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Health Information The Buzz On ... Surviving Cancer

Thanks to advances in cancer treatment and early detection, more and more people diagnosed with cancer are living longer lives. In fact, between 1971 and 2007, the number of cancer survivors nearly tripled, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that number continues to rise.

"To address the needs of this growing population, cancer specialists at Rush and other institutions around the country are taking steps to not only treat the disease, but to help survivors achieve a better quality of life after treatment," says Howard Kaufman, MD, director of the Rush University Cancer Center.

At Rush, this means establishing a clinic for breast cancer patients who have passed the five-year, disease-free mark. Because while this is a significant milestone, it's not a point at which patients should stop seeking care and support.

Part of The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Breast Cancer Clinic at Rush, the clinic — which officially opens next year — will provide many services, including ongoing yearly follow-up to detect new or recurrent cancer early. This is especially vital with breast cancer survivors; their chances of developing a second breast cancer are almost double that of women in the general population developing a primary cancer, according to Ruta Rao, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush.

"When cancer survivors keep in contact with their oncologist, any new symptoms can be addressed from an oncologist’s perspective, with an eye toward evaluating for cancer recurrence," says Rao. "And we pay special attention to changing family histories. A newly diagnosed case of cancer in your family may suggest that you are a candidate for genetic testing to determine if you have a hereditary form of breast cancer." These findings can help determine treatment options if recurrence occurs and can provide useful insights into the health of your children, grandchildren and so forth.

Addressing recurrence is just one objective of the clinic. Below are examples of other services:

  • Monitoring bone health, which is especially important for patients who took anti-estrogen therapies as part of their treatment.
  • Ensuring that cancer screenings, such as colonoscopies and Pap tests, are up to date.
  • Providing mental and emotional support.
  • Counseling patients on nutrition and exercise. Emerging evidence suggests that exercise may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and the risk of dying from cancer, says Rao.
  • Keeping patients abreast of the newest treatment options.
  • Advising women of reproductive age on birth control and fertility options.
  • Addressing health issues related to past treatments, such as lymphedema, a swelling of the soft tissues of the arm.
  • Researching issues related to cancer survivorship.

"This kind of clinic is unique in the Chicago area," says Rao. "So we are thrilled to offer these services to our patients. By following them closely, we can help them lead even longer, healthier lives."

More Information at Your Fingertips …
  • Watch a video of Howard Kaufman, MD, director of the Rush University Cancer Center, and learn why he and other cancer specialists are excited about new options for cancer care.
  • Watch a video of Ruta Rao, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush, and hear why she believes in caring for the whole patient, not just the disease.
  • Watch a video featuring Larry J. Goodman, MD, CEO of Rush University Medical Center, where he and other doctors discuss the importance of second opinions.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)
  • Learn more about cancer clinical trials at Rush.
  • Stay in touch with Rush with Rush News Blog, Rush InPerson,Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.  

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