It’s that time of year again…time for the annual barrage of “New Year, New You” articles, memes, and discussions around the water cooler. If you have cancer, though, this year is probably looking a bit different. The typical New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, start running, cut out gluten, or floss daily don’t seem that important. You have one goal and wish for this year – and that’s to survive cancer.
Our client care team at CTOAM has put together a list of things you can do this year that are scientifically proven to increase your chances of beating cancer. So that you can look forward to many more years of making New Year’s resolutions and spending time with your loved ones.
Did you know that that the original cancer diagnosis is found to be wrong for 1 in 5 people? And did you also know that the Canadian Association for Medical Oncologists recommend that you get a second opinion?
Cancer patients are often hesitant to ask for a second opinion because they’re worried about offending their doctors. But a good doctor will welcome the input from another cancer care professional to ensure the accuracy of your diagnosis. Seeking a second opinion from a Precision Oncology specialist will give your oncologist new data that s/he doesn’t have access to through standard care diagnosis.
In almost all cases, an initial treatment plan changes once new data is collected using Precision Oncology. Having the most accurate diagnosis is the only way to ensure you have a successful treatment plan. And a second opinion with Precision Oncology ensures you have that.
The imaging technology used in standard cancer care is usually a CT Scan. However, CT Scans can not differentiate between cancerous cells and non-cancerous cells! (To a CT Machine, a lump of non-cancerous scar tissue looks the same as a cancerous growth.) Nor does a CT Scan tell you how fast your cancer is growing. Plus, repeated scans are often required over the course of 3-6 months. And their results have only a 70% diagnostic accuracy.
PET/CT Scans, on the other hand, work very differently and provide far more rapid results with improved diagnostic accuracy. Prior to the scan, the patient is asked to drink a safe, radioactive sugar solution. The cancerous cells in their body eat the sugar solution and then appear as bright spots on the scan. PET/CT Scans not only show us where the cancer is but also how aggressive it is and with 98%+ accuracy! And results are available within just 1 hour of the test.
A PET/CT Scan is also very useful in monitoring cancer treatment. It allows us to see, more rapidly and with greater precision than CT or MRI, if a treatment is working or not. If the cancer is less bright or smaller (eating less radioactive sugar), it means it’s shrinking and the treatment is working. But if the cancer is brighter or bigger, we then know to adjust the treatment plan immediately.
As scientists’ understanding of cancer has evolved, we’ve discovered that cancer is caused by mutations in your genes that are preventing certain cells from behaving as they should (most cancer patients have at least a few of these mutations). Many new cancer treatments have been designed specifically to target these mutations. And there very well may be a handful or more of these treatments that would work for your specific combination of mutations.
However, without proper testing your doctor can’t offer you these treatments. By conducting tumour DNA sequencing on cancerous tissue, we can identify the specific genetic mutations a patient has and then use that information to design a unique and targeted treatment plan, designed specifically to kill your unique combination of cancer cells.
Targeted treatments are scientifically proven to be more effective, and have less side-effects, than standard treatment. This is because targeted treatments only target the cancerous cells and leave the healthy cells alone to thrive.
In short: Tumour DNA sequencing is the only way to know exactly what kind of cancer you have and what treatments will work. So make sure you add this to your treatment plan.
Well, this one sounds a bit more like the traditional New Year’s resolution! Lifting weights and strength training (like squats and push-ups) can greatly help in preventing cancer and also fighting it.
To start with, there is reduced angiogenesis. Since cancer cells are rapidly reproducing, they need to recruit extra blood vessels to help with their high metabolism. When you exercise with weights, you limit the ability of tumours to hijack blood vessels. This is because the blood vessels are too focused on supplying blood to the muscles that have been stressed by the weight lifting.
Secondly, when you exercise with weights, you cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. These tears are then repaired by the local stem cells using the growth factors and resources that cancer cells would normally use / hijack to grow and metastasize. This concept is known as “metabolic competition”.
Finally, exercise (not just lifting weights) increases lymphatic flow. Our bodies have an extensive network of lymphatic vessels connecting the lymph nodes. However, lymphatic fluid is much like ‘maple syrup’ – it moves very slowly throughout the lymphatic system. This can allow cancer cells to remain and grow within the lymph nodes without being attacked by the immune system. This results in lymph node metastasis. Exercise is one of the ONLY ways to increase the flow of lymphatic fluid.
Those are all great reasons to start strengthening your muscles this year!
Another resolution that resembles traditional ones. However, nutraceuticals are very different than your run-of-the-mill diet plan, because they are based on your specific cancer. A personalized nutraceutical diet uses foods and supplements that are proven to enhance your cancer treatment or cancer prevention.
After genetic sequencing has been performed on your cancer tumour, a nutraceutical diet can then be designed to regulate specific oncogenes (i.e. cancer driving genes) and tumour suppressor genes (i.e. cancer preventing genes).
A nutraceutical diet includes foods and supplements specific to all possible gene combinations found in your particular form of cancer. This will inhibit the over-expressed oncogenes unique to that form of cancer. As with other forms of precision oncology, a nutraceutical diet is specific to your gene mutations and is scientifically proven target those oncogenes.
Ready to Start Feeling Better This Year?
So there you have it. Even though the upcoming year can feel daunting when you’re dealing with cancer, these proactive steps will ensure you’re doing all you can. If you do these 5 things, you’ll not only start feeling better but you’ll massively increase your chances of beating cancer. And isn’t that a resolution worth sticking to?
If you’d like support in moving forward with any of the above New Year’s resolutions, reach out to us as soon as possible. As part of our mission, CTOAM offers all cancer patients a free phone consultation. Sign up today for your Free Phone Consultation and take the first step toward feeling better and having more time with your loved ones.
No matter what type of cancer you have, or what stage, our Precision Oncology services will help you to have a better quality of life (before, during, and after treatment) and increase your life expectancy. This is the promise of Precision Oncology. To find out more about how Precision Oncology can benefit you or your loved ones, or ask us anything you want about cancer care, visit www.ctoam.com or contact us. We are here for you.
From our family to yours, we wish you a happy 2019 filled with love, health, and happiness.