Issuu on Google+


a guide To PreVenTion, diagnosis and TreaTMenT

LIVING with Cancer


on The coVer: Breast cancer survivor Patricia Dent

with Cancer

Clinical Trials

Research helps pave the way for future medical treatments The iMage of a clinical Trial

trial sponsored by the Accelerated

might bring to mind scientists hud-


dled over beakers and microscopes

Network after her 2006 breast can-

attempting to discover the next

cer diagnosis.

medical breakthrough.



The Phase 2 trial was created to

But the truth is, a vast majority of

help determine if a different treat-

clinical trials are conducted through

ment regimen would increase cure

physician offices. Once the initial Phase

rates for Ms. Adams’ type of breast

1 trials, which are often conducted at

cancer. Although Ms. Adams has

research universities, are complete,

completed her cancer treatments,

Phase 2 and 3 trials are usually moved

she knows she’ll be followed for the

to physicians, such as Mark Keaton,

rest of her life as part of the trial.

M.D., a medical oncologist who practices at University Hospital.

Ms. Adams decided to join the trial after speaking with her physician and

It’s there that industry- and gov-

Pam Anderson, program coordinator

ernment-sponsored trials are offered

of University’s Cancer Services and

to patients in the hopes that these

the Breast Health Center. “All of the

Some things that are now standard treatments for breast cancer were used as part of clinical trials right here in Augusta.

experimental treatments will lead to

therapies I received were proven ef-

better, stronger and faster treatments

fective against breast cancer, and be-

for most patients and the next gen-

cause this was the second phase of

eration of patients, while helping the

the trial, I felt more confident that this

test subjects as well.

was the best choice for me,” she said.

“We try to keep clinical trials as a

The 30-35 trials open at Dr.

-Mark Keaton, M.D.

treatment option for most patients

Keaton’s office along with other phy-

and types of cancer,” Dr. Keaton said.

sicians affiliated with University run

Kathi Adams, a 39-year-old oper-

the gamut of potential treatments –

ating room nurse, joined a clinical

drug-based or device-based; spon-


University Health Care System


Why are there clinical trials? A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment are safe and effective. Source: National Cancer Institute

right here in Augusta.” There are a number of resources for those interested in learning more about clinical trials, including University’s Web site, clinicaltrials. The government Web site

has an extensive list of more than 8,000 current trials from which to choose. An easy-to-use search function lets people search by can-

Kathi Adams joined a clinical trial sponsored by the Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.

cer, location and treatment type.

sored by pharmaceutical companies

man Subject Research and Institu-

or the U.S. government.

cancer drugs on the market today.

Carole Ehleben, director of Hu-

Herceptin, an effective antibody

tional Review Board administrator,

“These are advanced studies, so

that targets cancer cells that make

also suggested talking with your

they’re Phase 2 and 3, which are

too much of a protein called HER-

physician about any clinical trials

much further along in develop-

2, was the focus of just one of the

you might have an interest in. ❖

ment,” Dr. Keaton said. “It’s because

clinical trials conducted through Dr.

of these trials that we have access

Keaton’s office.

Talk to your physician if you have

“We probably had a half doz-

questions about clinical trials, or

en patients in that trial,” he said.

log on to

Past trials Dr. Keaton has con-

“Some things that are now stan-

clinicaltrials. you also can find more

ducted have helped get approval for

dard treatments for breast cancer

information at the government Web

some of the most-effective breast

were used as part of clinical trials


to some drugs that are not accessible to the general public.” er


LIVING with Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer screening can help save lives dePending on Where you turn, you’re likely to get conflicting information about prostate cancer screenings. Some researchers dispute the need for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood screenings in addition to digital rectal exams (DRE), but physicians who practice at University Hospital say the additional test is needed to help catch prostate cancer earlier, which helps both treatment and recovery from the disease. “I tell patients that both PSA and DRE are warranted,” said Benjamin Kay, M.D., a urologist who practices at University Hospital. “Together, they are more reliable than just one or the other.” Local firefighter Robert Szoncinski, 51, is a believer in the benefits of the PSA screening.

Robert Szoncinski


University Health Care System

A PSA blood test was just one part of a head-to-toe physical the then-

48-year-old had in November 2006. “I thought I was healthy; I had absolutely no problems,” he said. Elevated



prompted Mr. Szoncinski to get further testing, and to his surprise, he was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. “Because of the screening, the cancer was caught very early,” he said. Dr. Kay said men with prostate cancer risk factors – such as a fami-

Benjamin Kay, M.D.

Those men with risk factors should be screened because of a relatively higher chance of developing prostate cancer. Because prostate cancer is prevalent in those populations, I do think early screening is warranted.

ly member diagnosed with prostate cancer or being an African American – need to be vigilant in keeping up with their screenings.

Early screening, which must in-

■ Less blood loss and transfusions

“Those men with risk factors

clude both the PSA blood test and

■ Smaller scars

should be screened because of a

a DRE, is so vital when it comes to

■ Faster recovery

relatively higher chance of devel-

prostate cancer because there of-

■ Quicker return to normal activities

oping prostate cancer,” he said.

ten are no symptoms in the early

Dr. Kay warned, however, that not

“Because prostate cancer is preva-

stages. A quicker diagnosis can

every patient is a candidate for ro-

lent in those populations, I do think

lead to earlier treatment, which can

botic or any other type of surgery.

early screening is warranted.”

improve survival.

“There are a number of options

University Hospital teams up with

If you are diagnosed with pros-

available for the treatment of pros-

Lowe’s Home Improvement stores

tate cancer, you should know that

tate cancer, but not every man is a

on Sep. 12, 19 and 26 to provide free

University Hospital offers the latest

candidate for every option,” he said.

PSA screenings to men. Check the

surgical treatment technology – the

Healthy U Calendar, in The Augusta

da Vinci® Surgical System.






take time to talk with your physician

Chronicle and The Aiken Standard

The da Vinci® robotic surgical sys-

about your treatment options to de-

on the third Sunday of the month,

tem allows physicians to perform

termine what will work best for you. ❖

for locations and times.

more precise surgical procedures, and the system also offers many

for more information about pros-

ically,” Mr. Szoncinski said. “I totally

patients added benefits including:

tate cancer, call university’s can-

support PSA screenings and encour-

■ Shorter hospital stay

cer answer line at 706/828-2522

age other men to get them, too.”

■ Less pain

or toll free at 866/869-2522.

“This has changed my life dramat- er


LIVING with Cancer

Knowledge is Power Screenings can help catch colorectal cancer early

Teresa MoXley is The PerfecT eXaMPle of always listening to your mother. In 2001, when she was just 51 years old, Ms. Moxley was suffering recurrent rectal bleeding, but was hesitant to contact her family physician. Her mother’s prodding finally convinced Ms. Moxley to get checked out, and after the results of a fecal occult blood test, was given a colonoscopy. The results were devastating – Stage III colon cancer. “It had already spread to my pelvis and was in 17 of the 21 lymph nodes they removed,” she said. “It was the biggest shock to me and my family; we knew nothing about cancer.” Nearly 150,000 men and women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008 and nearly 50,000 died of the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Those numbers might be reduced


Teresa Moxley and her mother

University Health Care System

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer According to the National Cancer Institute, researchers are unsure why most people develop colorectal cancer – excluding the small number of patients with hereditary genetic syndromes that lead to a high rate of colorectal cancer – but studies have shown that there are risk factors for the disease. They include: ■ age: Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. More than 90 percent of people with this disease are diagnosed after age 50. The average age at diagnosis is 72. ■ colorecTal PolyPs: Polyps are growths on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are common in people over age 50. Most polyps are benign (not cancer), but some polyps can become cancer. Finding and removing polyps may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. ■ faMily hisTory of colorecTal cancer: Close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) of a person with a history of colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this disease themselves, especially if the relative had the cancer at a young age. ■ geneTic alTeraTions: Changes in certain genes increase the risk of colorectal cancer. ■ Personal hisTory of cancer: A person who has already had colorectal cancer may develop colorectal cancer a second time. Also, women with a history of cancer of the ovary, uterus or breast are at a somewhat higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. ■ ulceraTiVe coliTis or crohn’s disease: A person who has had a condition that causes inflammation of the colon for many years is at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. ■ dieT: Studies suggest that diets high in fat (especially animal fat) and low in calcium, folate, and fiber may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Also, some studies suggest that people who eat a diet very low in fruits and vegetables may have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. ■ cigareTTe sMoKing: A person who smokes cigarettes may be at increased risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer. Source: National Cancer Institute

if more people had recommended colorectal cancer screenings.

practices at University Hospital. Dr. Keaton noted that even with

“Screening will help prevent 90

risk factors, many people with col-

percent of colorectal cancers, so it’s

orectal cancer won’t have any no-

important that people start having

ticeable symptoms.

don’t have any symptoms, the overall prognosis is going to be very good.” Ms. Moxley had a very long and arduous road to recovery, but had

colonoscopies at age 50, unless you

“By the time you have symptoms,

nothing but praise for her treat-

are in a high-risk group that would

the disease is fairly far along,” he

ment at University Hospital, noting

require earlier screening,” said Mark

said. “If the cancer can be picked

“I just had the best care – the best

Keaton, M.D., an oncologist who

up on a colonoscopy when you

team of doctors.” ❖ er


LIVING with Cancer

can be quickly viewed by the technologist to ensure she got the shot. Because the image is digital, it can be stored and sent electronically, allowing viewing from wherever it is needed. Software programs can help the radiologist manipulate the images to highlight problem areas, giving greater flexibility in mammography interpretation. Glenda Chears, 60, has always been diligent about getting her scheduled mammograms and found that the convenience of the Mobile Mammography Unit made it especially easy to

Glenda Chears

Take a Picture

get in and out in a timely manner. It was on the unit in June 2009 when a spot on her digital screening mammogram concerned her radiologist. Mrs. Chears was referred to

Technology keeps mammograms looking sharp

a surgeon for a biopsy.

Technology is eVer-eVolVing,

film, which is fine for most women,

was diagnosed with Stage I breast

with new ideas and new products be-

but doesn’t work as well for women

cancer,” she said.

ing produced at a dizzying rate. That’s

with dense breast tissue. The tech-

The digital Mobile Mammogra-

true at University Hospital, too.

nologist would have to take the film

phy Unit offers women the added

University’s Mobile Mammogra-

and develop it while the woman

convenience of getting a mammo-

phy Unit went digital in 2008 as a

waits – taking around 10 minutes to

gram off site. With a mobile unit, the

way to get faster, crisper images

find out if the image is clear enough

center is able to take breast health

that eliminated the need for chemi-

to use – and once developed, the film

care to underserved populations, to

cal development.

could not be changed much. Under-

working women at business and in-

or overexposure couldn’t be fixed.

dustrial sites, and to community and

are hard to miss:

digiTal. With digital mammogra-

church groups throughout the area.

TradiTional. In traditional mam-

phy, an image is taken and stored

These mammograms are the key to

mography, the image is created on

directly into a computer, where it

early detection of breast cancer. ❖

The differences in the technology


University Health Care System

“It was a very small lump, and I

Breast Health Center Facility is a haven for the comfort, education of women

Melba Holland

BreasT cancer changes a

feel so much better when I left. It’s

WoMan’s life in the blink of an

a godsend, really.”

eye. Suddenly work, family, friends

The Breast Health Center offers

and home have been supplanted by

a wide range of education materi-

physicians, treatments and, most

als and support, from the Cancer

likely, fear.

Research Room to the employees

University’s Breast Health Cen-

who work at the center.

ter works to ease those fears by

Herself a breast cancer survi-

Where can you get a digital mammogram?

offering women and their families

vor, Ms. Anderson said having that

the education and comfort they

first-hand knowledge is an impor-

need to get through cancer. From

tant message to newly diagnosed

diagnosis to treatments to recov-


university’s Mobile Mammography unit

ery, those who work at the Breast

“They listen to me because I’ve

Health Center offer guidance and

been through it and I’m still here, so

Open to the public for women 40 and over. Appointments required. Call 706/ 774-4149 or toll free 866/774-4141. Log on to calendar to see an updated list of scheduled stops.

clarity to support patients physi-

they do understand that it’s not a

cally, mentally and emotionally.

death sentence,” she said.

Brown & radiology associates (two locations) 818 St. Sebastian Way Ste 100 Augusta, GA 30901 706/722-3574 4350 Towne Centre Drive Suite 1000 Evans, GA 30809 706/868-3940

Pam Anderson, Cancer Services

Ms. Anderson noted that the cen-

and Breast Health Center program

ter follows patients through the en-

coordinator at University Hospital,

tire disease process – from diagno-

said the first thing her staff does is

sis to recovery – and that can mean

try to change their perception of

everything from explaining a proce-

breast cancer.

dure to scheduling an appointment.

Melba Holland, of Augusta, knows that firsthand after she was diagnosed

And sometimes, it’s as simple as offering a hand to hold. ❖

with breast cancer in July 2008. “When you hear that word ‘can-

for more information about uni-

cer’, there’s a fear that comes inside

versity’s Breast health center, call

of you,” she said. “I could go into

706/774-4141 or toll free 866/774-

the Breast Health Center and have

4141. you can also log on to www.

all my questions answered, and I’d er


LIVING with Cancer


Portraits of Life Ten breast cancer survivors tell their stories

Patricia Dent

Hephzibah, Ga. Diagnosed in August 2004





Ida M. Jenkins

Carol Buchanan Vernon

North Augusta, S.C. Diagnosed in May 2000

Martinez, Ga. Diagnosed in August 2002

Just six weeks after her son, Nevin, was born in 2004, Patricia Dent was dealt an enormous physical and emotional blow – she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The young mother of two had found the lump under her arm, and after going through all her treatments, was devastated to discover that the cancer had returned and metastasized to her brain and liver. But the news didn’t shake her faith. At an appointment in January, Patricia got the news she had been waiting to hear. “They told me that there’s no more cancer in my brain,” she said. “And I said, ‘It’s God.’”

It’s not often that a person can say breast cancer gave them a second chance at life, but then there’s Ida Jenkins. Overweight and depressed, Ida was not the picture of health when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2000. But during her cancer treatment, Ida rapidly lost more than 50 pounds, which concerned her physicians, but thrilled the then 46-year-old. “It really changed me to not worry about small things,” she said. “This had to happen to get me to really look at the big picture.”

Melinda Armstrong

Emma J. Smith


Evans, Ga. Diagnosed in May 2007

People say you never know how many friends you have until you really need one. Melinda Armstrong would add that the kindness and support of strangers also is a key ingredient to surviving breast cancer. Diagnosed in May 2007, Melinda said she was often surprised by well-wishers who did everything from send cards and e-mails to going to treatments with her. “I don’t normally put myself out there and want people to know things, but I looked at people who had been through this before me and got encouragement from them,” she said.


Lincolnton, Ga. Diagnosed in March 1989

“When you’ve always had insurance; always had a good job, you never think about ‘what if?’” Emma Smith said she had good insurance, but when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 1989, she found out firsthand how fickle fate can be. Emma’s insurance refused to pay for her cancer treatments, saying she had a pre-existing condition since she went through a number of surgeries for benign tumors. That experience led Emma to go to work for the Health Department, where she ultimately became the first patient navigator in the state. “It’s not a job, it’s a calling,” she said. “Women need to know there’s help and hope out there.”

University Health Care System

When Carol Buchanan Vernon was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2002, she knew she was going to beat the disease – she knew she wasn’t done living yet. “After something like this, you really look at your life and say, ‘I’m going to be one of those people who gives back now,’” she said. Carol’s chance to give back eventually came – but at a devastating personal price. Her sister died of heart attack, leaving two young daughters without a family. “I really think God let me live so that I could take care of those children,” she said.

Sherry Scott

Evans, Ga. Diagnosed in May 2008 Sherry Scott’s job as a nurse in University Hospital’s labor and delivery unit lets her be a part of the joyous beginnings of life. That is a stark contrast to the fear she felt when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2008, but she said her family, her friends and her faith gave her the strength to battle a foe that at times seemed insurmountable. “It’s a rollercoaster, and you just have to take it one small step at a time and you can make it through,” she said.

4 2

7 5





Dana Davis Morris North Augusta, S.C. Diagnosed in January 2008

The median age for women to be diagnosed with breast cancer is 61, but that doesn’t mean younger women are immune to the disease. Dana Davis Morris is living proof. At a routine visit to the gynecologist when she was just 35, her physician noted a lump in Dana’s breast, but dismissed it as a fibroid cyst, mainly because of her age. “He handed me a piece of paper with the phone number to get a mammogram, and he told me I could go get one if I wanted,” she said. Dana decided to have the mammogram done. “The Lord was looking out for me because I’m really the type of person who doesn’t like to go to the doctor,” she said.


Amy Winn

Aiken, S.C. Diagnosed in June 2008 No one ever expects to be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a disease that strikes at the very heart




of what, to many women, it actually means to be a woman. Amy Winn, who has worked in the health care industry for years, said that her busy lifestyle – as a wife, as a mother and as a friend – didn’t and couldn’t be put on hold after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2008. “People think their lives are going to stop while they’re going through cancer treatments,” she said. “They think, ‘I’ll get through this and when I get to the other side I’ll pick my life back up,’ but there is meaningful life during treatment as well.”


Carolyn Moore

Augusta, Ga. Diagnosed in April 2009 In the back of her mind, Carolyn Moore admits she thought breast cancer was something that happened to other people. But after she was diagnosed with the disease on April 4, 2009, she realized cancer is the great equalizer and that no one is immune from its lifechanging effects. Carolyn said she’s become a cheerleader for friends and fam-

ily – a rallying point for anyone who questions the need for routine mammograms, which helped pinpoint her own cancer. “My church friends tell me, ‘If you get mammograms, we’re getting them, too’,” she said. “And that’s the greatest gift of all.”


Mary Ann Unger Martinez, Ga. Diagnosed in April 2004

As a teacher, Mary Ann Unger spent years educating students and molding the minds of future generations. A breast cancer diagnosis in April 2004 altered her educational mission forever. Mary Ann left her teaching job during her cancer treatments, but never stopped thinking of ways she could help others learn more about the disease. “I left teaching in May 2005 and by October of that year, I was volunteering at University’s Breast Health Center,” she said. It was there that Mary Ann found her calling, helping schedule mammograms on the center’s Mobile Mammography Unit. er


LIVING with Cancer

Treating the


Chemotherapy symptoms can often be managed The idea of cheMoTheraPy is

Chemotherapy is a cancer treat-

a looming threat that often strikes

ment that uses drugs to help de-

fear in the hearts of cancer pa-

stroy cancer cells, stop cancer from

tients. And really, the thought of

spreading and slow its growth. In at-

months of hair loss, pain and nau-

tempting to destroy the cancer cells,

sea is enough to scare anybody.

it may also destroy normal cells,

But Silvana Bucur, M.D., a medi-

When patients are able to maintain their weight, they’re able to keep their strength, which helps them better deal with chemotherapy.

cal oncologist who practices at

It literally poisons the cells, and

University Hospital, said that de-

in doing so, poisons the body as

pending on the type of cancer and

well. In the past, the side effects of

therapy you have, your chemo side

these treatments have had the po-

effects might be less overwhelm-

tential to literally bring patients to

ing than you think.

their knees with weakness, fatigue,

-Silvana Bucur, M.D.


which are innocent bystanders.

University Health Care System

By helping lessen or even avoiding the side effects of chemotherapy, patients are able to focus solely on the healing process and the battle against their disease. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth

loss of appetite, there are a number

sores and pain.

of medications that can help.”

“We have a better understanding of how to pair medications and how

But chemotherapy-related symp-

She noted that nausea and loss of

those medications work together

toms can now be tempered with

appetite were of particular concern

to help the patient through chemo-

more effective supportive therapies

to physicians because good nutrition

therapy,” she said.

such as medications, including anti-

is vital to cancer patients’ health.



Dr. Bucur noted that physicians


“When patients are able to main-

stimulants, antidepressants, pain

tain their weight, they’re able to

medications, soothing mouthwash-

keep their strength, which helps

By helping lessen or even avoid-

es and ointments.

them better deal with chemother-

ing the side effects of chemothera-

apy,” Dr. Bucur said.

py, patients are able to focus solely

“Depending on the kind of can-

work to monitor even those side effects that patient can’t feel.

cer you have, your side effects and

It’s been a learning process for

on the healing process and the bat-

the treatments will be different,”

physicians to find the perfect com-

Dr. Bucur said. “Well, for hair loss,

bination of therapies to help allevi-

“If patients know what to ex-

there’s nothing we can do for that

ate the side effects of chemo, but

pect, they’re able to deal with

except for things like wigs, but for

it’s a process that is well worth the

chemotherapy much better,” Dr.

others side effects like nausea and

effort, Dr. Bucur said.

Bucur said. ❖

tle against their disease. er


LIVING with Cancer

Lung Cancer Lowering your risk factors can mean a breath of fresh air

Smoking rates continue to drop in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped lung cancer from being the most deadly form of the disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease




more people die of lung cancer annually than all breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined. Every year, more than 160,000 men and women die of lung cancer in the U.S. But there is good news on the horizon: In 2007, the percentage of U.S. smokers older than 18 fell below 20 percent for the first time. This is a bright spot, but physicians note that even though a vast majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking, around 10-15 percent of annual cases are diagnosed in patients who have never smoked.


University Health Care System

“There are three or four potential causes for people to develop lung cancer if they’ve never smoked,” said Lynne Brannen, M.D., a pulmonary disease physician who practices at University



smoke and contact with asbestos and radon gas can increase your risk for lung cancer. “And some

Lynne Brannen, M.D.

people just have a genetic susceptibility,” Dr. Brannen said.

Nonsmoking lung cancers are usually found earlier. If you’re not expecting to have a cough, like you might if you’re a smoker ... then you’re more likely to get it checked out.

agnosed with Stage I lung cancer.

Part of lung cancer’s deadliness

quite large,” Dr. Brannen said. Larg-

can be attributed to its few specif-

er tumors often mean the cancer

But Dr. Brannen and other physi-

ic symptoms, which can include a

has advanced and possibly spread,

cians are hopeful that the prolifera-

persistent cough.

which can greatly decrease the

tion of anti-smoking laws, includ-

chances of survival.

ing total public smoking bans, will

“The more significant symptoms don’t occur until the tumors are

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

“If you present in Stage I, survival

eventually have a positive effect on

rates are around 75-80 percent,”

the number of lung cancer cases di-

he said. “At Stage II, that drops to

agnosed every year. “Various charity groups and or-

around 50 percent.” Overall, Dr. Brannen said the sur-

ganizations have really pushed the

sMokinG and being around others who smoke

vival rate for lung cancer is around

government to raise cigarette taxes

20 percent, mainly because it’s dif-

and pushed for stricter smoking

thinGs aroUnd the hoMe or work, such as radon gas, asbestos, ionizing radiation and other cancer-causing substances

ficult to catch in the early stages –

laws, which all could help in the fight

especially for smokers.

against lung cancer,” he said. ❖

usually found earlier,” Dr. Brannen

free fresh sTarT sMoKing

Personal traits, such as having a family history of lung cancer

said. “If you’re not expecting to have

cessaTion classes. sponsored

a cough, like you might if you’re a

by the american cancer society

smoker, that would really raise a red

with university hospital instruc-

flag and you’re more likely to get it


checked out.”

help people give up all forms of

aGinG. The risk of death from lung cancer increases with age and is greater in men than in women Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Nonsmoking lung cancers are




For comparison, Dr. Brannen not-

tobacco. registration is required.

ed that 40 percent of nonsmokers

call 706/774-8900 for dates and

versus 25 percent of smokers are di-

to register. er


LIVING with Cancer

A Little Education Goes a Long Way to Prevent Skin Cancer ignorance isn’T Bliss – especially

for men have held steady.

she said. “But just because you call a

when it comes to skin cancer. That’s

“Younger girls tend to use tan-

the finding of a medical study that

ning beds more, and mature women

looked at how education materials af-

tend to do their tanning poolside,”

By educating women about the

fect the perceptions of young women

said Frances Florentino, M.D., a der-

dangers of excessive sun exposure,

when it comes to skin cancer.

matologist who practices at Univer-

Dr. Florentino said dermatologists

According to the article in Can-

sity Hospital. “When they’re young,

might be able to help reduce the

cer, a peer-reviewed journal of the

women think they’re invincible, and

number of deaths from skin cancer,

American Cancer Society, even brief

they don’t really consider their skin

which kills more than 8,000 Ameri-

education pamphlets made a last-

cancer risks.”

cans annually, according to the

ing impression on young women

Dr. Florentino said the tanning indus-

and were readily remembered even

try lobby also has increased the num-

months after reading.

ber of people who tan year-round.

This is good news for derma-

“People listen to what they want

pizza low-fat, you have to know that it’s still not actually good for you.”

American Cancer Society. Dr. Florentino noted many older women don’t think of themselves in danger of skin cancer because

tologists since skin cancer rates

to hear, and if people are telling

for women have steadily increased

them that tanning beds aren’t dan-

“Skin cancer can have a delayed

over the years while the numbers

gerous, they want to believe that,”

effect – it’s cumulative,” she said.

Frances Florentino, M.D.


Skin cancer can have a delayed effect – it’s cumulative. Women will say, ‘But I don’t go out in the sun.’ Yeah, you haven’t been out in the sun this year, but you’ve got 60 years of sun exposure to consider.

University Health Care System

they’ve stopped actively tanning.

“Women will say, ‘But I don’t go out in the sun.’ Yeah, you haven’t been out in the sun this year, but you’ve got 60 years of sun exposure to consider.” Ultimately, Dr. Florentino encouraged everyone to get checked if they suspect a problem with a mole. “We want people to feel comfortable coming to a physician if they’re concerned,” she said. ❖

The American Cancer Society recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher once an hour while exposed to the sun. er


LIVING with Cancer

Cancer Recognition

University’s Cancer Services receives prestigious award cancer is a scary ProPosiTion; one that involves not only the pa-

This is a wonderful achievement for University’s Cancer Services. It really shows the residents here that there’s no need for them to go outside of Augusta to get top quality cancer treatments. We’ve got it all right here. -Miriam J. Atkins, M.D.

tient, but family and friends as well. University Hospital has taken that group approach to care and applied it to its cancer services, and that attention to detail has earned the hospital the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award. University is the only hospital in Georgia to receive the full designa-

search, community outreach and

sity Hospital for cancer treatments

tion, which recognizes those cancer

quality improvement. The hospital

know they’re receiving experienced

programs that strive for excellence

also received a compliance rating

care from some of the region’s top

in providing quality care to cancer

for the remaining 29 standards.

cancer specialists who practice at University are continually looking for

patients, and only 95 programs – 19

“This is a wonderful achievement

percent of U.S. programs surveyed

for University’s Cancer Services,”

in late 2008 – have achieved this

said Miriam J. Atkins, M.D., a medi-

“I think patients are pleasantly

level of recognition.

cal oncologist who practices at

surprised when they come to Uni-


University Hospital and chairwom-

versity,” Dr. Atkins said. “Especially

evaluation, University received a

an of the hospital’s Cancer Com-

if they’ve gone somewhere else for

Commendation level of compli-

mittee. “It really shows the resi-

any kind of treatment.” ❖

ance with seven standards that

dents here that there’s no need for

represent the full scope of Uni-

them to go outside of Augusta to

for more information about uni-

versity’s cancer program – cancer

get top quality cancer treatments.

versity’s cancer services, call the

committee leadership, cancer data

We’ve got it all right here.”

cancer answer line at 706/828-




management, clinical services, re-


Patients who come to Univer-

University Health Care System

ways to improve that level of care.

2522 or toll free at 866/869-2522.

Support Groups Cancer treatments don’t happen in a vacuum. The same is true for the support cancer patients need during their fight against the disease. With that in mind, here are some of the many cancer resources you can find at University and the American Cancer Society: BreasT healTh cenTer

The PinK Magnolias

The University Breast Health Cen-



Men and women concerned about

ter offers a comprehensive array of

Health Center hosts a breast cancer

prostate cancer are welcome at

well-coordinated breast health ser-

support group the second Monday

meetings of the Us-Too Prostate

vices, including education, diagnos-

of each month. This group is open

Cancer-Augusta chapter. Meetings

tic testing, treatment options and

to all women who have undergone

are held at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday

support. call 706/774-4141 or toll

breast cancer surgery or are going

of each month. Reservations are re-

free 866/774-4141.

through treatment for breast can-

quired. call 706/868-8758 for res-

cer. A support group for women’s

ervations and information.



ProsTaTe cancer

reneWal aT second

spouses or significant others meets

To naTure BouTiQue

at the same time. call 706/774-

reach To recoVery

4141 or toll free 866/774-4141.

For more than 30 years, the American






Women’s Boutique offers women

Cancer Society Reach to Recovery

professional, certified fittings in a

focus on healing

program has helped people (female

comfortable, private setting, and

This educational program through

and male) cope with their breast can-

is the CSRA’s only one-stop shop-

dance and movement for breast

cer experience. call 706/731-9900.

ping outlet for women with special

cancer survivors is sponsored by

needs. call 706/774-4155.




road To recoVery

and University Breast Health Cen-

Road to Recovery is an American

Buddy checK 6 PrograM

ter, and is held on Tuesdays. call

Cancer Society program that pro-

Because early detection is so im-


vides transportation for cancer pa-

portant, University’s Breast Health

tients to their treatments and home

Center has teamed up with News

oB/gyn cancer

again. call 706/731-9900.

Channel 6 and area Dillard’s stores

This community support group

to bring you the Buddy Check 6 pro-

for gynecological cancers, such

for more information about uni-

gram – a community outreach initia-

as cervical, endometrial, ovarian

versity’s cancer services or Breast

tive designed to encourage women

and vulvar, meets at 7 p.m. on the

health center, call 706/774-4141

to take an active role in detecting

second Tuesday of the month. call

or toll free 866/774-4141. you can

breast cancer early. call 706/828-

706/821-2944 for more informa-

also log on to

2522 or toll free at 866/869-2522.

tion and the location. er


Cancer Screening Guidelines: Early Detection Saves Lives

The following early detection guidelines for people without symptoms are recommended by the American Cancer Society and endorsed by University's Cancer Services program. If symptoms are present or a person is at high risk, then the frequency of the tests and examinations can change upon the advice of a physician. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact the Cancer Answer Line at 706/828-2522 or toll free at 866/869-2522. Breast Cancer (Women, ages 20+) • Breast Self Exam (BSE): Monthly, starting at age 20 • Clinical Breast Exam: Every three years, ages 20-39; annually starting at age 40 • Mammography: Annually, starting at age 40 Colorectal Cancer (Men and women, ages 50+) One of these five testing schedules should be followed. Your physician can help you decide which is best for you: • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years • Yearly FOBT or FIT, plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years • Double-contrast barium enema every five years • Colonoscopy every 10 years Cervical Cancer (Women, ages 18+) • Screening should begin approximately three years after a woman begins having vaginal intercourse, but no later than 21 years of age. • Screening should be done every year with regular Pap tests or every two years using liquid-based tests. • At or after age 30, women who have had three normal test results in a row may get screened less frequently unless she has certain risk factors, such as HIV infection or a weakened immune system. • Women 70 and older who have had three or more consecutive Pap tests in the past 10 years may choose to stop cervical cancer screening. • Screening after a total hysterectomy (with removal of the cervix) is not necessary unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer. Prostate (Men, ages 50+) • Digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) offered annually starting at age 50 to men with a life expectancy of at least 10 years. • Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a strong family history or one or more first-degree relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age) should begin testing at age 45.

Cancer-related Check-Up (Men and women, ages 20+) Examinations every three years from ages 20 to 39 years and annually after age 40. The cancer-related check-up should include examination for cancers of the thyroid, testicles, ovaries, lymph nodes, oral cavity and skin. Health counseling about tobacco, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, risk factors, sexual practices and environmental and occupational exposures should be offered.