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  Contact : 908-788-6461

All posts by KellieM

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Deodorant When Getting a Mammogram

A mammogram is an important step in taking care of yourself and your breasts. Women trust Hunterdon Hematology Oncology as part of the Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program (HRBCP) with regular mammograms and their overall breast health.

The mammograms done at one of several affiliated facilities use a digital format instead of the traditional film mammography you may be used to. This allows the mammogram to be available immediately. A digital image can also be altered and enhanced to allow a more accurate diagnosis and decreases the need for repeat imaging. This information can then be quickly assessed by your medical oncologist at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology and also other potential members of your breast care team which may include a breast surgeon.

Below are some things to expect when getting your mammogram: :

  • You’ll have to undress above the waist to get a mammogram. You will be given wia wrap to use for your comfort.
  • For your privacy, you and a nurse are the only ones in the room during the procedure.
  • During the procedure, the nurse will position your breasts for the mammogram. They  will have to flatten your breast on the machine’s plate so that a high-quality digital picture can be obtained..
  • Due to use of digital imaging, the procedure is much quicker and, you will have limited discomfort compared to a film mammogram. Let your nurse know immediately if you are experiencing any discomfort.

Many of our patients aren’t aware that you should not wear deodorant when getting a mammogram. Most deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminum. Aluminum blocks your sweat ducts and prevents you from perspiring. The amount of aluminum in the average bar of deodorant is small, however, even a small amount is enough to interfere with a mammogram.

Aluminum particles in deodorant look like tiny white dots on a mammogram. These dots mimic calcifications, which can be an early sign of breast cancer. Aluminum particles make it difficult to distinguish deodorant aluminum from calcifications.

Regular mammograms  are important for your breast health. Here at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology we are happy, as part of the Hunterdon Regional Breast Care program, to ensure that our patients have this coordinated quickly and with ease.

Contact your medical oncologist for any concerns or questions regarding your mammogram. Our staff is also happy to help our patients schedule at one of several local imaging facilities, contact us today.

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Ashley McRoy

“Everyone at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center treated me amazingly,” she adds. “They are my family.” In fact, Dr. Bednar, along with gastroenterologist Samuel Bae, M.D., and surgeon John Bello, M.D., were invited to Ashley’s wedding.

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Former cancer patient Ashley McRoy in her wedding dress

From Cancer Patient to Bride

Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center Helps a Young Woman Go From Cancer Patient to Bride.

At the age of 22, Ashley McRoy was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and given a 20 percent chance of survival. Doctors at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center made sure she made it to her wedding day — and beyond.

It was a joyous, teary-eyed day at Kleinfeld, the famous New York City bridal boutique and setting for TLC’s hit show, “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Bride-to-be Ashley McRoy, 28, radiated grace in her sleek white gown. Even her father, Jerry, the group’s harshest critic, glowed. Trying on wedding dresses is a dream come true for most women; but for Ashley and a team of Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center doctors and nurses, this made-for-TV moment represented so much more. Ashley McRoy2

That’s because Ashley has now been cancer-free for 18 months, and she credits Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center with her recovery from a rare and deadly form of cancer.

Seven years ago, Ashley was attending Raritan Valley Community College. She was also just starting her modeling career when she felt a hard knot by her belly button. Two weeks later, the knot had grown bigger. Ashley’s mother, Louise, called the fam¬ily doctor, which led to a CT scan and the shocking news: Ashley had stage 4 signet cell adenocarcinoma in her colon.

“The cancer was incredibly rare and high risk,” says Myron Bednar, M.D., Medical Oncologist and Director of Clinical Trials at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center. Ashley was given a 20 percent survival rate.

“Her type of colon cancer wasn’t typical,” explains Dr. Bednar. “This one featured more aggressive cells.”

Hunterdon Healthcare staff began treatment right away. Cancerous tumors were removed from Ashley’s colon and abdominal cavity. After the surgery, she utilized Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center’s considerable resources.

“She benefited from our social services to help her cope, though she did a great job on her own,” Dr. Bednar says. “She worked with a dietitian for nutritional help while going through biological therapy, and she got state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radia¬tion treatments.”Ashley McRoy1

It was a long journey: The cancer recurred in October of 2012, and had spread to part of her kidneys. She needed a second surgery, and then returned to Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center for follow-up care.

After a final round of chemotherapy and radiation, Ashley at last received the news she longed to hear: the cancer was gone. Today, with cancer behind her, the Wilhelmina-represented model and graphic designer is continuing to model, and wants to share her story with others.

Most importantly, she wants to savor life, starting with her April 5 marriage to boyfriend James Disney, who was constantly by her side throughout treatment. In fact, Ashley was featured on “Say Yes to the Dress” in part be¬cause of her incredible cancer recovery.

“I’ve been so incredibly blessed,” she says. “I want to move forward, to look at life more positively. I’m learning to see the glass as half-full.

“Everyone at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center treated me amazingly,” she adds. “They are my family.” In fact, Dr. Bednar, along with gastroenterologist Samuel Bae, M.D., and surgeon John Bello, M.D., were invited to Ashley’s wedding.

“James and I have been through a lot,” Ashley jokes. “We can survive being married!”

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR RISK FOR CANCER? Learn more about the Family Risk Assessment Program (FRAP) at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center by calling 908.237.2330.

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Lung cancer treatment using …

Lung cancer treatment using patients’ immune system shows promise.

By Martta Kelly | Special to The Star-Ledger

DariaShepherd-2

Lung cancer patient Daria Shepherd smiles as she looks at her daughter, Paige, Shepherd as Daria receives a new trial cancer treatment called Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Lung cancer patient Daria Shepherd smiles as she looks at her daughter, Paige, Shepherd as Daria receives a new trial cancer treatment called Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

A routine ultrasound last year turned out to be something much more sinister for Daria Shepherd of Kingwood Township.

“I had this pain in my right side and I thought it was just the result of overdoing it,” said the active 47-year-old mother of two who enjoys jogging regularly with her 22-year-old daughter.

When her blood tests came back normal and physical therapy didn’t seem to be helping, her doctor ordered the ultrasound.
Shepherd wasn’t prepared for what came next.

The ultrasound showed not only a benign cyst on her right ovary but spots on her lung as well. A subsequent chest scan and biopsy determined the spots indicated advanced lung cancer.

Shepherd started chemotherapy, but it proved to be ineffective for her type of cancer. Her doctor, Myron E. Bednar, medical oncologist at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center in Flemington, suggested she enroll in a clinical trial for a new drug called Nivolumab, which works with the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. In addition, the drug doesn’t have the debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy, such as nausea, fatigue and hair loss.

BednarWithPatient

Oncologist Myron Bednar checks on Daria Shepherd as she receives Nivolumab at the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the second most common cancer among men and women and the leading cause of death in the Unites States. It is estimated that this year, more than 224,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

HRCC was selected as the only cancer facility in New Jersey to offer a clinical study on Nivolumab, which is made by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The closest facility outside the tri-state area is in Tennessee. There are currently eight people in the clinical trial at HRCC.

To be eligible for the clinical trial, patients must have been diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and have undergone at least one therapy prior to entering the trial, Bednar said.

Nivolumab works by blocking a molecule called PD-L1, found in many cancer cells, from binding to a protein called PD-1, found on the surface of T-cells, known as the “fighter cells” of the immune system, said Kenneth B. Blankstein, an oncologist at HRCC.

If PD-L1 is allowed to bind to PD-1, T-cells become ineffective, Blankstein explained. This is how cancer cells are able to disarm T-cells and inhibit them from attacking the tumor. Since PD-1 blockers free up the immune system only around the tumor rather than throughout the whole body, they also have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

“Drugs such as Nivolumab that inhibit PD-1 may also be able to treat a variety of cancers, including melanoma, which is very exciting.” Blankstein added.
Both Bednar and Blankstein stressed that while Nivolumab, like chemotherapy, is not a cure, it appears to improve the overall survival of cancer patients.

“We’re are optimistic about the results of the trial so far,” Bednar said. “We’ve had a 30 percent response rate, which, in this group, is significant.”

To date, Shepherd has had three infusion treatments and feels wonderful. She is scheduled to have a CAT scan every eight weeks to see how things are responding. “I have not had any side effects whatsoever,” she said. “I have been able to go on with my life and to do the things I love, such as fishing and jogging.”

Anyone interested in becoming part of this clinical trial should call Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, (908)-788-6461, and ask to speak with Kathy Robbins, a clinical research nurse. If it is determined that you are eligible, she will set up an appointment with one of center’s four oncologists.

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Dr. Myron Bednar and cancer patient

Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center …

Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center: The Only Cancer Center in New Jersey to Offer Immuno-Therapy Clinical Trial for Lung Cancer

 Published June 9, 2014

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women and the leading cause of death in the United States.  In 2014, it is estimated that 224,210 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer.  Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center was selected as the only cancer facility in New Jersey to offer a clinical study on a new lung cancer investigational drug called Nivolumab, which is made by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“This clinical study uses immuno-therapy as a new approach for treating lung cancer.  This therapy uses the patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells,” stated   Myron Bednar, M.D., Medical Oncologist, Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center.  Dr. Bednar further explained, “Nivolumab works by blocking the protein called PD-1.   The PD-1 antibodies stop lung cancer cells from blocking the body’s natural immune response to cancer.    A drug that can inhibit PD-1 may be able to treat a variety of cancers, which is very exciting.”

Pictured left to right: Myron Bednar, M.D., Medical Oncologist at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center and Daria Shepherd, the first patient at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center to be included into the clinical trial for Nivolumab.

Pictured left to right: Myron Bednar, M.D., Medical Oncologist at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center and Daria Shepherd, the first patient at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center to be included into the clinical trial for Nivolumab.

Patients who may be eligible for the study have been diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and have undergone at least one therapy prior to entering this trial.  “The benefit from standard therapy is limited for this patient population.  Our hope is that this drug will keep the cancer from growing and have the patient’s immune system do the work of killing the cancer cells,  versus drugs that may have many side effects, said Kenneth Blankstein, Medical Oncologist at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center.   Dr. Blankstein also mentioned, “We are pleased to be able to provide this trial in our community.  We are not only the only cancer facility in New Jersey testing this drug in a clinical trial, but the only one in the tri-state area.  The next closest facility is in Tennessee.”

Daria Shepherd of Kingwood Township was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer in December.  Ms. Shepherd had gone to her family doctor because of a pain she was having on her side.  An ultrasound showed that the pain was the result of a cyst on her ovary, but the test also found a spot on her lung.  A chest scan and a biopsy determined it was cancer.  “I started chemotherapy, but it wasn’t effective for my type of cancer, so Dr. Bednar thought I would be an ideal candidate for the Nivolumab clinical trial,” stated Ms. Shepherd.  Shepherd added, “This is my second week receiving the drug and I feel good, it has not had any side effects that have interfered with my life.”  In fact, Ms. Shepherd was heading out to Spruce Run to fish with her family after her treatment.

KathyRobbinsanddaria

Pictured left to right: Kathy Robbins, RN, MSN, OCN, Clinical Research Nurse at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center works closely with patients on clinical trials. Kathy talks to Daria Shepherd and provides comfort and education during her treatment at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center.

Through Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center’s partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, physicians have access to many clinical research trials, which are administered by specially trained staff.  Current trials offered at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center include new treatment protocols for lung cancer, breast, gastrointestinal cancers, as well as lymphoma and melanoma.  To learn more about clinical trials at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, call Kathy Robbins, RN, MSN, OCN, Clinical Research Nurse at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center at 908-237-2330 ext. 2 or visit  www.hunterdonhealthcare.org/clinicalresearch .

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