A Little Known Side Effect with a Huge Impact

“First, there was achiness, a pain that never went away. Then, her right arm and hand began to swell, a little at first and then a lot. Then Rebecca Thomas, a breast cancer survivor five years out from surgery, chemo and radiation, was hospitalized with a raging infection.

“ ‘The swelling wasn’t bad at first and I didn’t think much of it,’ said the 65-year-old food service worker from Seattle, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1988. ‘But I got a [cut] on my finger and bacteria got in there and I ended up with a very bad case of cellulitis. It got at least three times the normal size, my whole hand and arm. After that is when the trouble really set in.’

“Thomas’ ‘trouble’ was lymphedema, a condition that impacts millions of U.S. cancer survivors every year, particularly patients who undergo lymph node dissection as part of their treatment, like actress and ‘lymphedema ambassador’ Kathy Bates.

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors

“Acupuncture may be a viable treatment for women experiencing hot flashes as a result of estrogen-targeting therapies to treat breast cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Hot flashes are particularly severe and frequent in breast cancer survivors, but current FDA-approved remedies for these unpleasant episodes, such as hormone replacement therapies are off-limits to breast cancer survivors because they include estrogen. The results of the study are published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

” ‘Though most people associate hot flashes with menopause, the episodes also affect many breast cancer survivors who have low estrogen levels and often undergo premature menopause, following treatment with chemotherapy or surgery,’ said lead author Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, associate professor of Family Medicine and Community Health. ‘These latest results clearly show promise for managing hot flashes experienced by breast cancer survivors through the use of acupuncture, which in previous studies has also been proven to be an effective treatment for joint pain in this patient population.’ “

Cleveland Clinic Study Shows No Increased Risk of MDS After Radiation for Prostate Cancer

“A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is providing encouraging news to prostate cancer patients who need radiation therapy.

“The findings of the study, conducted at the Cleveland Clinic, shows that those men have no greater risk for developing myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, than the general population.”