Is Genetic Testing Right for You?

Look for family cancer cluesThe genes you inherited from your parents account for many obvious physical characteristics, like your eye color or height, and hidden ones such as those that determine your blood type or make you susceptible to develop asthma. Sometimes those genes also include unique mutations that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

But hematologist oncologist, Ranju Gupta, MD, with Hematology Oncology Associates in Bethlehem and the Health Center at Bangor, says while all cancers are caused by genetic mutations, not all of those mutations are passed on through the genes. “A very small percentage of patients inherit risk, but a majority of cancers have no known link from generation to generation,” Gupta says.

However, genetic testing can be an important tool to consider under certain circumstances. “The first step is to look at your family medical history. If you can name several people in your family who have had any type of cancer, you should talk with your doctor about genetic testing,” Gupta says. “For example, if your mother had breast cancer, your grandfather had prostate cancer and your cousin had pancreatic cancer, those multiple cancers among blood relatives may mean you have an elevated chance for developing cancer too.” Read More »

Take Steps to End GYN Cancers; LVHN Expert Discusses 5 Common Risk Factors and Warnings

Richard Boulay, MD

Richard Boulay, MD
Gynecologic oncology
Watch a video to learn more about him.

How many steps do you think 50 Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) cancer program colleagues members can take in one week?

A. 800 thousand
B. 1.2 million
C. 3.1 million
D. 5.4 million

If you picked “C,” you’re right! Over the course of one week (Sept. 7-13,) our cancer colleagues logged more than 3.1 million steps as participants in the STEPtember Challenge promoted by Globe-athon, an organization dedicated to increase general awareness of gynecologic cancers and the steps women can take to prevent them.

The STEPtember Challenge focused on having people take 10,000 steps a day, equivalent to approximately 5 miles, in an effort to help manage weight. It’s a proactive focus that rings true with LVHN gynecologic surgeon Richard Boulay, MD with Gynecologic Oncology Specialists of Allentown.

“Obesity is a risk factor for many types of cancer, including gynecologic cancers,” Boulay says. “And for uterine (endometrial) cancer – the most common type of gynecologic cancer – obesity is a recognized risk factor.”

Read More »

Tara Morrison, MD: You Will Never Feel Rushed

As a specialist who treats brain tumors and brain cancer, Tara Morrison, MD, goes through very tough times with her patients, so it’s important to her that they’re comfortable together.

“(Patients) can talk to me about anything. They can ask me anything. No question is silly. Every question deserves a good answer,” she says. “I will take as long as they need on any given day. They will never feel rushed.”

She is a neuro-oncologist with Lehigh Valley Health Network who is board-certified in neurology. She sees patients at Hematology-Oncology Associates in Allentown.

Get to know her with this video.

Guys: Fitness Improves Your Odds Against Cancer

Caution, Couch PotatoesWe’re heading into fall – prime season for endless hours of football and baseball. But would an incentive like reducing cancer risk get you (or your man) off the couch? Lehigh Valley Health Network hematologist oncologist Ashish Shah, DO, with Hematology Oncology Associates-Bethlehem wants you to know about a compelling study that shows how men can benefit from staying active.

The study, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology 2013 annual conference, tracked the health of more than 17,000 men for 20 years. Starting at around age 50, men in the study took a treadmill fitness test to determine their baseline stamina. “Over the course of the study, the men who started out as the most fit cardiovascular-wise had the greatest risk reduction for developing lung cancer (68 percent less risk) and colon-rectal cancer (38 percent less risk) as compared to men who were couch potatoes,” Shah says.

In addition, the study found higher levels of cardiovascular fitness also improved survival rates for men who were diagnosed with cancer. Read More »

Help for Patients Receiving Care for a Brain Tumor

Healthy You Tip Tara MorrisonAs we age, it’s normal to experience changes in memory, strength and coordination. But when severe symptoms come on suddenly, within a few days or weeks, it’s time for your doctor to investigate further. A rapid change in functioning can point to a number of conditions. For a tiny percentage of the population, these symptoms may indicate the presence of a brain tumor.

Getting a brain tumor diagnosis can shake the foundation of your life. But advances in treatment options over the past 10 years offer new help and hope. Having a wide network of support also will help you get through the recovery process.

“It’s really important to ask for, and accept, the physical and emotional support of family, friends, your religious community or anywhere you can find it,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) neuro-oncologist Tara Morrison, MD, with Hematology-Oncology Associates. “Whatever you do, don’t do it alone.” Read More »