The Future of Cancer Care – Close to Home
By Dennis Birenbaum, MD, Texas Hematology/Oncology Center, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine
Just a decade ago cancers that would have been rapidly fatal are now being controlled for years while the patients conduct near-normal lives. Cancer used to be considered a death sentence; however, centers like Texas Hematology/Oncology (THOC) are changing that perception and providing patients with hope. They offer a unique team approach to cancer care. Their broad geographic reach brings world-class cancer diagnosis and treatment closer to the community. The THOC Network is an independent group of medical oncologists with a certified patient navigator and a 32-year legacy of serving cancer patients from North Texas and beyond.
Each year thousands of North Texas residents travel hundreds of miles away to M.D. Anderson and other cancer treatment facilities to receive care, when they have M.D. Anderson trained physicians right here in North Texas at the Texas Hematology/Oncology Centers. The M.D. Anderson trained, Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Dennis Birenbaum, says, “We offer the most advanced cancer care technology in the region. THOC’s ongoing commitment is to bring the services you need where you need them––close to home.” Sixty percent of all THOC’s referrals come from other patients. “This is due to our cutting edge treatment, helpful support programs and a healthy dose of good ole fashion concern,” says Tina Winthrow, a certified patient navigator for THOC. THOC is dedicated to the personalized treatment and care of each cancer patient, seeing over 1,500 new ones each year.
What Causes Cancer?
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that often times interferes with normal cell behavior. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer followed by prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. There are about 200 different types of cancer. They can start in any type of body tissue. What affects one body tissue may not affect another. For example, tobacco smoke that you breathe in may help to cause lung cancer. Overexposing your skin to the sun could cause a melanoma on your leg. But the sun won’t give you lung cancer and smoking won’t give you melanoma.
Apart from infectious diseases, most illnesses are ‘multifactorial.’ Cancer is no exception. Multifactorial means that there are many factors involved. In other words, there is no single cause for any one type of cancer.
What are Cancer Risk Factors?
Cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) are something that can help to cause cancer. Tobacco smoke is a powerful carcinogen. So there must be other factors at work as well as carcinogens. Texans need to know the major risk factors for specific cancers so they can be proactive in their health care. Risk factors can be identified as increasing an individual’s chance of getting a disease. Some cancer risk factors are age, genetic make up, the immune system, bodyweight, diet and physical activity, day-to-day environment, viruses and bacterial infection, just to name a few.
Cancer Family Syndrome
With Cancer, History Does Repeat Itself
Family history plays a strong role in predicting your overall risk for getting cancer. It’s important to know if you’re in a high risk group so you can be more diligent about getting screenings and changing lifestyle behaviors that impact changeable risk factors, if needed.
Download a family tree form on the Patient Information page under “Cancer Family Syndrome” of the McKinney Regional Cancer Center’s website (www.mrcctx.com). This is a tool to help you document your family’s experience with cancer and share this information with your physician.
After you download the form calculate:
Number of relatives with cancer ________ (A)
Number of relatives on tree ________ (B)
________ ÷ ________ = ________%
It’s easy to remember this basic formula. If more than 20% of your blood relatives–– parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles––have had some type of cancer, you have an increased risk of also getting cancer in your lifetime. To learn more about risk factors for specific cancers and screening recommendations, visit the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org.
Dennis Birenbaum, MD is a board certified; M.D. Anderson trained hematologist/oncologist, with Texas Hematology/Oncology Centers. He may be reached at any of the following locations in North Texas. McKinney Regional Cancer Center.
Texas Hematology/Oncology Centers locations:
McKinney Regional Cancer Center, 4601 Medical Center Dr., McKinney, TX 75069 Phone: 972-562-9222, www.mrcctx.com.
Patients Comprehensive Cancer Center, 4352 N. Josey Ln., Carrollton, TX 75010, Phone: 972-395-1010 www.pccctx.com
Texas Hematology/Oncology Center, 10 Medical Parkway, Ste. 106, Plaza 3, Dallas, TX 75234, Phone: 972-247-5510 www.thoctx.com