LATEST POSTS

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

Sometimes, cancer has a warning sign; know the breast cancer symptoms

October 9, 2014 | by   

Screening for breast cancer has dramatically increased the number of cancers found before they cause symptoms – catching the disease when it is most treatable and curable.

mammogram

If you notice a change in your breast, such as a lump or clear discharge, check with your doctor immediately.

Mammograms, however, are not infallible.

It’s important to conduct self-exams, and know the signs and symptoms that should be checked by a health care professional.

The most common symptom is a new lump or mass. Cancerous masses tend to be hard, painless and have irregular edges, but breast cancer can also be tender, rounded, soft and even painful. » Continue Reading

Advice from Rob: Have cancer? Depressed? Do these 3 things

October 8, 2014 | by   
Cancer survivor Rob Darakjian

Cancer survivor Rob Darakjian shares tips on how to overcome anxiety and depression while being treated for cancer.

Rob Darakjian was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 19 years old. He began chemotherapy and was in and out of the hospital for four months. After his fourth round of treatment, he received a bone marrow transplantation from an anonymous donor. Today, he’s cancer free.

 

In his previous post, he shared his story and explained what NOT to do when you’re depressed and have cancer. Here, he explains what TO do.

**

Being in a hospital for a prolonged period of time is depressing. You may not get depressed or be as prone to depression as I am, but if you find yourself in the hospital with cancer, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have at least a few depressive episodes.

You cannot think your way out of depression, this is a key thing to remember. Naturally, when you’re distraught, you want to solve the problem as soon as possible so you turn inward and start thinking. You believe that, by thinking, you’re going to find the “magic switch” that will bring the happy back.

Wrong. When you’re legitimately depressed, you’re unable to think rationally. Your brain isn’t working as it normally would. Here are some things to think about and, most important, DO when you’re feeling as if you’re trapped in a dark closet and you’ve suddenly forgotten how to turn the door handle to let yourself out.

What cancer patients should DO when they’re depressed:
» Continue Reading

Triathlete and breast cancer patient Lisa Birk: Take control (VIDEO)

October 7, 2014 | by   


In a single day, former professional triathlete Lisa Birk learned she couldn’t have children and that she had breast cancer.

“Where do you go from there?” she asks.

For Birk, who swims three miles, runs 10 miles and cycles every day, the answer  ultimately was a decision to take control of her cancer care. After receiving less-than-ideal treatment at a local hospital, Birk came to City of Hope.

Having cancer didn’t change her exercise routine, and it wasn’t going to change her ability to manage her life.

Learn more about her story – and why expert cancer care matters – in this video.

**

Learn more about breast cancer treatment and research at City of Hope.

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

Four symptoms not to ignore if you’ve had cancer

October 6, 2014 | by   
Raul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D.

Neurosurgeon and scientist Rahul Jandial says some symptoms should never be ignored by former cancer patients.

More and more people are surviving cancer, thanks to advanced cancer treatments and screening tools. Today there are nearly 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States.

But in up to 20 percent of cancer patients, the disease ultimately spreads to their brain. Each year, nearly 170,000 new cases of brain metastasis are diagnosed in the United States, sometimes years after an initial cancer diagnosis. The cancers most likely to spread to the brain are melanoma and cancers of the lung, breast and colon.

Neurosurgeon and scientist Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, says that recognizing symptoms and seeking medical attention as early as possible is vital.

“The warning signs are important not to ignore because it gives us the opportunity to catch potential complications. Early detection gives us a better chance to help patients recover the brain or nerve function that was affected by the cancer,” Jandial said.

Here, Jandial highlights four common symptoms of brain metastasis that are often ignored but that warrant immediate medical attention when occurring in cancer survivors. » 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

Practical advice for couples confronting breast cancer

October 3, 2014 | by   

One person receives the breast cancer diagnosis, but the cancer affects the entire family.

couple therapy

The Couples Coping with Cancer Together program focuses on good communication and problem-solving skills for couples confronting breast cancer.

Couples, in particular, can find the diagnosis and treatment challenging, especially if they have traditional male/female communication styles.

“Though every individual is unique, men and women often respond differently during times of stress,”  said Courtney Bitz, L.C.S.W., a social worker in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. “This is where men and women can learn from and build upon the strengths of their partner and work together as a team. For many couples, the cancer experience can be an opportunity to grow closer to one another.”

Bitz offers these specific and practical behavior tips. They’ve emerged from the wisdom of past patients and partners, from research and from  clinical experience: » 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

Breast cancer infographic: How to reduce breast cancer risk

October 1, 2014 | by   

 

Breast cancer infographic
» Continue Reading