An Exciting New AI Application

Better diagnosing lung cancer and other illnesses early.

As the post title indicates an exciting new AI application now exists. It involves better screening for lung cancer and other diseases!

Previously, we offered these posts on artificial intelligence:

Diagnosing Lung Cancer: An Exciting New AI Application

As reported by Denise Grady for the NY Times:

“Computers were as good or better than doctors at detecting tiny lung cancers on CT scans, in a study by researchers from Google and several medical centers. The technology is a work in progress, not ready for widespread use, but the new report, published in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in medicine.”

“One of the most promising areas is recognizing patterns and interpreting images — the same skills that humans use to read microscope slides, X-rays, MRIs,  and other medical scans. By feeding huge amounts of data from medical imaging into systems called artificial neural networks, researchers can train computers to recognize patterns linked to a specific condition. Such as pneumonia, cancer,  or a wrist fracture that would be hard for a person to see. The system follows an algorithm, or set of instructions, and learns as it goes. The more data it receives, the better it becomes at interpretation.”

Click the image to read more.

An Exciting New AI Application
“A colored CT scan showing a tumor in the lung. Artificial intelligence was just as good, and sometimes better, than doctors in diagnosing lung tumors in CT scans, a new study indicates.” Credit: CreditVoisin/Science Source

 

How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health?

More versus less info. Which is better?

Interesting topic, right: How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health? Especially regarding our future life expectancy. 

Recently, B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger wrote a valuable op ed piece for the New York Times on “Don’t Tell Me When I’m Going to Die. Prognoses are more of an art than a science. Maybe it’s better not to know.”

Here are a few of their observations:

“Prognoses are based on the average experiences and life spans of patients who came before you. But any physician will tell you that coming up with one is more of an art than a science, and doctors are often wrong. Studies have long shown that physicians are particularly prone to overestimating life expectancy — especially when they like their patient.”

“Still, choosing not to know your prospects is surprising in this golden age of data. But the choice not to know can also be liberating. You can say, ‘No thanks, I opt out.’”

According to Miller and Berger:

“Steve Scheier, an expert in organizational decision making, devised a Prognosis Declaration. And it allows patients to choose among a few options. WHERE DO YOU FIT?

        • Tell me everything.
        • I’ve not decided what I want to know about my prognosis, so ask me over the course of my treatment.
        • I want to participate in my treatment, but I don’t want to receive any information on my prognosis.
        • I don’t wish to know any information about my prognosis but I authorize you to speak with [blank] about my case and for you to answer any questions that this person may have about my likely prognosis and treatment.
    • Click  the image to read more.
How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health?
Photo by Lucy Jones

 

Profits and Cancer Drugs

Drug prices expected to keep rising.

How do YOU feel about this: profits and cancer drugs? We know that many related drugs are quite expensive — and often required by us!! And in many cases, the situation is getting worse. 😦

As Katharina Buchholz reports for Statista:

Worldwide cancer drug sales are way ahead of those of other drugs. And the revenue generated by them will grow even larger by 2024. This is according to a report recently released by consultancy Evaluate, which analyses trends in the pharmaceutical sector. As per Evaluate’s calculations, oncology drugs reached US$123.8 billion in sales in 2018, more than double that of the next item on the list, drugs treating diabetes with US$48.5 billion dollars in sales. By 2024, cancer drug sales are expected to almost double to US$236.6 billion dollars.”

“Cancer drugs are extremely pricey. Therefore, they generate high revenues, with costs of a cancer treatment at above US$100,000 per patient. Cancer rates themselves are also rising with humans increasing their lifespans. Money funneled into cancer research means new medications coming out, which improves cancer treatment but might also increase its price as pharmaceutical companies charge a premium for the newly researched and released drugs.”

Take a look at the following chart.

Profits and Cancer Drugs
 

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care

Fresh research to help us live longer.

Earlier this month, we posted about Be Careful with Supplements. Nonetheless, some supplements may be valuable in cancer care. One of them seems to be Vitamin D.

A recent study by researchers at Michigan State found that:

“Vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help cancer patients live longer, say researchers. New findings suggest that the vitamin carries significant benefits other than just contributing to healthy bones. A paper on the work was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.”

“‘Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it didn’t show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer,’ says Tarek Haykal, a lead author of the study and an internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.”

“Researchers looked at data related to disease prevention from more than 79,000 patients in multiple studies that randomly compared the use of vitamin D to a placebo over at least a three-year period. Haykal and his team zeroed in on any information that involved cancer incidence and mortality. ‘The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population,’ Haykal says. While these findings show promise, Haykal cautions that the exact amount of the vitamin to take and what levels are needed in the blood are still unknown. He also says that it’s unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.”

Click on the image to read the full paper.

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care
 

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Stage-four lung cancer patient goes full throttle with children.

Today and tomorrow, we highlight two truly inspirational role modelss. One is 55 years old and battling lung cancer. The other is 21 years old with long-term heart issues. Neither has let their health problems slow them down. Bravo!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Isabella de la Houssaye is a stage-four lung cancer survivor who chooses to live life every day. And then some!! She makes the rest of us look like slackers for not doing what we set out to achieve. LOL.

Here are the highlights of her story, as reported by Rebecca Byerly for the New York Times:

“Isabella de la Houssaye raised her five children on adventure. Then came a brutal diagnosis, and a burning desire for a final journey with each one. For two decades, Isabella, 55, an outdoors enthusiast, longtime mountain climber, veteran marathoner, and triathlete, and her husband, David Crane, a top financier in the energy industry, have raised their five children, who all use the surname Crane, on adventure. These excursions, like riding horses from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, often with no one but their mother, led them to extraordinary athletic feats.”

“When Isabella’s lung cancer was diagnosed, in January 2018, she was not sure if she had months or even weeks to live. Bedridden and in excruciating pain with tumors in her pelvis, spine and brain, she qualified for a trial treatment and was prescribed two anticancer drugs that alleviated the pain and blocked the spread of cancer cells. The treatment is usually effective for 18 months, then the patient often deteriorates.”

“As her strength returned last year, she made plans to go on adventures — maybe the final ones — with each of her children, ages 16 to 25. There were lessons she wanted to share with her children about grit, persistence and mindfulness. In April 2018, she hiked more than 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain, with Oliver. Then, last June, she ran a marathon in Alaska with Cason. In September, she, her husband and three of their children finished an 80-mile ultramarathon in Kazakhstan. A week later, she and her son David completed a full Ironman — a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run — in South Korea.”

In January, she and Bella, her third child and only daughter, traveled to Argentina to conquer Aconcagua. Technically, Aconcagua is a relatively easy mountain because it doesn’t require ropes, ice axes, or climbing skills. But it is a two-week climb that requires sleeping in freezing tents while withstanding subzero temperatures and brutal winds. Isabella, significantly weakened by chemotherapy and weighing less than 100 pounds, knew this mountain was going to inflict its pain and push her and her daughter to the edge. That was the point. This trek was an attempt to deliver a few essential lessons to her daughter while she still could, including the acceptance not only of life’s triumphs, but its woes — ‘joy and suffering alike,’ she said.”

Click the image to read more about this AMAZING woman. She is the epitome of the human spirit — and what we can accomplish if we push ourselves.

Isabella de la Houssaye -- Lung Cancer Role Model
Photograph by Max Whittaker

 

Bettering Your Immune System

Treat your immune system well!

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection. An example of this principle is found in immune-compromised people, including those with genetic immune disorders, immune-debilitating infections like HIV, and even pregnant women, who are susceptible to a range of microbes that typically do not cause infection in healthy individuals.”

“The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of ‘danger’ cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Cells may be unhealthy because of infection or because of cellular damage caused by non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release another set of signals recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).”

“When the immune system first recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is sufficient need, problems arise, like infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems arise, such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.”

“The immune system is complex and pervasive. There are numerous cell types that either circulate throughout the body or reside in a particular tissue. Each cell type plays a unique role, with different ways of recognizing problems, communicating with other cells, and performing their functions. By understanding all the details behind this network, researchers may optimize immune responses to confront specific issues, ranging from infections to cancer.”

The Mayo Clinic notes the following:

“Primary immunodeficiency disorders — also called primary immune disorders or primary immunodeficiency — weaken the immune system, allowing infections and other health problems to occur more easily. Many people with primary immunodeficiency are born missing some of the body’s immune defenses or with the immune system not working properly, which leaves them more susceptible to germs that can cause infections. Some forms of primary immunodeficiency are so mild they can go unnoticed for years. Other types are severe enough that they’re discovered soon after an affected baby is born. Treatments can boost the immune system in many types of primary immunodeficiency disorders. Research is ongoing, leading to improved treatments and enhanced quality of life for people with the condition.”

Symptoms

“One of the most common signs of primary immunodeficiency is having infections that are more frequent, longer lasting, or harder to treat than are the infections of someone with a normal immune system. You may also get infections that a person with a healthy immune system likely wouldn’t get (opportunistic infections). Signs and symptoms differ depending on the type of primary immunodeficiency disorder, and they vary from person to person.”

“Signs and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency can include: Frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections. Inflammation and infection of internal organs. Blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia. Digestive problems, such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea ,and diarrhea. Delayed growth and development. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.”

Prevention

“Because primary immune disorders are caused by genetic defects, there’s no way to prevent them. But when you or your child has a weakened immune system, you can take steps to prevent infections:

        • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with mild soap after using the toilet and before eating.
        • Take care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
        • Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent infections.
        • Be physically active. Staying fit is important to your overall health. Ask your doctor what activities are appropriate for you.
        • Get enough sleep. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time daily, and get the same number of hours of sleep every night.
        • Manage stress. Some studies suggest that stress can hamper your immune system. Keep stress in check with massage, meditation, yoga, biofeedback or hobbies. Find what works for you.
        • Avoid exposure. Stay away from people with colds or other infections and avoid crowds.
        • Ask your doctor about vaccinations. Find out which ones you should have.”

Other Immunity System Resources from the New York Times

To access the immunity system resources below, either click the image OR click the link of an individual resource.

Bettering Your Immune System
ILLUSTRATION BY SUPER FREAK

 

Surprising Bad Habits and Cancer

Please be good. 🙂

In prior posts we looked at: Sometimes Overlooked Cancer Causes. Can We Outsmart Cancer? And Cancer Health. Today, we examine surprising bad habits and cancer.

As Beth Ward writes for Sharecare:

“While quitting smoking and eating right are certainly important to your health, they aren’t the only habits to consider. There are many seemingly harmless things you do every day that could be bad for you—so bad that they could up your cancer risk.”

Click the image below for a short Sharecare slideshow and see  what habits you may want to rethink to stay as healthy as possible.

Surprising Bad Habits and Cancer