For many patients with hematological cancers, transplantation is their best – and sometimes only – chance at a cure.
These lifesaving hematopoietic transplants use bone marrow, stem cells or cord blood cells to replace a patient’s faulty cells, which are critical to a healthy and functioning immune system.
Each year, thousands of patients rely on the generosity of anonymous donors to provide the cells they need for transplantation, as family members are not always a match. At City of Hope, between 500 and 600 bone marrow transplants are performed each year, and in almost half the cases, an unrelated donor is needed.
“Thousands of patients each year would benefit from a transplant from an unrelated donor, but unfortunately, many of these patients still do not have a match,” said Jill Kendall, program director for Be the Match at City of Hope. “It’s important to increase the number of people on the bone marrow registry and add diversity. There’s an increased need for people of mixed ethnic background and minorities to join the registry as they are underrepresented.”
More than 6,500 bone marrow, stem cell or cord blood recipients, their families, caregivers and donors are poised to convene at the Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion on May 9, City of Hope’s 38th celebration of these patients and the people who gave them a lifesaving gift.
Be the Match offers the following guidelines and information for people interested in potentially becoming hematopoietic cell donors.
What’s the first step?
The first step to becoming a bone marrow donor is to join the Be the Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis that operates the largest and most diverse registry of volunteer hematopoietic cell donors and umbilical cord blood units in the U.S. Potential donors provide a swab of cheek cells using a kit either at an in-person drive or through the mail if you join online at cityofhope.org/bethematch.
What’s the commitment?
Donating is always voluntary. As a member of the registry, you are asked to keep your contact information updated, inform the registry if you have significant health changes or if you change your mind. In addition, please respond quickly if you are contacted as a potential match. Agree to donate to any searching patient who matches you, and stay on the registry until your 61st birthday – or until you ask to be removed. Respond immediately if you do not wish to donate, so the search for another donor can continue without dangerous delays for the patient. » Continue Reading
Cancer cells may be known for their uncontrollable growth and spread, but they also differ from normal tissue in another manner: how they produce energy.
In healthy cells, energy is derived primarily from aerobic respiration, an oxygen-requiring process that extracts the maximum possible energy from glucose, or blood sugar. The amount of energy is measured by the number of units produced of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Energy may also be derived from lactic acid fermentation, which does not require oxygen but is also much less efficient, producing only two ATPs per glucose molecule versus 30 or more ATPs per glucose molecule in aerobic respiration. However, most cancer cells use lactic acid fermentation as their main method of generating energy — even in oxygen-rich environments. This method of generating energy, coupled with a high glucose-processing rate to compensate for the low ATP-per-glucose output, is called the Warburg effect.
Clinical trials are expensive and complex, but they’re essential for bringing new therapies to patients. Edward Newman, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular pharmacology, just boosted City of Hope’s ability to conduct those studies with a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The grant is the largest awarded to a City of Hope investigator by the National Institutes of Health this fiscal year.
The funds support the collaboration of three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers — City of Hope, the University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and University of California, Davis Cancer Center. The trio will participate as a consortium in the NCI Early Therapeutics-Clinical Trials Network.
The consortium of cancer centers has been conducting clinical trials together for two decades, evaluating new drugs in phase I studies.
Phase I clinical trials are the first step in testing new treatments in patients. Clinical researchers use them to look for a drug’s side effects, determine if a drug works in patients and find the maximum safe dose for a drug.
For most of her life, Southern California teenager Kayla Saikaly described herself as healthy, even very healthy. She played basketball. She never missed school with as much as a fever. Her worst childhood illness was nothing more than a cold.
Then, when she was 13, her nose started bleeding after a basketball game. That incident, coupled with unexplained bruising on her arms and legs, worried her mother. She took Kayla to a physician. A series of tests ruled out leukemia, but the Cerritos teenager was found to have aplastic anemia.
“It basically means your bone marrow is not producing the blood cells it needs to be producing – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets,” explained Kayla, now 17. “Once those get thrown off, everything gets thrown off in your whole body. One day I was healthy, and the next, it was like everything was not right in my body.”
Her doctors at Kaiser Permanente considered a bone marrow transplant, but neither Kayla’s mother Samar, father Riad or older brother Alex were a suitable match. So instead Kayla took medications to boost her cell counts. The drugs worked for a year and a half, but then they began to impact her kidneys, ultimately forcing Kayla to stop taking the medications. Eight months later, her blood cell counts began to drop again. Kayla needed a bone marrow transplant. » Continue Reading
Deodorant, plastic bottles, grilled foods, artificial sweeteners, soy products … Do any of these products really cause cancer?
With so many cancer myths and urban legends out there, why not ask the experts? They can debunk cancer myths while sharing cancer facts that matter, such as risk factors, prevention and the research underway at City of Hope.
Join us on April 19 in Lancaster, Calif., to hear from Nimit Sudan, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medical oncology, and Vijay Trisal, M.D., medical director of City of Hope’s community practices and an associate clinical professor of surgical oncology.
Or join us on April 23 in Duarte to hear from physicians and researchers together. Moderator Linda H. Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research and a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will lead the discussion. The featured speakers are, in addition to Trisal: James Waisman, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research; James Lacey, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Population Sciences; Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of medical quality and associate clinical professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation; and Sofia Wang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Population Sciences.
Seats are limited to both events, so reserve your seat today by signing up now for the April 19 program in Lancaster or the April 23 program in Duarte. You can also watch both programs live on our YouTube channel. Have a question for our panel? Let us know in the comments.
Cancer risk varies by ethnicity, as does the risk of cancer-related death. But the size of those differences can be surprising, highlighting the health disparities that exist among various ethnic groups in the United States.
Both cancer incidence and death rates for men are highest among African-Americans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among women, incidence rates are highest among whites, but death rates are highest among African-Americans.
“The causes of cancer health disparities are complex, with root causes stemming from genetic susceptibility, stress and immune function, and family history, as well as health care system factors including preventive care access and utilization, quality care, and diagnostic and therapeutic care delay,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing, Ph.D., director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE) at City of Hope.
The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2014 reports that African-Americans and American Indians tend to have more aggressive cancers, more treatment-resistant cancers and lower five-year survival than the general population. » Continue Reading