Throughout the course of a medical diagnosis, members of your health care team will order different laboratory blood tests. Many times, these laboratory blood tests will be repeated throughout the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and continuing care. Each medical diagnosis and treatment has specific factors that are required to be monitored. When it comes to the results of these tests and what counts are normal or not, it is important to know that “normal” ranges simply reflect average values in a population. It is common for some tests to be slightly outside of the “normal range” (low or high) without consequence and your clinicians can guide you with respect to their relevance.
Preparing for a specialized medical appointment can be a daunting task for some. You may encounter many questions that you would like to address, ask about your possible diagnosis, understand your treatment plan, ask about other options, and so forth. Many patients who have felt content or fulfilled after their appointments are those who were well prepared beforehand. Even though many medical practices will vary in terms of office administration, most will generally have a similar setup.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than 2.2 million cases in 2020. It is estimated that 1 in 12 women will develop breast cancer and it will be the primary cause of death among all other types of cancer in women. However, breast cancer survival has improved significantly since the 1980s due to increased early detection, screening programs, and improved treatment options.
Living through breast cancer is a challenging journey. You will be searching for answers and information about the disease and its treatment; trying to understand how to live positively, and simply reckoning with what your future may look like.
If you are at high risk for developing breast cancer because of family history or because you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, you have several preventative treatments to consider. These options include close surveillance, chemoprevention, and prophylactic mastectomy, with or without breast reconstruction.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared in March 2019, there was a lack of information about the virus. As time went on and more and more research was conducted, we were able to learn more about how the virus worked, who it was infecting, its symptoms and more. One of the pieces of information from this research was that cancer patients were more likely to have adverse outcomes if diagnosed. Although there was not enough evidence to pinpoint which cancers made individuals more susceptible or enough research to definitively say whether past and present patients had the same concerns, the few findings were enough to label individuals diagnosed with cancer as high-risk. Of course, one’s risk level is dependent on many different factors and varies from person to person.
The goal of World Lymphedema Day is to make cures for lymphedema and lymphatic diseases a global priority. It is an annual awareness event with participation in many countries around the world. The Lymphedema Association of Ontario (LAO) has committed to improving the lives of people living with lymphedema since it began in 1996 and has become a more dynamic organization in the last year. World Lymphedema Day offers us an opportunity to continue our advocacy and awareness work. LAO partners with hospitals, our professional members, and patients to bring attention to lymphedema in Ontario.
Traditional cancer therapies (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy) have shown widespread success against various cancer types, but are known to have toxic, undesirable side effects as they do not selectively kill cancer cells and therefore actively damage healthy cells as well. This is where immunotherapy comes into play. Immunotherapy is a form of therapy that uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer within it. Think of your body as a battlefield and your immune system the frontline of soldiers, ready to attack foreign invaders. The problem with cancer cells is that they are not easily recognized as foreign pathogens (such as viruses or bacteria) because they originate in the host’s body and mutate from normal cells. It has long been postulated that the immune system could be used to target and kill cancer cells, but the process of figuring out how to harness this ability is not a simple task.
The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is the annual breast cancer conference that brings together researchers, clinicians, patients and manufacturers from all over the world to discuss the latest breast cancer research. While the 2020 symposium was held virtually, there was still an incredible amount of new research shared.
While Canada has a universal healthcare system, this system does not universally cover prescription drugs, nor does it address out-pocket-costs that many, including breast cancer patients, face when they navigate our healthcare system. Every country that has a universal healthcare system also has universal prescription drug coverage – every country but Canada. This results in unequal access to treatment based on a variety of factors, such as where a person lives, the type of insurance they have, their age, their income, and more. To address this, many have suggested implementing national pharmacare – a universal drug coverage system that is publicly funded. We’ve written on pharmacare in the past, on what it is and why it should matter to breast cancer patients and on where Canada’s federal parties stand on pharmacare.