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Doctor Questions and Answers

We want to empower you with with the information you need to make decisions with your doctor about your course of care. Here are answers from our cancer doctors to some frequently asked questions.

Question

I was recently diagnosed with cancer and am currently undergoing chemotherapy. I have been researching complementary medicine and came across something called “auricular medicine.” What is this and what are its benefits?

Answer

Practiced in China for more than 3,000 years, auricular medicine is a specialty of acupuncture that is founded on the relationship of the ear to the whole body. Practitioners of this alternative medicine stimulate points on the outer ear to create therapeutic benefits in other areas of the body.

Ear massage can be very beneficial for cancer patients. Massaging the ear every day can balance the body, aid the immune system, and improve circulation and body function. It can also help with side effects of cancer treatment, including pain, nausea, anxiety, or depression.

To perform ear massage, use your thumb and index finger to rub the outer ear from the bottom up. This massage is a simple activity you can do twice a day to help fight cancer.

Farzana N. Tausif, MD
Family Medicine

Question

I’ve read that cancer accounts for nearly one of every four deaths in the United States. Which types of cancer are most common? Are there any developments in the prevention of these cancers?

Answer

The most prevalent types of cancer include colon/rectal, lung, breast, and prostate.

Lung cancer is the most preventable, with smoking being a major factor. In fact, 19 out of 20 lung cancer patients have a history of smoking. Another risk is exposure to radon, a radioactive gas. Homeowners can reduce their risk of lung cancer by having their house tested for radon and installing a radon reduction system if necessary.

Colon/rectal and breast cancer are also affected by lifestyle. Red meat and smoked food contribute to colon/rectal cancer, while a diet high in fat increases the risk of breast cancer. Some medications may reduce the risk of common cancers.

Aspirin has been shown to lower the risk of colon/rectal cancer. In large-scale clinical trials, the drugs Tamoxifen and Raloxifene have considerably reduced the incidence of breast cancer in high-risk women. Additionally, Finasteride has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

William L. Horvath, MD, FACP
Hematology/Oncology

Question

My brother has a throat tumor and is scheduled for TomoTherapy® treatment. Is this the same thing as radiation therapy?

Answer

Yes, however TomoTherapy® is a highly sophisticated version of Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy. In the not-so-olden days, in order to treat a cancerous tumor, surrounding healthy organs would also be heavily treated by the radiation. Thanks to this state-of-the-art technology, TomoTherapy® allows your brother’s physician to reduce the dose of radiation on healthy, critical organs and tissues surrounding the tumor, such as his mouth, spinal cord, brain stem, and salivary glands.

TomoTherapy® also allows for image guidance. Each day prior to treatment, your brother will undergo a CT scan on the TomoTherapy® unit. This image allows his physician to place him in the best physical position for the most accurate treatment. In my opinion, TomoTherapy® is best to treat a head and neck (or throat) cancer because of its unparalleled ability to spare normal tissues while still treating the tumor. This should both increase your brother’s cure rate and decrease any side effects.

Steven Rubin, MD
Radiation Oncology

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