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cancer

Cancer dogma holds that most malignancies are caused by DNA mutations inside the nuclei of cells, mutations that ultimately lead to runaway cellular proliferation. Given the countless genetic blips that have been associated with various cancers, the illness has actually come to be seen as a complex of diseases for which personalized treatments might offer the best chances of success.

Vyvyn Lazonga, a tattoo artist for 43 years, now dedicates half of her practice to women who have had mastectomies, meaning the removal of one or more breasts. She works in a shop next to Pike Place Market in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

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Thirty years ago, a woman walked into Vyvyn Lazonga’s San Francisco shop and asked the tattoo artist to ink new nipples onto her chest.

The woman had undergone a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis, and she wanted to recreate a semblance of the breast she’d lost.

That was Lazonga’s first foray into post-mastectomy tattooing. Although she can’t say for certain, Lazonga believes she was the first person in the country to tattoo over mastectomy scars.

Portlanders Demand Action On Heavy Metal Air Pollution

Feb 10, 2016

Hundreds of people crowded into Cleveland High School Tuesday night with questions, concerns and demands for officials addressing Portland's air pollution.

At 46 years old, Oliver Bogler's reaction to a suspicious lump in his chest might seem typical for a man. He ignored it for three to four months, maybe longer. "I couldn't really imagine I would have this disease," Bogler says. But when he finally "grew up" and went to the doctor, he was pretty quickly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

President Obama plans to ask Congress for $755 million in cancer-research funding as part of his 2017 budget, according to the White House.

That would bring the funding total to nearly $1 billion over the next two years to accelerate what the president called a "moonshot" to try to eliminate cancer. Congress has already approved $195 million in research funding in 2016.

When Ryan Green's son Joel was 1 year old he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. Over the next few years, he underwent rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, only to have the cancer return.

Alfonoso Adinolfi at his office in Kent. Like many Americans with hepatitis C, Adinolfi didn't know he carried the virus until he was diagnosed in 1996.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Ask Alfonso Adinolfi how he got hepatitis C and he’ll point to his upper right arm. “Right there,” he says, “that tattoo.”

He’s lived with the blood-borne virus for decades since being infected, possibly with a dirty tattoo needle. He's one of about 10,000 baby boomers in King County who are thought to have hep C, though many may not know it. So if you were born between 1945 and 1965, Seattle-King County Public Health wants you to get tested.

The world has made a big commitment in recent years to treat and prevent infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. But another threat to global health is on the rise: Cancer rates are going up in the developing world.

Cancers are diverse, and that makes them extremely difficult to treat. What worked stunningly for one person might fail utterly for another. What worked for a tumor in the brain probably won't work on a cancer of the liver. Scientists are trying to outwit tumors by coming up with tailored treatments like the immunotherapy drug used to successfully treat former President Jimmy Carter.

Women who have an abnormal mammogram should stay vigilant for cancer for for the next decade, even when follow-up tests fail to detect cancer, a study released Wednesday finds.

That's because there's a "modest" risk that cancer will develop during the next decade, says lead author Louise M. Henderson of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Group Health colon cancer kit with directions.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Mention colonoscopy and most people will make a face. Prepping for it is unpleasant, so much so that some people would rather avoid it altogether.

But Group Health researchers have found an approach that removes the “ick" factor in screening.

‘The fear is real, yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to embrace it,’ says Bridgette Hempstead, who has worked with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to reach out to African Americans with cancer.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Bill Radke talks to Bridgette Hempstead, about why she started Cierra Sisters, a cancer support group for African American women in South Seattle.

Stuart McLean on the 'Vinyl Cafe' Facebook page.
Vinyl Cafe/Facebook

"Vinyl Cafe" host Stuart McLean has canceled his public radio show's Christmas tour, including a Seattle stop, saying he's been diagnosed with melanoma and begins therapy next week.

Cancer patients shopping on federal and state insurance marketplaces often find it difficult to determine whether their drugs are covered and how much they will pay for them, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society says in a report that also calls on regulators to restrict how much insurers can charge patients for medications.

One of the most intense debates in men's health has flared again: How often should men get screened for prostate cancer?

This debate has simmered since 2012, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force shocked many patients and doctors by recommending against routine prostate cancer screening.

Most women don't need to start getting an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer until they turn 45, according to the latest guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

Previously, the society recommended women start annual mammograms at 40 and continue every year for as long they remained in good health.

When I left my first mammogram appointment a few weeks ago, I felt fine.

Everything had gone smoothly, the technologist hadn't made a concerned face when she looked at the screen, and I was convinced I'd get the all-clear from my primary care doctor in a week or so.

Then came the phone calls the following day — first from my doctor's office, then from the mammography center — telling me the radiologist had seen something that didn't look quite right. I needed to come back for another mammogram and this time an ultrasound exam, too.

Participants in a lung-cancer screening study interpreted their results 'in all kinds of different ways that were not very accurate,' says Dr. Steven Zeliadt of the UW  School of Public Health.
CDC Photo/Debora Cartagena

We screen for breast cancer and colon cancer, among others. The scientific consensus: These screenings help detect disease and prevent it from spreading. But one Seattle doctor found that lung cancer screening alone may not be enough to motivate smokers to quit.

Former President Jimmy Carter says his cancer has shown up in his liver and on his brain and that he will undergo radiation treatment.

Carter said in his first public remarks since his diagnosis that the cancer was first discovered as a tumor on his liver. On Aug. 3, he says, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. He says about one-tenth of his liver was removed.

But he says that later, four spots of melanoma were found on his brain. He says he will have his first radiation treatment this afternoon.

A new clinical trial is set to begin in the United Kingdom using the powerful noses of dogs to detect prostate cancer in humans.

While research has been done before, these are the first trials approved by Britain's National Health Service.

The trials, at the Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire, will use animals from a nonprofit organization called Medical Detection Dogs, co-founded in 2008 by behavioral psychologist Claire Guest.

Chemotherapy given to patients at the end of life often does more harm than good, according to a study that calls into question this common practice.

Bridgette Hempstead, left, and Charity Jokonya are breast cancer survivors who advocate for African Americans with the disease. They were photographed in Hempstead's home in Seattle on June 25, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Charity Jokonya was 40 and a single mom when the diagnosis came a little over a year ago: breast cancer.

She read everything she could to better understand the disease. But what she really needed was someone to talk to, someone who understood what it felt like to be an African American with cancer.

One of the great successes in the war on cancer has been the steep decline in the death rate from colorectal cancer.

Since 1970, the colorectal cancer death rate per 100,000 Americans has been cut in half, falling to 15.1 in 2011 from 29.2 in 1970.

Increased screening, improvements in treatment and changes in risk factors (such as a drop in smoking) have contributed to the dramatic reduction.

When Jennifer Glass goes to Sacramento on Tuesday to deliver testimony in favor of the California End-of-Life-Options Act, the trip will require some complex logistics.

Washington State University President Elson Floyd died Saturday at age 59. WSU announced in early June that Floyd was stepping away from his duties because he had cancer.

When an email arrived the other day promoting an "Interfaith Service Focused on Below the Belt Cancers," I was intrigued.

It turns out Thursday, June 18, is the start of the third "Globe-athon to End Women's Cancers." To kickoff this continuing campaign, there will be two days of events in New York City dedicated to making people more aware of the cancers that strike more than 1 million women a year and figuring out the best strategies for diagnosis and treatment.

Young white women like indoor tanning a lot.

Nearly a quarter of them hit a tanning bed in the past year. (The beds are even found on many college campuses.)

Seattle Doctor Takes Cancer Treatment To Developing World

May 27, 2015
Mother and son in the children's ward at Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala.
KUOW Photo/Joanne Silberner

Forty-two-year-old Corey Casper is tall, thin, and a bit hollow-eyed from all his responsibilities. He’s a cancer doctor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He performs research and trains young doctors in Seattle and Uganda. And in his own quiet way, he wants to make a difference in the world.

It's difficult to imagine that a seven-story glass building will soon take the place of what's now a vast hole near the corner of Carnegie Avenue and 105th Street in Cleveland. But Cliff Kazmierczak, who is with Turner Construction and overseeing the transformation, points to the gray sky, tracing a silhouette with his fingertips. In two years, he says, the Cleveland Clinic's nearly $300 million cancer center is slated to open here.

Anne Koller was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer in 2011 and has been fighting it since.

But it's not just the cancer she's fighting. It's the bills.

"Think of those old horror flicks," she says. "The swamp creature ... comes out and is kind of oozy, and it oozes over everything."

When she was able to work, Koller, who just turned 65, was in the corporate world and safely middle-class, with health insurance and plenty of savings.

At first, she was too sick to deal with the bills. They piled up.

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