Last month, I discussed how cancer patients and their caregivers rarely get a break from the disease until treatment is complete, and I also mentioned how the lazy, dog-days of August don't offer much respite for cancer researchers and oncologists, either. While the former remains true, I may have to take back what I said about August at UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter, because the pace of September is truly astounding! Our physician-scientists are gearing up to present at a wide variety of scientific conferences throughout the year while our medical, surgical and radiation oncologists are preparing presentations and case studies, attending grand rounds and tumor boards, and of course, providing the very best care for their patients. September is also a significant month in terms of cancer awareness and advocacy, so I would like to make sure you are familiar with the different activities and campaigns this month.
Gynecologic and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Each year, over 82,000 women are diagnosed with gynecologic cancers, which affect the reproductive organs including the cervix, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva. A wide variety of symptoms could point to one of these cancers, including a feeling of pressure in the pelvis or abnormal discharge. At the same time, these symptoms could also be something much less concerning, but the only way to know is to meet with a gynecologist. UPMC has tremendous team of gynecologists so if you don't currently have one, please make an appointment. If it turns out you do have a gynecologic cancer, UPMC CancerCenter and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC can provide the most up-to-date care available.
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month: Over 19,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year. Thyroid cancer is eminently manageable if it is detected early. If you or someone you love has a lump or nodule in the front of the neck, hoarseness or difficulty speaking or swallowing, don't hesitate to contact your primary care provider. Our researchers are seeking to identify novel mutations of thyroid cancers, while our surgical oncologists are perfecting robotic surgical techniques to minimize scarring from thyroid surgery. From the bench to the bedside, we are on the leading edge of thyroid cancer research and treatment, so if you are diagnosed with this disease, we can help.
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men. African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a greater chance of developing the disease. It's important to note that there are two possible screening tests for prostate cancer — the digital rectal examination and the prostate-specific antigen test.
Leukemia/Lymphoma Awareness Month: Every five minutes, someone in the United States learns he or she has leukemia, Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or multiple myeloma. These blood cancers originate in the bone marrow or lymphatic tissues. Last year, UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter received a substantial gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation to establish the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Diseases at the Hillman Cancer Center. It will be the centerpiece for the comprehensive care and treatment of blood diseases for patients young and old across Western Pennsylvania. It will be a key component in moving research out of the lab and into treatment rooms. Groundbreaking will take place in the next several months.
Childhood Cancers Awareness Month: Cancer is a difficult diagnosis for an adult — but it seems particularly insidious when a child is diagnosed with the disease. Our researchers and physicians at Children's Hospital of UPMC work to stop childhood cancers in their tracks. I sincerely hope your child never has to face a cancer diagnosis, but if he or she does, the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program at Children's will take excellent care of the whole family.
So many cancers to recognize in just one month — but we are continually motivated to work toward cures for all of them — and, in the meantime, provide the highest level of patient care possible. Now, you can follow UPMC CancerCenter on Facebook for the latest news and patient information, so be sure to look for us there.