Articles Posted in Cancer

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Getting a diagnosis of cancer when you are uninsured is a harrowing event.  Many times the options depend on your sex, your type of cancer, and where you live.  Federal legislation provides that female patients diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer qualify for Medicaid for cancer treatment if low income.   For female patients with other types of cancer or for male cancer patients, the federal coverage laws do not apply.  For states, like Georgia, that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, patients have fewer options.

Uninsured adults often delay preventive care which can worsen survival outcomes.  Also more advanced stages of cancer require more expensive care.   Whether an uninsured cancer patient can get care often depends on where the person lives and the type of cancer he or she has.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society estimate that 30,000 uninsured people are diagnosed with cancer every year.  Uninsured cancer patients incur credit card debt or launch GoFunMe campaigns.  People mortgage their homes for cancer treatment.  While cancer patients can purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, they must wait until the regular enrollment period in November of each year.  Then the plans do not activate until the start of the next calendar year.

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Far too many cancer patients struggle with meeting the many medical expenses associated with their condition.  This struggle often leads to delaying their treatment. For many patients, Social Security disability benefits are a way to meet some of these financial challenges.

An analysis of more than 5,400 patients suffering from cancer found that 10% of them admitted to being unable to afford medical expenses and, therefore, put off getting medical treatments. In most cases, patients admitted to being unable to afford costs like deductibles and co-pays. Other patients admitted that they delayed treatment because they found it difficult to take time off work or because they were nervous about costs.  Delays in medical treatment can have devastating consequences for a person suffering from cancer.

The researchers say that such delays in treatment are even more common among certain sections of the population. For instance, women, African-Americans and people belonging to lower socioeconomic groups are much more likely to delay treatment for these reasons. Cancer patients who live in rural areas may also be more likely to delay treatment due to financial or accessibility reasons.

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In January, health organizations around the country work towards increasing awareness of cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers affecting women.

Cervical cancer symptoms mirror many other gynecological symptoms, making it very difficult to diagnose. However, if you are suffering from heavier -than-normal periods, bleeding after menopause, bleeding after intercourse, vaginal discharge, chronic pelvic or back pain, or bleeding between periods, make sure that you consult your doctor immediately.

The National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has especially good news for women. The National Cancer Institute announced successful results in a new study that uses artificial intelligence (as opposed to typical Pap tests) to improve the accuracy of screening for cervical cancer.

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Cervical cancer is the one of the most common cancers affecting women.  Fortunately, this is also one of the most easily detectable cancers. Globally, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer.

In most developed societies like ours, regular PAP smear tests can detect the presence of the cancerous cells faster. This can mean quicker commencement of treatment and a faster path to recovery.

The number one cause of cervical cancer is chronic infection of the human papillomavirus or HPV virus that is transmitted through sexual activity. These viral infections may be passed between sexual partners, and the infection can remain for several years in the system without the person even being aware of it.  Other risk factors for cervical cancer include obesity and smoking.

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Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. About 1 in every 8 American women will develop some form of breast cancer during her lifetime. Early detection and diagnosis is key to a full recovery.

There are several myths around breast cancer and its eligibility for Social Security disability benefits that must be dismissed. In recent years, there has been a push towards discrediting mammograms as an ideal way to detect breast cancers.  However, thanks to an increasing array of medical technologies including 3D printing, we are now able to diagnose breast cancer using mammograms much more accurately than before. Women above 40 years old should schedule their mammograms.

Another common myth is that breast cancer always shows up in the form of a lump in the breast or underarm region. That is not always true.  Some symptoms of breast cancer like nipple discharge, inverted nipple, and skin rashes can show up even before there is a lump in the breast. Even changes in the breast skin and texture could be an initial sign of breast cancer that you should get checked out.

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Women are likely to be at risk for a variety of health conditions, especially as they get older. Fortunately, many conditions that are often faced by women are now covered by benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. For instance, cervical and ovarian cancer often require patients to seek disability benefits as the disease progresses and makes it impossible for them to continue working. Ovarian cancer affects one out of every 78 women and is more likely for women over the age of 60. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women, and the American Cancer Society predicts that more than 4,000 women will die of cervical cancer in 2019. It is most likely to affect women between the ages of 35 and 44. The number of women dying from cervical cancer has dropped since pap smear tests became more common, leading to earlier diagnoses.

Turner syndrome is another condition that affects only females, characterized by several physical abnormalities. The condition can also be accompanied by heart conditions, hearing problems, and some level of intellectual disability too. Women with Turner’s syndrome may also be at a higher risk of osteoarthritis.

Rett Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects only females. The condition is characterized by physical features like smaller limbs, mental impairment, impaired speech, and seizures. A child with Rett Syndrome can qualify for Social Security disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowances program, which allows for expedited processing of claims.

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Some of those suffering from cancer may be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program. One qualifies for Compassionate Allowances if one of the following has occurred:

  • The cancer has spread beyond the original region.
  • The cancer is inoperable.
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Fibrolamellarcancer, a rare type of liver cancer, was added to the Compassionate Allowances program in August 2018. This program by the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines a list of conditions and diseases that warrant an accelerated processing of claims.

The Compassionate Allowances program currently includes 233 conditions, including five new conditions added in August 2018. Fibrolamellaris one of the rarest types of cancers, and it is believed that less than 1,000 patients are diagnosed with fibrolamellar cancer every year. Adults and young adults may be at a much higher risk of a diagnosis. However, there have been some diagnoses amongst those up to 74 years old.

What makes this type of cancer especially dangerous is that it often occurs in people who have no prior history of liver disease, making it harder to diagnose. Also, many of the symptoms with this cancer are similar to other diseases, making a diagnosis especially challenging. This, unfortunately, frequently leads to diagnoses of cancer when it is already in an advanced state. Early symptoms of the condition may include shoulder pain, back pain, abdominal pain, weight loss, and jaundice. Currently, the only treatment option available for this type of carcinoma is liver resection surgery. Even this may be effective only before the spread of cancer.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a personalized cancer treatment that has the potential to have dramatic benefits for some types of cancer patients.

The therapy called Yescarta is a gene therapy, and involves the removal and genetic engineering of the immune cells of patients, so that they are better equipped to fight off the cancer cells.  This is the second gene therapy treatment for cancer approved by the Agency, and the first such therapy to be approved for the use of certain types of cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Experts believe that over the next few years, thousands of lives will be saved because of the treatment. There are, however, risks involved with the treatment and severe side effects attached. The therapy is also expensive, and it is likely to be used only in those cases where other treatment options have failed.

Persons who suffer from cancer may be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. To qualify for benefits, you must have paid into the Social Security system. Persons who suffer from certain types of cancer may qualify for expedited processing of their application. Several types of cancers are included in the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program which allows claims to be approved quicker. If your cancer is inoperable, is recurrent in spite of treatment, or is spreading across the body, you may qualify for expedited processing of your claim.

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Researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota have announced that they are on the brink of a major cancer treatment breakthrough that could revolutionize treatment for the deadly disease. The federal government is soon expected to approve these evolutionary new cellular therapies that will specifically be used in the treatment of rare forms of blood cancer. According to the researchers, over a period of time, they expect the therapy to be approved for the treatment of other cancers as well.

The treatment involves extraction of the patient’s white blood cells, and putting these through a process of genetic engineering in a lab. These genetically modified cancer-fighting cells are then placed back in the patient’s body to fight cancer cells.  The researchers found that patients’ recovery patterns were enhanced by about seven times when they were put through the stem cell therapy as opposed to to traditional chemotherapy. Patients who benefited from the treatment found that their cancers disappeared.

If the federal government goes ahead with the approval, it would mean the first approval of a genetically modified treatment for cancer. If all goes well, this kind of genetically modified treatment could be a substitute for the toxic chemotherapy that most cancer patients dread.

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