LATEST POSTS

‘Let It Grow': Young researchers take on Disney’s ‘Frozen’ [w/video]

August 13, 2014 | by   


Thanks to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), high school students across the state gained valuable hands-on experience with stem cell research this summer. City of Hope hosted eight of those students.

As part of the CIRM Creativity Awards program, the young scholars worked full time as members of our biomedical research teams. They received mentoring from physicians and scientists and interacted closely with each other and their mentors to gain firsthand practice in laboratory research with stem cells.

Through the Creativity Awards, CIRM supported students at nine institutions throughout the state. Students were encouraged to share their experiences through various social media outlets with videos, blog posts and Instagram photos.

The video, produced by student interns here at City of Hope, was named a favorite by CIRM and gained widespread attention from news media outlets including NBC4 Los Angeles, the Bay Area’s ABC7 and NBC4 in New York. Drawing from the hit movie “Frozen,” the video encourages stem cells (and presumably the students) to — you guessed it — “Let It Grow.”

Take a look, and join us in congratulating these creative young scientists.

Even low doses of chest radiation in childhood boost breast cancer risk

August 13, 2014 | by   

Radiation therapy can help cure many children facing Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers. When the radiation is delivered to a girl’s chest, however, it can lead to a marked increase in breast cancer risk later in life.

Smita Bhatia, M.D.

In a new study, Smita Bhatia found that women who received even low doses of radiation therapy to their chests as children have an increased breast cancer risk later in life.

A recent multi-institutional study that included City of Hope’s Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., the Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences, examined the long-term effects of chest radiation on female survivors of childhood cancers, primarily Hodgkin lymphoma. The researchers wanted to determine whether more current therapies using less radiation could reduce the breast cancer risk, and if the amount of area exposed was a factor.

Past research has shown that standard doses of radiation therapy to the chest increase breast cancer risk, with incidence rates among these women ranging from 5 percent to 14 percent by age 40.

For the current chest radiation study, lead author Chaya Moskowitz, Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the research team looked at more than 1,200 women who received various amounts of radiation in treatment of childhood cancers. They found that even women who received lower amounts of radiation as children still were much more likely to develop breast cancer than the average woman, with as many as 30 percent developing breast cancer by age 50. » Continue Reading

With cancer, expertise matters – as these cancer patients know (w/VIDEO)

August 12, 2014 | by   

A patient diagnosed with cancer – especially a rare, advanced or hard-to-treat cancer – needs specialized care from exceptionally skilled and highly trained experts. That kind of care saves lives, improves quality of life and keeps families whole.

That kind of care is best found at comprehensive cancer centers like City of Hope.

One of the top cancer hospitals for cancer in the United States, according to U.S.News & World Report’s annual rankings, City of Hope has also been awarded the highest level of accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and is listed on Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2014 list of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”

Further, recent research found that receiving cancer care at a comprehensive cancer center improves survival of patients with cancers of the breast, lung, liver, stomach, pancreas and oral tissues, among others.

The cancer patients in the video above don’t need to be convinced by such commendations or research, however. They were convinced by City of Hope itself.

Read more about them:

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Learn more about becoming a patient or 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.

Diet during cancer treatment: Tips on managing appetite and weight loss

August 11, 2014 | by   

Appetite loss may be common during cancer treatment, lasting throughout your therapy or only occasionally, but it can be managed.

snacks and cancer treatment

Keep snacks close at hand during cancer treatment in order to take advantage of  the moments when you feel like eating.

Below are tips from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that can help you keep your weight up and, in doing so, keep your body well-nourished. (See the end of this article for a delicious chocolate-avocado smoothie recipe that’s perfectly in line with these recommendations.) » Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Hematologist Margaret O’Donnell on myelodysplasia

August 9, 2014 | by   

Myelodysplasia, sometimes referred to as myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, is a rare group of blood disorders caused by disrupted development of blood cells within the bone marrow, resulting in a decreased number of healthy blood cells. People diagnosed with the condition, considered a precancer, may be at greater risk for leukemia.

Margaret O'Donnell on myelodysplasia

Margaret O’Donnell says a collaborative team of experts customize individual myelodysplasia treatment plans.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 13,000 new cases of myelodysplastia are diagnosed each year. As the average age of the population in the U.S. goes up, the number of new cases seems to be increasing.

Here, Margaret O’Donnell, M.D., clinical professor and associate clinical director for City of Hope’s Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Program, sorts out the facts about myelodysplasia. She also describes how our world-class experts excel in treating these complicated diseased and how the team works continuously to better understand and more effectively treat myelodysplasia. » Continue Reading

New gene mutation, in PALB2, is linked to heightened breast cancer risk

August 8, 2014 | by   

Twenty years ago, scientists discovered that a mutation in a gene now widely known as BRCA1 was linked to a sharply increased risk of breast cancer, paving the way for a new chapter in identifying women at risk of the disease and giving them options to potentially avoid an aggressive cancer. But experts have also long known that other genes probably play a role as well. Now, one of those genes has been identified: PALB2.

A new study links a mutation in the PALB2 gene to a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are not alone in increasing breast cancer risk. A new study also links a mutation in the PALB2 gene to a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Mutations in this gene, rarer than the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, can make breast cancer nine times more likely to develop in women and eight times more likely for men, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine from an international team of researchers, including two City of Hope scientists.

“This one is serious,” Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics at City of Hope and one of the leaders of the study, told the Associated Press. Susan Neuhausen, Ph.D., The Morris & Horowitz Families Professor in Cancer Etiology and Outcomes Research, is also one of the study’s authors.

Weitzel said the gene is probably the most dangerous in terms of breast cancer risk after the BRCA genes.  » Continue Reading

Summer academy names scholarship for neuroscientist Paul Salvaterra

August 8, 2014 | by   

The Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy at City of Hope turned 54 this year. Marking the occasion, the academy announced a new scholarship in honor of longtime director Paul Salvaterra, Ph.D.

Paul Salvaterra

“I love seeing these kids doing science,” says Paul Salvaterra of the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy.

Salvaterra, a professor in City of Hope’s Department of Neurosciences, has led the summer student academy for nearly four decades, helping thousands of students participate in laboratory research projects at City of Hope.

“I stay involved with the academy because I love seeing these kids doing science,” Salvaterra said. “To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed by the attention, but it’s a real honor to receive this recognition.”

His own work has included studies designed to determine the neuronal cellular fate and specific neurotransmitter phenotypes of cells in the nervous system. Another project is meant to help define genetic pathways involved in Alzheimer’s disease. » Continue Reading

Summer academy student’s work on neural stem cells is tribute to father

August 7, 2014 | by   

Stevee Rowe has a very personal connection to the research she’s conducting on neural stem cells: Her late father participated in a City of Hope clinical trial involving neural stem cells.

Student Stevee Rowe

Stevee Rowe is researching neural stem cells through the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy. (Photo by Darrin S. Joy)

Rowe — her full name is Alissa Stevee Rowe, but she prefers to use her middle name — will enter her senior year at the University of California, Riverside, this fall. She currently is enrolled in the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy. Her project examines neural stem cells used to target brain cancer.

Her father, Steven Keith Rowe, was a patient at City of Hope who enrolled in a clinical trial to treat his brain tumor with neural stem cells. “My father wanted to help further research and was always willing to try anything he could,” she said. Now she hopes to do the same. » Continue Reading

Multiple myeloma and bone health: What patients need to know

August 6, 2014 | by   

Although multiple myeloma is classified as a blood cancer, patients with this disease often experience bone-related symptoms, too. This includes bone pain, frequent fractures and spots of low bone density or bone damage that show up during a skeletal scan.

X-Ray image of hip

Multiple myeloma may be a blood cancer, but it also commonly affects the skeletal system — leading to bone loss, pain (most commonly in the lower back and hip) and an increased risk of fractures.

Here, Amrita Krishnan, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Multiple Myeloma Program, answers questions about this cancer’s connection to bone health and what patients and their care team can do about it.

How does multiple myeloma affect bone health?

In a normal body, bones are constantly being maintained by two types of cells: osteoblasts that create new bone matter and osteoclasts that break it down and reabsorb it. Myeloma cells can disrupt this balance in two ways, by interfering with osteoblasts‘ bone-building ability while overstimulating osteoclasts‘ breakdown processes. The result is overall bone loss. » Continue Reading

Breast cancer risk linked to birth control pills, but no need to panic

August 5, 2014 | by   

Women using some birth control pills, specifically those with high doses of estrogen and a few other formulations, may be at an increased risk of breast cancer, a new study has found. At first glance, the findings seem alarming, but a City of Hope breast cancer surgeon is warning against overreaction.

Birth control pills

A new study links some birth control pills to higher breast cancer risk, but study leaders and experts say more research is needed.

The study, published recently  in the journal Cancer Research and led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, compared women who used oral contraceptives in the past year to those who never used them or who had formerly used them. However, the researchers acknowledged, their findings should be interpreted very carefully.

“Our results require confirmation and should be interpreted cautiously,” said study researcher Elisabeth F. Beaber, Ph.D., M.P.H., in a statement released by the journal. “Breast cancer is rare among young women and there are numerous established health benefits associated with oral contraceptive use that must be considered. In addition, prior studies suggest that the increased risk associated with recent oral contraceptive use declines after stopping oral contraceptives.” » Continue Reading