Information is power. It can help you to successfully navigate the cancer journey. Every individual and every cancer is unique. Knowing your options and obtaining the necessary information is critical in order to make the right choices for you, for your cancer. The right plan, as well as the right team, can make all the difference in mortality as well as in quality of life.
To read my blog about finding the right team, please visit: http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2011/05/cancer-find-right-team.html
You have more options than you think when choosing a treatment plan. Conventional (allopathic) medicine offers surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other medical interventions to battle cancer. For many, this is the route to take. For others, surgery may be acceptable, but radiation and or chemotherapy either are not an option or are not acceptable to the patient. Some will take the integrative approach, combining conventional with alternative therapies, and some will choose to use only alternative methods. Keep in mind that within these modalities, there will be further decisions to make, for example which of the surgical options or chemotherapies would be best. Information is power.
Today we have genetic testing that enables the oncologist and patient to make more informed choices for a treatment plan. For example, when considering Tamoxifen, one might request a test such as Mamaprint or a CPY2D6 test. These tests will help your doctor to determine if Tamoxifen would be effective for you. When chemotherapy is advised, the patient and doctor have many options. The oncologist will recommend the course of treatment that he or she feels would be best for your cancer. However, often times this requires a trial and error period during which the patient starts and stops many different drugs in response to tolerance and effectiveness.
Now we have molecular-level diagnostic testing which can help oncologists receive more information on an individual’s cancer, and to develop a more personalized cancer treatment plan. One resource for this is www.n-of-one.com. Since each patient’s cancer has a specific genetic and molecular signature, this group focuses on how that may affect its response to different treatments. Identifying the biological markers driving a particular cancer may help to determine the best treatment option.
CellSearch, a circulating tumor cell test, helps doctors determine the prognosis of patients and offers a reading of tumor information so that oncologists are better prepared to care for their patients. My hope is that these tests can also aid patients in their decisions for surgical and alternative options.
Now, it’s great that we have all these tests, but the next challenge is how do we make people aware of them? The buzz is on amongst the online support sites. Some of my favorites for support and advice are:
Today I came upon a new site, www.IsMyCancerDifferent.com. Their goal is to help patients understand how their cancer is unique and why it matters. Cancer is not just one disease, so cancer treatment must be tailored to the individual cancer and circumstances of each patient. They believe that sharing this knowledge can inspire and empower patients to seek out the most appropriate treatment for their unique situation. Right up my alley, you know how I like that word empower.
For more information on genetic testing and Cell Search, please visit:
Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, the Director of Grants for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation and a breast cancer survivor. She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers. She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.