Prevention & Treatment
According to Dr. Sarah Jackson of Audubon Dermatology, current estimates suggest that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. Albeit one of the more prevalent types of cancer, it can still be prevented and detected with a certain amount of effort. Dr. Jackson recommends prevention through shade, covering up and wearing sunscreen. For detection, simply look for new or changing spots on your skin. If you see anything changing, itching or bleeding, see a dermatologist. At Audubon Dermatology, a variety of cutting-edge treatments are used to treat actinic keratosis, better known as “precancers,” including lasers, photodynamic therapy and topical chemotherapy.
Early detection is an important aspect of any cancer treatment, including prostate cancer, and since PSA screening began in the United States in the early 1990s, death from prostate cancer has dropped dramatically. However, according to Dr. Jon Silberstein, chief of Urologic Oncology at Tulane University School of Medicine, many physicians use the screening indiscriminately and test men who may not benefit from screening. Tulane Urology’s screening recommendations, which incorporate what age to begin testing, what interval to test and when to stop testing, can be found at MyProstateCancer.com.
“The most advanced service we offer to patients is an individualized approach,” says Dr. Silberstein. “Our multidisciplinary approach in which excellent physicians with specialized training in medical oncology, urologic cancer and radiation oncology consult together to find the right treatment plan for the individual patient far surpasses the latest technological change.”
“Because cancer is so heterogeneous, we must understand that just because Bob had surgery, that doesn’t make surgery the right choice for me,” says Dr. Silberstein.
With so much attention given to the various cancers affecting adults, it can be easily forgotten that children can develop cancer, too, and in children, there are not many screening tests.
“Most types of cancer that children encounter are deep-seeded and difficult to recognize,” says Dr. Lolie Yu, division chief and director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology/HSCT at Children’s Hospital/LSUHSC. According to Dr. Yu, paying attention to behavior or health changes in a child is one way to recognize a larger problem. For instance, one clue may be a normally rambunctious child who suddenly becomes lethargic and for an extended period of time – longer than your average illness.
“Bruising is also something to watch. If you start seeing bruises in unusual areas – the back or chest wall – you should bring the child to your pediatrician for blood tests,” says Yu.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and several resources exist across the metro area for screening and treatment. At East Jefferson General Hospital, breast center nurses, along with nurse navigators, provide individualized support to patients diagnosed with breast cancer, helping them coordinate appointments with the different specialists involved in their care, providing educational resources and linking patients to support groups. According to Dr. Mary Beth Lobrano, EJGH’s affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Center means that patients can be confident that they’re receiving the most up-to-date, evidence-based breast cancer treatment.
Dr. Milton Seiler Jr., Hematology and Oncology specialist with Crescent City Physicians, a subsidiary of Touro, recommends women with no prior cancer history or factors making them predisposed should begin getting a yearly mammogram and exam at age 40.
“Women with radiation therapy experience should start screening earlier, within five years of completing treatment,” says Seiler. “Patients with a strong family history of breast cancer or with diagnosed first-degree relatives may want to discuss with their physician the advisability of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing in addition to regular exams.”
Crescent City Physicians works closely with Touro’s Cancer Program and Imaging Center to provide comprehensive and multi-disciplinary care.
For treatment of various types of cancer, the Ochsner Cancer Network provides multidisciplinary care for adult and pediatric cancer patients.
“Technological advancements such as minimally invasive surgeries for Lung Cancers, Multi-Organ Transplant Services, Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery (where micro-surgery removes the disease but spares surrounding healthy tissue) and robotic surgeries for Pancreatic Cancer and Gynecologic malignancies are all available at Ochsner,” says Dr. John T. Cole, chairman of South Shore Hematology Oncology at Ochsner Cancer Institute.
Services, Screenings, & Support
Several local healthcare providers offer free or low-cost services to the community in an effort to reduce the number of cancer deaths that occur across Louisiana.
“Due to a lack of access to healthcare, prevention education and early detection screenings, our state consistently ranks high in cancer deaths,” says Rob Leonhard, administrator at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. “The Cancer Center’s outreach program provides free early detection services for uninsured and underinsured adults to find cancer in its earliest stage, when better outcomes are more likely,” he says.
In some cancers, early detection can dramatically increase one’s chance of survival. With that in mind, St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s mobile medical unit travels to communities with at-risk populations to provide breast, colorectal, oral, prostate and skin cancer screenings. For information on these screenings and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, visit MaryBird.org/STPH.
Similarly, Touro offers community screenings, support groups and helpful classes. Touro additionally sponsors events and programs aimed at improving health and encouraging healthy lifestyles. On October 16, Touro and the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group are teaming up to present “Cooking with Cancer-Fighting Foods” at Café NOMA inside the New Orleans Museum of Art. The collaborative demonstration and presentation by chef Chris Montero and Touro dieticians will teach attendees how to incorporate powerful cancer-fighting super foods into their everyday home cooking.
One of the most important resources for anything cancer-related is the American Cancer Society. The ACS is the go-to organization for people wanting to learn more about the disease and options before, during and after diagnosis and treatment.
“It’s like a giant library – separate from your doctor, separate from your hospital – that can give you great information,” says Carla Adams, a volunteer and community partner to the organization. Through her work with the Shops at Canal Place, Adams has been uniquely positioned to volunteer for and help sponsor the “Belles and Beaus Ball,” a local fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Adams has worked with the organization for more than 10 years.
“The more I worked with them on that event and learned everything they did, I had to get involved,” she says. A lesser-known service provided by the local ACS is the Hope Lodge, a place where out-of-town cancer patients can stay for free while in the metro area for treatment.
“There are people in Louisiana and beyond that have to come here for treatment, which lasts for a period of time. Many families can’t afford to travel every day or stay and bear the burden of hotel room,” says Adams. “Hope Lodge is centrally located with free room and board for patients and family, while also serving as an added support group.”
There is no “safe tan” from indoor tanning. According to Dr. Jackson, a recent study estimates that exposure to indoor tanning devices causes more than 450,000 cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer and 10,000 melanoma cases each year in the United States, Europe and Australia.
There is a common misconception among women that most breast cancers are diagnosed in women who have a family history of breast cancer,” says Dr. Lobrano. “In fact, most new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women who have no relatives with this disease.”
Within any subtype of cancer, say prostate for example, there’s a wide spectrum of disease.
“Obesity is a strong factor,” according to Dr. Seiler. “Maintaining a normal weight will substantially decrease your risk of breast cancer and other cancers,” he says.
“Our focus is moving toward individualizing cancer therapy and how to determine the success of a given therapy based on the patient’s own genetics,” says Cole. “The Ochsner Cancer Institute participates in clinical trials that require genetic testing in advance and prescribe therapy using the latest drugs and combination therapies to achieve improved survival and outcomes.”
Audubon Dermatology 3525 Prytania St., Suite 501. 895-3376. AudubonDermatology.com
Tulane University School of Medicine Department of Urology 1430 Tulane Ave. SL-42 988-0768. MyProstateCancer.com
Children’s Hospital. 200 Henry Clay Ave. 899-9511. CHNola.org
East Jefferson General Hospital. 4200 Houma Blvd. 454-4000. EJGH.org
Ochsner Cancer Institute. 1514 Jefferson Highway. 842-3910. ochsner.org/cancer
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital 1203 S. Tyler St. (982) 875-2334. MaryBird.org/STPH
Touro/Crescent City Physicians. 1401 Foucher St. 897-7011. 897-7197 Touro.com. CrescentCityPhysicians.com
American Cancer Society (New Orleans). 2605 River Road. 469-0021. Cancer.org