50 years of tobacco control: Impact measured in lives saved

January 20, 2014 | by   

From warning labels to taxes to banning advertising, the U.S. has taken serious steps over the past 50 years to diminish the effects of tobacco on American health.

This month marks 50 years of tobacco control efforts, which have reaped rewards in lives saved.

This month marks 50 years of tobacco control efforts, which have reaped rewards in lives saved.

The surgeon general took the first step 50 years ago this month, issuing a report based on 7,000 scientific articles and concluding that smoking causes lung cancer and other lung disease. Between the powerfully addictive nature of cigarettes and other tobacco products and the economic forces promoting them, the battle against smoking has been a challenging one that continues today. However, the success of anti-smoking campaigns can be measured in lives saved.

Researchers at Yale University recently reported that the anti-smoking efforts have avoided 8 million smoking-related deaths.

“Lung cancer, which accounts for more deaths than breast, colon, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined, has the largest impact on these statistics,” said Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope. “The reason for the decline in lung cancer deaths is unequivocally related to tobacco control. We have the opportunity to further reduce deaths from lung cancer with even tighter tobacco control measures, such as increasing cigarette taxes, which have been shown to lead to increased quit rates.” » Continue Reading

9 questions and answers about cervical cancer

January 18, 2014 | by   

Cervical cancer, once one of the leading cancer killers in women, is now one of the nation’s most treatable cancers — thanks in large part to early detection, preventive measures and increased knowledge about the human papillomavirus, which can lead to the disease.

In fact, cervical cancer is almost 100 percent preventable. Regular gynecologic care and pap smears can detect precancerous changes before they develop into cancer, and the precancerous changes themselves can often be prevented as well.  

Ernest Han, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and surgeon in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at City of Hope.

One of the most common questions that City of Hope surgeon Ernest Han gets about cervical cancer is: What causes it? His answer: HPV.

But much progress is needed in the treatment of patients with advanced disease, a fact especially relevant during January, which Congress has designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Annually, almost 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and almost 4,000 die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ernest Han, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and surgeon in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at City of Hope, discusses some of the confusion and concerns about cervical cancer.

What is the most common question you get about cervical cancer?

One of the most common questions from patients is: “What’s the cause of cervix cancer?”

We know that the primary cause is the human papillomavirus (HPV), and we say that it causes almost 100 percent of cases. We don’t say that it causes 100 percent, because there are probably some cervix cancers that are very rare that are caused by other unknown factors or maybe other viruses or other things that are not as well understood. But those are rare, and predominantly everyone here has a cervical cancer that is HPV-related. That is really where the focus for our cancer prevention lies. » Continue Reading

Physician’s advice to other doctors: Love your patients (w/VIDEO)

January 17, 2014 | by   

Just like the many people who make New Year’s resolutions to get fit, become financially sound and do more worthwhile activities, physicians have their own aspirations for the new year. This might include doing more research to improve treatments, maintaining a healthy work-life balance or, obviously, striving to provide better care for their patients.

Cy Stein of City of Hope

Cy Stein’s advice to doctors: Don’t compromise your standards, love your patients and foster intellectual curiosity

To help doctors do just that, Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology at City of Hope, recently shared some advice and lessons he has learned over his career.

Here are some highlights from the interview with MedPageToday:

What is the most important piece of advice for med students or doctors just starting out today?

Love your patients as yourself, be intellectually honest to a fault, don’t compromise your standards, and don’t let your life be directed only by money.

What is your “elevator” pitch to persuade someone to pursue a career in medicine?

The relief of human suffering and anxiety may be the most satisfying long-term thing a human being can do.

What is your advice to other physicians on how to avoid burnout?

Have a passion outside of medicine. Don’t be a workaholic, and don’t take your work home with you. Rest your brain by doing something else you love doing. And when dealing with patients, never think about yourself. It’s only about the patient. It’s amazing how refreshing that thought can be.

Although the U.S. health care system can be frustrating for doctors, Stein told MedPageToday that practicing medicine is still rewarding because of the “true appreciation you receive when patients know they are in good hands and you have helped them.”

The full article, along with video, is available here.

Wellness Wednesday: Rising to the challenge of maintaining momentum

January 15, 2014 | by   

Three months ago, City of Hope issued a fitness challenge to its neighbors in surrounding communities.

City of Hope's Foothill Fitness Challenge wraps up Saturday at 10 a.m. iin Heritage Park on the medical center's campus.

City of Hope’s Foothill Fitness Challenge concludes Saturday, with participants measuring the progress made toward their personal fitness goals and, just maybe, setting new ones.

More than 1,600 participants answered that call, pledging to commit to healthy changes intended to reduce their risk of cancer and diabetes.

Saturday marks the conclusion of what’s been known as the Foothill Fitness Challenge, with participants assessing the progress made toward their personal goals, which ranged from dropping pounds to training for marathons.

Whatever the fitness goals, momentum and consistency are key in reducing disease risk.

“People who exercise three to four hours a week – these women had a lower risk of breast cancer,” said Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., professor and director of City of Hope’s Division of Cancer Etiology. “Physical activity is stronger in its ability to reduce your risk than even maintaining a healthy body weight. So, I always tell women to exercise.” » Continue Reading

Cancer and cuisine: What you need to know about eating well

January 15, 2014 | by   

Eat healthy. Be active.

Cancer and nutrition

When it comes to cancer risk, food matters. Our experts explain the connection.

Those are two pieces of advice that Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., professor and director of City of Hope’s Division of Cancer Etiology, will likely share – and emphasize – at a Jan. 28 Ask the Experts lecture titled “Cancer and Cuisine.” (Another “Cancer and Cuisine” event will be held Jan. 25 at the newly opened City of Hope | Antelope Valley clinic in Lancaster, Calif.)

Bernstein is the principal investigator of the California Teachers Study, which has tracked more than 133,000 participants since 1995 to assess whether certain behaviors are linked to cancer and other diseases. In other words, Bernstein knows a bit about cancer risk.

At the Ask the Experts lecture, held on the City of Hope campus in Duarte, she’ll provide details on why healthy eating and exercise matter – and how scientists know that they do.

But that’s just for starters. Tender Greens sous chef Junior Perez will then prepare a healthy dish and share the importance of the ingredients in the dish.

Here, Bernstein and Prez give some insight into their backgrounds and what they’ll be speaking about on Jan. 28.

» Continue Reading

Cancer and cuisine: Kick-start the new year

January 15, 2014 | by   

Maybe you decided to start the new year on a healthy note, by eating better and exercising regularly. Maybe you need help kick-starting this plan. City of Hope is here to help.

Snack on blueberries

Snacks are fine. Just make sure they’re healthy, advises City of Hope’s medical director Vijay Trisal. He and holistic health counselor Katja Wargin offer food-related advice for the new year.

On Jan. 25, City of Hope will host a free Ask the Experts lecture in Antelope Valley on the benefits of healthy eating, physical activity and weight management. The event will be held at the newly opened City of Hope | Antelope Valley clinic in Lancaster and will be preceded and followed by blood pressure screenings and body mass index measurements. (Another “Cancer and Cuisine event” will be held Jan. 28 at the City of Hope campus in Duarte.)

Vijay Trisal, M.D., medical director of community practices for the City of Hope Medical Foundation, will be one of the featured speakers, as will Katja Wargin, a certified holistic health counselor. Trisal will focus on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how it can lower cancer risks; Wargin will do a food demonstration, preparing an easy-to-make and healthy meal.

Here, both speakers answer questions to give you a sneak peek as to what they’ll be discussing at the Jan. 25 Ask the Experts event. » Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Surgeon Stephen Sentovich on colorectal cancer

January 14, 2014 | by   

Colon and rectal cancer is treatable and beatable – and early detection is of paramount importance. Yet despite research that shows colon and rectal cancer screening saves lives, recent data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 20 million Americans age 50 to 75 have never been tested  for colon and rectal cancer, and that one in three adults are not up-to-date with their screenings.

Dr. Stephen Sentovich of City of Hope

Colorectal screening saves lives. Stephen Sentovich, a colorectal surgeon at City of Hope, is very clear on that point.

An advocate for screening colonoscopy and early detection, Stephen Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A., a board-certified colon and rectal cancer surgical expert at City of Hope, discusses facts about this form of cancer and how screening absolutely does save lives. 

Who is most at risk for colon and rectal cancer?

In the United States, colon and rectal cancer is the third most-common cancer and second most-common cause of death from cancer. Each year, nearly 150,000 new cases are diagnosed and more than 50,000 patients die of colon and rectal cancer. Colon and rectal cancer can occur at any age, but the incidence increases as we age, particularly as we surpass 50 years of age. For both men and women here in the U.S., the lifetime chance of getting colon and rectal cancer is about 5 percent. » Continue Reading

When tuberculosis was a killer and confinement was the cure

January 14, 2014 | by   

Chartered in 1913 by the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association, City of Hope opened its doors in January of the following year. It was known officially as the Los Angeles Sanatorium, a place where tuberculosis patients from across the nation could recuperate from a disease that then had no cure.  

At the time, tuberculosis was one of the nation’s leading killers. That changed with the introduction of antibiotics. City of Hope changed too, refocusing on fighting cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. One thing has not changed, however: City of Hope’s commitment to its patients and to improving improve the health of people everywhere.

As City of Hope marks its 100th anniversary of caring for patients, we share the story of one of those tuberculosis patients, Betty Steinman. Her experiences remind us of how far health care has come, how far it must go and just how much difference one special place can make.


In 1954, not long after her son, Jay, turned 4 years old, Betty Steinman became a tuberculosis patient at City of Hope. She could not return home until nearly two years later — when he was 6.

Steinman, 91, vividly remembers the disease’s sudden, terrifying onset when she was only 32. » Continue Reading

Pediatric cancer researchers explore new ways to help kids

January 12, 2014 | by   

Every child fighting cancer is unique — and deserves treatment that recognizes differences in age, developmental stage, background and the cancer he or she is battling. City of Hope conducts groundbreaking research and practices compassionate care that addresses the needs of each child, tailoring treatment to overcome disease.

Our commitment to help children fight cancer

City of Hope is committed to helping children fight cancer. Our scientists' ground-breaking research and our physicians' life-saving treatments are all part of that commitment.

City of Hope is committed to helping children fight cancer. Our scientists’ groundbreaking research and our physicians’ lifesaving treatments are all part of that commitment.

City of Hope is committed to helping children fight cancer, even when prior treatments have failed. In 2013, our physicians saw 143 new pediatric patients, with a total of 11,847 clinic visits by children battling cancer.

Thanks to community outreach efforts at our new clinics around Los Angeles County, we saw an increase in primary patients, for whom City of Hope was a first destination for care. Clarke Anderson, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics, leads these efforts and travels around Los Angeles and Antelope Valley to care for children in underserved communities. He is able to provide City of Hope’s lifesaving care while sparing families the trip to our campus in Duarte, Calif.

Identifying new ways to treat a deadly cancer

Neuroblastoma, a type of nervous system tumor, is the most common cancer in infants and children, with nearly half of all cases occurring in children younger than two. Many children are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, liver, bone and bone marrow — and only half of those children survive.

Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research and co-leader of the Molecular Oncology Program, is applying her research in DNA repair mechanisms to find ways to fight neuroblastoma. Her lab has identified a novel protein that is not expressed in healthy cells but is expressed in high levels in cancer cells including neuroblastoma. » Continue Reading

Veliparib shows promise for BRCA-related breast cancer patients

January 10, 2014 | by   

Of the estimated 230,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed annually in the U.S., approximately 12,000 patients carry harmful mutations on either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

breast cancer

Researchers are investigating the effectiveness of various drugs against breast cancer, including the PARP inhibitor veliparib.

Cancer cells carrying these mutations are unable to properly repair double-strand DNA. Because specific enzymes – poly ADP-ribose polymerase 1 and 2 (known as PARP1 and PARP2) – are needed for DNA repair in malignant (as well as normal) cells, drugs known as PARP inhibitors often are used to help kill the cells.

As George Somlo, M.D.,  professor in City of Hope’s Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, puts it: In BRCA1- or BRCA2-related  breast cancer, exposing the cancer cells to PARP inhibitors greatly enhances the potential for  irreversible single- or double-strand DNA damage.

In the fight against cancer, that kind of DNA damage is ideal.

Now Somlo and his colleagues are learning even more about how a specific PARP inhibitor, called veliparib (or ABT-888), could improve cancer treatment. » Continue Reading