May, 2007


Genetic Testing For Skin Cancer Available at SOMC

Like some cancers, family history plays a part in risk for skin cancer. Li-Fen Chang L. Chang, MD, PhD, FACRO, Senior Medical Director for Radiation Oncology at Southern Ohio Medical Center, says everyone should be aware that family history is very important in determining risk for developing certain skin cancers.

“By accurately identifying a genetic predisposition for skin cancer it is possible to take steps to reduce the risk, detect it at an early stage and possibly prevent it,” Dr. Chang says. The number of melanoma cases diagnosed in the United States has risen annually, with more than 54,000 new cases diagnosed each year, and according to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, comprising nearly half of all cancers diagnosed.

Genetic testing for skin cancer is available at the SOMC Cancer Center. For more information on the process call Heather Ashley, 356-7490.

“Like all cancers, early detection is critical,” Dr. Chang explains. “When diagnosed at a localized stage, most cutaneous melanomas can be cured through surgical excision. However, once the tumor has metastasized the prognosis is poor.”

Approximately 10 percent of all melanoma cases are hereditary, approximately the same percentage of breast cancer that is hereditary. A gene known as p16 accounts for the majority of known genetic causes of inherited melanoma cases.

Some important facts from recent studies: individuals who carry inherited p16 mutations are at a 50 percent risk to develop melanoma by age 50 and a 76 percent risk to develop melanoma by age 80. In addition, some p16 mutation carriers have up to a 17 percent risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Melanoma associated with inherited p16 mutations develops at a significantly early age compared to the general population. The average age of diagnosis for mutation carriers in the United States is approximately 35 years compared to 57 years for sporadic melanoma patients.

Anyone to whom one of the following applies should consider a genetic evaluation by their doctor or specialist: two or more diagnoses of primary melanoma in an individual or family; melanoma and pancreatic cancer in an individual or family; or relatives of a patient with a confirmed p16 inherited mutation.

Also, anyone at greater risk should have a clinical examination each year, beginning at age 10; limit exposure to the sun or ultraviolet radiation (such as in some tanning beds); wear protective clothing outside and use a sun screen of at least SPF 15.

SOMC Helps Area Native On Lance Armstrong Running Team

Chad Thompson with SOMC Cancer Center staff

Staff of the SOMC Cancer Center recently presented Chad Thompson with a donation of $2,000 toward his charity run in the ING New York City Marathon. The event will take place Nov. 4, 2007.

Thompson, a Wheelersburg native, was chosen by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) in March as one of eight participants worldwide to run as a representative of the organization.

“I originally visited the LAF web site to learn more about purchasing the yellow wristbands for cancer awareness,” Thompson said. “But then I saw the page encouraging people to sign-up to be charity runners, so I did.”

The LAF was founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, and inspires and empowers people living with cancer. This year, the LAF has teamed with the World Marathon Majors to grant limited charity spots to athletes who would like to participate in the elite races to raise money to fight cancer.

Thompson says he never expected to actually be chosen as a runner for the organization, but is honored to be picked from so many entries. He is dedicating his run to his father, as well as other close family and friends who have recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“My goal in completing this marathon is to make all of those currently battling cancer, who have lost a loved one to cancer and who have donated on my behalf, proud,” Thompson said. “It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to represent such a large organization and to run on behalf of so many people.”

As a runner in the LAF Livestrong Army, Thompson must raise a minimum of $3,500 to be eligible to compete in the race, but says he has upped his goal to $10,000 to challenge himself even further.

“Knowing that I’m running in memory of so many people is already motivational, but to raise that much money would be even better,” Thompson said. “The race might be 26-miles long, and I know I’ll be hurting and struggling through it, but when I think of what all those battling cancer have gone through, it makes it even more encouraging to finish.”

For more information on LAF, or to donate toward Thompson’s fund, visit www.livestrong.org. Credit cards are acceptable and all donations are tax deductible. To make a donation by check, please send an e-mail to thompsonc4@yahoo.com.

Portsmouth Eagles Support SOMC Hospice

SOMC Hospice recently accepted the first installment of a donation from the Portsmouth Eagles Aerie 4285, who selected Hospice as their charity for the year. The first installment of more than $6,000 was presented by Eagle Arnie Smith (left) to Sheila Riggs of Hospice. The SOMC Hospice Center is now open on the East Campus of Southern Ohio Medical Center, providing services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

Lawson Breast Health Navigator

Kelly Lawson, RN

Kelly Lawson, RN, has accepted the position of Breast Health Navigator at the SOMC Cancer Center. Lawson will be the primary nurse contact for breast cancer patients, helping to bridge the gap between the physical aspects of breast cancer and the immediate needs throughout diagnosis, surgery and treatment. She also will be the coordinator of care to uninsured and underserved women throughout the community.

The Breast Health Navigator Service is funded in part by a grant from the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

A Portsmouth native, Lawson is a graduate of Shawnee State University. She has been a part of the nursing staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center since 1990 and has served the last five years in Radiation Oncology at the SOMC Cancer Center.

Hospice Hikers Raise $36,000

SOMC Hospice patient Elizabeth Braden, 103, joins the Hospice Center’s resident, Swann, in meeting participants in the May 19 Hike for Hospice. During the event, 20 teams and individuals totaling 547 registered hikers raised more than $36,000 for hospice programs for the terminally ill.

Adams Attends National Conference

Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams (right) meets Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, Rear Admiral, US Public Health Service and Acting Surgeon General for the United States of America, during the Medical Reserve Corps National Leadership and Training Conference April 17-20 in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Moritsugu was the keynote speaker at the convention. The Medical Reserve Corps is a community-based civilian volunteer program organized and trained to address public health challenges ranging from education to disaster response.

SOMC Earns Bronze Quill Award

Southern Ohio Medical Center has earned the distinguished Bronze Quill Award from the Columbus Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The ‘Benefits at a Glance’ publication and the Employee Merchant Rewards Program communications plan, design and implementation earned the honor, which recognizes a variety of communication disciplines. The Columbus chapter received 38 entries, which were judged by communicators from IABC chapters in Missouri, Arizona and Texas. In addition to SOMC, 27 other companies and organizations earned honors.

SOMC will be presented the award during a celebration June 14 in Columbus.

Cancer Society: MRI Beneficial For Breast Cancer Patients

For more than six years, the Cancer Center and the MRI Department at Southern Ohio Medical Center have been working together to ensure that patients fighting against, or are at high risk of, breast cancer are able to beat the disease. Now the American Cancer Society has confirmed what SOMC has already been practicing: women can benefit from an MRI exam to locate tumors as well as track the progress of cancer treatment.

“Using MRIs to detect and track breast cancer is a remarkable tool and I think it’s wonderful that the guidelines have been issued,” Chris Sanders, supervisor of the MRI Department at SOMC, said. “They definitely reinforce the procedures we’ve already been using and I hope they will create a greater awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection.”

The ACS guidelines have always encouraged certain easy steps to help find breast cancer early. These include simple self-exams and an annual check-up with a physician, as well as an annual mammogram after age 40.

Now, the new ACS guidelines are also encouraging women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer to receive annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screenings in addition to regular mammograms.

“Anyone over the age of 30 who has a strong family history of breast cancer should go through annual MRI screenings,” Sanders said. “The exam is also recommended to symptomless patients who already have abnormal gene mutation, have received chest radiation at a younger age or have been diagnosed with a disease that heightens the risk of developing breast cancer.”

MRI scans are more helpful than mammography alone because of their ability to create more detailed images through magnets and radio waves. Because of this process, MRIs are better at showing increased or abnormal blood flow in the breast, allowing doctors to catch tumors at earlier, more treatable stages.

While MRIs can lead to false-positive results, Sanders says this has not been a problem at SOMC. Last year, the hospital achieved a 96 percent accuracy rate on breast cancer screenings completed through MRI.

“Our statistics are phenomenal and show that our capabilities are of extreme quality matched to hospitals throughout the nation,” Sanders said. “Finding a hospital with the most advanced equipment and qualified staff should be of the utmost importance to every patient and we have the resources to stay healthy right here in our local community.”

For more information on MRIs and breast cancer awareness, talk to your physician or call 356-8329 or 356-8326.

Area Athletes Receive Branch Rickey Awards

Representatives from area schools were honored with the Branch Rickey Awards April 24 during the SOMC LIFE Center’s Annual Banquet.

The Branch Rickey Student Award is presented annually to 20 area high school junior/seniors in memory of Rickey, a Scioto County resident who became the general manager of Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey was also instrumental in bringing the first African American player, Jackie Robinson, into Major League Baseball and helped found the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Winners of the 2006/2007 Branch Rickey Student Awards are: Clay High School – Justin Craft; East High School – Kerissa Bennett; Eastern High School – Aaron (AJ) Osborne; Glenwood High School – Kendra Wiley; Green High School – Nathan Patten; Greenup High School – Bridget Gibson; Minford High School – Shaye Berry; Northwest High School – Kylon Crabtree; Notre Dame High School – Daniel Sand; Piketon High School – Kacey Smalley; Portsmouth High School – Howard Harcha; Portsmouth West High School – Austin Seevers; Shawnee State University – Allassondro Roberts; South Webster High School – Brandi Hagen; Valley High School – Courtnie Merritt; Waverly High School – Bruce Evans; Wheelersburg High School – Aaron Conn.