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Yoga: Harnessing the calm during cancer

September 7, 2013 | by   
Yoga for cancer patients

“Being able to see the change that can happen in one hour of conscious breathing and movement: watching anxiety transform to calm, worry to peace, fear to hope – this is why I do what I do.”
– Ana Delgado, yoga teacher at City of Hope (Photo courtesy Ana Delgado)

Yogis believe there is style of yoga for everyone. Hot yoga turns up the intensity. Vinyasa flow delivers an experience of constant movement. And then there is restorative yoga, the type of gentle yoga that cancer patients are increasingly turning to as a way to balance the mind and body.

Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and blood pressure, while improving flexibility, muscle stamina, lung capacity and a sense of well-being. It’s also been shown to benefit cancer survivors specifically.

Such benefits are why some doctors are recommending yoga as a complementary therapy during cancer treatment.

In yoga classes at City of Hope, cancer patients focus on meditation techniques and deep breathing. Perhaps there is no other group of people who could benefit more from being present in their body, learning to accept that body, developing ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of their disease, and exploring how they can work around their limitations. Yoga gives them that.

Further, the practice in its restorative form is considered light exercise, which is actually recommended during chemotherapy.

“It stimulates the body to release endorphins, which can lower inflammation and improve a patient’s overall sense of well-being,” says Laura Kruper, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center.

Some patients stop exercising during treatment, then find themselves weakened more than they otherwise would be, she says. Yoga has the potential to ameliorate that weakness. » Continue Reading

Where research on cancer and diabetes connects

September 6, 2013 | by   

If there’s a physical crossroads for cancer and diabetes at City of Hope, it’s in the laboratory of De-Fu Zeng, M.D., where researchers are finding that the two diseases have more in common than many imagine.

In fact, there may even be a common thread in their potential cures, with researchers now examining the possibility of using bone marrow transplantation – a procedure that City of Hope helped pioneer in cancer patients – to treat diabetes.

De-Fu Zeng and Jeremy Racine study treatments that have implications for cancer, diabetes and a range of autoimmune diseases.

De-Fu Zeng and Jeremy Racine study treatments that have implications for cancer, diabetes and a range of autoimmune diseases.

The leap is not such a big one. Already, the lab’s researchers are studying  graft-versus-host disease, the ability of transplants to repair broken immune systems, and a nontoxic method of preparing the immune system for transplantation.

Though most people may associate such work with cancer, their discoveries have the potential to also affect patients with diabetes and other autoimmune conditions.

» Continue Reading

Prostate cancer: Twitter users have questions; we have answers

September 5, 2013 | by   


What are prostate cancer risk factors? What are the early symptoms? What are the latest treatment advances?  Twitter users had questions – and City of Hope physicians had answers during today’s TweetChat.

Offering their expertise were Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., City of Hope’s Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology, and Mark Kawachi, M.D., associate clinical professor in City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology. They discussed prostate cancer research, screening, treatment and much more under the hashtag #ProstateChat.

You can read the full chat below.

For more answers, attend our Ask the Experts session on Sept. 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Titled “Prostate Cancer: What Every Man (and Woman) Should Know,” the session will sort through conflicting information about the detection and treatment of prostate cancer by providing the latest information and answers to your questions. It will also address state-of-the-art robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery.

Sign up online here or call 800-535-1390, ext. 65669. 
 
Above, Kawachi elaborates on the management of side effects. (Only so much can be explained in a Tweet.) Here, he discusses prostate cancer screening.

» Continue Reading

Questions about fish oil: Study links Omega-3s to prostate cancer

September 3, 2013 | by   

The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have so many health benefits and so few side effects that a daily dose has seemed like a no-brainer. Until now.

Fish oil has now been linked to a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer. One expert calls the findings a "game-changer."

Fish oil has now been linked to a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer. One expert calls the findings a “game-changer.”

Long linked to heart health, Omega-3s have been shown to lower high triglycerides and, at the right dosages, to reduce the risk of heart disease. Though the evidence of their benefits is less conclusive for other health conditions, Omega-3s in the form of fish oil are sometimes used in attempts to reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, artherosclerosis, kidney problems and age-related eye disease, to name just a few.

Now a new study has linked the consumption of these Omega-3s to a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer. For men who take the supplements to protect their heart, this study could well be “a game changer,” says City of Hope’s Cy Stein, M.D., the Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology.

» Continue Reading

‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – JoAnn Corbin

September 3, 2013 | by   

JoAnn Corbin, 78, has adopted a firm policy that has twice saved her life: Be proactive with your health.

Former breast cancer and ovarian cancer patient JoAnn Corbin took charge of her own health -- and saved her own life. She advises others to do the same.

Former breast cancer and ovarian cancer patient JoAnn Corbin took charge of her own health – and saved her own life. She advises others to do the same. Photo courtesy of JoAnn Corbin

Earlier this year, Corbin kept her appointment for her annual mammogram, which turned up a suspicious spot. When a needle biopsy confirmed her physician’s suspicion of cancer, Corbin got in touch with City of Hope.

“Nobody likes to go and get a mammogram,” Corbin said. “That’s not the most fun thing to do. If I hadn’t done it, it probably would not have been a Stage 1 cancer. In a year’s time, it could have been a Stage 2 or 3 – then we’re dealing with something totally different.”

Like many cancer patients, Corbin was already a cancer survivor. In 2000, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and successfully treated at City of Hope. In both instances, Corbin’s commitment to protecting her health helped ensure an early diagnosis and a smooth course of treatment. » Continue Reading

Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma: New treatments are on the horizon

September 1, 2013 | by   

Survival rates for blood cancers have climbed steadily in recent decades, to as high as 90 percent for some cancers. This is great progress, but even as Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Awareness Month in September brings treatment advances into focus, researchers are honing even further their ability to fight these cancers.

Breakthroughs in treatment of blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma have led to climbing survival rates in recent decades.

Breakthroughs in treatment of blood cancers such as leukemia (shown here), lymphoma and myeloma have led to climbing survival rates in recent decades.

More than a million people in the United States are living with, or are in remission from, a blood cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

These diseases affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. They’re related in that many of them may result from mutations in the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell. In blood cancers, these abnormal cells multiply and survive, and when they accumulate in the blood or lymphatic tissue, they interfere with the production and functioning of red blood cells, white cells and platelets. This may lead to severe anemia, bleeding and the inability to fight infection, all of which can be life-threatening.

The treatments and understanding of these diseases are advancing every day. At City of Hope, researchers are assessing how best to harness the immune system to fight these cancers; evaluating the role of stem cells in cancer and what that means for therapies; and perfecting partially matched bone marrow transplants to improve survival. » Continue Reading

Prostate Cancer Awareness: Survival rate has soared

September 1, 2013 | by   

Have questions about prostate cancer? Check out our TweetChat.

Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., and Mark Kawachi, M.D., associate clinical professor in City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology, participated in a TweetChat on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon Pacific. They discussed prostate cancer research, screening, treatment and management of possible side effects such as incontinence and impotence. To read a log of that TweetChat, click here.

 

Real medical breakthroughs are few and far between, but advances in treating prostate cancer come close.

Photomicrograph of invasive prostate adenocarcinoma

Photomicrograph of invasive prostate adenocarcinoma. (Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Health)

Over the last 40 years, the overall five-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer patients has jumped from 64 percent in 1973 to over 99 percent now. Further, men diagnosed with local or regional prostate cancer today have what’s considered a 100 percent chance of five-year survival, due to improvements in fighting the disease with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Despite this overwhelming success, obstacles remain in diagnosing and treating the disease. The month of September, designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, offers an opportunity to reflect on the successes and the challenges.

“The PSA [prostate specific antigen] test is not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., City of Hope’s Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology. “But it’s one of the very few tools we have available now to screen for and monitor the disease.”

And for men whose cancers are not detected until they’ve metastasized to distant areas of the body, the survival odds plummets to less than 28 percent. And prostate cancer will claim the lives of almost 30,000 men this year, according to the American Cancer Society. » Continue Reading

Ovarian cancer: Scientists join hunt to identify ‘silent killer’

September 1, 2013 | by   

Ovarian cancer, known as “the silent killer,” can perform its lethal work undetected thanks to its neighborhood.

Cancer in the ovaries, highlighted here, can grow undetected in large part because there's so much room in which it can develop.

Cancer in the ovaries, highlighted here, can grow undetected in large part because there’s so much room in which it can develop.

“The abdomen and pelvis have so much potential space where tumors from the ovary can potentially grow,”  said Ernest Han, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and surgeon in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at City of Hope.

This year in the U.S. alone, ovarian cancer will kill 14,030 women, be diagnosed in 22,240 women, and will begin growing in many others.

Women may fail to recognize or simply dismiss symptoms caused by the intruder: bloating, swelling, pelvic or abdominal pain; feeling full quickly, constipation and urinary frequency. Yet, sometimes the symptoms are too general and gradual to cause alarm. “Every woman at some point in her life has experienced these symptoms,” said Han.

“These symptoms are primarily concerning if they are of recent onset [within a few months rather than having occurred for a long time], and if they occur more than 12 times per month,” said Robert Morgan, M.D., co-director, Gynecological Oncology/Peritoneal Malignancy Program at City of Hope.

We asked City of Hope experts about the future of ovarian cancer screening and treatment, as well as what women should know about the disease: » Continue Reading

Childhood cancers are more curable, but also rising

August 31, 2013 | by   

Pediatric cancers are more curable than ever, with the five-year survival rate for children diagnosed with cancer estimated at more than 80 percent. That’s a huge increase from the 1970s, when the five-year survival rate was less than 60 percent.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“There has been a continuous improvement in outcome of treatment for childhood cancer over the last few decades,” said Joseph Rosenthal, M.D., the Barron Hilton Chair in Pediatrics at City of Hope. “At this time, a cure is a feasible goal for the majority of children diagnosed with cancer.”

But, inexplicably, diagnosis rates are rising.

Over the past 20 years, the incidence of children being diagnosed with all forms of invasive cancer has been rising at a consistent rate, according to the National Cancer Institute. In 1975, the rate of cancer in children was 11.5 cases per 100,000 children. In 2004, the rate increased to 14.8 cases per 100,000 children.

Further, the increase also means that more children than ever are coping with long-term complications caused by their disease and its treatment.

» Continue Reading

Exercise to reduce breast cancer risk (yes, even if you’re slim)

August 30, 2013 | by   

Exercise – everyone knows they should do it, but not nearly enough people make it a priority. Not only does exercise reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, it also reduces the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer — one of the most common cancers in women.

Exercise reduces the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer—one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women.

Exercise reduces the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer — one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women.

Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center at City of Hope, says exercise has been shown to have a protective effect for all women, not just women who are at high risk.

“We don’t know exactly why exercise might help prevent breast cancer. It may have to do with improving your immune system to knock out cancer cells,” said Kruper in an interview with Redbook magazine. “Eighty percent of all breast cancers are spontaneous, meaning there’s no obvious reason for getting the disease, like family history, so any step you take to lower your odds is a great choice.” » Continue Reading