WORDS BY JENNIFER LOCONTE

BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER IS FRIGHTENING AND CAN CAUSE SIGNIFICANT ANXIETY AND STRESS. FINDING THE RIGHT DOCTOR CAN BE ALMOST AS DAUNTING AS THE DIAGNOSIS ITSELF.

Thankfully, a visit to Dr. Hayman Salib, a specialist in both oncology and hematology, can help ease your fears and begin a treatment plan that is specifically designed for you.

Salib specializes in the following cancers: breast cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, bleeding disorders, clotting disorders, abnormal blood count, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, hemophilia, chemotherapy administration, head and neck cancers, anemia, soft-tissue tumors, bone cancers, laryngeal cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, testicular cancer, gynecologic malignancies, anal cancer and genital cancer.

“Our goal for our patients is to eliminate cancer,” says Salib. “During this process, we want to create a personalized treatment plan with little, if any, inconvenience to the patient. With innovative and advanced treatments becoming more available, there is a much more direct approach to fighting cancer and with less side effects.”

Cancer treatment has come a long way from the days of chemotherapy as the only drug available. New targeted therapies work directly to block cancer growth by interfering with specific molecules found in tumors. They can stop cancer-cell growth while stimulating the immune system to destroy these types of cells. Both breast cancer and lymphoma have seen significant improvements with targeted therapies. Several types of targeted therapies include hormone therapies, signal transduction inhibitors, angiogenesis inhibitors and immunotherapies.

As with any drug, there can be side effects. However, when compared with chemotherapy, targeted therapies usually have less, and if one type of treatment is not working well for the patient, the plan can be altered to another treatment option or even combined.

Breast, prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, lung and kidney cancers are just some of the types of cancers that have improved treatments with the use of these new targeted therapies.

Salib says that each year brings new cancer-fighting drugs, and some of the best he has seen so far are now becoming available for patients.

Fighting cancer effectively is key, but how can we prevent getting cancer in the first place?
According to Salib, living a healthful lifestyle seems to be the most effective way to prevent cancer from invading our bodies.

“Diet, exercise, not smoking and limiting sun exposure are all important factors to staying cancer-free,” he says.

He also adds that weigh loss has had a preventative effect on both colon and breast cancers. Exercise should include a combination of aerobic and weight-lifting and go hand-in-hand with eating healthful, well-balanced meals with restricted junk food and sugar. Limiting sun exposure can help decrease the risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

Additionally, at around age 50, meeting with medical providers for certain medical milestone procedures, like an annual mammogram (age 40), colonoscopy, cholesterol screening and seeing a dermatologist, is recommended.

It’s important to make all of your medical providers aware of your family history, especially where cancer is concerned. If cancer is prevalent among family members, you might consider meeting with a genetic counselor. Certain types of cancers may be linked, and genetic testing may be available if criteria are met.

There are certain types of cancer, pancreatic for example, where there are not yet a lot of treatment options. Patients should be aware of clinical trials that may be available to them. Clinical trials are necessary to continue the path toward successfully fighting those types of cancer.

Salib and his expert staff have information on all types of clinical trials and can help inform the patient of what may be available to them. There are specific criteria that a patient must meet in order to be a candidate for a clinical trial.

Salib’s practice is located in three convenient Lehigh Valley regions – Bethlehem, Easton and Phillipsburg, N.J. He is also affiliated with four area hospitals – St. Lukes, LVHN, Easton and Warren, N.J. For additional information, visit saliboncology.com.