To recognize its 25th anniversary, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This organization was created to find new ways to prevent and reduce risk for cancer, educate the public about screening options and risk reduction, and provide screening services to under-served communities in the Washington, D.C. area and across the country. Fox Chase Cancer Center has a long history of partnering with Prevent Cancer Foundation, as we share the same strong commitment to cancer prevention with a focus on women’s cancers. Lisa Hughes, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, shares more information about the organization below. If you have a question or concern, please submit it below, or contact Ms. Hughes directly.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation empowers women to understand the steps that they can take to reduce their risk for cancer, including breast, cervical, skin, lung, oral and colorectal cancers. We encourage women to initiate a dialogue with their health care providers about their risk for cancer, and what screenings they should be having according to their family history and evidence-based screening guidelines.
Through unique partnerships like Breakaway from Cancer, we offer women knowledge about resources available to them in prevention, wellness, financial and insurance support and survivorship. Prevent Cancer Foundation also funds research grants around the country to develop screening and risk identification technologies for those cancers that do not currently have reliable screening options available.
The Foundation is also deeply engaged in advocacy, to help shape public policy to better support cancer prevention. Our public affairs staff works closely with Federal legislators to improve policies related to cancer research and prevention, to remove barriers to access, and to promote quality screening and preventive care for all Americans. Our Federal priorities include advocating for increased funding for cancer research and cancer control at the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, removing financial barriers to screening, prevention and clinical trials through Federally-funded programs or improved insurance coverage, advancing genetic non-discrimination, greater Federal oversight over tobacco and tobacco products, and efforts to improve policies that combat obesity and promote healthy lifestyle.
Prevent Cancer Foundation offers tools to help women become advocates for policy change as well, and to educate them about how to become powerful voices for cancer prevention. For more information about cancer prevention policy, to find your Federal legislators or how to engage in advocacy and make your voices heard in Washington, DC, visit our Advocacy Action Center. We look forward to joining forces to make a positive impact in cancer prevention!
Take care, Lisa
When a woman is told her mammogram is abnormal, or, if she discovers a lump in her breast, it can be a worrisome time. Did you know, however, that 80% of abnormal mammograms are found to be benign (not cancerous)? If there is disease present, screening tests such as mammograms, clinical breast exams and self breast exams can help detect breast cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable.
Linda Sesa CRNP, MSN, AOCNP is a nurse practitioner in Fox Chase’s Department of Surgical Oncology, specializing in diseases of the breast. She evaluates patients with abnormal mammograms, breast masses, and other breast abnormalities and works in collaboration with our breast surgeons.
Linda also manages a survivor clinic for breast cancer patients who have completed treatment and are two or more years out from their disease. This affords her the opportunity to see patients on their first post-treatment visit and follow them as survivors.
Linda has made lasting relationships with patients, who are comforted by her experience and her warmth as they go through the process following an abnormal mammogram or in adjusting to life as a survivor. I asked her to share her thoughts on her role in accompanying patients through these experiences to ease the way.
Here at Fox Chase Cancer Center, we are aware of the fear a woman experiences when she is diagnosed with a breast abnormality. I try to ease the anxiety during the process, while making certain patients obtain appropriate care if they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
If you have been told you have an abnormal mammogram, if you detect a breast mass, or if you have other breast concerns, please call the Women’s Cancer Center at 215-728-3001. Our scheduler will obtain information and schedule your appointment. She will ask that you send your films to our radiology department prior to your appointment so they can be reviewed by our radiologist. If all the necessary information is in when you arrive for your appointment, it will help expedite the process of determining the right plan for you. Also, consider sending your films via FedEx or UPS so they can be tracked; this reduces the risk of films being lost in the mail.
Following your mammogram, we conduct an examination, review the results of your imaging, and recommend a plan based on your individual needs. If a biopsy is recommended, we will schedule that for you. Results from a biopsy usually take 3-5 working days; during this time, try to focus on the fact that most biopsies are benign. If a breast cancer is detected, we will arrange an appointment for you with our breast surgeon and/or our Breast Evaluation Center where you will receive care by dedicated breast specialists who will work together to develop your individualized treatment plan.
I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with our nationally and internationally recognized oncology breast team who are leaders in both breast cancer research and treatment, and I am committed to passing that excellence on to you.
I wish you all good things in the future!
Too often, people facing cancer can feel as though they’re in it alone, when the truth is that all of us, whether we are conducting research, treating patients, or struggling to get well, have a bond with one another: We are strengthened and motivated by love.
Based on this unifying theme, Fox Chase Cancer Center is today launching a new initiative called “Love Versus Cancer.” Anchored by an interactive website, “Love Versus Cancer” offers individuals who have been affected by cancer a vehicle where they can easily connect with others who have been touched by the disease in public and/or private ways.
I invite each of you to join “Love Versus Cancer,” to honor loved ones, post inspiring videos, send love notes via e-cards, and offer public thank-you notes to physicians, staff, and others who have helped you on your cancer journey. After all, we know that while medicine provides the all–important clinical tools to treat cancer, love is what bolsters the heart and spirit to help us rise above the daily challenges of the disease.
Additionally, I encourage you to visit the “Love Versus Cancer” web site to view Fox Chase’s “Wag” video, where pet-therapy dog Mary Margaret and her four-legged friends show viewers how they bring smiles to the faces of cancer patients and staff as they travel the halls of Fox Chase Cancer Center—showcasing the true spirit and love among Fox Chase’s community of patients and caregivers. And please be sure to forward the video to anyone you love!
Please remember – above all else – wherever cancer may take us, love abides and offers steadfast support when we need it most. Through both the highs and the lows, love unites us all in our efforts to end cancer.
This past week, The New York Times ran several articles questioning the safety of radiation therapy. On Sunday, January, 24, 2010, a front page story entitled “The Radiation Boom- Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm” highlighted two medical errors done at two separate New York city hospitals which led to devastating complications from radiation therapy. On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, a second story entitled “As Technology Surges, Radiation Safeguards Lag” drew attention to additional complications to patients in other regions of the country when radiation therapy was improperly delivered. This story emphasized the lack of uniform regulation across the country and the lack of experience or safeguards at many of the sites where these complications occurred.
Because we know the benefits of radiation therapy and because Fox Chase has been a leader in developing safety measures over the years, I invited my colleague Eric M. Horwitz, MD, chairman of our Department of Radiation Oncology and President of The American Brachytherapy Society, to address the measures Fox Chase has in place to ensure the safe and effective delivery of radiation therapy. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your physician or Karen Sheehan, the Fox Chase Radiation Safety Officer, at 215-728-3021.
Radiation therapy, which damages the genetic material within cancer cells and limits their ability to reproduce, is safe and effective more than 99.99 percent of the time. At Fox Chase, our team of highly trained medical professionals, who are responsible for delivering radiation therapy, works hard to ensure our patients’ safety. This team includes the radiation oncologist, medical physicist, dosimetrist, radiation therapist, and radiation oncology nurse. There are rigid quality assurance regulations in place for hospitals and physicians at both the state and federal levels to which Fox Chase adheres fully. We have treated more than 4,600 patients with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) over the past 10 years. We perform IMRT Quality Assurance (QA) on every patient, which is not required by the state or federal government.
The safety of our patients is of the utmost importance to the Department of Radiation Oncology. We recognize that modern radiation therapy is an extremely sophisticated process requiring multiple checks and balances to assure that the proper radiation is delivered as prescribed. Some of the processes we have in place to ensure our patients’ safety include:
Our medical physicists’ expertise includes teaching an annual symposium on IMRT and Monte Carlo calculations at Fox Chase that draws attendees from around the world. Several of our physicists are regularly invited to teach courses on IMRT and IGRT at the annual ASTRO and AAPM meetings. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection oversees the safe use of linear accelerators and has sent one of their inspectors to Fox Chase for training.
Fox Chase has a large active Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) which oversees both our linear accelerators and brachytherapy program. Both I and Robert Price, Ph.D., our Chief Clinical Physicist, are members of this committee. In addition to the RSC, our department has its own QA Committee which the radiation safety officer attends and which reports to both the RSC and the Performance Monitoring Committee. Fox Chase has a very proactive radiation safety officer, Karen Sheehan, with whom we work closely. The role of the radiation safety officer is to promote a culture of safety at the Center by assuring that the use of radiation-producing equipment and radioactive material complies with regulations established by State and Federal agencies. This is accomplished through audits, routine radiation surveys, equipment compliance checks, staff education, and providing information regarding radiation safety for patients and visitors.
It is my hope that dramatic coverage of rare incidents of negligence in the industry does not lead patients to fear radiation therapy, one of the three proven pillars of effective cancer treatment, along with surgery and chemotherapy.
The key for patients is to select an institution that has multiple layers of thoughtful checks and balances in place to assure that the proper radiation is delivered as prescribed and to prevent the occasional errors that are inherent in any human endeavor. We have those layers in place at Fox Chase.
Fox Chase offers a preparatory class for patients undergoing radiation therapy. For additional information, The American Society for Radiation Oncology has a useful website (www.rtanswers.org), as does The National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (www.nccn.org.)
Eric Horwitz, MD
Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology