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Colon cancer: Why screening absolutely saves lives (w/PODCAST)

June 22, 2015 | by
Colon Cancer

Stephen M. Sentovich is a clinical professor in the Department of Surgery with extensive experience in the surgical treatment and management of colon and rectal cancers.

The colon and rectum are parts of the body’s gastrointestinal system, also called the digestive tract.

After food is digested in the stomach and nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, the remaining material moves down into the lower large intestine (colon) where water and nutrients are absorbed. The lower parts of the digestive tract include the rectum and anus, through which stool (solid waste) travels as it passes from the body.

Possible signs of colon cancer and/or rectum cancer include a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool. These and other symptoms may be caused by colon and/or rectum cancer.

Here, Stephen Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A., discusses colon cancer and how early screening can save lives.

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For other interviews with City of Hope experts,  go to our list of City of Hope podcasts.

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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.


Melanoma: The ABCDE guide to potentially cancerous moles

May 1, 2015 | by

To detect melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, at its earliest, most treatable stage, conduct a head-to-toe skin self-examination once a month to check for suspicious moles.

 

ABCDE Guide for Skin Cancer Self-exam for cancerous moles

Unusual, or atypical, moles can ultimately develop into skin cancer. Here is the ABCDE guide to potentially cancerous moles:

A = Asymmetry
The two halves of the mole do not match when you draw a line through the middle.

B = Border
The mole has an uneven border.

C = Color
The mole has multiple shades of tan, brown or black or has unusual colors such as red, purple or blue.

D = Diameter
The mole is larger than 6mm in diameter (or the size of a pencil eraser).

E = Evolution
The mole has changed in size, shape or color over time.

If you have a suspicious mole, contact your primary care doctor or a dermatologist for further evaluation. For more information about melanoma and other types of skin cancer, visit www.cityofhope.org/skin-cancer.

Sources: American Cancer Society and Skin Cancer Foundation

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Feel free to reproduce our skin cancer infographic for health and education purposes. Download the PDF.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion 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.


Lifestyle and cancer: Questions answered, myths debunked

April 13, 2015 | by

Sure, a healthy lifestyle can lower a person’s risk, but the impact of specific actions is harder to tease out. Diet, exercise, tobacco use, nutritional supplements, alcohol consumption … How important are each of these factors, individually? Does strict adherence to (or rejection of) one get you a pass on the others?

Hold off on the binge. Amid so much confusion about lifestyle and cancer, why not ask the experts at City of Hope? They can debunk misconceptions about cancer while sharing cancer facts that matter, such as the reality of risk factors, prevention measures and the research underway at City of Hope.

Join us on April 25 in Simi Valley, California, for Ask the Experts “Cancer Urban Legends: Lifestyle” and hear physicians explain the connection between lifestyle and cancer, specifically the underlying facts of how our choices impact our health. » Continue Reading


The environment and cancer: Are you at risk? (w/VIDEO)

March 19, 2015 | by

How does the environment affect our health? Specifically, how does it affect our risk of cancer?

City of Hope physicians and researchers recently answered those questions in an Ask the Experts event in Corona, California, explaining the underlying facts about how the environment can affect our health.

Moderator Linda H. Malkas, Ph.D., associate chair and professor of molecular and cellular biology, led the discussion, giving voice to the concerns that many people have about the environment and cancer risk, and asking tough questions of the panelists.

» Continue Reading


Colorectal cancer: What our experts have to say

March 12, 2015 | by

Colorectal cancer may be one of the most common cancers in both men and women, but it’s also one of the most curable cancers. Today, because of effective screening tests and more advanced treatment options, there are more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Here, colorectal cancer experts Donald David, M.D., clinical professor and chief of City of Hope’s Division of Gastroenterology, and Stephen Sentovich, M.D., a clinical professor of surgery at City of Hope, explain the importance of colorectal screening and the growing list of treatments for the disease.

On who is most at risk:

Sentovich: “In the U.S., we are all at risk of colon and rectal cancer. It can occur at any age, but the incidence increases as we age, particularly as we get over 50 years of age. For both men and women here in the U.S., the lifetime chance of getting colon and rectal cancer is about 5 percent. In some families, the risk is much higher due to genetic risk factors.” » Continue Reading


Meet our doctors: Surgeon Donald Hannoun on urology and bladder cancer

February 7, 2015 | by

The treatment of urologic cancers, including bladder cancer, is rapidly evolving. Here, urologic oncologic surgeon and kidney stone specialist Donald Hannoun, M.D., an assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope | Antelope Valley, explains the changes in his field, as well as his approach to medicine.

Urologist Donald Hannoun

Donald Hannoun shares his approach to urology and patient care.

Did someone or something from your early experience in life motivate you to go into medicine?

I’ve always loved working with people.  I couldn’t think of a more altruistic field than medicine. What motivated me to get into urology was my late grandfather’s struggle with bladder stones, which are hard masses of minerals in the bladder. He was completely miserable before his surgery, and was then transformed into a new man after having them removed. To see such immediate results made me seriously consider urology. Now, I treat all types of genitourinary cancers, including kidney, bladder, prostate and testicular cancer.

» Continue Reading


Does the environment increase our cancer risk? If so, how much?

February 2, 2015 | by

Does our environment increase our risk of cancer? What about plastic bottles, radiation, chemicals, soy products …? Do they cause cancer?

With so many cancer fears, rumors and downright urban legends circulating among our friends and colleagues, not to mention in the media and blogosphere, why not ask the experts? They can debunk cancer myths while sharing cancer facts that matter such as risk factors, prevention and the research underway at City of Hope.

Join us Feb. 19 in Corona, California,  for Ask the Experts “Cancer Urban Legends: The Environment” and hear from physician and research experts as they discuss cancer and the environment, explaining the underlying facts of how the environment can affect our health. » Continue Reading


To turn T cells into cancer fighters, start with bacteria (w/VIDEO)

January 28, 2015 | by


Equipping the immune system to fight cancer – a disease that thrives on mutations and circumventing the body’s natural defenses – is within reach. In fact, City of Hope researchers are testing one approach in clinical trials now.

t cells

City of Hope scientists are studying T cells, and how they can be reprogrammed to recognize cancer markers and attack cancer cells.

Scientists take a number of steps to turn cancer patients’ T cells – white blood cells that are part of the immune system’s defenses – into smart cells that can locate elusive cancer cells. They also get help from nature, using the natural properties of what most people consider agents of infection.

First, they use bacteria to help the patient’s own T cells grow in the lab – because cell reproduction is something bacteria do very well. Then they use a harmless virus to manipulate the DNA of the T cell so it can recognize certain markers on a cancer cell that flag them as targets for attack.

KPCC recently reported on this research, explaining how the immune system might be mobilized to attack cancers that are good at hiding from the body.

Bacteria, viruses, a patient’s own immune system and a team of top scientists all working in concert against cancer … Sound complicated? In about two and a half minutes, the above video artfully sums up the process step by step.

So far, City of Hope is studying this approach in a number of blood cancers through the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

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Learn more about T cell immunotherapy at City of Hope.

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). 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.


Sportscaster Stuart Scott’s young age is reminder: Check family history

January 19, 2015 | by
Stuart Scott

ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott’s cancer diagnosis is a reminder to check family history. (Photo by Alan Rose)

One of American’s great sportscasters, Stuart Scott, passed away from recurrent cancer of the appendix at the young age of 49. His cancer was diagnosed when he was only 40 years old. It was found during an operation for appendicitis. His courageous fight against this disease began in 2007, resumed again with an operation for recurrent cancer in 2011, and yet again in 2013 when the cancer returned. Despite surgery, a long period of surgical healing, and then prolonged courses of different kinds of chemotherapy, he died on Jan. 4, 2015.

Scott went public with his struggle against the disease, and urged people to follow his example to fight cancer with both chemotherapy and an aggressive exercise program to keep his body strong. Because so many of my patients suffer from fatigue associated with treatments, I am sure his fitness program improved his quality of life.

But more important for all of us, we should realize that the occurrence of cancer at a young age (40 in Scott’s case) should raise a red flag to patients, families and physicians. Hereditary cancer syndromes due to mutations in our genes are the cause of 5 to 10 percent of cancers. And when we are reminded of this by the death of one of our celebrities at a young age, we should each examine our own family history and get tested for gene abnormalities.

When should we be asking for a discussion about gene testing? Family cancer syndromes are likely to be present when there are multiple family members with cancer, or when an individual patient has more than one cancer, or when a cancer occurs at a young age (less than 50). While we do not know if Scott was tested (that’s private health information), having cancer at age 40 warrants discussing gene testing with a physician.

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Cancer in your family history? Your genes are not your destiny

November 22, 2014 | by

When it comes to cancer, your family history may provide more questions than answers: How do my genes increase my risk for cancer? No one in my family has had cancer; does that mean I won’t get cancer? What cancers are common in certain populations and ethnicities?

City of Hope experts have some guidance. “Your genes are not your destiny, but they can play a role in the decisions you make related to cancer screenings, diet and interventions that you do along the way,” said Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of medical quality and an associate clinical professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “You can take an active role in how you move along in life, rather than be the passive recipient of the hand that genetics happens to deal to you.” » Continue Reading