Living with cancer blog

Highlights from the Living With Cancer patient conference

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. February 11, 2012

The Living With Cancer patient conference was held Jan. 14-15 in Scottsdale, AZ., with more than 450 people in attendance. It was a tremendous opportunity to meet and get the latest updates from Mayo Clinic cancer care experts. The event received excellent feedback and positive reviews from attendees.

The main session videos are now on the Mayo Clinic website,

I attended and have a few highlights to share:

  • Chemotherapy can include classical agents as well as novel therapies such as targeted agents (which target either a cellular process of the tumor cells, or target the molecular structure of tumor cells in order to kill cancer cells). Side effects for these new agents are different from classical chemotherapy, but the hope is to continue to improve quality of life and advance survivorship with new agents.
  • The future of cancer care is now — the field of pharmacogenetics is leading the way. This concept focuses on the idea that your genes determine response (positive or negative) to cancer therapy. The goal is to individualize cancer therapy so that treatment is designed to work specifically for each person.
  • Integrative medicine in cancer care. Taking a holistic approach to cancer care can include using conventional medicine along with proven alternative therapies to improve quality of life for cancer survivors. Strategies include mind-body techniques, massage, acupuncture, energy therapies, diet and nutrition, and dietary supplements. Importance was placed on partnering with your cancer care team (especially during active treatment) as you consider using integrative medicine. Look for a future blog discussion on this topic.
  • Nutrition during and after cancer care was the topic of two sessions. A major focus was placed on following a Mediterranean diet as a cancer survivor. The diet stresses fresh, plant-based foods, fish and poultry rather than red meat, olive oil for cooking and eating, low-fat cheeses and yogurts, and whole grains.

These are just a few of the highlights. Feel free to share any others that you have if you were in attendance, or add to the discussion here on the blog.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Feb. 11, 2012