Research


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.

City of Hope allows him to do all of this. That’s why he’s here.

Badie is now working to transform brain tumor treatment through research collaborations using nanoparticles, engineered T cells, engineered stem cells and other novel treatments.

The device that he’s developing “will transform the way we do brain tumor treatment,” he says. “My research gives me hope.”

Watch his story.

And read the story of Bridget Hanchette. Diagnosed with grade IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of malignant brain tumor, the Wisconsin mother of three was told by her doctor that she had only a year to live. A second doctor told her the same thing. Finally she came to City of Hope for an appointment with Badie. That was five years ago. 

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Learn more about getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online 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.


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


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.

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‘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


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


Parents can boost academic performance of childhood cancer survivors

July 10, 2014 | by

Survival rates for childhood cancer have improved tremendously over the past few decades, but postcancer care hasn’t always kept up. More children than ever are now coping with long-term complications and side effects caused by their disease and treatment — one of those being learning difficulties.

City of Hope research shows parent intervention may help childhood cancer survivors improve their performance in school.

City of Hope research shows parent intervention may help childhood cancer survivors improve their performance in school.

A new study, published last month in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and led by City of Hope researchers, suggests that parents can reduce the impact of cancer and cancer treatment on their children’s academic performance.

“It is possible to improve the child’s adaptive functioning in his or her daily life,” said lead author and neuropsychologist Sunita Patel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Population Sciences and Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope. “For the educational realm, parents can facilitate this by helping the child establish good study strategies and to teach the child that learning requires active engagement and effort.”

For the study, researchers analyzed the academic performance of childhood cancer survivors who had cancer treatment affecting their central nervous system. This group of survivors tends to experience long-term cognitive side effects, making it harder for them to retain information in school.

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To stop smoking, consider a drug – and a patch

July 8, 2014 | by

To stop smoking, two approaches might be better than one. A new study has found that using the medication varenicline, or Chantix – along with nicotine patches – was more effective than the medicine alone in helping people quit.

A new study in JAMA finds using nicotine patches in combination with medication is more effective for helping smokers quit than the drug alone.

A new study finds that using nicotine patches in combination with medication is more effective for helping smokers quit than a drug alone.

The study, conducted by Stellanbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 446 generally healthy smokers. One half used a nicotine patch, and the other half used a placebo patch; both groups began using the patches two weeks before their target quit date, and continued for an additional 12 weeks. One week before the target quite date, participants in both groups began using the drug varenicline and continued to take it for 12 weeks, tapering off in week 13.

Researchers found that patients who received the nicotine patch and varenicline were more likely to quit smoking and to have continued that abstinence at 12 weeks, 24 weeks and six months than the placebo group. In fact, at 6 months, 65.1 percent of the combination therapy group was still abstaining from smoking – confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide measurements – versus 46.7 percent in the placebo group.

Brian Tiep, M.D.,  director of pulmonary rehabilitation at City of Hope, said the study not only points to a promising treatment option for smokers, but also underscores the importance of working with professionals who can create a tailored treatment plan for smokers wanting to quit the habit. Smoking is an addiction, and requires serious medical assistance, he says. » Continue Reading


As cancer screening evolves, consumers should follow the science

July 4, 2014 | by

News about the risks or benefits of widespread cancer screening seem to arrive daily – 3D mammography for breast cancer, CT scans for lung cancer, PSA tests for prostate cancer and now pelvic exams for some women’s cancers. Missing in the headlines is a reflection of how cancer detection is evolving.

Rapidly shifting views on cancer screening can leave the average person confused. The key is to know your personal risks and talk with your doctor.

Rapidly shifting views on cancer screening can leave the average person confused. The key is to know your personal risks and talk with your doctor.

Today’s cancer experts say screening advice shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. For most cancers, they advocate individual assessments based on each person’s history. This assessment may lead to more specialized screening – or to no screening at all.

An annual consultation with a primary physician, now standard in the wake of health care reform, should make patients aware of their individual risk. From there come more refined choices. » Continue Reading


Transplants show promise for adults with sickle cell disease

July 3, 2014 | by

Adults with sickle cell disease soon may have a new treatment option: bone marrow transplants.

Sickle cell disease, in which the body produces hemoglobin that is crescent-shaped, could be treated in adults with a bone marrow transplant, a new study finds.

Sickle cell disease, in which the body produces hemoglobin that is crescent-shaped, could be treated in adults with a bone marrow transplant, a new study finds.

Children with sickle cell disease have been treated successfully with transplantation of bone marrow, more officially known as hematopoietic stem cells, from other people. But the procedure has been less successful in adults, because the high-dose chemotherapy or radiation necessary to kill their own cells and allow the new cells to engraft has often been too toxic for adults to tolerate. A lower-density transplantation, however, might be the breakthrough that such patients have needed.

A new study has shown promising results for patients with severe sickle cell disease – including adults – who received a mix of a sibling’s cells and their own cells. The study, published July 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that adults receiving the lower-density transplant were able to avoid long-term mega-doses of chemotherapy or radiation. » Continue Reading


New guidelines recommend against pelvic exams for women. But wait …

July 2, 2014 | by

New pelvic exam recommendations or not, women shouldn’t give up those routine gynecological appointments. The revised guidelines from the American College of Physicians exempt most women from pelvic examinations, but a cancer specialist at City of Hope says women should still plan on regular visits with their gynecologist for cancer screening.

gynecologist exam

New guidelines say that most women do not need a regular pelvic exam. However, physicians say, they should still plan on their regular Pap test to screen for cervical cancer. Some experts fear the impact of this change.

The guidelines were published July 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and call for routine pelvic exams to be skipped for women who are asymptomatic, of average risk for problems and not pregnant. No one is disputing the need, however, for regular Pap tests and cervical exams.

The study on which the recommendations are based found that routine pelvic exams were not beneficial to asymptomatic, average risk women who are not pregnant, as the exams rarely detect important disease and don’t reduce mortality, said Linda Humphrey, M.D., co-author of the guideline, in a news release.

The key to communicating this new guideline is making sure women understand that they should still receive Pap smear screening to detect cervical cancer. The incidence and death rates for cervical cancer have plummeted in the last 60 years, and continued to drop in the last decade, largely due to good screening, said Robert Morgan, M.D., co-director of the Gynecological Oncology/Peritoneal Malignancy Program at City of Hope. » Continue Reading