E-cigarettes help smokers quit? New study says yes; doctor says ‘Ha’

May 23, 2014 | by   

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, can indeed help smokers kick their tobacco cigarette habit, new research suggests, bolstering supporters’ claims that the devices can be beneficial. The research is generating considerable media attention, with headlines suggesting that e-cigarettes have been vindicated, but reaction from some smoking experts has been far more muted, even skeptical.


Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, can help smokers kick the tobacco habit, a new study suggests. Not everyone is convinced.

The new study, published in the journal Addiction this week, suggests that smokers who use e-cigarettes as a means to quit have up to a 60 percent better chance at succeeding than smokers who used a licensed nicotine replacement therapy product, such as a nicotine patch or gum, or smokers who used no aid at all.

Researchers analyzed data gathered from 2009 through 2014 on nearly 6,000 smokers who had made at least one attempt to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes in the past year.

Of those surveyed, 464 had used only e-cigarettes to try to quit, 1,922 had used only over-the-counter nicotine replacement, and 3,477 had attempted to quit without any aid.

The outcome was self-reported and adjusted for key potential confounders such as nicotine dependence. The researchers found that the quitting rate for participants who used e-cigarettes was 1.63 times higher than the rate for people who used nicotine replacement therapy and 1.61 times higher than the rate for people using no aid. » Continue Reading

For runner Michele Sturt, this journey began with a lymph node

May 22, 2014 | by   

Every patient story is unique and, so in its own way, inspiring. Here, Michele Sturt – a runner, a nurse and a mother of four – shares her story of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and of her ultimate treatment at City of Hope.


I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2007 when I was 54 years old. I had been a runner since I was in my early twenties and used running as my gauge to my personal wellness status. How fast, how much effort, how many aches and pains, how many personal bests … these have been my general health parameters for many years. In other words, aside from various weekend warrior accidents, I had been quite healthy until I was told I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

patient Michele Sturt

Michele Sturt of Petoskey, Michigan, has long used running as her gauge of personal health. Before she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, her running signaled to her that something wasn’t quite right. Now, almost a year post-bone marrow transplant at City of Hope, she’s running once more. Here, she runs near a son’s home in Santa Barbara. Photo courtesy of Michele Sturt.

I had noticed that I was really having a hard time keeping up with my running friends. I was working too hard and not getting anywhere fast. I also had a single small inguinal lymph node that was new. It didn’t bother me other than I knew it wasn’t normal. Besides being a runner, I am also a nurse practitioner in internal medicine.

First, I waited the obligatory four to six weeks to see if it would go away. I also complained to one of the doctors I work with, and she felt I should have the node biopsied and be done with it. The general surgeon gave me the option of waiting longer before doing anything, but at that point I wanted the node out and evaluated. I was tired but had no other symptoms.

My diagnosis was non-Hodgkin lymphoma, specifically indolent follicular B cell, a slow-growing, not curable but treatable form of lymphoma.

So, now what? I didn’t feel like I had cancer. I had lived an unusually clean and healthy life, although crazy busy and active, and I was the last person you would expect to have cancer, unless you knew what I knew – it’s a dice throw and I just crapped out. With only one oncologist available in my hometown of Petoskey, Michigan, at that time, I needed to figure out where to go for answers. » Continue Reading

Pancreatic cancer: Only research can change ‘2nd-deadliest’ prediction

May 21, 2014 | by   

The news for pancreatic cancer is admittedly not good. Although overall cancer death rates continue to decline in the United States, pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers with death rates projected to continue to rise in the next 15 years.

pancreatic cancer

Cancer of the pancreas is expected to become the second-leading cancer killer in the U.S. by 2030. That’s why research is crucial.

That’s why research is crucial. That’s why City of Hope is crucial.

By 2030, pancreatic cancer is expected to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, surpassing breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, according to a new study published this week in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Liver cancer will be the third-leading cause of cancer-related death, researchers predicted.

Lung cancer is currently the No. 1 cause of cancer-related death in the United States and will maintain that distinction, according to the report. (City of Hope’s Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, has much to say on how to save lives from lung cancer, specifically through lung cancer screening.)

As for pancreatic cancer, Joseph Kim, M.D., City of Hope surgical oncologist and head of upper gastrointestinal surgery, says researchers and physicians are working to change the grim outlook for such diseases. » Continue Reading

ASCO 2014: New drug may overcome lung cancer’s chemotherapy resistance

May 21, 2014 | by   

For lung cancer patients whose tumors are resistant to a class of chemotherapy called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), a drug called cabozantinib may be able to undo that resistance, according to a new City of Hope study.

A new City of Hope study shows that the drug cabozantinib undo lung cancer's resistance to chemotherapy.

A new City of Hope study shows that the drug cabozantinib could help undo lung cancer’s resistance to chemotherapy.

The results will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting on June 3.

“Previous studies have shown that in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer linked to a EGFR gene mutation, the proteins MET and VEGF promote tumor growth and make it resistant to TKI chemotherapy,” said Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program and first author of the abstract. “Because cabozantinib can block both of these proteins, we want to see if can can reverse that drug resistance as well.”

For this phase II trial, Reckamp and her colleagues studied 35 patients with advanced, EGFR-mutant nonsmall cell lung cancer whose disease had progressed despite TKI therapy. The patients were given 40 milligrams of cabozantinib in addition to 150  milligrams of TKI drug erlotinib daily for 28 days, and were then examined to determine whether their tumors had responded to the combination therapy. » Continue Reading

Summer tip: Choose sunscreen wisely; many don’t live up to SPF claims

May 20, 2014 | by   

Those shorts with that shirt? Which skirt with that blouse? Which sandals? These are standard summer-season questions many people ask themselves before leaving the house on a sunny day. A better question might be: Which sunscreen? Consumer Reports has found that labels might not be the best guide, with only two – repeat, two – of 20 products actually living up to their SPF, or sun protection factor, claims after a good dunking. Most of the rest were 4 to 40 percent below the touted number on the labels.

sun safety

Choose wisely when selecting a sunscreen; not all live up to their SPF claims, Consumer Reports has found.

In fact, the July issue of the magazine recommended only seven of the products they tested, with both high-end and bargain price tags. WebMD provides a full list of the ratings.

Consumer Reports points out that no sunscreen blocks all rays, and that SPF refers only to UVB rays, not UVA rays. It even offers up a nifty graphic on the ratio between SPF and UVB protection.

As Vijay Trisal, medical director of community practices at City of Hope, has said: “People need to look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide.” These ingredients provide broad-spectrum protection, reducing damage from both UVA and UVB rays. » Continue Reading

City of Hope doctors, nurses and patients stand up to cancer (w/VIDEO)

May 20, 2014 | by   

Symbolism is powerful. Just ask any of the City of Hope doctors, nurses or patients who participated in The Baton Pass at City of Hope’s recent Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

The Baton Pass is a joint campaign by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Siemens to raise funds for SU2C’s cancer research efforts. It launched March 19 on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and will conclude Sept. 5. In between, the Baton will appear at events across the country.

One of those events was City of Hope’s annual reunion of bone marrow transplant recipients and their families, as well as the doctors and nurses who cared for them.

Watch them stand up to cancer.


Learn more about hematopoietic cell transplantation at City of Hope and our annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.



Childhood cancer survivors might not need as-frequent heart screenings

May 19, 2014 | by   

Childhood cancer survivors who have been treated with a class of drugs called anthracyclines will face an increased risk of heart problems later in life. Thus, oncologists recommend that they undergo regular monitoring with echocardiograms so that this late effect can be detected and treated before it becomes life-threatening.

For childhood cancer survivors, regular echocardiograms can cut risk of treatment-related heart failures later in life. But the frequency needed may be much less than originally thought, according to a City of Hope study.

For childhood cancer survivors, regular echocardiograms can cut risk of treatment-related heart failures later in life. But the frequency needed may be less than originally thought, City of Hope researchers have found.

Currently, for childhood cancer survivors who were treated with anthracyclines or chest radiation, the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) recommends an echocardiogram every one to five years throughout the survivors’ lives, depending on their risk profile. However, a less-frequent screening schedule may be just as effective while significantly saving costs, according to a City of Hope-led study that was published in the May 20 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Screening too frequently is an unnecessary waste of valuable resources, while screening too infrequently results in a delay of providing needed treatment,” said F. Lennie Wong, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Outcomes Research/Intervention and first author of the paper. “So we incorporated the available evidence to set up a computer model to determine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the COG recommended screening schedules and to find the ideal monitoring schedule that can detect treatment-related asymptomatic heart failure in a timely yet more cost-effective manner.”

Wong noted that the current COG follow-up recommendations are based on consensus of its expert panel of clinicians and researchers. The panel takes into account published research on heart disease risk factors for childhood cancer survivors, but no data are available about the efficacy of its recommended screening schedule or its cost-effectiveness.
» Continue Reading

Head and neck cancer Q&A: HPV-linked disease has better outcomes

May 19, 2014 | by   

Americans have heard much about head and neck cancer lately, with one form of that disease – throat cancer – being prominently linked by actor Michael Douglas to infection with human papillomavirus, or HPV. It’s true that the virus can increase risk of the disease, but in reality, the disease has many causes.

Head and neck cancer expert Ellie Maghami

Ellie Maghami, chief of head and neck surgery at City of Hope, explains the risk factors and treatment options for head and neck cancer.

Head and neck cancer is a general term for a variety of cancers with different risk factors, cells of origin, behavior, treatment and prognoses. Head and neck cancers are the sixth-leading cancer by incidence worldwide, with 500,000 new cases reported a year.

Here, Ellie Maghami, M.D., associate clinical professor and chief of head and neck surgery at City of Hope, explains the various causes of head and neck cancer, the different treatments – and the fact that HPV-related cancers often have the best prognoses.

What causes head and neck cancers?

The most important risk factor related to head and neck cancer is tobacco use; adding alcohol compounds this risk significantly. Using either tobacco or alcohol alone is a major risk factor, but coupling the two greatly increases the chance of developing cancer in the head and neck, especially aerodigestive tract cancers (that is, the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords and part of the esophagus and windpipe).

Geography also plays a large role in the prevalence of head and neck cancer risk factors. For example, in India there is a huge prevalence of mouth cancer from chewing tobacco. Diverse trends in different countries can affect the occurrence of various head and neck cancers. » Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Robert Chen on survival of Hodgkin lymphoma

May 17, 2014 | by   

Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin disease, is a type of cancer that begins in lymphatic tissue, which includes the lymph nodes and other parts of the body’s immune and blood-forming systems. It affects white blood cells, thus damaging the body’s ability to fight infection. In the United States, 6,000 to 7,000 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed each year.

City of Hope's Robert Chen

Hodgkin lymphoma specialist Robert Chen says advances in research and treatment of the disease have improved patient survival, and more advances are expected.

Although a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma can be challenging, Robert Chen, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, explains that recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease are giving patients the chance for a full recovery and long-term survival.

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the subtypes of lymphoma. Lymphoma arises out of lymphocytes, which are part of the white blood cells in the immune system. They are characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells when examined microscopically. The disease is considered curable, but a certain percentage of patients are refractory or relapsed to the primary treatment.

Are there any known causes of Hodgkin lymphoma? Also, who is most at risk?

This cancer primary occurs in two age groups – the first in young adulthood (ages 15 to 35), and the second in those over 55. Certain chemical and radiation exposures have been linked to Hodgkin lymphoma. Immunocompromised patients, such as patients with HIV or solid organ transplants, have been associated with having a higher risk. But in general, most patients do not have an identifiable risk factor. » Continue Reading

Obesity linked to higher death risk in some breast cancers

May 16, 2014 | by   

Obesity may increase the risk of death from early-stage breast cancer, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.

Obesity may increase the risk of death in some breast cancers.

Obesity may increase the risk of death for some women with breast cancer, research finds.

The study focuses on estrogen receptor-positive, or ER-positive, breast cancer. Obese women who had not yet gone through menopause and had ER-positive breast cancer were more likely than other women to die of the disease, according to the study, an analysis of the results of 70 clinical trials.

These women were 34 percent more likely to die of their breast cancer. Obesity did not seem to have significant effect on death risk among postmenopausal women with ER-positive breast cancer or among those with ER-negative disease. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly two-thirds of breast cancers are hormone-receptor positive.

“This study forces us to pay attention to obesity in premenopausal women,” said Courtney Vito, M.D., a breast surgeon and assistant clinical professor of surgical oncology at City of Hope, in a HealthDay article.

The good news, she pointed out, is that unlike other risk factors, patients can take control of their weight.

“Once you are 50 and have breast cancer, you can’t go back and breast-feed, which reduces risk,” said Vito, who was not involved in the study. Women cannot change their family history or other risk factors. “But being overweight is something you can take control of.” » Continue Reading