National Cancer Institute website

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The website of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is high on the list of essential sources of reliable information.  NCI is one arm of the government-funded National Institutes of Health.  It is perhaps the second site that I would recommend a newly diagnosed cancer patient, family or friend consult.  Visit it after the shock and numbness have worn down a bit, after you have just a basic but well-round appreciation of your particular disease.  Then go to NCI.

It’s two greatest strengths are information pages on “Cancer Types” and then on “Clinical Trials”.  Choosing you cancer type, you will then get a pretty complete picture of your disease – statistics, diagnosis, and current best treatment.  You could spend quite a but of time mastering this information.  When you first arrive at the home page for your selected disease, you will notice under its treatment that you have two choices (1) patient and (2) professional.  Unless you have a medical background, tackle the patient info first.  Then, as you move through the treatment process and as you become more comfortable with the jargon, do take a look at the professional side.  There are no secrets here, just information on a different level and in a different context.

There is plenty of reading here, plenty of opportunity to go off on specific tangents.  The latest in disease modalities will each have its own section.  There will be information on genetics, risk factors and causes, and prevention strategies.  There will be detailed information on screening issues, including discussions of any current controversies.  Statistics aplenty as well as directions to go to for investigating current research.  You can use this page to guide you to doing further study into the professional literature on your disease.  Again all of this information will be oriented to the disease you are researching.  Finally clinical trials in the area of your selected cancer will be indicated.

The larger clinical trials section will be useful to many, especially those who are not or no longer responding to conventional therapies.  The NCI site is a good general place to start when looking into the whole issue of clinical trials.

The tone of the NCI is much more business-like than ACS.  There are less graphics.  And while there is plenty of information on coping with cancer, NCI is not in the business of providing support to patients in the same way that the American Cancer Society dictates.  Likewise there are no support programs offered through NCI.  But this is not their mission.

Your healthcare team will have occasion to utilize resources provided by NCI.  On the site you will find a good introduction to the issue of complimentary and alternate therapies.  Other approaches to the treatment of cancer are regularly investigated by government programs.  The information here should contain a balance as there is no agenda here top sell you anything.

The amount of information offered here is extensive, serving as an international resource.  The site is well thought out and easy to navigate.  The information presented is up-to-date, and is the result of research and debate by specialists in the cancer community. If it were a movie, I would give it 3 and a half stars.

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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