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Celebrating the Lunar New Year: City of Hope charges forward

February 26, 2015 | by   
City of Hope Patients and physicians welcomed the New Year of the Ram in L.A.'s annual Chinese New Year parade

City of Hope patients and physicians welcome the New Year of the Ram in L.A.’s annual Lunar New Year parade

To celebrate the beginning of Lunar New  Year 2015, City of Hope honored not just a new lunar calendar, but also the diversity of the community it serves.

On Jan. 21, as tens of thousands of people celebrated Lunar New Year (and the arrival of the Year of the Ram) in the streets of L.A.’s Chinatown, City of Hope did so as well – with its own ram’s head-bedecked float. Riding atop the float were two City of Hope patients and their families, as well as three City of Hope physicians.

Jerry Wang, a gastric cancer survivor was joined by his wife, Sharon, who works at City of Hope, and their twins Ellie and Marcus. Yan Hou, who says her journey with breast cancer inspires her continuing volunteer work at City of Hope, rode with her husband, John Wang.

Celebrating with them were City of Hope physicians Michael Lew, M.D., clinical professor and chair, Department of Anesthesiology; Helen Chen, M.D., a radiation oncologist; and Yuman Fong, M.D.,  professor and chair of the Department of Surgery and director of City of Hope’s International Medicine Program.

City of Hope has a long history of research that benefits diverse populations, especially those in its neighboring communities. Through its services – including in-language materials, translators and a dedicated Chinese website – City of Hope supports patients and their families as they battle cancer. In 2014, City of Hope launched its International Medicine Program, focusing its efforts initially on patients seeking care from China.

Through its float in the annual Golden Dragon Parade, sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, as well as celebrations on the Duarte campus and at its community practice locations across southern California,  City of Hope celebrated not just Lunar New Year 2015, but the very community to which it is so committed.

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Visit our Chinese-language website.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

 

Charlie Rose: Experts talk of cancer breakthroughs and ‘tyranny of time’

February 26, 2015 | by   
Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose interviews, from left, City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, Steven T. Rosen and City of Hope President and CEO Robert W. Stone.

The breakthroughs that have revolutionized cancer treatment, transforming cancer in many cases to a very manageable and even curable disease, started out as just ideas.

“I will often tell patients there’s no therapy we’re using to help them that wasn’t derived from somebody’s idea in some laboratory, working late into the night,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “There’s a challenge, I think, maintaining a certain level of funding so that all good ideas get a chance to see if they’re going to help someone.”

The commitment to that ingenuity, along with the ability to seamlessly and safely bring those ideas from the laboratory to the patient, are what set City of Hope apart. The challenges in translating medicine into practical benefit, the future of precision medicine, how the field of cancer treatment has evolved and the role of 101-year-old City of Hope were the topics recently on “Charlie Rose,” a nationally syndicated show on PBS and Bloomberg television.

City of Hope President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Stone, Provost and Chief Scientific Officer Steven T. Rosen, M.D., and Forman sat down with Rose in an interview that aired Feb. 25. » Continue Reading

To screen for PSA or not …? Study links ‘not’ to higher-risk cancer

February 26, 2015 | by   
New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss, Ph.D., found US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may have prompted an increase in higher-risks prostate cancer.

New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss found that U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may be linked to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

The prostate cancer screening debate, at least as it relates to regular assessment of prostate specific antigen levels, is far from over.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine PSA screening for prostate cancer in 2012, maintaining that the routine use of the PSA blood test does more harm than good, threatening men’s quality of life. Many doctors and other medical professionals, however, never accepted this recommendation as prudent. They’ve continued to debate, or argue, the benefits and risks of regular prostate cancer screening.

A new study, led by Timothy E. Schultheiss, Ph.D, professor and chief of radiation physics at City of Hope, will add data fuel to the debate fire. In findings presented this week at the 2015 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Schultheiss reports that the recommendations against PSA screening for prostate cancer may have led to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

Schultheiss and his colleagues analyzed data on nearly 87,500 men treated for prostate cancer since 2005 and found a 6 percent increase in intermediate and higher-risk cases of the disease between 2011 and 2013. They estimated that the suggested trend could produce an additional 1,400 prostate cancer deaths annually.

» Continue Reading

True supportive care treats patients as individuals, not a concept

February 26, 2015 | by   

Cancer patients should get more than medical treatment. They should get comprehensive, evidence-based care that addresses their full range of needs. That kind of patient-focused care is City of Hope’s specialty.

Supportive care

City of Hope was a pioneer in supportive care. Now it’s taking that care to new levels.

Under the guidance of Dawn Gross, M.D., Ph.D., the new Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Supportive Care Medicine and chair of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, City of Hope is taking such care to new levels, starting with an interdisciplinary team model that focuses on patients as the complex individuals they are.

Following this approach, a team of practitioners that includes social workers, chaplains, psychologists, palliative care physicians, psychiatrists and nurse specialists gather at the start of the day to discuss the most complicated patient and family situations. From this discussion, they agree on next steps and the most appropriate practitioner to carry out these steps, based on information such as the patient’s needs and relationships to practitioners on the supportive care team. » Continue Reading

Take measured view of study on ovarian cancer risk, expert advises

February 25, 2015 | by   

Think twice before tossing out those hormone replacement pills. Although a new Lancet study suggests that hormone replacement therapy could increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, a City of Hope expert urges women to keep this news in perspective.

hormone pills

Don’t lose perspective when weighing the recent study linking hormone replacement therapy to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, one expert advises.

Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to help alleviate symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, that can damage quality of life in menopausal women. The University of Oxford study found that women who used hormone replacement therapy for less than five years after menopause had a 40 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than other women.

However, while the statistical finding is an important one, the study was not designed to definitively show that the hormone therapy caused the increased ovarian cancer risk. No mechanism has been identified.

Robert Morgan, M.D., co-director of the gynecological cancers program at City of Hope, said that women do indeed face a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when using hormone replacement, but that the overall risk for the general population is very low. Over 21,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and over 14,000 are expected to die of the disease.

“The fact alone of a slight increased risk of ovarian cancer in women taking hormone therapy won’t, and shouldn’t, impact treatment decisions,” Morgan said in a HealthDay interview. » Continue Reading

How to create a village for hospital patients (or, the Ilana Massi story)

February 24, 2015 | by   
Ilana Massi and her supporters

City of Hope patient Ilana Massi has created a village of supporters, one that gives her a “collective hug” when she needs it.

Don’t know what to take, or send, that friend of yours in the hospital? Try a paper plate — filled not with cookies or sweets, but an image of yourself.

Ilana Massi, currently undergoing treatment at City of Hope for acute myeloid leukemia, can vouch for the power of such a gift. She’s surrounded herself with paper plate images of her family, friends, co-workers, even a few pets.

“You wake up in the middle of the night, and you look around —  and you really feel like your support group is giving you a collective hug,” Massi said recently from her room at City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, only a few days after undergoing a hematopoietic stem cell transplant at City of Hope.

For Massi, the collective hug began when she was in the intensive care unit of another hospital for five weeks. “Some of my friends came to visit, and I didn’t even know they were there — I was too sick to receive visitors,” she says.

» Continue Reading

ORIEN network will accelerate data exchange – and new cancer therapies

February 23, 2015 | by   

With precision medicine now a national priority, City of Hope has joined a novel research partnership designed to further understanding of cancer at the molecular level, ultimately leading to more targeted cancer treatments.

precision medicine

City of Hope has joined ORIEN, the world’s largest cancer research collaboration devoted to precision medicine.

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN, is the world’s largest precision collaboration for cancer research, one that will enable researchers and clinicians to share data to accelerate the development of precision medicine treatments. This will allow patients to be more quickly matched to potentially lifesaving clinical trials, even as it leads to larger and richer analyses of data for research purposes.

ORIEN is anchored by the Moffitt Cancer Center and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richaed J. Solove Research Institute. City of Hope joins the network at the same time as University of Virginia Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center and University of New Mexico Cancer Center, expanding the oncology network from coast to coast. » Continue Reading

Spine tumors: 4 things you need to know

February 23, 2015 | by   
spinal cord tumors

The spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Because spine tumors can interfere with the body’s ability to function normally, early detection is crucial.

The spinal cord is an integral part of the human body, connecting the brain to everything else. So when a tumor grows on the spine, any messages that the brain tries to send to the rest of the body are interrupted, making everyday tasks — such as walking — more difficult.

This year an estimated 22,850 people will be diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in the United States, and nearly 15, 320 people will die from these tumors. That number doesn’t include tumors that have spread to the spine from other parts of the body.

These numbers may seem alarming, but an increased use of diagnostic imaging has led to improved detection of spine tumors, making them more treatable than ever before.

Here, neurosurgeon and scientist Mike Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in City of Hope’s Brain Tumor Program, presents a fuller picture of spine tumors, explaining what everyone needs to know, especially former cancer patients. » Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Jonathan Cotliar on graft-versus-host disease

February 21, 2015 | by   

Each year, thousands of patients with hematologic malignancies undergo allogeneic stem cell transplantation (that is, they receive a donor’s stem cells), offering them a chance at cure. Graft-versus-host disease is a potentially deadly complication of this therapy and occurs in approximately 25 to 60 percent of patients. Clinicians and researchers are continually working to reduce the rate of the disease’s occurrence and improve outcomes for patients who develop it.

Graft-versus-host disease

Jonathan Cotliar says earlier intervention is the key to effective treatment for graft-versus-host disease.

Here Jonathan Cotliar, M.D., associate clinical professor in dermatology at City of Hope, sorts out the facts about graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). He also describes how the institution’s world-class multidisciplinary team of experts excels in treating this complicated disease and how doctors work continuously to better understand and more effectively treat it.

What is GVHD and who is most at risk?

GVHD is, unfortunately, a common complication following allogeneic bone marrow transplant. In GVHD, a component of the donated bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells views the recipient’s body as foreign and mounts an immune response directed at the transplant recipient, similar to the immune response that might be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. GVHD can vary in severity, and different parts of the body can be affected either in isolation or in combination with other organ systems. » Continue Reading

Cancer Insights: The benefits of surgery for aggressive prostate cancer

February 20, 2015 | by   

Bertram Yuh, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope, offers his perspective on the benefits of surgery for aggressive prostate cancer.

For men walking out of the doctor’s office after a diagnosis of cancer, the reality can hit like a ton of bricks. The words echo: “Prostate cancer” … “Aggressive prostate cancer.” The initial feelings of grief, denial and anger are mixed with many thoughts: How much time do I have left? What else do I want to accomplish? What about my family, job and retirement plans?

Prostate cancer expert Bertram Yuh

Bertram Yuh, a urological oncology surgeon at City of Hope, explains the benefits of surgery for aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – and the second-leading cause of cancer death – and a diagnosis of aggressive disease is often life-changing. As a urological oncology expert, I see men face the ups and downs of their diagnosis.

Although slow-growing cancers take decades to cause serious problems, fast-growing, or high-risk, cancer has the potential to quickly spread to other parts of the body. These tumors occur in up to 25 percent of men with prostate cancer, encompassing cancers of high Gleason grade, high levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) or extremely abnormal prostates on physical exam.

Even if tests indicate that the cancer is only in the prostate, the prospect of cancer spreading or leading to death is anxiety-provoking and intimidating. Once men are able to reach the acceptance phase, the primary question becomes: What are my treatment options?

At City of Hope, our multidisciplinary team manages aggressive prostate cancer and the circumstances in which men need multiple forms of treatment. We not only have a proven track record in surgery for high-risk cancer, we also provide extended lymph node dissection, which offers extremely accurate assessment of the cancer’s spread. » Continue Reading