. Some treatments have big tradeoffs regarding side effects and the ability to perform day-to-day activities, like working, driving, cooking, and self-care. To some patients, quality of life matters more than the length of life, so it is important for a patient to fully understand the predicted outcomes and expected tradeoffs of each treatment option. 

 

Economic Costs

Finances are a critical concern to many patients. It is essential to present the patient with a projected cost of treatment, a comparison of providers, and costs associated with possible treatment complications. Providing information on the costs associated with a treatment plan is critical in patient-centric and value-based care decisions, especially given the prevalence of high-deductible insurance plans. 

 

Real-world Outcomes 

Clinical studies are frequently designed to determine efficacy rather than effectiveness, meaning trials determine whether a treatment produces the expected result under ideal circumstances. Effectiveness trials measure the degree of success in “real world” clinical settings. Trials generally study younger, healthier, and less diverse participants than typical real-world patient populations; therefore, the results do not always hold in everyday practice. 

The result is that healthcare providers and their patients cannot access the relevant, personalized information required for personalized care. They need data from population-based trials of effectiveness among “all comers” to truly provide patients with enough information to make an informed decision.

 

Outcomes and Insights to Support Personalized Healthcare    

At its core, personalized medicine empowers informed choices based on values and preferences. These decisions are so complex and personal that they transcend the capabilities of technology alone. Technology, however, can be used to empower individuals with the necessary information to make informed decisions.  

 

MyCancerJourney is the first and only tool to combine this technology with the holistic support of board-certified navigators to help give patients the confidence to make difficult treatment decisions. 

Personalization is the future of healthcare. MyCancerJourney enables true personalization by combining high-tech real-world data and artificial intelligence with high-touch patient support. Get in touch with MyCancerJourney via this Online Form, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.

October is breast cancer awareness month. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her life. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in American women, second only to skin cancer, but it can also affect men. This month, nearly 22,000 people in the U.S. will receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

 

Risk factors for Breast Cancer

 

There are preventable and non-preventable risk factors for breast cancer. The major non-preventable risk factors for breast cancer are age, sex, race, a family history of breast or ovarian cancers, and genetic mutations. As you age, your risk of developing cancer increases. Most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50. However, breast cancer diagnosed under 45 is possible and more common in black women. Genetics also plays a factor. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you are more likely to develop breast cancer at some point in your life. Another risk factor is genetic mutations.

 

The Breast Cancer Gene

 

BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are two genetic mutations linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, there are many misconceptions about the BRCA genes. Despite what many think, the BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer, and they are key players in preventing the development of breast cancer. Every person has both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. However, some have mutated or broken BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes, which do not function properly, potentially allowing breast cancer cells to slip through and take hold. Therefore, people with BRCA gene mutations are more likely to develop breast cancer. It is important to note that not all women with BRCA gene mutations will develop cancer.

 

What can you do to decrease your risk?

 

So what can you do? No one can prevent cancer, but there are some steps you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. You can eliminate preventable risks from your lifestyle, and Avoidable risks include obesity, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.

Research shows those who live a healthy lifestyle are less likely to develop cancer. A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious, low-fat foods, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol use.

 

Screening

 

Regular breast cancer screenings are important because many effective treatments for breast cancers are caught in the early stages. In recent years, the guidelines for screening have changed. Yearly mammograms are recommended for women age 45+, though some women choose to begin at age 40.

It is also recommended that all women, beginning at age 20, perform monthly self-checks. Those with increased risk factors need to remain vigilant. Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, advocate for yourself.

 

MyCancerJourney

 

12% of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. You are not alone. A cancer diagnosis is an overwhelming and frightening time. MyCancerJourney is here to help. Our board-certified navigators are here to help guide you through the overwhelming and confusing process and help you make treatment decisions that are right for you. We harness the power of AI to create a plan for you and your specific factors and preferences based on the data of others with your exact diagnosis and health factors, not just a one-size-fits-all guideline. To start today, fill out an intake form here or call us at 737.307.0077.

 

What is comorbidity?

Comorbidity can be summed up in a simple question: “In addition to cancer, what else is wrong with you?” A comorbidity is an existing and unrelated diagnosis at the time of a cancer diagnosis. Common comorbidities include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Nearly 30 such comorbid conditions occur frequently enough and contribute to treatment decision-making and prognosis enough to warrant consideration at the time of a cancer diagnosis.

Physicians have recognized the importance of comorbidity for many years. Several tools have been developed to aid in collecting comorbid health conditions at the time of diagnosis. For example, using the Adult Comorbidity Examination-27 (ACE-27) to capture comorbid health is quite easy.

Comorbidity is an important factor for patients with cancer.

Surprisingly, coexisting medical conditions can contribute heavily to prognosis. It is also an important factor in proper treatment selection for at least 70% of adults with newly diagnosed cancers.

Comorbidity is a crucial component for women with breast cancer because the overall survival rate is good, just as it is for men with prostate cancer. Among men with prostate cancer, for instance, comorbidity is far and away more important than tumor size or spread, the usual factors doctors look for.

The combination of comorbid conditions in a patient can determine how the patient will respond to a given therapy, or whether the patient should a particular treatment course. In short, these other medical conditions can be crucial factors in selecting the right treatment.

Physicians must consider the patient’s comorbidies when recommending cancer treatment. For instance, one patient may be bedridden from congestive heart failure, making the most aggressive treatment inappropriate. Treating this patient with aggressive chemotherapy or surgery could be fatal because of the comorbidities. But another young and otherwise healthy patient, could tolerate aggressive medical or surgical treatment appropriate and beneficial.

In some cases, such as with cancers that are not aggressive, it may make more sense to adopt a “watchful- waiting approach.” In these situations, some studies suggest treatment may worsen matters, and people may have a better quality of life by forgoing cancer treatment altogether. Doctors and patients need to understand that aggressive “all-out” treatment can be a mistake for some patients.

In this way, the exclusion of comorbid health factors has hindered accurate assessment of prognosis and treatment effectiveness in cancer patients. Data analysis from large cancer registries, including comorbid health information, allows for more accurate descriptions of patients, creating better survival estimates.

How MyCancerJourney incorporates comorbid factors:

MyCancerJourney merges the support of a navigator with data and analytics to provide personalized survival estimates based on the outcomes of people like me. MyCancerJourney pulls data from millions of patients with similar underlying health conditions. The prognostic estimates are precise, but the whole idea of personalized prediction is challenging. We see survival curves as a discussion point to help newly diagnosed patients understand what a cancer prognosis means for them individually and provide insight into the possible results of different treatment options. This information allows patients to become more informed about outcomes of patients with similar health conditions, so they are empowered to discuss these options with their physicians. When coupled with a supportive community web portal like MyCancerJourney, comorbid health information can be considered the “new” factor to personalize cancer care.

Personalized Cancer Treatment

You may be familiar with the term “personalized medicine.” This means that your treatment will be tailored to your genes and the nature of your disease. The information for how your cells should increase and change over time is stored in your genes. Specific genes are involved in or affected by many types of cancer.

Studying human genes and cancer genes have led to personalized cancer medicine’s development and the insights gained from these studies have contributed to developing more potent therapeutics. Additionally, they have used genetic data to create cancer diagnostic and prevention tools.

Comparatively, fewer adverse effects have been reported with personalized cancer treatment. That’s because it was made with precision in mind. Cancer cells may be harmed less by a personalized treatment plan from providers like MyCancerJourney.

 

Aspects Of Personalized Cancer Treatment

You and your doctor can create a unique strategy for detecting and treating cancer. This could involve:

  • Determining your cancer risk and selecting the appropriate screening tests can save your life.
  • Treatment is tailored to the patient and cancer. It’s possible that this would have a greater impact with less effect on the body.
  • The ability to estimate the likelihood of a recurrence of cancer. The medical term for this is “recurrence risk.”

 

The Future Of Personalized Cancer Medicine

Cancer patients could experience fewer adverse effects from treatment thanks to advances in personalized cancer medicine. However, obstacles remain. Here are some of them:

  • Unfortunately, not every form of cancer can be treated individually.
  • Clinical trials are the only way to get access to personalized treatments.
  • The cost of genetic testing varies. Not all insurance policies cover the cost. Moreover, there is a significant time lag between initiating gene and tumor analysis. This may cause a delay in receiving the individualized care you desire.
  • Targeted treatments, one type of personalized treatment, tend to be more costly.

 

Examples Of Personalized Cancer Treatment

The following are some applications of personalized cancer treatments:

Cancers that rely on specific genes or proteins for their growth and survival are the ones that benefit most from targeted treatments. Every year, scientists discover novel therapeutic cancer targets. New drugs are developed and evaluated for these targets. Targeted treatments are available for some patients with the following cancers:

  • Brain cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Other

The tumor-shrinking and life-saving effects of the personalized approach are superior to those of conventional treatment. However, it is not always effective. Due to the heterogeneous nature of tumors, targeted therapies targeting cells with one mutation could be effective on a subset of tumors. The surviving cells may be able to continue dividing. By discussing this method with your doctor, see if it is right for you.

For information on our cancer navigation and support services, get in touch with MyCancerJourney via this Online Form, or give us a call at 737.307.0077, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.

Importance Of Early Diagnosis Of Cancer

While a cancer diagnosis can strike fear into the hearts of many, there are now effective treatments for many types of the disease from diagnosis. There is a sizable population of people who have survived cancer, particularly in Western nations like the United States and Europe.

 

Scientific progress in cancer treatment, such as advances in technology, detection/diagnostic equipment, and genetic testing, are credited with a decrease in the death rate among cancer patients. This is because they allow for the early detection of abnormal cells before they can develop into cancerous ones. Let’s look at why early diagnosis of cancer is crucial and what is involved in it.

 

Cancer Screening

The term “screening” describes administering diagnostic procedures to individuals who haven’t yet experienced any cancer symptoms. The goal of cancer screening is to decrease cancer-related health problems and mortality. People worried about getting cancer can benefit from this method, which has gained widespread acceptance.

 

Screening is crucial because it is the first line of defense against illness. Patients for whom cancer is discovered at an early stage have a better chance of being cured, making a full recovery, enjoying an improved quality of life, and living longer than those whose cancer is diagnosed later.

 

Indications That You Should Seek Immediate Medical Help

  • Bleeding or other abnormal bodily discharge, such as excessive leucorrhea
  • The sudden emergence of large, growing bumps or lumps.
  • Chronic injury
  • Disruptions or alterations in the normal bowel and bladder function
  • A persistent cough or hoarse voice
  • Problems eating or losing weight, difficulty swallowing.
  • Specific alterations in the development of a birthmark, mole, or wart.

 

Importance Of Early Detection

Early detection of cancer increases the likelihood of a patient’s survival. However, when cancer is diagnosed, in about half of all cases, it has already spread. If cancer or pre-cancerous change is found early, it can be treated immediately to halt the disease’s progression and lessen its impact. Multiple obstacles must be conquered before widespread cancers can be detected early. Knowing who is at the highest risk of developing cancer is crucial.

 

To pinpoint life-threatening diseases needing treatment, we must also better understand pre-cancer and early cancer biology and course. Research findings need to be developed into early detection technologies with high sensitivity and specificity and then evaluated properly to facilitate their use in clinical practice. It is crucial to work together across disciplines to speed up understanding about early detection and potentially transform patients’ chances of survival.

 

Early Diagnosis of Cancer Can be Life-Saving

Early cancer detection is associated with better treatment outcomes and longer overall survival times. However, half or more of all cancers are diagnosed too late. The survival rate for cancer patients could be significantly improved with better, earlier detection.

 

Although there have been life-saving innovations in early detection in recent years, there is still room for improvement in how cancer is detected early. MyCancerJourney combines high-tech real-world data and artificial intelligence with high-touch patient support resulting in personalized shared decision-making for cancer care. Get in touch with MyCancerJourney via this Online Form, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.