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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For our 35th anniversary year, as part of our Fall Cancer Awareness campaign, the Cancer Support Community would like to highlight the treatment decision making process and some possible treatment options so that you or your loved ones are “empowered by knowledge!”

Making a treatment decision that is right for you starts with (1) choosing your treatment team and (2) making a treatment decision with your doctor (3) knowing more about all possible treatment decisions including, clinical trials and immunotherapy.

1. Choosing your treatment team

The people around you—family, friends, and even your health care team—may make suggestions for your treatment and care with the best intentions. This kind of support system is beneficial; however, it is important to consider things and how they work best for you. You should decide upon a doctor and a cancer center that fits what you need medically and emotionally.

2. Making a treatment decision with your doctor

After you have selected your healthcare team, the next-best step is making a treatment decision. There are a plethora of options available, and it’s good to discuss these factors with your doctor to help guide you toward an effective decision. A few questions to consider:

  • What are the goals of your treatment?
  • Why did your doctor choose one treatment over the other? Is it directly related to the stage and type of cancer?
  • What are potential benefits and side effects?
  • What are the costs?

3. Possible Treatments including Clinical Trials and Immunotherapy

Frankly Speaking About Cancer® (FSAC) at the Cancer Support Community has developed an abundance of easy-to-digest information on many possible treatment options that include Clinical Trials and Immunotherapy.

Here is some further information on Clinical Trials.

Clinical trials provide individualized access to care with a village of support from a healthcare team: physicians, nurses, researcher, etc. Countless studies review their success by highlighting the treatment’s effect of regressing the cancer size. There are two benefits to this form of treatment:

  1. More immediate care by eliminating the long wait-time for medications and improving access to a drug that one would otherwise have had to wait for without the opportunity of the study.
  2. The possible benefits for the next generation through state of the art “early” access to medication and process of elimination. Patients in the study are vocal about side effects which then allows researchers to improve the drug for future generations.

Glen, Prostate Cancer and Merkel Cell Carcinoma, said this about participating in a clinical trial: “I really hadn’t thought about trials much and this doctor was so convincing. . . . He explained that the benefits of the trial would be. . . I would be monitored very closely for five years and. . . . They expected that the side effects from taking hormone tablets verses hormone injections would be much less and my quality of life would be better.”

Immunotherapy

Your immune system is a network crafted of cells, tissues, organs, and systems that work simultaneously to recognize and eliminate foreign invaders (e.g. viruses) or mutated, unhealthy cells in the body.

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that takes what your body can already do and makes those fighting agents even stronger. The treatment extracts weaker cells in your body to then re-gear them to become fighters – cells that can effectively attack cancer. Currently, there are four different types of immunotherapy: Leukemia and Lymphoma, Melanoma, Lung, and Prostate.

Kristen, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia said this about immunotherapy: “We were very excited for this research in which case, they take your T-cells out of your body. They reengineer them to be fighters, and they put them back into your body and they go and they attack the cancer.”

Information on treatment decisions can be found through Frankly Speaking About Cancer®, CSC’s renowned resource for cancer education. FSAC provides innovative health education through print and digital publications, eLearning courses, online materialswebinars, in-person workshops, and a weekly radio show. To learn more about FSAC and the educational resources they provide, visit their webpage.

We thank you for joining us for our 2017 Fall Cancer Awareness Campaign for the months of September, October, and November. Stay tuned to our blog for more!