Research


Uterine cancer expert warns against morcellation, says dangers are known

July 31, 2014 | by

A common surgical device, often used for minimally invasive hysterectomies, may be riskier than previously thought because of its potential to spread several types of cancer, not just uterine cancer, a new study has found.

Uterine removal via a power morcellator can spread cancer, a new study has found.

Use of a power morcellator to remove the uterus, shown here with the female reproductive system, can spread various types of cancer, a new study has found. A City of Hope surgeon isn’t surprised by the findings, saying he wouldn’t use such a tool.

One out of every 368 women treated with a power morcellator – a device that cuts the uterus into smaller pieces for easy removal – had unsuspected uterine cancer that was found during or after their procedures, the researchers showed. Other types of cancer were found as well, they reported, further reinforcing a government assessment that the device is risky. The discovery by Columbia University physicians, detailed in findings published online July 22 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, brings additional data and context to an issue of considerable debate in the gynecology and oncology communities for the last year. A study last December advised patients and their doctors to carefully discuss the risk and benefits of morcellation before reaching a decision about the procedure, which is a step in treating fibroids and facilitating minimally invasive hysterectomy. » Continue Reading


Surgeon general makes skin cancer a national priority

July 30, 2014 | by

Skin cancer rates have been on the rise for years. On Tuesday, the U.S. surgeon general said: Enough.

Indoor tanning bed

The U.S. surgeon general has issued the first-ever Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Indoor tanning is especially under fire, in the report and from a City of Hope skin cancer expert.

In issuing the first-ever Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak described skin cancer as a “major public health problem” that requires action by all segments of society.

Nearly 5 million people in the United States are treated for skin cancer each year, the report said, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with annual treatment costs reaching an estimated $8.1 billion. It’s also one of the most preventable cancers.

Everyone has a role to play in the skin cancer prevention effort, Lushniak stressed, saying that governments across the board (not just federal and state, but also tribal, local and territorial) need to be partners with business, health care and education leaders; community, nonprofit and faith-based organizations; and of course individuals and families.

He’ll find little argument from skin cancer experts, including City of Hope dermatologist Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D. She’s seen the profound impact of skin cancer on society and the alarming rise in skin cancer rates among young people. » Continue Reading


Research, plus newest techniques, improves treatment of prostate cancer

July 28, 2014 | by

Counter-intuitive though it might seem, a prostate cancer diagnosis shouldn’t always lead to immediate prostate cancer treatment.

prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer face difficult and often complicated choices in how to proceed with their medical care. It’s more important now than ever to find doctors with the expertise to know when to pursue aggressive treatment and when to manage with active surveillance.

Although prostate cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men, behind lung cancer, and causes more than 29,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, in many cases, the tumors are small, slow-growing and confined. That means that most prostate cancer tumors might not automatically warrant medical intervention.

“Active surveillance,” in which physicians closely monitor patients so they can identify early signs of disease progression, is emerging as the best course of action for many men with prostate cancer. The strategy enables doctors to treat cancer before it becomes a serious threat, while avoiding unnecessary risk by treating tumors unlikely to spread. » Continue Reading


Meet our doctors: Jinha Park on radiology’s vital role in cancer care

July 26, 2014 | by

Radiology is one of the cornerstones of any hospital. It is a key diagnostic branch of medicine essential for the initial diagnosis of many diseases and has an important role in monitoring a patient’s treatment and predicting outcome. Radiology is the specialty considered to be both the “eyes” and “ears” of medicine.

Jinha Park, radiologist

Jinha Park says radiology is vital in monitoring a patient’s treatment and predicting outcome.

But because radiologists are often behind the scenes, reading images of the inside of the human body and providing results to other doctors, many are unaware of their vital role in helping patients live longer and healthier lives.

Here Jinha Park, M.D., Ph.D., director of MRI and Radiology Research, discusses how radiology has enhanced diagnostics and cancer treatment, and how his role as a “doctor’s doctor” is helping to make huge headway in the fight against cancer. » 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


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


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


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