Monday, 9 December 2013

The Importance of Exercise for Cancer Prevention and Recurrence

By David Novak

Cancer is known as one the prevalent diseases in the world today. Every year millions of people are afflicted by this life-threatening disease. Cancer is a class of diseases wherein cells grow out of control. These cancerous cells can even spread to other parts of the body and destroy healthy tissues.

There is no proven way to completely prevent cancer, but there are steps that can lower your risk or keep it from occurring or recurring. Eating a healthy diet is always on the top of the list when it comes to cancer prevention. Certain components of food are found to help in lowering the risk of cancer, such as antioxidants, phytochemicals and omega-3 fatty acids. Physical activity may also reduce cancer risk by enhancing the immune system, preventing obesity, and reducing hormone levels and inflammation.

Surviving cancer is a major accomplishment of every cancer victim. It gives them a new priority in life, which is to prevent cancer from recurring. Same with cancer prevention during cancer treatment. Good food allows cancer victims to replenish all the nutrients that were loss during cancer treatment, as well as boost their weakened immune system. Exercise is also a great way in staving off cancer recurrence. Being physically active doesn’t mean you have to work out for hours. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises each day.


Overweight and obesity have long been associated with many types of cancer. The best way to prevent prevalent diseases such as cancer is to maintain a healthy physique by means of proper nutrition and exercise. As stated by the World Health Organization, limiting weight gain during adulthood can reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colon cancer, renal cell cancer, thyroid cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer.

        Colon cancer - based on research from the National Cancer Institute, there is a 40% to 50% lower risk of colon cancer to those people who exercise regularly. Some evidence also shows that those who maintain an active lifestyle throughout their lives have the lowest risk.
        Lung cancer - studies shows that those who exercise have lowered risk of developing lung cancer, though there is still no significant evidence to support this claim. Some say that this is because those who exercise are less likely to use tobacco.
        Breast cancer - research shows that those who exercise from moderate to vigorous levels (three hours per week) have a 30% to 40% reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
        Uterine cancer - there is a 38% to 46 % lower risk for uterine cancer for women who exercise regularly. Exercise reduces the risk of obesity as well as decreasing the estrogen level, which are both factors in uterine cancer development.


Many oncologists have asserted that moderate physical activity can improve the wellbeing of cancer survivors. A majority of studies that use supervised exercise programs show that physical activity has beneficial effects on the physical fitness of cancer survivors. Several positive effects can be seen in their functional capacity, physical well-being, functional well-being and self-esteem, among others. Based on another study made by L.M. Oldervoll, there is indeed a promising effect of exercise during and after cancer treatment.

Exercise should be moderate for at least 2-3 hours a week. Moderate exercise is when you are doing a physical activity that increases your breathing and heart rate. This is done at a comfortable pace where you can still be able to hold a conversation. Before starting any exercise regime, discuss with your doctor the type and amount of exercise that is considered safe for you. Every cancer survivor has different limitations, thus what the others can do may be unsuitable for you.

Here are several benefits of exercise for cancer survivors:

        reduce cancer recurrence
        faster metabolism
        better weight control and management
        lower blood pressure
        improved flexibility
        improved cardiovascular function
        improved blood sugar regulation
        greater endurance
        improved cholesterol profiles
        better coordination and balance
        strengthened immune system
        prevention of osteoporosis
        less depression and anxiety

Physical activities you can do:

        Start a daily walking routine in your neighborhood.
        Ride your bike
        Scrub your bathroom
        Walk to lunch
        Use the stairs instead of the elevator
        Use an exercise bike or treadmill
        Weed your garden
        Dance to your favorite tune

David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.  He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline.  To visit his other stories on Healthline, visit

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

BMO Insurance Study: More than Two-thirds of Canadian Women are Concerned about the Financial Costs of Cancer

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 29, 2013) - As Breast Cancer Awareness month draws to a close, BMO Insurance has released a study which found that more than two-thirds of Canadian women (67 per cent) are concerned about the potential financial implications of being diagnosed with cancer.

The study also revealed that 68 per cent of women have been personally impacted by cancer (either having been diagnosed with cancer themselves or having an immediate family member and/or close friend battling the disease) and 78 per cent are concerned about the possibility of being diagnosed with cancer.

"Most of us are being touched by cancer in some way, whether being diagnosed with a form of cancer ourselves or supporting a family member or friend with their battle," said Julie Barker-Merz, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, BMO Insurance. "The good news is that advances in medicine have meant that an increasing number of Canadians are beating the disease. However, the costs associated with treatment have also risen, which can put a strain on personal finances. When you're fighting cancer, the last thing you need is to be dealing with stress about money related issues."

Ms. Barker-Merz noted that, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, the annual household wage loss in Canada from cancer was nearly $18,000. Additionally, one-in-six Ontario cancer patients reported that out-of-pocket costs were significant or unmanageable.

To help ensure that women do not have to worry about the financial costs of fighting cancer and can focus on recovery, BMO Insurance introduced Well Woman. The plan helps individuals who are impacted by one of seven female-specific cancers and provides a cash payment each month for 12 months, as well as cash for hospital stays or surgery. Cash benefits are paid directly to the individual to use in any way she chooses.

Women are Taking Action Against Breast Cancer

The BMO Insurance study also examined what types of precautions Canadian women are taking in the fight against breast cancer. According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in Canadian women over the age of 20 and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women. The study found that, in the last 12 months:

Fifty-one per cent of Canadian women have conducted a proper breast self-exam.
Forty per cent have had a mammogram.
Thirty-eight per cent have had their doctor conduct a breast exam.
Twenty-six per cent have spoken to their doctor about breast cancer.
Half of Canadians (men and women) have donated to breast cancer charities.
"As a society we're becoming increasingly aware of the importance of early detection of breast cancer," noted Ms. Barker-Merz. "However, the study's numbers indicate that we still have some way to go. If they haven't already done so, I encourage women to consult with their doctor and determine what tests might be appropriate for them."

For more information on BMO Insurance and the Well Woman plan, please visit

Friday, 25 October 2013

Watch: Jackie Manthorne Featured in Amgen Canada's Video on Biosimilars!

Amgen Canada is proud to share an online video series they have developed on biosimilars. The videos were released today in the digital version of The Globe & Mail.

For the past several months, Amgen has worked with The Globe & Mail to create these online videos that cover the key issues on biosimilars. Participants included Amgen Canada's Karen Burke, who provided perspective on biosimilars in general; Jackie Manthorne, CEO from the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, who provided the patient perspective; and Michael Reilly, Executive Director from the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines, who provided a global perspective on biosimilars, with a focus on why manufacturing matters.

We hope you will enjoy the videos!

See more here:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Share your story about the impact of a brain tumour with elected officials!

My Story, Your Story – Let’s Tell Government!

It takes just five minutes to make some very important noise!

Click here , select your province below and then complete a simple form to tell your story to your Minister of Health and the health critics of each political party in your province, as well as all of those in Ottawa. Your story will also be shared with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. This is the first step towards meeting with government officials, across Canada to help make change.  Note: You may receive routine response emails from these offices.

The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada wants to send 837 messages to elected officials across Canada in October. That’s one for every Canadian who will be diagnosed this month, which is also Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Share your story today and return to this page often.

Brain tumour awareness among those who make decisions about health care, research and services is critical to make changes like ensuring every brain tumour is counted and that patients have access to the care and treatment they deserve. When you share your story, you help raise this critical awareness. And if you want to do more, check out all the Brain Tumour Awareness Month activities.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Nova Scotia Election Campaign: Liberal Party's Responses to CCSN's Questions

Question 1:

The Canadian Medical Association Journal published research in 2012 that showed one in ten Canadians report they skip doses or decide not to fill prescriptions because of cost, with the second highest incidence of cost nonadherence happening in the Atlantic provinces. If elected to government, what will your party do to make prescription medications more affordable?
There are several challenges facing the health care system over the next few years. The Harper Conservatives will reduce Canada Health Transfer funding to our province - some $900 million over the next ten years. Coupled with this challenge is the fact our drug supply, both nationally and provincially, has been facing severe shortages over the past two to three years. Further government mandated price reduction prices will worsen this situation. Governments at all levels have to weigh the benefit of price reduction with the availability of prescription medications. A decreased price benefits no one if the patient is unable to access the drug in the first place. A Liberal government will work with pharmacists to ensure we save money in our pharmacare budgets which in turn can be reinvested back into services and funding of new drugs. It is important to acknowledge that drug costs, while always challenging for some, represent a portion of the monthly costs in a household which includes such necessities as power. If elected, we have also made a commitment to reducing the cost burden associated with the price of electricity. 
Question 2:
If elected to government, will your party change MSI regulations to cover the cost of treatment and pressure garments necessary to treat lymphedema?
The Liberal Party understands the importance of covering costs associated with the treatment and management of lymphedema. In 2008, the current Health and Wellness Minister, Dave Wilson, brought representatives of BCANS to the legislature to impress upon the former Conservative government the importance of funding pressure garments necessary to treat lymphedema. Five years later, there is still no coverage. Currently there is a comprehensive review ongoing around changes to MSI regulations and we trust the costs of compression sleeves and treatment costs are being considered in this review. 
Question 3:
A key element of ensuring timely treatment for a Canadian cancer patient is ensuring they have access to the medications they need at the time they need them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Nova Scotia. If elected to government, will you commit to ensuring that all cancer patients in Nova Scotia receive timely access to medications at the time they need it?
The Department of Health and Wellness relies on the expert opinion of the Cancer Systemic Therapy Policy Committee to make decisions on the types of cancer drugs that should qualify for funding. This group relies on clinical evidence when it comes to making decisions around coverage. The challenge oftentimes remains that once certain drugs are approved, coverage does not occur until such time as the Department of Health and Wellness approves funding. For some patients, drug budgets within the Districts will provide coverage if the drug is approved by the Cancer Systemic Therapy Committee however these budgets can only sustain these types of extra pressures for so long. As indicated in previous questions, there are unprecedented challenges coming in our health care budget. We will continue to rely on the advice of the Cancer Systemic Therapy Committee and attempt to do our best in light of significant fiscal challenges to ensure cancer patients receive timely access to medications. 
Question 4:
If elected to government, how will your party ensure that all hospital emergency rooms remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
This NDP government, after four years, has ignored the root cause of emergency room closures across the province. Emergency rooms remain closed because of a lack of physicians available to provide coverage. According to the Nova Scotia Physician Resource Plan this situation is about to become worse as 31% of doctors in Nova Scotia are due to retire over the next eight years. This is why a Liberal government will provide up to $120,000 in tuition relief to 25 new doctors per year for the next four years in exchange for a return of service agreement to serve in under-serviced communities throughout Nova Scotia. We have also committed to the appointment of an expert physician recruitment and retention team to ensure we are best positioned to recruit new doctors and retain the ones we have. Cancer patients rely on the care of physicians. There is no question, CEC’s are fulfilling a valuable health care need and the professionals in the system are providing the best possible care they can within their scope of practice. However patients need to be cautioned that some of the CEC’s have changed their protocols on the types of patients that can be accepted. In certain instances, there may be situations that even if a CEC is open, care for a cancer patient can no longer be provided because there is no longer a physician providing care on site. The NDP have ignored the root cause of emergency room closures – the lack of physicians – a key health care provider in the ongoing care of cancer patients. 
Question 5: 
Is your party in favour of maintaining the same number of health districts in the province? If not, please explain how you would modify the number of health districts and what is the rationale for this policy?

A Liberal Government would reduce the number of CEO’s and VP’s by reducing the number of DHA’s from 10 to 2. The Liberal Party is proposing fewer CEO’s, fewer VP’s and fewer Directors in our health care system so a reinvestment can be made back into front-line health care. There will be one CEO and a lean executive leadership team. Health care will be delivered through four regional zones. Site based management and site based decision making will be strengthened and implemented providing health care workers with the ability to make a difference for the patients they provide care for. Community Health Boards will remain in place and their role and linkages with the health care system will be strengthened. The delivery through four zones coupled with site based management and decision making, and a strengthened role for Community Health Boards will strengthen community decision making. There will be one volunteer provincial board that will work with the executive leadership team to plan and manage health care for the province. Membership of this board will consist of one member from each of the current DHA’s. The cost savings from this restructuring - $13 million annually - will be re-invested into front-line health care. The IWK will remain as its own entity due to its Regional status and funding extends beyond Nova Scotia. Currently, the NDP would like nothing more than have this discussion focus on the costs of administration in a sorry attempt to cover up the significant challenges that exist within our health care system today. Our plan is much more than an attempt to save administrative costs, It’s a plan that will enable patients to travel more readily to facilities if they so choose for the purpose of accessing treatment and surgeries faster. Right now, this does not happen as frequently as it should because each DHA must protect its own budget envelope. As a result, we have OR’s sitting idle in some parts of the province while wait lists for procedures are bursting at the seams at others. The Liberal Party is equally concerned about the fragmentation that has developed around certain public health programs in our province. Your civic address oftentimes dictates the type of public health program support you can receive in your District and we in the Liberal party believe this is wrong. We need a system which will allow planning to occur utilizing all of our health care assets, not just those that are located within artificial budget boundaries. We need a system that enables patients to travel to other sites, if they so choose, to access their surgery faster. We need a system that, irrespective of where a patient lives, they are able to access the same level of public health programming. Nova Scotia has a population of less than a million people, why is it acceptable that we have 10 CEO’s and 10 executive leadership teams managing our health care system while wait lists continue to grow and inequitable public health programming continues to be delivered in this province? The Liberal Party does not believe this is acceptable and is proposing a structure to address these ongoing pressures and inequities.

Canadian journalist Libby Znaimer beats breast and pancreatic cancers!

TORONTO — Canadian journalist Libby Znaimer knows what it takes to survive against all odds and how to overcome the challenges of rehabilitation.
Znaimer has successfully battled not one, but two cancers: breast cancer in 2006, and pancreatic cancer – the most lethal kind of all – in 2008.
On October. 8, Zoomer Media’s vice-president of news and information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740, will share her story as the honoree at Beit Halochem Canada’s Woman of Distinction Award luncheon.
The event, to be held at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club, will raise funds for Beit Halochem, an Israeli organization that helps 51,000 wounded veterans and victims of terror to recover from their injuries and psychological trauma.     
Znaimer said her personal experience with recovery and rehabilitation has made her connection to Israeli victims of war and terror even stronger.
“It’s hard enough when there are no visible signs [of injury] on you. When it comes to cancer, some people have different lasting problems and some people don’t. I’m very lucky that I don’t. To have to recover with a disability, I mean, I can’t even wrap my head around it.”
After her diagnosis in 2006, she tested positive for BRCA2, a genetic mutation more prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews that increases the likelihood of developing breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.
In 2008, a year after she endured months of surgery, chemo and radiation, Znaimer learned that she had pancreatic cancer, a disease that has a five-year survival rate of about six per cent.
She was lucky that her pancreatic cancer was detected before it spread. But it was wrapped around a main artery and vein and couldn’t be operated on unless her doctors succeeded in shrinking the tumour.
Znaimer and her doctors decided to try an experimental treatment to shrink the pancreatic tumour by targeting the BRCA2 mutation.
Today, the growing number of pancreatic cancer survivors can credit Znaimer, the national spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Canada – a foundation that raises awareness and funds for the fourth biggest cancer killer in North America – for being the first patient at Toronto's University Health Network to test out a treatment plan that has had some success in treating a cancer that is largely considered incurable.
“No one was more surprised than my doctors when it worked,” Znaimer said.
“They started treating people with the BRCA mutation that way and they respond better to treatment… I think I probably responded way better than the average, but what they started to do is they test every case for BRCA now at Princess Margaret [Cancer Centre in Toronto] and some other places,” she explained.
“It’s a big advancement for a small subset of patients. Literally, I was just about the first case. I’m lucky that it wasn’t the next person.”
Beit Halochem luncheon chair Susan Flam said she is thrilled to be able to recognize Znaimer as a woman of distinction.
“Not only is she professionally accomplished as a journalist, broadcaster, and radio executive, but she has braved and won her battle with cancer and she supports many cancer-related causes. She gives back,” Flam said.
“Both the veterans and the honoree have a kinship with each other, because all of them have faced major roadblocks in their lives. They have had really arduous journeys to regain control of their lives.”
For more information, call 905-695-0611, or visit
Reprinted from the article Cancer survivor can relate to disabled Israeli vets, by Sheri Shefa, Staff Reporter, with permission from the Canadian Jewish News, Monday, September 16, 2013.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Nova Scotia Election Campaign: New Democratic Party Responses to CCSN's Questions

Question 1:

The Canadian Medical Association Journal published research in 2012 that showed one in ten Canadians report they skip doses or decide not to fill prescriptions because of cost, with the second highest incidence of cost nonadherence happening in the Atlantic provinces. If elected to government, what will your party do to make prescription medications more affordable?
In the 2009 election campaign, the NDP committed to the creation of a Drug Management Policy Unit. As a result of the work of that group, the Fair Drug Pricing Act was introduced and passed in the Legislature, and went into effect on July 1, 2011.  Seniors and other Nova Scotians enrolled in the province’s Pharmacare programs now pay less for each prescription of most generic drugs at the pharmacy counter. Prices went down on July 1, 2011 and again on January 1, 2012, and again on July 1, 2012. Through the Fair Drug Pricing Act, the NDP is making sure that Nova Scotians covered by Pharmacare are getting better prices for generic drugs – prices in line with those paid in other parts of Canada. The Data in the 2012 CMAJ article you cite would not capture the advances the NDP government has made on drug prices during this mandate. And, using overall data for the Atlantic provinces may mask the effects as well. That being said, there is more to do, and the NDP will continue to take action in government to drive down the cost of drugs.
Question 2:
If elected to government, will your party change MSI regulations to cover the cost of treatment and pressure garments necessary to treat lymphedema?
As you may be aware, the NDP recently announced a new program to cover some of the costs of hearing aids for seniors in Nova Scotia. In reviewing options, the Ontario program provided some very useful insights. The Ontario Assistive Devices Program provides coverage for compression garments and is a potential model for Nova Scotia, should funding become available in the health spending envelope.
Question 3:
A key element of ensuring timely treatment for a Canadian cancer patient is ensuring they have access to the medications they need at the time they need them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Nova Scotia. If elected to government, will you commit to ensuring that all cancer patients in Nova Scotia receive timely access to medications at the time they need it?
The Cancer Systemic Therapy Policy Committee provides the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness with advice on what cancer drugs should qualify for public funding. The Committee is made up of 23 people, including cancer specialists, a cancer survivor, a pharmacist, ethicist, other health care providers and Department representatives. The Committee reviews cancer drugs using a values and evidence based on a decision making framework. The framework is used to guide discussions around the economics, ethics, and evidence to make recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Health about additions, changes and deletions to the cancer drug formulary. Decisions about specific drugs should not be made by political parties – they are medical decisions and the NDP relies on the advice and experience of the people on the Committee to that end.
Question 4:
If elected to government, how will your party ensure that all hospital emergency rooms remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
When elected, the NDP government hired Dr. John Ross to help develop a new approach to pervasive ER closures across the province. As a result, CECs – now regarded as a model across the country – were developed. In communities with a CEC, ER closures have decreased by as much as 93%. But there is still work to do. The NDP will open more CECs in consultation with communities and working with DHAs to meet local health needs. In addition, during this campaign, the NDP committed to a network of nurse managed clinics – Better Care Clinics – to provide better care to those suffering with chronic diseases or conditions. Cancer survivors will get better care with these clinics too, since nurses are often able to spend more time with their patients and can take a more holistic approach to their care plans.
Question 5: 
Is your party in favour of maintaining the same number of health districts in the province? If not, please explain how you would modify the number of health districts and what is the rationale for this policy?
Dr. John Ross hit the nail on the head when he said that the push to amalgamate the DHAs in to centralized superboards will waste money on “administrative busywork.” Under the NDP government, health administration spending was reduced by 23.3%, the best record in Canada over the same time period. Mary Jane Hampton, a well-respected health consultant said, “To suggest that the solution to saving health care is to yank millions of dollars out of administration and put those dollars into patient care is a dangerously simplistic argument.” Losing local control in decision making is simply wrong. The NDP has committed to reducing administrative spending in health further, but without throwing the system into chaos.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Participants Needed: UBC Research Study - Lung Cancer Booklet

Are you related to a person with lung cancer? Do you smoke or have you recently quit?

Researchers at the University of British Columbia are looking for family members of lung cancer patients to participate in a research study.

Tell researchers what you think about a new booklet for family members about reducing and stopping smoking. Up to 2 hours of your time - $50.00 honorarium.

The feedback from the booklets will be summarized and the findings will be used to refine and improve the new booklet resources. Interested individuals will be asked to read the booklet and complete two telephone interviews (the total time to participate is less than 2 hours).

Your personal experience and feedback will make a big difference on the effectiveness of this resource.

For more information, please contact or (250) 807-8054.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Canadian Cancer Survivor Network calls for increased training and closer oversight and supervision of radiologists

The approximately 3,500 patients who relied on results of CT scans and mammograms conducted by Trillium Health now called into question have every right to be both worried and outraged.  Canadians trust that mammography and CT scans will help them learn whether they are in good health or whether an abnormal scan requires further investigation, leading to an early diagnosis and treatment of cancer with better outcomes.

“When I have a mammogram and then get that letter saying everything is fine and I don’t need to come back for two years,  I believe that everything is okay and that I don’t have cancer,” said Jackie Manthorne, president and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network. “It would be devastating to be told that my mammogram was not read correctly and to lose that sense of assurance and trust in mammography, which is our only mass breast cancer screening program in every province in Canada.”

This is not the first time that the results of mammography screenings or pathology tests have had to be reviewed:

In 2010, the College of Physicians of Quebec ordered an investigation of 15,000 mammograms performed in Montreal and Laval, which showed that thousands of Quebec women might have been given inaccurate results.

In 2005, Eastern Health Pathology Lab in Newfoundland and Labrador, faulty pathology tests over an eight-year period resulted in 400 breast cancer breast cancer patients receiving the wrong treatment; over 100 of these women died.  The resulting judicial inquiry by Justice Margaret Cameron and her subsequent report stated that Eastern Health failed patients with shoddy lab work and nearly non-existent quality controls.

In 2009, hundreds of Quebec women diagnosed with breast cancer may have received the wrong treatment because of inaccurate pathology tests.

Faulty diagnosis or incorrect pathology tests can lead to onerous consequences, from the diagnosis of cancer at a more advanced stage, resulting in increased level of treatment, to an increased risk of recurrence, or the development of metastases, where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, which often results in a reduced quality of life and treatment which last a lifetime.

Canadians deserve better. The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network calls on provincial and territorial screening programs and hospital and cancer centres to ensure supervision and oversight of cancer screening program staff and that Canadian and provincial/territorial associations of radiologists and pathologists ensure that their members receive regular professional evaluations development opportunities.

To arrange interviews or for additional information:  Jackie Manthorne, President & CEO, Canadian Cancer Survivor Network. 613-898-1871 or 613-710-3636 or

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Albertan men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer deserve access to bone-targeted therapies

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network is deeply concerned that men and women living in Alberta who have advanced prostate and breast cancer that has spread to their bones do not have public access to treatments that can reduce the risk of serious bone complications.  

Men and women whose cancer has spread, or metastasised, to their bones are at risk of developing serious, debilitating complications such as fractures, spinal cord compression or the need for surgery or radiation. These complications can cause mobility issues, disability, hospitalization and even death.

To reduce the risk of developing bone complications, men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer need a bone-targeting treatment at the earliest confirmation of metastases. Currently, the government does not pay for these treatments for patients in Alberta. However, the Government of Alberta’s introduction of Changing Our Future: Alberta’s Cancer Plan To 2030 in February 2013 means that now is the time to have a serious discussion about the importance of ensuring cancer patients in Alberta receive the same standard of care available to patients in other provinces.

Alberta is one of only two provinces, along with PEI, that does not currently provide public access to bone-targeting treatment. We believe that all patients with advanced prostate and breast cancer in Alberta deserve the same access to treatment and standard of care as patients in other provinces. The launch of the new PharmaCare program in January 2014 makes the consideration and correction of coverage issues in Alberta a timely issue right now.  Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan must provide access to bone-targeted therapies to prevent complications that may be debilitating.

If you would like to assist us in our efforts to help men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer receive the same evidence-based care as patients in other provinces, please contact me at

Together we can make a difference.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Precautions to Take After Being Exposed to Asbestos

If you've been following CCSN for any amount of time, you've probably amassed a considerable amount of knowledge about the health complications that can develop after asbestos exposure. However, you may also have spent a considerable amount of time racking your brain for times when you could possibly have been exposed to asbestos.

If you've identified any potential exposures, you may now be dealing with intense feelings of anxiety. You’re not alone! This is a reaction we hear often at The Mesothelioma Center.

You’ll be relieved to know that many people who are exposed to asbestos never become ill. Those who do develop asbestos-related diseases were often exposed to high quantities of the fibers for prolonged periods of time. Most people – including those who inhale one or two fibers in the home or environment – won’t have to worry about mesothelioma.

That said, certain precautions can give you peace of mind. It’s important to monitor your health so that in the rare event that a tumor does develop, your medical team will be able to make a quick diagnosis.

If you've been exposed to asbestos, we suggest that you:

• Ask your primary doctor to make a note of your exposure in your medical history. If, in the future, you note any abnormal symptoms, your medical team will know that you have a history of asbestos exposure. This insider knowledge will help them narrow down the causes of your symptoms – and hopefully catch any malignancies in their earliest stages.
• Register for respiratory screenings and other routine imaging scans. These tests can provide easy tracking of your health over time. If your doctors note a decline in lung function (or any suspicious spots inside your body), they’ll be able to immediately pursue further testing.
• Schedule a home inspection to prevent future exposure. Knowing that your home is free from asbestos hazards offers you – and your family – added peace of mind.

Faith Franz is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She likes to spread the word about the benefits of alternative medicine.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Canadian Cancer Society - Quebec Division before the Committee on Health and Social Services: strengthening of the Tobacco Act demanded

QUEBEC, Aug. 20, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) - Quebec Division will appear today before the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Services as part of the examination of the report on the implementation of the Tobacco Act 2005-2010. "Currently, smoking causes a third of cancer deaths, which are all preventable. For the CCS, it is clear that the fight against cancer will have to involve the fight against smoking," explains Rob Cunningham, lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst, CCS. Quebec has 1.5 million smokers and urgent action is needed because tens of thousands of youths start smoking every year. This is why the CCS wants the government to include the following in the Tobacco Act:
  • A ban on flavours for all tobacco products covered by the Tobacco Act.
  • The regulation of electronic cigarettes.
  • Plain and standardized packaging for all tobacco products.
  • A moratorium on the market for new tobacco products.
The CCS's demands resonate with the public. In fact, nine in 10 Quebecers want the government to make tobacco products less attractive to youths. In addition, 82% of Quebecers support a ban on the marketing of new tobacco products and more than three quarters of Quebecers support a ban on flavoured cigarettes.
"Public support for the CCS's demands is obvious. Now, it's the government's responsibility to implement adequate measures to get it done. Dr Hébert, will you be the one who will stop the tobacco epidemic?", asks Mélanie Champagne, Director, Public Issues, CCS - Quebec Division.
For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. All these years, we have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support people touched by the disease. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. To know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society, Quebec Division

Monday, 12 August 2013

Perception of Fertility Affects Quality of Life in Young, Female Cancer Survivors

Newswise — A new study led by a University of Colorado Cancer Center member recently published in the journal Quality of Life Research shows that in young, female cancer survivors, quality of life is significantly impaired long after treatment. The study compared 59 cancer survivors to 66 healthy controls and found that, as expected, cancer survivors showed higher stress and anxiety than the general population. Of note, survivors reported particular stress around the issues of sexual problems, physical pain and fatigue. The study also measured hormone levels reflecting woman’s number of eggs, and showed that among young, female cancer survivors, those with reassuring fertility status were likely to report higher quality of life once treatment ends.

“What it came down to was a woman’s opinion of her own fertility status after cancer treatment,” says Laxmi Kondapalli, MD, MSCE, director of the CU Cancer Center Oncofertility Program.

See, there was one intervening step between normal ovarian reserve and quality of life: the regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle after undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment for cancer. All women lose a certain number of eggs during these treatments, but those with higher baseline reserve are more likely to withstand the treatment with their overall fertility unaffected. Women with lower ovarian reserve at baseline are more likely to have impaired fertility after treatment.

“But it wasn’t the lab and ultrasound markers of ovarian reserve alone that affected quality of life,” Kondapalli says. “It was a woman’s opinion of her fertility status based on her menstrual cycle that had the most impact on quality of life.”

Following cancer treatment, many women think that if they maintain regular menstrual cycles, their fertility is preserved, and that if their menstrual cycles become irregular, then they are likely infertile due to treatment.

“This isn’t necessarily the case, because we are finding that menstrual cyclicity is a poor predictor of fertility status in these young, female cancer survivors,” Kondapalli says. “Survivors may be falsely reassured if they resume normal periods, or they may be unnecessarily stressed if they don’t get regular periods after cancer treatment.”

According to Kondapalli, women with high ovarian reserve are less likely to experience symptoms of early menopause after cancer treatment. And it is these symptoms that go on to influence young patients’ quality of life.

“I think what our study demonstrates is that clearly there are many components that impact a survivor’s quality of life after cancer treatment. Although objective markers of ovarian reserve play an important role, a woman’s perception of her own fertility status was more influential in her overall quality of life,” Kondapalli says.

Understanding the factors that influence quality of life in this population may help identify ways to manage late effects of treatment and improve comprehensive survivorship care.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Poverty the Greatest Barrier to Good Health, Canadians tell CMA Consultation

OTTAWA, July 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Poverty kills. That's the key message in What Makes us Sick, a report released today by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) based on what Canadians said during a series of town hall meetings and an online consultation held earlier this year. The national dialogue with Canadians asked them about their experiences with the social determinants of health - the factors that cause people to suffer poor health in the first place.

"Many factors outside the health care system affect a person's health, from inadequate housing to a lack of healthy food to sub-optimal early childhood experiences," said Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president. "What Canadians told us is that poverty is the recurring theme that underpins most of these social determinants of health."

The CMA report included recommendations for action, again, based on what Canadians said. However, Dr. Reid stressed that the report does not lay blame.

"We aren't pointing fingers," she said. "We listened to Canadians and what we heard was that they want sincere, legitimate and real action. As a country we can do better in tackling issues around poverty, housing, early childhood development, food security and culture that can hinder a person's chances to be healthy. There is no one sector responsible for making this happen. It has to be a joint effort, involving health care providers, governments, patients and Canadians from all backgrounds."

The Winnipeg town hall, and many comments across the country, focused on Aboriginal health. Dr. Reid noted that poverty and education for Aboriginal peoples, whose health outcomes fall far short compared to the rest of the Canadian population, were among the issues discussed by Canada's premiers at their summer meeting last week in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

"As one of the panelists said, we talk about success in life in terms of working hard and going up the ladder. With Aboriginal children, many won't even reach the bottom rung."

Dr. Reid also said physicians have a responsibility to be proactive. "Some people have asked me what poverty, housing and so on have to do with physicians. While we certainly are not the experts on these areas, we are experts in caring for our patients and we see every day how the social determinants of health affect them."

The national dialogue was part of the CMA's ongoing efforts in advocating for Health Care Transformation, a broad-ranging initiative to modernize and improve Canada's health care system. The town halls took place in Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Charlottetown and St. John's. Maclean's, CPAC and L'actualité were partners with the CMA in the undertaking.

An electronic copy of What Makes us Sick can be found at

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 77,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

SOURCE Canadian Medical Association

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

UK's "Super Mouse" Yielding Major Discoveries in Cancer Research

Newswise — LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 26, 2013) — It appears tiny and inconsequential enough, but the "super mouse" — created by researchers at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center some six years ago — has spawned plenty of new research into preventing and/or treating many types of cancer.

Back in 2007, cancer researcher Vivek Rangnekar and his team announced that they discovered a gene — known as Par-4 —that specifically kills cancer cells without killing normal cells. Rangnekar's team used this gene to develop cancer-resistant mice that become known as "super mice" for their ability to stay healthy and tumor-free compared to normal mice.

Since that initial discovery, researchers across the country have built upon Rangnekar's discovery, including a team at the University of Pennsylvania, who recently published findings on how Par-4 downregulation affects breast cancer recurrence.

In a new article for Cancer Cell, UK researchers including Rangnekar as well as Tripti Shrestha-Bhattarai and Nikhil Hebbar discuss a recent study and how its findings may lead to the development of novel treatment strategies for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Even with treatment, one in five patients will relapse from the disease within 10 years, and patients who have triple-negative breast cancer have an especially high risk of both local and distant recurrence. Treatment for these aggressive cancers is difficult because they tend to be resistant to "standard of care" therapies.

The study performed by the UPenn team showed that in women who experienced breast cancer relapse, the Par-4 protein was suppressed. These low levels of Par-4 allowed the cancerous cells to survive and multiply even after a full course of treatment. Conversely, tumor cells that have high levels of Par-4 are eliminated by apoptosis (cell death) following treatment. These new findings may provide insight into deciding which patients are at the highest risk for cancer recurrence.

"What this tells us is that low Par-4 may act as a predictor of breast cancer recurrence," said Rangnekar, associate director for the UK Markey Cancer Center. "This is important, because although this group studied only breast cancer, their observations may be relevant to recurrence in a broad range of cancer types because Par-4 is a general tumor suppressor gene."

Using Par-4 levels as a biomarker prior to treatment — and knowing whether that patient is at an elevated risk of recurrence — would give physicians another tool to use in determining the best course of treatment. Additionally, their findings may provide the basis for the development of novel treatment strategies for breast cancer.

Other 'tumor suppressor' genes exist, says Rangnekar, but what makes Par-4 so special is that it is not mutated as frequently as other known suppressors, and it's "selective" in its actions in that Par-4 will only kill cancer cells and not normal cells. Par-4 can become 'suppressed' or inactivated, leading to tumor re-growth, but Par-4 can be 'activated' again — and one of the next major steps is developing a safe and effective way to activate Par-4 in the cancerous cells.

"If Par-4 is still present in the cells, the strategy should be to try and utilize that Par-4, so as to restore it’s apoptotic function and bring about apoptosis of the cancer cells," Rangnekar said.

Researchers are still years away from being ready to test these theories in clinical trials, but Rangnekar says they have already begun looking at agents, both natural and synthetic, that may help restore the expression of Par-4 in human cells, allowing the cancerous cells to become susceptible to treatment. Each new study on Par-4 brings researchers one step closer to developing a powerful method for both treating and preventing many of the deadliest types of cancers.

The findings in the cancer-resistant mouse have stimulated several collaborative projects on Par-4 at UK. Several UK investigators are now examining the role of Par-4 in diverse types of tumors: recently, Rangnekar and UK cancer biologist and immunologist Subbarao Bondada were jointly funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the role of Par-4 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia; UK pathologist Craig Horbinski’s group is investigating Par-4 in aggressive brain tumors called glioblastomas; and UK chemist David Watt and cancer biologist Chunming Liu are developing small molecules that can activate Par-4 and kill cancer cells.

“Our multi-disciplinary team, working together, uses a multi-faceted strategy in our research,” Rangnekar said. “This allows us to gain a better understanding of the complexities of cancer in order to effectively kill recurrent tumor cells, especially those that have spread from their origin to distant tissue sites.”

Friday, 26 July 2013

Scholarship Recipient Drawn to Neurosciences by Father’s Losing Fight Against Brain Cancer

Newswise — LOS ANGELES (July 25, 2013) – As the 2013 recipient of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience award, Christine R. Carico will spend the next year researching brain disorders like the one that took the life of her father, who survived four years after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor called an anaplastic astrocytoma.

“My interest in neuroscience started when my father was diagnosed, but it wasn’t until his death in 2007 that I realized academic medicine was my calling,” said Carico, who was 12 when her father’s cancer struck. “After witnessing the horrific course of the disease, I have made it my ultimate goal to find a cure for brain cancer so that no other families endure the suffering mine did. This scholarship will help propel me toward this goal by allowing me to learn from some of the most talented and renowned scientists in the field.”

Washington Scholars receive financial support and participate in cutting-edge scientific projects in Cedars-Sinai’s research labs. The Department of Neurosurgery began funding the scholarships in 2004 to support students who demonstrated the desire, initiative and aptitude to make significant contributions in the sciences. Pauletta and Denzel Washington gladly lent their names and continue to take an active role in the program.
The scholarship has provided summertime positions for two students each year but recently was reconfigured to give one recipient more in-depth exposure to research techniques, enabling the scholar to make more significant contributions, said Keith L. Black, MD, professor and chair of the department and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience. The yearlong internship provides a stipend of $30,000 to $34,000, and the awardee is expected to submit a research paper or abstract to a national neuroscience, cancer or neurosurgery meeting.

Carico, born in Mountain View, Calif., and living in West Hollywood, soon will earn her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. She took a course at UCLA’s Center for Prehospital Care and became a certified emergency medical technician, acquiring skills she hopes to put to work after graduating and before entering medical school. She served in 2009 and 2010 as a tutor in UCLA’s Watts Tutorial Program, which addresses the educational needs of students living in housing developments in Watts and East Los Angeles.

During her junior year of high school, Carico undertook an optional research project, working in Stanford University laboratories. She co-authored a journal article on cells and mechanisms involved in the development of leukemia and shadowed members of Stanford’s neurosurgical team to learn more about the field.

In a letter supporting Carico’s Washington Gifted Scholars application, Richard A. Jaffe, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesia and neurosurgery at Stanford, said, “Considering her level of education, she has an excellent scientific and medical knowledge base, in some areas exceeding that of our own medical students and residents.”

Carico was involved in basic research during a summer 2010 fellowship at UCLA through the Undergraduate Cancer Research Training Program sponsored by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Starting in January 2011, she worked more than a year in a UCLA lab studying a signaling pathway involved in the transformation of normal tissue into abnormal masses. At the same time, and while carrying a full academic load, she started working at the Center for Neurosurgical Outcomes Research in the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, where she continues today and has collaborated on six published studies.

Chirag Patil, MD, director of the Center for Neurosurgical Outcomes Research, has known Carico for more than six years — beginning when she was a high school student and shadowed him at Stanford, where he completed an internship in general surgery, a residency in neurosurgery, and a fellowship in stereotactic radiosurgery.

“Christine is the best and most dedicated undergraduate student I have ever mentored or come in contact with,” he said. “She is extremely bright and is very talented. Neuroscience and neuro-oncology have been a passion of hers since her father’s diagnosis with anaplastic astrocytoma in 2003. … Her story of fortitude, discipline and turning a big loss into a focused drive inspires me (and everyone around her).”