LATEST POSTS

Quality: City of Hope makes Becker’s ‘great oncology programs’ list

July 24, 2014 | by   

To be a great cancer hospital, you need a great oncology program. Just ask City of Hope – and Becker’s Hospital Review.

When it comes to oncology programs, City of Hope ranks.

Quality counts. Becker’s Hospital Review has chosen City of Hope for inclusion on its 2014 list of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”

The health care publishing industry stalwart, described as the “leading hospital magazine for hospital business news and analysis for hospital and health system executives,” recently selected City of Hope to its 2014 edition of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”

The inclusion on the list likely comes as no surprise to City of Hope patients and their families, but outside recognition of top quality is always welcome. In offering its list, Becker’s Hospital Review includes this important note: “Organizations cannot pay for inclusion on this list.”

That’s an important distinction, one that isn’t always true for many such lists. » Continue Reading

Second opinion: A cancer surgeon shares his perspective and advice

July 23, 2014 | by   

Diagnostic errors are far from uncommon. In fact, a recent study found that they affect about 12 million people, or 1 in 20 patients,  in the U.S. each year.

medical chart and second opinions

Diagnosed with cancer? Get a second opinion at an expert research and treatment center like City of Hope. Clayton Lau, M.D., explains why it could save your life.

With cancer, those errors in diagnosis can have a profound impact. A missed or delayed diagnosis can make the disease that much harder to treat, as the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research recently noted in calling attention to the diagnostic errors research.

This means that patients who’ve been diagnosed with cancer shouldn’t always assume that either the diagnosis or their options are precisely what they’ve been told. Sometimes a cancer has progressed more than the diagnostic tests suggest; sometimes it’s progressed less. And sometimes the diagnosis is completely off-base.

Clayton S. Lau, M.D., associate clinical professor and an expert in testicular cancer surgery at City of Hope, explains the difference that second opinions can make in getting a proper cancer diagnosis and care. » Continue Reading

Cancer expertise matters. Just ask ex-lymphoma patient Christine Pechera

July 22, 2014 | by   

Eleven years ago, lymphoma patient Christine Pechera began the long road toward a cancer-free life.

Christine Pechera unveils 2014 City of Hope Rose Parade Float Rendering at the Wrigley Mansion.

Former lymphoma patient Christine Pechera unveils 2014 City of Hope Rose Parade Float Rendering at the Tournament of Roses – Wrigley Mansion. Her second opinion at City of Hope ultimately led to her remission.

She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and told by doctors elsewhere that her lifespan likely would be measured in months, not years. Refusing to give up, she came to City of Hope for a second opinion. There, she received her first encouraging words. She began treatment soon after watching the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, an event that she’d watched as a child and that she thought she might never see again.

After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and an autologous stem cell transplant – a procedure using her own stem cells – Pechera returned to health, only to relapse in 2005.

She can still find the YouTube video pleading for help in the search for a matching bone marrow donor. Because she was Filipino, matches were hard to come by; her search was even featured on “Nightline,” highlighting the need for more diversity among donors. Finally, a man in Hong Kong – who never saw the video or “Nightline” – was identified as a match.

His stem cells – and the expertise of City of Hope’s lymphoma experts – saved Pechera’s life. The journey that began with a poor prognosis at another institution brought her back to the Rose Parade on January 1 of this year. This time, the former lymphoma patient rode on City of Hope’s float, paying tribute to the fact that the dream of being cancer-free can be within reach, even in some of the toughest cases. » Continue Reading

Brain tumors: One surgeon’s quest to transform the future (w/VIDEO)

July 21, 2014 | by   

Brain surgery is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, as well as curiosity and compassion. The truly great surgeons also have a desire to find new, and better ways, of healing the brain. Enter Behnam Badie, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at City of Hope.

Now a pioneer in brain tumor treatment, Badie entered medicine because of encouragement from his father. Healthy at the time, the family patriarch later succumbed to a brain tumor, the type of cancer in which his son now specializes.

Driven in part by that experience, Badie has since gone beyond the operating room. He wanted to help not just today’s patients, but also tomorrow’s patients. Through collaborations with other scientists and other clinicians, he knew he could conduct groundbreaking research that would help both. » Continue Reading

In acute myeloid leukemia treatment, infighting just might be positive

July 18, 2014 | by   

Elizabeth Budde, M.D., Ph.D., wants to encourage infighting. She aims to turn the immune system on itself — to the benefit of patients with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.

Budde recieves grant to support her study on T cells and AML.

In a new treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, Elizabeth Budde is using modified white blood cells to attack their malignant cousins.

AML arises when abnormal white blood cells grow out of control, amassing in the bone marrow and interfering with normal blood cell development. Blood stem cell transplants are the only hope of cure for most patients with AML; however, many patients eventually see their cancer return.

Budde wants to give patients with relapsed AML a fighting chance by giving them modified white blood cells that attack their malignant cousins.

Her work is garnering increased attention. Budde, an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, has been chosen as The Jake Wetchler Foundation for Innovative Pediatric Cancer Research-Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Clinical Investigator. The accompanying $450,000 grant will support her studies for the next three years.

» Continue Reading

A bone marrow transplant on an outpatient basis? For some patients, yes

July 17, 2014 | by   

Six, to date; more soon. Outpatient bone marrow transplants, that is.

City of Hope is expanding the transplant services to more patients by delivering care on an outpatient basis.

City of Hope is now providing bone marrow transplant services to some patients on an outpatient basis.

Finding new ways to deliver quality care with the greatest benefit is a priority for a patient-centered institution like City of Hope. For example, not every bone marrow transplant patient needs to check into the hospital for treatment. In fact, some might even benefit from remaining outpatients.

City of Hope’s new day hospital is designed to address their needs.

Studies have shown that day hospitals can meet clinical standards for bone marrow transplants without compromising patient quality of care. They allow patients to be treated as outpatients rather than inpatients, which lets them go home after their treatment. The result can be greater patient satisfaction and an improved patient experience. » Continue Reading

Each day is special for cancer survivors (w/VIDEO)

July 16, 2014 | by   

The best measure of success in the fight against cancer is in lives saved and families intact, in extra days made special simply because they exist.

Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope, understands what precedes that special awareness. When cancer strikes, one minute a person may feel healthy and young, he says, and in the next, they’re wondering how many years they have left.

In those situations, expertise matters. Commitment to research, knowledge of new therapies, unrelenting dedication to quality and improvement all play a role in the best possible cancer care. City of Hope has those factors. But the best measure of cancer care is cancer outcomes – and City of Hope has those, too.

» Continue Reading

‘U.S.News’ again ranks City of Hope among best hospitals for cancer

July 15, 2014 | by   

In cancer, expertise matters. So do survival rates, patient safety, patient services and many other factors. City of Hope understands this, as does U.S.News & World Report.

The magazine’s 2014-2015 list of best hospitals for cancer once again includes City of Hope, ranking the institution 12 out of 900 eligible for consideration. The annual rankings recognize the nation’s premier hospitals, and inclusion on the list is widely considered an indicator of quality care.

City of Hope’s ranking is three positions higher than last year’s ranking and marks the 11th year that City of Hope has made the “Best Hospitals” list for cancer treatment. The ranking – above the ranking of many other nationally known and considerably larger institutions – highlights the institution’s increasing reputation for high quality care and outcomes. » Continue Reading

Her breast cancer diagnosis was grim; a second opinion saved her life

July 15, 2014 | by   

At 29, Kommah McDowell was a successful young professional engaged to be married to her best friend. She worked in the financial services sector and kick-boxed to keep in shape and to relax. Then came the diagnosis of triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was told she had a 5 percent chance of living two years. Here’s her story …

breast cancer

Kommah McDowell, a breast cancer survivor, serves as a mentor for black women who recently completed breast cancer treatment and are transitioning into the follow-up stage of their care.

For seven months, McDowell had been visiting her primary care doctor every other week complaining of pain, tenderness, swelling and a lump in her right breast. She was assured it was only a benign cyst that would go away – she was too young to have cancer. Finally, at McDowell’s insistence, the “cyst” was removed. During that surgery, the doctor found cancer.

“Unbelievably, the medical staff was not familiar with the type of cancer,” McDowell said. “They just knew it was cancer and the best course of action was to remove it immediately. Fortunately, I was able to go to City of Hope for a second opinion and treatment.” » Continue Reading

Tamoxifen or exemestane after breast cancer? It’s trade-off, expert says

July 14, 2014 | by   

The well-known drug tamoxifen might not always be the best choice for premenopausal women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer and face a heightened risk of recurrence. A new study suggests that the aromatase inhibitor exemestane, or Aromasin, works slightly better than tamoxifen in preventing cancer recurrence.

A new study finds aromatase inhibitors might be more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer relapse in premenopausal patients.

A new study finds that aromatase inhibitors might be more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer relapse in premenopausal patients.

Five years of tamoxifen is considered the standard of care for pre-menopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer; aromatase inhibitors are often used in post-menopausal women.

But in a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 93 percent of women on the aromatase inhibitor exemestane remained free of breast cancer after five years. About 89 percent of women on tamoxifen remained free of breast cancer over the same amount of time.   » Continue Reading