Cancer Care

Posts about the Cancer Care Program at PAMF and other related cancer stories

Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer


Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, this is a cancer that  begins in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Most colorectal cancers start as abnormal growths in the lining of the colon or rectum called polyps. Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.

Colorectal cancer is a largely a preventable type of cancer,” says Brennan Scott, M.D., Chair of Gastroenterology at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “We have tests that detect many different types of cancer, but colon cancer can be prevented by doing a screening test to find polyps and removing them before they have a chance to become cancerous.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided by regular screening tests. At PAMF, the odds may be even better. New outcomes studies show that Dr. Scott and his team have surpassed national benchmarks for early tumor detection.

In this blog post, Dr. Scott answers common questions about colorectal cancer and explains how you can reduce your risk. Read More

Understanding Risk Factors in Cancer


Whether or not a person develops cancer during his or her lifetime is influenced by a number of factors, including genetics, the environment, lifestyle and aging. While some of these factors are easier to control than others, understanding your personal risk can help you take preventative action, whether that means talking to your doctor about genetic testing, or simply making healthful changes to your diet. In this blog post, Frank dela Rama, R.N., MSN, AOCNS, AGN-BC, a board-certified advanced genetic nurse in the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Cancer Genetics Program, explains how these factors can cause cancer, and what you can do to reduce your risk.  Read More

Fighting Breast Cancer in New Ways

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October we’ll be posting a series of stories about breast cancer prevention, treatment and survivors.

Angelina Jolie surprised the world when she had a preventative double mastectomy. Yet she had strong reasons to do so. She inherited the rare BRCA1 gene, which her doctors estimated gave her an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. By having surgery, she minimized her risk of developing the disease.

While this course of action is relatively new in the fight against breast cancer, it’s not the only one changing the way experts treat and prevent the disease. Doctors at Sutter Health affiliates Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Mills-Peninsula Health Services say key developments in recent years are reshaping the course of treatment for women who have breast cancer, or who are at risk for breast cancer.

“The whole way in which we manage, treat and take care of breast cancer patients today is hugely different,” says Harriet Borofsky, M.D., medical director of the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center. Here are some of the latest advances in breast cancer care.

Read More

A Doctor’s Breast Cancer Survival Story

Karen Harrington, M.D., and her husband Stephen

Karen Harrington, M.D., and her husband Stephen

Karen Harrington, M.D., a family medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Aptos Office, knows first-hand that anyone can receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

“I never thought I’d be the one to get cancer,” says Dr. Harrington. “I exercise regularly, eat well, live in the Santa Cruz mountains and I got breast cancer.”

Watch her story in this video:

Apart from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death, after lung cancer.
Read More

A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story

Edna Shochat

Edna Shochat

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October we’ll be posting a series of stories about breast cancer prevention, treatment and survivors.

When Edna Shochat discovered a lump in her breast in 2010, she was about to go on a long-anticipated trip to Israel with her husband. She had already postponed this special trip for a full year to recover from a serious break to her leg and the resulting surgery.

“It was a painful dilemma,” says Shochat, a vibrant 71 year old. “I agonized over whether I should change my plans and give up what might be our last perfect vacation.”

She decided to keep her discovery secret and went ahead with the month-long trip.

“Everyone was so pleased to see how my broken leg had healed and kept telling me how well I looked,” says Shochat. “They didn’t know that I could barely sleep, worrying about the lump. I was counting down the days, trying to hold on to each hour and keep my ‘vacation from reality’ from coming to an end.”

Read More

Learn About Cancer Prevention, Treatment, Survivorship


An estimated 1,660,290 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2013. You can prevent many of these cancers, and many others are much easier to treat if detected early.

Just consider these 2013 predictions from the American Cancer Society:

  • 2 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed by year end. Many could have been prevented with simple sunscreen.
  • 174,100 Americans will die from cancers caused by cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

Overall, the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that 25 percent to 33 percent of all cancers in the United States are related to being overweight, inactive or having poor nutrition.

At the same time, cancer treatment is more effective than ever before – the 5-year survival rate is about 68 percent for all cancers combined, compared to 49 percent in 1979.

Learn More at the Celebration of Life Event Oct. 5 in Capitola:

The key to cancer prevention and successful treatment is to become well informed. Get started by attending Celebration of Life: Cancer Prevention and Survivorship, a free program dedicated to increasing awareness about cancer, prevention and survivorship on Saturday, October 5 in Capitola. The event is open to the community, cancer patients, survivors and families. Read More