- Published on Tuesday, 04 December 2012 23:14
- Written by Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Got a question for the doctor? Text it to "646464" (OHOHOH).
Dr. Dee McLeod’s deep loss is black women’s gain.
The cancer specialist with The Sacred Heart Cancer Center in Pensacola, Florida, lost her mother to breast cancer while McLeod was in medical training at Meharry Medical College.
McLeod’s personal loss drove her to promote education and awareness in the local community and she is involved in and an advocate for national clinical breast cancer trials.
She has got her work cut out for her.
Black women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, but when they do they are more likely to die, especially women under 50 years of age.
Black women under the age of 50 have a 77 percent higher mortality rate from breast cancer than other women of the same age.
A study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill schools of Public Health and Medicine, and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that younger, pre-menopausal black women are more prone to an especially aggressive type of cancer with a shorter survival rate.
Researchers are looking at a wide array of possible causes, from biology, to genetics ties, to environment in an effort to come up with successful drugs and treatment plans.
Clinical trials, with representative samples of black American women, provides crucial information for scientists into what does and doesn’t work and why. One size does not fit all in cancer treatment and in order to save black women’s lives and improve their health, their participation in medical trials is critical.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated more than 26,000 black women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among black women. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, surpassed only by lung cancer.
The ACS recommends that the best preventive strategy for women is to reduce known risk factors as much as possible by avoiding weight gain and obesity (for postmenopausal breast cancer), engaging in regular physical activity, minimizing alcohol intake and consider the increased risk of breast cancer associated with a combined estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.
But it’s not just a matter of access to health care. Even after accounting for income and access to strong health care outcomes for African American women are poorer than for white women, even as the ACS reports some narrowing of the disparity gap.
The conventional wisdom for women, generally, has been that all women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every one to two years, and that women over 20 should have a clinical breast exam every three years and should perform monthly self-exams.
Considering the more devastating potential for black women, however, many health professionals now recommend black women:
• Perform self-examinations monthly, starting at age 20.
• Have a clinical breast exam done by their doctor at least once a year
• Have at least one mammogram between the ages of 30 and 35, then one every one to two years until age 50, when it should become an annual event.
• If your mother or sister had breast cancer, you should consider having regular mammograms before the age of 30.
For more information about breast cancer, see the American Cancer Society publication Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, available online at cancer.org.
Good Morning, does Ganoderma help with Cancer?
Ganoderma is an extract from mushroom. As a Medical Oncologist I use the chemotherapy agents that are approved by the FDA. Ganoderma is not used in the daily practice of Medical Oncology. There are conflicting reports of its potential benefit in various health conditions including hypertension. Please be aware of these “Natural Cures" that are being branded and pushed. Just like there are different cancers that require different chemotherapy agents for treatment, there is not just one herbal drink, or pill that will cure cancer. None of these proposed cures should take the place of seeking an evaluation by a Medical Doctor.
I am a diabetic and I am trying to lose weight. What can I eat or drink to accomplish this goal?
Thank you I would recommend working with a nutritionist, to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle and better diet choices. It would be good to start a food journal to track not only the foods you eat but time of day and how you are feeling when you are eating. Emotional eating is real. It may help you to notice your mood at a particular time and help you choose to make a better food choice. Exercise is key to the weight loss process. There are fun ways to incorporate activity into your lifestyle, engage a friend or loved one to work out with you. Try Wii or Xbox Kinect. The Michael Jackson game is good but tiring. Make it fun whatever you do. Don’t beat up on yourself if you slip. It is a lifestyle change that takes time.
Good morning, I get so many yeast infections a year and I am also diabetic. What does that mean?
You need to see your doctor to make sure your diabetes is under control. Secondly, see your gynecologist to make sure it is truly a yeast infection and not something else.
I am currently taking the drug Actos. I am very concerned with all the related links to bladder cancer etc. is there anything else that I can take? My allergies are sulfur and pyridium.
Sorry, I do not treat diabetes mellitus. I will defer other available treatments for their diabetes to an Endocrinologist.
Both my parents and three of my grandparent have type 2 Diabetes. Will I get it too? I exercise, keep weight down and try to eat healthy. I have never had elevated blood sugar and I am 42-years-old.
It sounds like you are doing everything right so far. I would keep regular appointments with your doctor and have them review your fasting glucose levels. Good Luck. Keep up the good work!!!!
When I lay down, my throat feels full of mucus, what can I do or take to get rid of it? And what is causing it?
That is a loaded question. It could be due to various problems, sinus issues, do you smoke etc.? I would follow up with your doctor.
Is it possible that bed-wetting as a child could be the first clue for parents to express concern to doctors?
Sorry, I am not a Pediatrician. I did not understand the question on bed wetting.
What can I do to help my husband have fewer crisis events? He has beta thalesemia.
Does your husband have or follow up with a Hematologist ( Blood Specialist)? If not he should have one. They will review his entire medical history and help him towards the goal of fewer pain crisis events. He should be taking folic acid 1 mg daily. Avoid alcohol. Remain well hydrated and drink plenty of water.
What does it mean if you have low white blood cells?
Low white blood cell counts are a common side effect of cancer treatments. But overall, there are many causes for low white counts, including infection, medication, certain viruses, and even malignancies. Make sure you see your doctor for a full evaluation. They may even send you to a Hematologist for further evaluation.
Dr. McLeod what if anything should a person do to determine if they might have cancer?
If you think you have cancer see a Licensed Medical Doctor right away.
Can radiation cause more cancer?
I am saying that unfortunately everything has a side effect and yes one of the side effects of radiation is the potential to develop secondary malignancies. However, the key is that this is a potential side effect not everyone gets secondary cancers.
Why does the stomach stay bloated when you don’t eat a lot? I am a diabetic on pills.
Sorry, I do not treat diabetes. Please ask the physician that has prescribed your medications.
I had a mammogram and biopsies that were negative but they found my breasts were dense. Should I follow up with mammograms or go right to ultrasounds?
It would be good to ask the radiologist if your breasts are dense. You may need ultrasounds and even a MRI of your breasts.
Hi Dr. McLeod, my family has a history of cancer (dad & aunt died of colon cancer and cousin died of breast cancer). What is the likelihood that I may become infected with either cancer? What can I do to deter? What are the warning signs?
I would suggest you talk to your doctor right away and get a referral to a genetic counselor right away to determine your risk. Make sure you are getting mammograms and colonoscopies.
Dr. McLeod can breast cancer occur with breast implants?
Certain breast implants in the past have been associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. If you are planning on getting a breast implant discuss it first with your surgeon. They can help you make the best choice on breast implants.
Is it possible to have cancer cells already in your body that have been passed to you from past generations? And if so, can extreme stress cause them to expand?
Certain cancers can have a genetic predisposition. Stress will not have any bearing on genetics. If you think you are someone in your family is at risk see your Physician for an evaluation.
My wife is about to start chemo treatment what can we expect?
Side effects of chemotherapy are drug specific. Please review with your wife’s Medical Oncologist the treatment recommended and the expected side effects of each treatment.
My daughter has sickle-cell, has there been any new findings on medications or a cure for that disease?
First question what is your daughter's age. If she is less than 21 years of age she should be seeing a Pediatric Hematologist. There have been studies looking at stem cell gene transplants. She may have to go to a Sickle Cell Disease Center.
My best friend just found out she has stage 1 breast cancer and has opted to have a double mastectomy due to a family history. Her aunt and other relatives have died from breast cancer. My question is what are her chances of it coming back?
The chances of her cancer are due to her tumor profile. Since I don’t have that information I cannot answer that completely. But please review your concerns with her Medical Oncologist that has all of her information.
I’m 35-years-old. My grandmother had breast cancer twice. She died the second time. My mother was diagnosed five years ago at the age of 50 and is doing great. I've had mammograms the last three years. Is it necessary for me to continue having them every single year?
I would recommend that your mother be tested to see if she has a genetic (hereditary) breast cancer gene. If she does then you should be tested also. I would recommend that you both see a genetic counselor. Yes, I would continue with yearly mammograms. You may also need a breast MRI. Discuss this with your Doctor.
I lost my mother and grandmother to two different types of cancer; my grandmother to breast cancer and my mother to ovarian cancer. How do I go about obtaining my family's medical records history?
Firstly, you need to see a genetic counselor or at the least speak to a Medical Oncologist about your family cancer history to help determine your risk of breast/ovarian cancer.
My brother was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. As a family what are we to expect?
I cannot answer without knowing the type of brain tumor.
During a low blood level check it was discovered I had several non-cancerous colon polyps and I had to have a foot of my colon removed at the age of 44. At what age should my daughters get tested, since the normal testing age is 50?
I would recommend that you see s genetic counselor. Being that you were only 44. I would recommend that your daughters have colonoscopies at least by the age of 34. After seeing the genetic counselor they may recommend that your daughters have a colonoscopy even earlier.
My wife found lumps in both breast. For the last year we have been going back to doctor every three months for ultrasounds and mammograms to watch the growth of lumps. Tomorrow we go back for a biopsy. Is this normal?
Not having all the information it is difficult to say. I will say though any persistent lump or mass does warrant a biopsy. Hope all goes well. Good luck to you both. God Bless.
Does the doctor know of any new HPV Treatments?
I would recommend that they see their Gynecologist for any new treatments for HPV. Thank you.
Good morning Dr McCloud. My girlfriend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My question is. What are the different types of chemo? And is chemo necessary after a mastectomy?
I cannot answer that without all of the information. There are different types, and stages of breast cancer. Please have that discussion with her Medical Oncologist as they will be directing the Cancer Management. Good luck and God Bless.
Is breast cancer hereditary or will it randomly show up?
Breast cancer can do both. There are some families that have a genetic predisposition and others can develop spontaneously without a genetic risk.
Good morning. I am a 52-year-old woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38. I am also the mother of three daughters; my question is at what age should my daughters begin to have mammograms? They are currently 28, 21 and 19. I am concerned because I had breast cancer at a young age without having a prior family history.
I would recommend two things. Firstly, since you were diagnosed at such a young age and most likely was premenopausal you should be tested for the genetic breast cancer genes BRCA 1 & 2. If that is positive you should seek genetic counseling. Also your daughter that is 28 should be getting mammograms and possibly MRI of the breasts.
Doctor, I had chemotherapy and radiation in 1999. I have a lot of scar tissue that is very painful if I do a lot of lifting or reaching. I had a re-occurrence in 2003 and had a mastectomy. Is it normal to still have so much pain in scar tissue?
Surgery and radiation can both cause scar tissue. Because you are having pain you should be evaluated by your Doctor. You may need an ultrasound of the affected area.
Doctor, I had breast cancer in 2010. Now I have so many side effect namely memory loss and body pain and neuropathy. Is this normal?
A cloudy memory or fuzzy memory called “Chemo Brain " is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Depending on what chemotherapy used neuropathy can occur. I would talk to my Oncologist in regards to the chemotherapy used and potential for neuropathy.
Hi Dr. McCleod, I recently had a scare and had to have a lump removed. It was found to be benign. My question and concern is what are the chances of it coming back malignant or does this make my chance greater for cancer??
Benign is a non-malignant tumor. Some tumors though not cancerous can increase your risk for breast cancer. I would review the findings of the pathology report with your doctor.
if a man develops gynecomastia or male breast what symptoms can he look for and is there another option other than a mammogram?
There are many different reasons for gynecomastia. It can occur with hormone imbalance. I would recommend a full clinical evaluation by your physician.
I'm 38 and having my surgery next Wednesday a mastectomy on the right side. Should I consider having the left side done too?
I would discuss that further with your surgeon. A prophylactic surgery on the left may not be necessary.
Does diabetes run with-in the family? My mom has it and I was wondering if I should be tested.
If you are concerned about the risk of diabetes, I would begin by having a fasting blood glucose level done by your physician. If this is abnormal you can work together to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed.
Doctor, I was diagnosed yesterday with intraductal carcinoma, is there a possible cure?
Yes, this is curable. It can be treated with surgery, radiation if lumpectomy is chosen and possibly hormonal therapy, if you meet the requirements. Please note that cancer can return even if cured.
My younger brother was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. As a family what are we to expect ?
Sorry to hear that. The side effects your brother may experience depends largely on the area of the brain affected, ie. sight, motor, etc. He may experience headaches, seizures, difficulties in gait, etc.
Is there a diet that can help prevent Cancer or is it hereditary?
Unfortunately there is not just one diet to prevent to cancer as there are so many different ways cancer develops.
Good morning, Dr. I have fibrocystic disease and in my right breast. Is there a possibility this could turn into cancer?
Fibrocystic disease is considered a benign, nonmalignant condition without cancerous potential
I've heard from other cancer specialists that a women's breasts are sponges, soaking up the bad things that they eat, drink & that are in environment. Ignoring heredity, Can women lower the possibility of developing breast cancer by eating organic, vegan, or low fat/cholesterol diets high in vegetables/fruits & lowering their BMI & increasing their exercise?
It is good to eat healthy. Unfortunately even with the best diets people can still develop cancer. However, women who are postmenopausal and smoke and are obese will have an increased risk for breast cancer, as well as other cancers. Diets low in fiber have been linked to increased risk for colon cancer.
What is stage 1 breast cancer
Stage I breast cancer means that the cancer is not in the lymph nodes and that the size of the tumor is less than 2 cm.
Does being overweight affect cancer?
Being overweight affects your health in general and you are more likely to have chronic disease states such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cholesterol all of which can affect your health when fighting cancer.
My mother succumbed to Lymphoma at age 79. She lived with the disease for 4-yrs. What is the origin and what is the likelihood of developing Lymphoma?
There are many different types of lymphoma with different origins. Sometimes we never know the origin of the lymphoma.
Hey Dr., my family has a history with breast cancer & my sister is considering a double vasectomy. Do you recommend this as a preventive step? With this history is it more likely I may contract it as well even though I my male?
If you have a strong family history it will be helpful to get genetic counseling, and possible consider having your sister tested for the breast cancer genes, BRCA 1 & 2.
Dr., what are the stats on recovery for women who get a 2nd form of cancer from breast cancer treatment? My Mom now has sarcoma in her abs & pelvis.
Sarcomas are rare aggressive tumors which usually carry a poor prognosis. Unfortunately developing a secondary malignancy has a bleaker can have a bleaker outlook than the initial breast cancer diagnosis.