Research


International Medicine Program launches with Chinese outreach

October 20, 2014 | by
International Medicine Program

Our International Medicine Program is extending our expertise to patients abroad.

City of Hope is extending the reach of its lifesaving mission well beyond U.S. borders. To that end, three distinguished City of Hope leaders visited China earlier this year to lay the foundation for the institution’s new International Medicine Program.

The program is part of City of Hope’s strategic efforts to grow its clinical programs and find innovative ways to expand access to its high-quality care to patients worldwide. The program is designed to attract and support international patients coming to City of Hope for care, with the initial focus on China.

Outreach abroad and locally

The trio of City of Hope ambassadors — Steven Rosen, M.D., provost, chief scientific officer, director of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope and director of the comprehensive cancer center; Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery and director of the International Medicine Program; and David Horne, Ph.D., vice provost and associate director of Beckman Research Institute — journeyed to major Chinese research and treatment institutions to build relationships with physicians and researchers and educate them about the institution’s cancer expertise. » Continue Reading


Brain metastasis from breast cancer: Our research means better treatments

October 17, 2014 | by


A hallmark of cancer is that it doesn’t always limit itself to a primary location. It spreads. Breast cancer and lung cancer in particular are prone to spread, or metastasize, to the brain. Often the brain metastasis isn’t discovered until years after the initial diagnosis, just when patients were beginning to regain some sense of normalcy and control over their lives.

Like many patients, Joan Rose-Hall thought she had completely recovered from breast cancer. She thought she was past the treatment, past the fear. Then she begin to experience changes, small things really, in her daily routine.

“I noticed that I had difficulty concentrating, difficulty finding my words. I became slow on the keyboard,” she says in the video above. “I actually thought I was cracking up.”

Rose-Hall didn’t associate the changes with her previous diagnosis of breast cancer. Many people wouldn’t.

Instead, she went to see a psychiatrist. That psychiatrist referred her to City of Hope.

» Continue Reading


Natural therapies hold untapped (for now) potential against cancer

October 16, 2014 | by

Blueberries, cinnamon, baikal scullcap, grape seed extract (and grape skin extract), mushrooms, barberry, pomegranates … all contain compounds with the potential to treat, or prevent, cancer.

Blueberries against cancer

These aren’t just blueberries. They’re a potential cancer-fighting powerhouse.

Scientists at City of Hope have found tantalizing evidence of this potential and are determined to explore it to the fullest. They’re researching, testing and developing new therapies made from nature’s bounty — from the vegetables, fruits and herbs many people take for granted as simply plants, not medicine.

To help them in their work, City of Hope has launched a Program in Natural Therapies, an effort to find more effective, but also less toxic, cancer therapies. The researchers have already made considerable progress. » Continue Reading


Many patients unaware that breast cancer reconstruction is an option

October 15, 2014 | by

Most women who are treated for breast cancer with a mastectomy do not choose to undergo reconstructive surgery.

Breast implant

Only 42 percent of women opt for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, a new study finds. Lack of adequate insurance coverage is one reason, says City of Hope expert Laura Kruper.

The reasons for this, according to a recent JAMA Surgery study, vary. Nearly half say they do not want any additional surgery, while nearly 34 percent say breast cancer reconstruction simply isn’t important to them. Fear of implants is another oft-cited factor, including worries that the implants might interfere with detection of recurrence – a fear cancer experts say is not founded.

The study also identified lack of access as a troubling issue. About 18 percent of women said they were not aware that breast cancer reconstruction was an option. Despite federal laws requiring that most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies also cover reconstructive surgery, 12 percent of women cited lack of insurance.

Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center, acknowledges that many women will opt out of reconstructive surgery. However, with her patients, she stresses the importance of evaluating their options and weighing those choices very carefully. » Continue Reading


HIV/AIDS summit unites experts, activists. Their goal: Stop the disease

October 10, 2014 | by
Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P.

Alexandra Levine, chief medical officer of City of Hope and deputy director for clinical programs of the cancer center, reflects on how far HIV/AIDS treatment has come. But more must be done, she says.

First, the good news: HIV infections have dropped dramatically over the past 30 years. Doctors, researchers and health officials have made great strides in preventing and treating the disease, turning what was once a death sentence into, for some, a chronic condition. Now, the reality check: HIV is still a worldwide health threat.

Worldwide, more than 34 million people are living with HIV or AIDs, and 1.1 million of those live in the United States.

City of Hope’s eighth annual San Gabriel Valley HIV/AIDS Action Summit brought together experts and activists to discuss, and help raise awareness of, the prevention, treatment and ultimate cure of HIV and AIDS.

Former State Assemblymember Anthony J. Portantino co-hosted the event, which included students from Duarte High School, Blair High School’s Health Careers Academy, CIS Academy in Pasadena, California, and the Applied Technology Center high school in Montebello.

Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer of City of Hope and deputy director for clinical programs of the cancer center, reflected on how far HIV/AIDS treatment has come even as she offered a stark reminder of today’s reality. Even though HIV is no longer a death sentence, she said, the disease is not to be taken lightly. » Continue Reading


Cancer researcher’s work on STAT3 protein gets international recognition

October 4, 2014 | by

Cancer cells are masters of survival. Despite excessive damage to their most basic workings and the constant vigilance of the body’s immune system, they manage to persevere.

Hua Yu, Ph.D.

Hua Yu was recently awarded with the prestigious Humboldt Research Award for her numerous breakthrough discoveries involving STAT3.

Much of this extraordinary ability to survive falls under the control of proteins bearing the name STAT, short for signal transducer and activator of transcription. Prominent among these is STAT3. This protein helps shield tumor cells from the immune system. It also shuts down apoptosis, the process that normally forces sick cells to die, and it can help cancers spread through the body.

Hua Yu, Ph.D., the Billy and Audrey L Wilder Professor in Tumor Immmunotherapy and chair of the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology at City of Hope, has made STAT3 the focus of much of her research. The first scientist to show for certain that STAT3 could be a molecular target for cancer therapy in animal models of the disease, she is widely regarded as a leader in the field, with numerous breakthrough discoveries surrounding the protein. That global leadership position recently received further affirmation when the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation elected her to receive the Humboldt Research Award. » Continue Reading


1 in 8 women? Understanding breast cancer statistics

October 2, 2014 | by

Here’s a statistic you’ll hear and read frequently over the next month: One in eight women born in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime.

Breast cancer statistics, explained

Breast cancer statistics say that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. What those statistics mean.

Although this statement is accurate, based on breast cancer incidence rates in 2013, it’s often misunderstood.

Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., director of cancer etiology at City of Hope, has spent much of her career researching cancer risk, including the factors linked to breast cancer and how risk can be reduced. What that statistic doesn’t mean, she says, is that if you’re gathered at dinner in a group of eight adult women, that one of you is going to develop breast cancer.

Bernstein sheds some light on the oft-repeated statistic: » Continue Reading


Breast cancer awareness has been raised. Now it’s time for action

October 1, 2014 | by

This time of year, how can anyone not think pink? Through the power of pastel packaging, October has been etched permanently into the American public’s consciousness as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The color pink is now synonymous with breast cancer.

breast cancer awareness

If you recognize this symbol as a Breast Cancer Awareness Month ribbon, you’re awareness of breast cancer has been raised. Now it’s time to take action.

Suffice to say, awareness has been raised.

Now it’s time to make the most of that awareness. Now it’s time for action. That action can come when you choose a health plan, when you choose an oncologist, when you donate or even when you shop for a purse, a tape dispenser or a really great moisturizer.

* If you’re choosing a health plan, choose one that provides access to top-of-the-line expertise.

Research by Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Sciences, has found that, in cancer, where you get care matters. » Continue Reading


Neural stem cells: On the frontier of brain cancer therapy

September 29, 2014 | by

Gliomas, a type of tumor that grows in the brain, are very difficult to treat successfully due to their complex nature. That might not always be the case.

brain tumors

Brain tumors can be difficult to treat. A new therapy, using neural stem cells, may offer a powerful new treatment option.

First some background: The most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumor in adults is glioblastoma. Although the brain tumor mass can often be removed surgically, complete resection (or removal) of all the tumor cells is virtually impossible due to the invasive nature of glioblastoma, and tumor recurrence is the norm.

Karen S. Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, believes the key to recurrence prevention lies in special cells called neural stem cells. She has collaborated with Jana Portnow, M.D., associate professor of Medical Oncology and associate director of the Brain Tumor Program at City of Hope, on a Federal Drug Administration-approved clinical trial that aims to deliver drugs to  brain tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue. » Continue Reading


Rise in skirt size linked to rise in breast cancer risk. Here’s why

September 26, 2014 | by

Weighing your breast cancer risk? One study suggests a measure to consider is skirt size.

A British study suggests that for each increase in skirt size every 10 years after age 25, the five-year risk of developing breast cancer postmenopause increases from one in 61 to one in 51 – a 77 percent increase in risk.

women trying on skirt

New British study suggest increasing skirt size is an indicator of increase breast cancer risk.

The new study, published online in BMJ Open, was based on information from 93,000 women in a British database for cancer screening between 2005 and 2010. All were 50 years old or older, and their average skirt size was a 10. Three out of four women reported gaining sizes. The average size for these women at age 25 was 8, and when they entered the study, the average size was 10.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Gynecological Cancer Research Center at University College London.

Even when considering other risk factors – such as hormone replacement and family history – increased skirt size emerged as the strongest predictor. The skirt size served as a measure of abdominal weight gain. While scientists haven’t pinned down the exact mechanism linking abdominal fat to breast cancer risk, it is known that obesity increases the amount of estrogen in the body. Many breast cancers rely on this hormone to grow. » Continue Reading