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Education Key to Winning the Fight Against Cancer June 25, 2010

Education Key to Winning the Fight Against Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 700,000 women were diagnosed with cancer last year. During that same time, nearly 270,000 lost the battle against the disease.

The numbers seem overwhelming, but there are some bright spots on the horizon.

More cancers in women are being found earlier, often giving physicians more time to diagnose and treat the disease before it has time to spread.

“Certainly, if you find a cancer early you generally don’t have to have as drastic a treatment,” said Silvana Bucur, M.D., a medical oncologist who practices at University Hospital. “You also are more likely to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back if you catch it earlier.”

It’s been a grassroots effort to get the information out to women about cancer – the organizations, the screenings, the events – they’ve all helped demystify a disease that for so long was considered taboo to even speak about in public.

“There’s been a lot of education within the health care community and the public in general,” Dr. Bucur said. “Women that have undergone some of these cancers then teach other women about them.

“They teach them not to be afraid.”

That education has helped increase one of the most effective ways of finding cancers early – screenings.

Whether it’s for breast cancer or cervical cancer, maintaining a regular screening schedule is vital to helping women keep themselves healthy for the long haul.

“Screenings can often mean saving a life,” Dr. Bucur said.

For those women who are diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Bucur said they should consider participating in a clinical trial as part of their fight against the disease.

University Hospital-affiliated physician offices Medical Oncology Associates and Augusta Oncology Associates both run Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials.

It is through these trials that new standards of care are often cultivated.

“They really give us the tools to help patients in the future, as well as the patients within the trials themselves,” Dr. Bucur said.

Unlike Phase 1 trials, which are generally new drug trials, Phase 2 and 3 are generally considered treatment trials designed to compare a new treatment to a standard treatment.

Part of joining a clinical trial is finding the right patients, which is why Dr. Bucur said she is always looking for the best patients who might benefit the most from the 20 to 25 clinical trials her office is currently running.

“These trials are a wonderful way to give women the opportunity to look into the future of medicine right now,” she said.

For more information about women and cancer or to find out more about clinical trials, call University’s Cancer Answer Line at 706/828-2522 or toll free at 866/869-2522.

Women and Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, these were the top cancers for women in 2009.

  • Breast Cancer: 192,370 new cases
  • Digestive System: 125,700 new cases
  • Respiratory System: 107,280 new cases
  • Genital System: 80,720 new cases
  • Urinary System: 41,370 new cases
  • Lymphoma: 33,860 new cases
  • Skin (excluding basal & squamous): 31,690 new cases

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