Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hot Head! New Laser Ablation Brain Tumor Treatment

This is both unnerving (to me) and potentially really helpful to brain tumor victims, especially when the tumor is in a difficult to operate area.  According to a couple of online postings, the Cleveland Clinic has helped develop/prove a new laser technology that can kill brain cancer cells by super/overheating (my words) them with lasers, which is why my headline says “Hot Head”  and the visual shows just small piece of the brain symbolically "red hot."

I first learned about from an article by Alireza Mohammadi, MD, a neurosurgeon at Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute, on the USNews.com “Health website: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/06/24/a-ray-of-hope-for-patients-with-malignant-brain-tumors

How does it work? Won’t this cook the rest of my brain too?

According to the Cleveland Clinic website, “Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) transmits heat to coagulate, or ‘cook,’ brain tumors from the inside out. This technology is not new in cancer treatment, but early approaches in the brain posed challenges which limited control and therefore benefit of the laser energy for tumors.

With Monteris Medical Inc.’s AutoLITT/NeuroBlate system, the surgeon can ‘steer’ and monitor the effects of the laser beam, thus maximizing tumor cell kill while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.”

Why would somebody do this?

The site offers up a whole host of potential benefits: “When compared to even the most minimally invasive open operations (it)
  • Is less invasive
  • Enhances patient safety
  • Promotes quicker recovery
  • Has the potential to help some patients whose tumors had been considered too risky to treat, whose tumors did not respond to alternate treatments or who had otherwise been deemed poor candidates for surgery
  • May offer a therapeutic option when radiosurgery fails
  • Has the potential for multiple treatments”


PS - And here's the visual I was going to lead with but didn't, because I felt that it was immature and inappropriately inflammatory. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Put Down the Fork & Step away from the Table: “Overweight, obesity may increase brain tumor risk”

Here’s something I didn’t expect, according to the results of a new study carried out by Gundula Behrens, PhD, of the University of Regensburg in Germany, being overweight/ obesity may increase brain tumor risk.

I first read about this study in MedicalNewsToday.com an article written by Yvette Brazier - http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299478.php.

I, like many brain tumors victims, have often wondered (and maybe have been obsessed) with the question of “Why me?” Why did I get a brain tumor? What did I do (wrong)?

One possible answer seems to be identified by key subhead in Brazier’s article which screams out that “Obesity linked to 54% increased risk of meningioma development.”

My first question was “Is this the preliminary finding of result of one small sample research project? The answer is "NO" now as Brazier points out that “Behrens carried out a meta-analysis of 18 studies, looking at all the available data on body mass index (BMI) and physical activity relating to 2,982 meningioma cases and 3,057 glioma cases.”

Hmmm, I then looked at the correlation: “54%” That’s a relatively big number. A number worth remembering and paying attention too.

Want to know more? Here’s a link to the Journal of Neurology abstract: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2015/09/16/WNL.0000000000002020

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Free Comic Books for Cancer Patients

Your initial reaction may be something like “What's comical or even mildly comedic about a deadly disease?” 

If that’s your reaction, you need to read Terminally Illini” which their Facebook page claim’s is “The World’s Awesomest Cancer comic Book.” http://www.cancercomicbook.com/free/

I agree with that claim.

Written Kaylin Marie and Jon Solo the comic book the book gives you a terrific millennial-eye view of the horrors of battling Stage IV cancer. Here’s a link to my earlier review: http://johnstumor.blogspot.com/2015/03/terminally-illin-chaos-in-humanhattan.html

 Now here’s even better good news: they are giving away thousands (thousands!) of copies free (FREE!) if

  • “You have ever battled cancer.
  • You are sending it to someone who has cancer now.
  • You are sending it to a cancer center or hospital as a resource for patients.”

How great is that?

Here’s my request to you: please find a way to get this comic book into the hands of folks who need it; are yearning to hear from somebody their age who are in the battle of their life for their life.

“Terminally Illini’ is not for everybody. As I’ve previously written, “Chaos in Humanhattan - is a scary, cynical, irreverent, twenty-something, mash-up of a memoir, a ”chemo-induced ‘Alice in Wonderland’ story and a “campy ‘Hollywood’ action adventure” graphic novel that focuses on the Kaylin Andres and her Ewing Sarcoma cancer battles.” 

If that description scares you or makes you scrunch your forehead, move on.

If, however, this description resonates with you or just might resonate with a loved one that is going through the same horrible, nasty, gut-wrenching, debilitating grind of chemo treatments and their consequences, give it a try. All it will cost you is postage.

But what it just might give you, or somebody you love, is priceless.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Brain Cancer, Melanoma & U.S. President Jimmy Carter

I found this article by Kathleen Foody in Friday’s Chicago Tribune disturbing on a number of levels - http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-jimmy-carter-brain-cancer-20150820-story.html
The disturbing part is easy, ex-US President Jimmy Carter reported in a news conference late last week that “…doctors had removed melanoma from his liver, but found four small tumors in his brain. Later Thursday, he received radiation treatment. He also began receiving injections of a newly approved drug to help his immune system seek out and destroy the cancer cells wherever else they may appear.”

Bleakly, the cancer color for melanoma is black which, to my way of thinking, tells you all you need to know.

In fact, everything I know about melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is bad. I know that melanoma has killed a cousin of mine, and that it has tried to kill both me and another cousin. We’re the lucky ones because unless it’s caught early, melanoma can all too easily become a quick one-way trip to the grave.

An article I read on Medscape.com reported that, “The incidence of melanoma is on the rise and although melanoma currently accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers, it is responsible for 80% of all skin cancer deaths. Worldwide, the incidence of melanoma is roughly 200,000, leading to approximately 46,000 deaths. Compared with primary lung, breast, renal or colorectal cancer, melanoma has the highest propensity to metastasize to the brain: over one-third of patients with metastatic melanoma will eventually develop a clinically apparent brain metastasis.” Here’s a link to the article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/813109

According to the article, “His treatment regimen will include four injections of pembrolizumab, which was approved by the FDA for melanoma patients last year, at three-week intervals.”

If you, like me, couldn’t spell "pembrolizumab," let alone know what it is or does, here’s a link to a very recent article from The New England Journal of Medicine  which seems to indicate that the drug pembrolizumab is the current best weapon we have for fighting melanoma, wherever it is in the body: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1503093

PS - I added the italic to the Medscape quote to emphasize the deadliness of the disease.