Colonoscopy: Bariatric surgery patients must get alternative prep

November 12, 2013 | by   

Weight-loss surgery means sacrificing sweets and making major lifestyle changes. It doesn’t mean having to skip colorectal cancer screenings.

Bariatric surgery is effective for weight loss because it restricts the amount of food or liquid a person can consume, often through banding or surgical alteration of  the stomach. But preparation for a colonoscopy usually requires drinking a large amount of liquid twice a day. Even though these preparations have become easier over time, and the amount of liquid is smaller, the quantities can be a lot for a weight-loss surgery patient to swallow.

In response to the news that one in three people recommended for potentially lifesaving colorectal cancer screening skip it, one City of Hope Facebook follower raised an excellent question, asking:  “What about people who have had bariatric surgery and drinking or consuming anything in large quantities is not doable?”

Donald David, M.D., chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at City of Hope, responded:

“Alternate preparations are available for bariatric surgery patients so that they may also receive colorectal cancer screenings, including colonoscopy. For example, it’s possible to drink the prep over a longer period of time. There are also ‘pill preps’ available, in which the patient takes 32 pills over a course of a day, usually taking four pills with a glass of water. Consult your doctor to address your specific needs related to your surgery, but colonoscopies are definitely possible – and encouraged – for bariatric surgery patients.”

So, even if you’ve had weight loss surgery, make an appointment for colorectal cancer screening if you’re age 50 or so.

Watch the recent news story above about the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.



CDC: Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but 1 in 3 skip it

November 5, 2013 | by   

One in three Americans ages 50 to 75 are skipping the recommended screenings for colorectal cancer, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even though the disease is the nation’s second-biggest cancer killer behind lung cancer.

In total, the CDC reports, about 23 million adults who should undergo the potentially lifesaving screenings have not done so.  Those least likely to be screened include Hispanics, people age 50 to 64 and men in general.

One City of Hope expert blames a lack of accurate information. “People have a lot of misconceptions about this kind of exam or think they have to wait for symptoms, but then it’s not a screening test,” Donald David, M.D., chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at City of Hope, said in a USA Today story.

David said one reason people hesitate to be tested for colorectal cancer – often done by a colonoscopy, first around age 50 and again 10 years later – is because they worry about the cost. However, for many, the preventive screening is fully covered by insurance. In fact, the CDC found that about two of every three adults who have never been tested actually have a regular doctor and health insurance that could pay for the test. » Continue Reading

Breast cancer and radiation: Cardiac risk, yes, but a small one

November 5, 2013 | by   

Radiation therapy for breast cancer has undergone dramatic improvements over the years, increasing survival and reducing the risk of recurrence. But new research suggests that this form of treatment can increase cardiac risk in early-stage breast cancer patients.

Tumor in breast

Radiation for breast cancer can increase the risk of heart disease, a new study finds. A City of Hope physician adds some perspective to the findings.

The findings, published by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center as a research letter in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, seem alarming. They’re based on radiation treatment plans in 48 women who had early-stage breast cancer at New York’s University’s department of radiation oncology.

One City of Hope surgeon, however, cautions against overreacting. When used for the treatment of breast cancer, radiation therapy is a highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may linger after surgery, said Laura Kruper, M.D., head of breast surgery service at City of Hope and director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center.

“There are newer radiation therapy methods that reduce the risk,” Kruper said in a recent interview with HealthDay. “We are really tailoring patients’ treatments. We have a lot of tools now where we can offer women breast conservation and minimize their [heart] risk.”

Further, the risk found by Columbia researchers was small, with the lifetime risk of a major coronary event ranging from 0.05 percent to 3.5 percent, depending on how the radiation was administered and the patient’s overall risk for heart disease.

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Chinese language website: ‘Important milestone’ in fighting cancer

November 5, 2013 | by   

City of Hope Chinese language website

Most cancer centers in the United States prefer to communicate only in English. That preference is natural – communication just seems easier when it’s based on a language used by the majority. But the reality is that true communication is a two-way street; it’s not about talking to, but rather conversing with.

City of Hope understands this – and has recently introduced a Chinese language website,, that offers content focused specifically on the needs of Chinese-speaking patients, caregivers and their families. The institution is now the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center on the West Coast to provide a Chinese language site.  The move follows the 2012 launch of a Spanish-language site,

“City of Hope was founded 100 years ago on the principle of service to humanity. Our new Chinese language website helps us to further achieve our mission in a meaningful way,” said City of Hope President Robert Stone in a news release about the site. » Continue Reading

‘Why I walk’: Video tells compelling story or, rather, many stories

November 4, 2013 | by   

Nearly 7,000 walkers laced up their shoes Sunday for the 2013 Walk for Hope.

Nearly 7,000 walkers joined in the Walk for Hope, to raise money for women's cancer research, treatment and education.

Nearly 7,000 walkers joined in Walk for Hope to raise money for women’s cancers research, treatment and education.

Their single goal: To raise money for women’s cancers research, treatment and education. With a projected $1 million raised by Walk for Hope participants, they were successful in their goal.

But while they walked with a single purpose, they walked for thousands of reasons. They honored mothers, sisters and daughters who survived cancer. They remembered those who died of their disease. They walked in hope of discovering new treatments and cures that could prevent similar deaths. And they walked for women in their lives who had already endured a fight with cancer, and for girls in their lives whom they hope will never face that fight.

Many cancer survivors participated, waving at the patients in City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital on the City of Hope campus, some blowing kisses and stopping to shout encouragement.

Behind every step taken, every dollar donated, there’s a story. In this video, some of Sunday’s participants share why they walked.

More stories from Walk for Hope participants >>

About Walk for Hope >>


Stem cell transplants can take toll on sexual health, study finds

November 4, 2013 | by   

Blood and bone marrow stem cell transplants can be lifesaving procedures for patients with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. But they can take a heavy physical and emotional toll.

sexual health

Preparations for stem cell transplants and complications associated with the procedure lead to can diminished sexual health for both men and women, researchers found.

City of Hope researchers have long been concerned about the effect of stem cell transplants on patients’ overall quality of life, and they recently focused their attention on one specific aspect — patients’ sexual well-being.

What they found was sobering. Preparations for stem cell transplants and complications associated with the procedure can indeed lead to diminished sexual health for both men and women. The research also confirmed, among both genders a connection between reduced sexual health and graft-versus-host disease and, for men only, between reduced sexual health and total body radiation.

The study is considered one of the best to date on the effects of sexual well-being among stem cell transplant survivors.

» Continue Reading

Breast cancer survivor commits to healthy, risk-reducing changes

November 3, 2013 | by   

For four years, Ramona Sanchez has been a breast cancer survivor.

On Sunday, the 58-year-old West Covina resident joined the Foothill Fitness Challenge, a City of Hope initiative to inspire the kinds of lifestyle changes shown to decrease cancer risk. In doing so, Sanchez became one of more than 1,200 local residents now setting fitness goals and committing to healthy changes; like Sanchez, many joined the effort during Sunday’s Walk for Hope, a 5K walk benefiting women’s cancers research, treatment and education at City of Hope.

Sanchez already incorporates exercise into her routine, but said she wants to step up her workouts and eat more healthfully in an effort to drop 50 pounds.

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HPV vaccines may be less beneficial for African-American women

November 3, 2013 | by   

HPV vaccines are a proven way to reduce the risk of contracting strains of human papillomavirus that can lead to cervical cancer, doctors have long said. Now a new study suggests the vaccines may be not be as effective for African-American women as they are for white women.


A new study suggests the HPV vaccine may be less effective for African-American women than for white women.

It appears that African-American women are more likely to have strains of human papillomavirus not included in the vaccines. The news may make some African-American women ask themselves: Why bother? But a City of Hope expert cautions against dismissing the vaccines just yet.

First some background on human papillomavirus:

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and includes more than 40 types that can infect the genital area. Some of these also cause genital warts. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 79 million Americans are currently infected with one of these strains  and that 14 million more will become infected each year.

These types of HPV can cause a range of cancers, including vaginal, vulvar, penile and some oropharyngeal cancers,  but cervical cancer is the most common. It’s expected to be diagnosed in more than 12,000 women this year and take the lives of about 4,000 women, according to the American Cancer Society.

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Meet our doctors: Surgeon Dan Raz on lung cancer screening

November 2, 2013 | by   

Lung cancer – by far the most common cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States and worldwide – shows no symptoms until it has progressed to advanced stages, when it’s very difficult to treat. But it doesn’t have to be this way. For the first time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is proposing annual lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans for people at high risk of developing the disease. That would allow lung cancer to be found at earlier stages, when it’s more likely treatable.

Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of City of Hope's Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, says lung cancer screening with low dose radiation chest CT scans saves lives.

Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, says lung cancer screening with low dose radiation chest CT scans saves lives.

Dan Raz, M.D., co-director and surgical director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, discusses the benefits and risks of screening for lung cancer and who would qualify. Why screen for lung cancer? Lung cancer screening with low-dose radiation chest computed tomography scans (LDCT) saves lives. About 80 percent of lung cancers detected in lung cancer screening programs are detected at stage 1, and the cure rate for these patients can be as high as 85 percent. Who qualifies for lung cancer screening? Current guidelines recommend that people who are 55 years or older and are current or former smokers who smoked one pack per day for 30 years, or two packs per day for 15 years, be screened. People who smoked less but have a history of another cancer, such as breast cancer or head and neck cancer or certain occupational exposures, may also be eligible. Aren’t chest X-rays a good test for lung cancer screening? No. Several studies have been done to look at this question. But no study has conclusively shown a benefit to lung cancer screening with chest X-ray. Are there any risks to lung cancer screening? » Continue Reading

‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – Vicky Graham

November 1, 2013 | by   

Vicky Graham doesn’t fit the profile of what most people think of as a lung cancer patient.

Vicky Graham, a 56-year-old lung cancer survivor, shares what she learned.

Vicky Graham, a 56-year-old lung cancer survivor, shares what she learned. (Photo courtesy of Vicky Graham.)

Healthy and active, 56-year-old Graham thought that the swelling in her collar-bone area was nothing more than a lingering infection from a recent sore throat. But when her doctor checked it out, she learned that her lymph node was enlarged. This touched off a series of tests and, ultimately, a diagnosis of lung cancer.

Graham hadn’t touched a cigarette in more than three decades. Even when she was smoking, she never smoked more than a half a pack a day – and she quit for as long as a year at a time before she gave up cigarettes for good 33 years ago.

“My lungs were very, very clear, and look like I never had any history of smoking whatsoever,” Graham said. “My perception of lung cancer changed with my own diagnosis. I became aware that you can develop lung cancer without ever having smoked before.”

» Continue Reading