Category Archives: Cancer

The Beaumont Blog Has Moved!


beaumont blog has moved

The Beaumont Health System blog has moved to a new address: We’ll continue to publish the articles you’ve come to enjoy, along with new and improved features and content throughout the months.

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Double mastectomy a no-brainer for some

by Dana Zakalik, M.D., Director, Cancer Genetics, Beaumont Health System

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie recently announced that she underwent a double mastectomy after doctors estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. In her New York Times article, Jolie admitted to carrying, ” a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”

Angelia Jolie

(Photo credit: Reuters)

For some women who wish to maximally reduce their risk of breast cancer or who have a personal experience of seeing cancer take a loved one’s life, it’s a no-brainer.

Exactly how common is a double (or bilateral) mastectomy? It is fairly common in the U.S. to do the double mastectomy, although the numbers vary between institutions. The risk of breast cancer is very high and bilateral mastectomy offers the most significant risk reduction.

Of course, the decision isn’t always an easy one. We spend a long time with each patient discussing the pros and cons of bilateral mastectomy versus the high risk surveillance with MRI’s, as well as the limitations of screening. Patients ultimately make the choice of what is right for them.

About 5 – 10 percent of cancers may be hereditary, or due to a damaged (or mutant) gene that is passed down from parent to child. Certain aspects of one’s family history may be indicative of an inherited cancer predisposition.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Beaumont’s Cancer Genetics Program, call 248-551-3388.

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Saying Goodbye Through Music

17-year-old Zach Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, and learned that he had only months left to live. As a personal way of saying goodbye to his family and friends, Zach turned to his music.

His video (above) was posted on YouTube and has received more than 2 million views – a viral hit! While he didn’t expect much attention from the video, he was recently offered a record deal! In a recent interview with, Zach talked about his diagnosis, his inspiration for the song and becoming an inspiration.

Beaumont’s Adil Akhtar, M.D., Hematology & Oncology, (who is not involved in Zach’s care) provides additional details about osteosarcoma:

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Emphasis on early detection for prostate cancer

by Howard Korman, M.D., FACS, Medical Director of Beaumont’s Prostate Cancer and Urologic Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic

McKellen revealed he's been fighting prostate cancer for 6 or 7 years.

McKellen revealed he’s been fighting prostate cancer for 6 or 7 years.

This week, actor Ian McKellan (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, X-Men, Lord of the Rings) revealed that he’s been fighting prostate cancer for the past 6 or 7 years and California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced he is being treated for early stage prostate cancer.

The media is abuzz with information and some misconceptions about prostate cancer. Though it’s true that prostate cancer may not be life threatening, there are still more than 1,000 men who die from prostate cancer in Michigan each year.

Because of prostate cancer screenings (PSA) for men age 50 to 70 (or 40 and above for African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer), we’ve cut cancer death rates from 50% to just 10%. And with an emphasis on early detection, there’s a new focus on identifying patients who should be actively watched over time, a process known as Active Surveillance.

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