Cancer imaging Program

The Cancer Imaging Program at the National Cancer Institute is designed to support research in imaging science and technology. By conducting a variety of research studies, new, improved methods for maintaining cancer risks are constantly being discovered. So it is the number one mission at the National Cancer Institute to integrate the latest revelations and discoveries while applying them to various treatment methods. The latest findings and breakthroughs are reported to clinical management for review.

Here is a breakdown of some of the goals at the Cancer Imaging Program: the program is designed to facilitate imaging techniques for the purposes of understanding cancer’s biology. By using elite imaging methods, one is able to view cancer biomarkers, thus determining their endpoints. It is vital that programs are put in place to hopefully discover precancerous issues before they become life threatening. Moreover, by following the latest technological procedures, the program adheres fundamentally to the latest models for conducting trials with regard to imaging. The development of the latest methodologies is quite rapid and constantly undergoing scrutiny to make sure they are in fact effective. The center plays a vital role in NIH and NCI implementation of the best technologies including nanotechnology, high-throughput screening, and proteomics. Moreover, the cleanest structure for determining the value of cancer imaging data is currently in place. Lastly, the latest methods for detecting responses to pre-cancer therapy are also in place at the center.

Here is some useful information on the various ways in which cancer is often detected. Obviously, the earlier cancer is discovered, the better the chance of effective treatment. Pictures of the body, specifically imaging techniques, are absolutely instrumental in early detection of cancer; however, imaging is not only used for detection; it also explains the stage of the cancer and how advanced it is, as well as the exact location. After discovering all of the necessary information that the imaging explains, it is possible to determine the correct treatment. Imaging is also useful for finding out if the cancer has effectively been removed. One effective method that the Cancer Imaging Program rigorously adheres to is its research studies, which can effectively and insightfully provide the best future care for cancer patients.

X-ray imaging is the most common means of imaging; typically, as the tissue absorption rates avail themselves, the X-ray images are produced. Mainly X-rays are used to search for broken bones, but many types of cancers can be found this way. The pleural cavity is seen clearly in X-rays, as this proves to be the chosen method.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging utilizes radio waves correlating to a magnetic field, which receives tissue wave frequencies. Tissue types emit slightly different signals based on which organ is being examined. Tissues that have tumors tend to give off weaker signals than the healthier tissue areas. After the process is completed, a three-dimensional picture will show different areas of the body and its respective organs under scrutiny. Similar to an MRI, an ultrasound captures sounds throughout the body and creates a picture based on auditory data; whereas, MRI’s deal in radio waves. An ultrasound will detect tumors, and support doctors in their treatments of the tumors. The Cancer Imaging Center is at the cutting edge of the latest cancer treatment options; it claims to provide optimal detection of most types of cancer and through research and analysis, the imaging center continues to invest in the latest detection technologies available.


Exercise for the Cancer Patient

Exercise is not only safe for most people receiving cancer treatment, but it may also allow you to feel a lot better. It has been noticed that moderate exercise helps with a variety of problems including anxiety, fatigue, heart and blood vessel fitness and muscle strength. Most cancer patients can do some kind of exercise. For instance, walking is supposedly a good way to make the right start and keep moving when you may be experiencing stress. Before you start, it would help if you discuss your exercise plans with your doctor. Based on your existing fitness levels, you may require help from a physical therapist in order to initiate an exercise program that may be useful for you.

Always remember that even when exercise may prove useful towards reducing distress levels in some individuals, it alone may not be enough for people experiencing moderate to severe distress.


Do You Require Additional Help?

Some individuals face an increased risk of severe distress, for instance, if they:

  • Had experienced major mental health problems such as depression in the past
  • Have other serious medical complications apart from cancer
  • Face communication problems (for instance hearing problems or a different language)
  • Are facing some kind of family or social problems
  • Are younger
  • Are living alone
  • Have young children to take care of at home
  • Have had experienced very high levels of stress (even before the diagnosis of cancer)
  • Have had a history of alcohol or drug abuse

If any of the above applies to you, there is an increased likelihood that you may require help from other people – referrals to the right people can be provided to you by the cancer care team.

You along with your cancer care team members may also realize that on certain occasions during the course of the disease and treatment, you face an increased risk of severe distress. Cancer has often been described as something similar to “being on a roller coaster”. Usually these occur at specific points of change during the course of the disease and its treatment:

  • Having a new symptom that looks suspicious
  • Changing treatment
  • Going home after being discharged from the hospital
  • Completing treatment
  • Going for follow-up-visits to your cancer doctor
  • The cancer recurs (comes back)
  • Treatment failure
  • The cancer worsens or reaches advanced stage
  • Advancing towards the end of life
  • Moving onto hospice care

In case you experience moderate to severe distress levels during these periods, you may require additional help.


Chemotherapy Side Effects on Cancer Patients

Like any other treatment for cancer patients, chemotherapy can cause side effects that differ in severity depending on the individual patient and the potency of the treatment. Fortunately, there are options to ease many of these side effects.

When suffering from pain, the patient can work on a plan to manage it with the doctor or pain specialist, although reaching the optimum pain management plan can take some time as medications are adjusted or changed in order to find the best formula for the individual patient. There are short and long-acting oral medications available, as well as skin patches that could have lesser side effects than oral drugs.

Chemotherapy can also cause nausea and vomiting in patients. There are medications available to prevent both short-term, long-term and acute nausea. It is common to have certain steroids prescribed for nausea, but normally these drugs do not result in side effects such as immune suppression and swelling, which can occur with long-term steroids.

Neuropathy, or damage to the peripheral nerves, may be another side effect of chemotherapy. In the case of sensory neuropathy, the most common form, symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain or loss of sensation in the fingers and toes, or perhaps in the overall hand and foot. Motor neuropathy can cause imbalance and muscle weakness. The nerves may eventually heal, but some drugs can cause permanent damage. There are medications that may be able to lessen the effects of neuropathy, or a change in drugs may be appropriate.

Another side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss, which may be experienced in the head and other areas of the body. Since there is no effective treatment for hair loss caused by this treatment, the patient can try using wigs or scarves, or nothing at all if preferred. After the treatment is finished, the hair should begin to grow back within a few weeks.

Chemotherapy may cause anemia by damaging the red blood cells and stem cells that produce them. There are medications that can treat this kind of anemia, but certain drugs can cause serious side effects, including blood clots. Chemotherapy can also destroy neutrophils, which are the most abundant white blood cells that fight infection. When the patient suffers from neutropenia (the shortage of these cells), specific drugs may be prescribed to improve symptoms such as fatigue, fever and body aches.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience fatigue from which they cannot recover by sleeping or resting. There are some medications that may help with this condition, and exercise may prove beneficial for some patients.

Given the possibility of these and perhaps other side effects, doctor and patient should discuss them prior to starting chemotherapy, as well as during the course of the treatment if side effects are experienced by the patient.


American Public Health Association Calls for Asbestos Ban

The American Public Health Association (APHA), the largest organization of public health workers and officials in the world, recently passed a resolution asking the US Congress to pass new laws banning asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. The proposed ban would include any importing or exporting of asbestos-laced substances, as well as the mining, manufacturing and sale of raw asbestos.

The basis for the group’s resolution comes from a recent study that states that more than ten thousand Americans die from asbestos-related causes each year, creating a monumental strain on the public health care system. Long-term exposure to asbestos is known to cause a form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma, which affects the fluid lining around the lungs, as well as a number of other forms of cancer and respiratory disorders.

When a patient is exposed to asbestos, the fibers from the material insinuate themselves into the lungs and surrounding tissue, affecting the cells and creating dangerous malignant tumors. In most cases, the patient’s life expectancy after diagnosis is less than eighteen months.

Dr. Celeste Monforton, chairperson of the group’s Occupational Health and Safety division, said that the resolution is part of a new policy that puts the US-based association in line with the World Federation of Public Health Associations, as well as other similar organizations across the globe, which are calling for a worldwide ban on the extraction, development and distribution of products containing the carcinogenic material. She also cited a report by the UN’s World Health Organization from 2006, which concluded that the best way to eradicate the diseases related to asbestos exposure is to ban the use of all types of the fibrous mineral.

In 1979, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a study into the affects of workplace asbestos exposure. Ten years later, the agency emerged with a report that accumulated over one hundred thousand pages of data. From that data, the agency called for a ban on the production of new asbestos products and the disuse of existing asbestos-containing materials.

However, in 1991, the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the EPA’s ruling due to some issues with the legal language involved with the ban. Although the court recognized the danger that asbestos provided to the country’s workers, the panel of judges lifted the ban on asbestos-containing materials. Currently, the US and Canada are two of the few industrialized nations that do not have active asbestos bans.

During a session of Congress in 2007, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced new legislation calling for a ban on asbestos. Opposition in the Senate, driven by powerful and lucrative asbestos industry lobbyists according to some political observers, took most of the stiffer penalties out of the bill. While the bill passed the Senate, critics called it “toothless”. The bill never got to the floor in the House.