Category Archives: Treatment

ICS Welcomes Tami Sheldon, ARNP

Iowa Cancer Specialists is proud to announce the addition of Tami Sheldon, ARNP to our staff.

Tami is an undergraduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Exercise Science and Fitness.  She did undergraduate work at Chamberlain University of Cincinnati graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Tami also has a Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and is a board certified nurse practitioner.

Tami always knew she wanted to be involved in medicine, but it wasn’t until after she received her degree in Exercise Science and Fitness that her interests directed toward nursing.  She has expertise in labor and OB/GYN, and she served on the Open Heart Team  at Trinity Medical Center.  Recently, she worked in pain management intervention, but says her passion has always been for women’s health.

Being more than just another health care worker is important to Tami.  She states she is excited about her new position at ICS as it will give her an opportunity to connect with patients while providing both educational and emotional support.  ICS plans to primarily utilize Tami’s training in OB/GYN health with our ovarian cancer patients, and as a liaison between ICS and the University of Iowa Gyn/Onc department.

Tami was raised in the Quad City area.  She enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs and the Bears with her Navy Veteran husband, Josh.  She has two small children and a greater Swiss mountain dog named Gunner.

Be sure to stop in to Iowa Cancer Specialists to meet Tami.  She looks forward to serving  your health care needs.


Fighting Cancer with Man’s Best Friend

We’ve all heard stories of dogs saving lives whether it be alerting a family to a house fire, protecting their owner from an intruder, or saving a child from a vicious animal attack.  Now, dogs are assisting in another lifesaving way–aiding in the fight against cancer.

At twenty-two sites across the United States, clinical trials are taking place on dogs with cancer. Please note, these trials are held on dogs who have developed the disease naturally and whose owners are seeking a cure for their pet.  The cancer is not given experimentally as is most often the case with laboratory mice.

Cancer is the number one cause for death in older dogs, and the majority of cancers seen in dogs closely resemble the cancers that affect people–including their biological behavior, where it spreads, and the speed in which the cancer grows.  This is why “comparative oncology” has  recently emerged as a promising means to help cure cancer. Comparative oncology researchers study the similarities between naturally occurring cancers in dogs and cancers in people in order to provide clues on how to treat cancer more effectively.

At its core, cancer is a genetic disease.  Each breed of dog (over 400 recognized) has its own unique set of genes, and different breeds of dogs are predisposed to different types of cancer.  For example, lymphoma is more likely to affect golden retrievers.  Squamous cell carcinoma is found more often in standard poodles (but only those with black hair). Invasive bladder cancer is more likely to be found in Scotties, Westies, and Shelties.  Brain cancer (glioma) is more likely to be found in terriers, boxers, and bulldogs.  An aggressive type of bone cancer that affects children called osteosarcoma is also found in large dog breeds such as Great Danes and German shepherds.

Humans and dogs are also especially similar when it comes to the immune system.  Immunotherapy, which uses the immune system to fight cancer, has been effective in dog trials which is promising for humans.  When a trial is successful in a dog, it can move on to a human trial.  As of now four drugs have made it to a human trial.  Sutent, which is sometimes prescribed for advanced kidney cancer, is one such drug. And in 2010, the vaccine known as ONCEPT became the first cancer vaccine to be approved in the United States.  According to Jedd D. Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., the chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “There’s no question that the success of the animal trials did a lot to speed up the approval process of the human trials.”

Seems to us, dogs may just be man’s best friend–and women’s, too!

Source Material:  The Veterinary Cancer Resource Center, Cancer Research Institute,, NBC News, CNN

What’s going on with Melanoma?

March 1 marks the first day of meteorological winter and that means higher temperatures, more sun around the Quad Cities and marks the start of a busy spring break season.

Those heading to the beach may unknowingly be exposing themselves to preventable melanomas according to a new CDC article.

The article states that the many cases of melanoma could be prevented by reduced exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

According to the American Cancer society melanoma rates have been rising for nearly 30 years and just over 87,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2017. The expected rise in cases for now is about 3 percent per year.

The state of the science research looks at one of the recent pushes related to reducing melanoma has been discouraging indoor tanning, some of that push includes legislation from states to ban tanning by minors.

In the Iowa Cancer Specialists area Illinois bans all tanning by minors while Iowa has no aged based restrictions. Iowa is one of just a handful of states with no regulations for minors.

Some of the suggestions from Cancer Journal for Clinicians include some easy changes including easy access to sunscreen, educational campaigns in schools and providing shade at beaches and other sunny locations.

While most of this article talks about some of the downsides currently with Melanoma there is some hope at the end of the tunnel, recent innovations in targeted therapies, immunotherapies and other treatment options have increased survival rates.

What is chemotherapy, and why does it seem like a disease?

To many people, “chemotherapy” is just that procedure that makes someone lose his or her hair. To cancer patients, “chemotherapy” means a collection of unwanted side effects. To doctors, chemotherapy is a potentially life-saving cancer treatment regimen using drugs (chemo, drugs, get it?)—and it results in more than just hair loss.

Chemotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells, keep them from spreading or shrink tumors. The effective drugs can be delivered right on the skin (topically), through a vein (intravenously), in pills or liquid (orally) or as a shot (injection), and chemo may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments like radiation therapy or surgery.

Cell Divison


Here’s the deal. Cancer cells grow very quickly, so chemotherapy drugs target fast-growing cells, but not with enough specificity to only get the cancerous ones. Do you know which kinds of healthy cells grow quickly? We’re talking hair cells, bone marrow cells, skin cells and the cells of the digestive system. When chemotherapy drugs are introduced to your system, they go after these kinds of cells as well, causing corresponding side effects. You know these—think hair loss, changes in bone marrow, dermatological changes, and nausea.

But, don’t worry! The normal cells of your body are like little medics. Your body has the ability to repair and replace those cells that get damaged during the dividing process. The damage and the side effects don’t usually last beyond treatment, and the same drugs that were hurting your healthy cells have also done a number on the cancer.

Be informed, and keep your doctor informed. There are a variety of different drugs used in chemotherapy. Ask your doctor why she is recommending a chemo treatment, and find out which side effects to expect. If you are having a hard time dealing with those side effects, talk to your doctor about it! The frequency of treatment could be reduced, or there may be other ways to minimize your discomfort.

Chemotherapy is a treatment, not a disease. Nobody is pretending it’s fun, but, in the end, it’s good for you—like eating your vegetables.