LATEST POSTS

Elder care skills (and training) are vital at cancer hospitals

March 5, 2015 | by   

Bustling from room to room, bed to bed, patient care assistants are among those health care workers most intimately involved in the daily care of patients. They work closely with nurses by preparing rooms, bathing patients, assisting with skin care and providing other essential living needs. They also perform medically oriented work, such as obtaining specimens and checking vital signs.

geriatric training course

Gloria Vazquez-Amadeo proudly displays the button she earned after graduating from a geriatric training course for patient care assistants.

With patient care assistants so closely involved with patients’ day-to-day lives during treatment, it’s vital that they have the right skills to meet patients’ needs, especially as it relates to elder care. Because cancer is primarily a disease of the elderly, cancer patients are likely to be older adults.

The need for elder care skills will only grow. The overall U.S. population is aging, and projections show a 67 percent increase in cancer incidence by 2030 for people over 65. Further, many younger cancer patients develop symptoms and treatment side effects that can mimic conditions that older patients experience.

To help ensure that City of Hope is ready to meet cancer patients’ specialized needs, a group of personal care assistants recently undertook a special geriatric training program offered by the Department of Professional Practice and Education. The course included 16 hours of online work followed by two hours of classroom work per month for five months, providing participants with in-depth, interactive training in important skills needed to ensure the highest quality care. » Continue Reading

The future of colorectal cancer screening? It might be in your DNA

March 4, 2015 | by   

We’ve all heard the mantra: Cancer screening saves lives. And it does, especially with colorectal cancer.

DNA tests for colorectal cancer

A new colorectal screening that tests stool for DNA may persuade some colonoscopy-phobic people to be screened. It doesn’t detect all polyps, but as Dr. James Lin points out: “The best colon cancer screening test is the one the patient is using.”

Regular colonoscopies have been proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer death by up to 70 percent. Screening for colorectal cancer using the even simpler fecal occult blood tests has been found to reduce the risk of death by up to 33 percent.

Yet, despite the proven benefits of colorectal cancer screening, many people still put it off – or skip it altogether. To raise awareness of the very real need for colorectal cancer screening, March has been deemed Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 132,700 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year and that approximately 49,700 patients will die from this disease.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that adults begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 and continue until they are 75 years old. Depending on which test is used, screening only need happen as little as once every 10 years.

New screening and prevention tools for colorectal cancer continue to evolve. In August of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new DNA stool test that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer.

» Continue Reading

Cancer Insights: The potential of CAR-T cells to fight prostate cancer

March 3, 2015 | by   

Pick up any biotech industry report and you’re guaranteed to come across one term repeatedly – CAR-T therapy. A fierce competition is now underway to bring CAR-T treatments to market – several companies (Juno, Novartis, Kite and Cellectis, to name a few) have major stakes in the race. I’ve found the CAR-T buzz has also penetrated the clinic — not a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a patient regarding this emerging technology.

Sumanta Pal, M.D.

Sumanta Kumar Pal explains the potential of CAR-T cell therapies for prostate cancer.

So what is CAR-T? Essentially, it’s an engineered immune cell (called a T cell) that has on its surface a highly specific protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). These “souped up” immune cells can mount a potent and highly specific attack against tumors.

Last year, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published results in the New England Journal of Medicine pertaining to 30 patients who had received CAR-T therapies. These patients were suffering from a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and had failed standard treatments. The results were nothing short of remarkable – at six months following treatment, roughly two-thirds of patients remained free of disease.

These findings were a phenomenal leap forward for patients with this relatively rare disorder. A couple of roadblocks stand in the way of further development of CAR-T cells, however. » Continue Reading

Evening of Remembrance: Coping tips for families who have lost loved ones to cancer

March 2, 2015 | by   
Evening of Remembrance

City of Hope will host its inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12, 2015.

Patients undergoing treatment at City of Hope know they will be receiving the best medical care available, that their treatment will be delivered with compassion and that their care will extend to their families.

“When we treat a patient here, we treat a family,” says Jo Ann S. Namm, child life manager and specialist in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine. Sometimes, however, a patient dies. When this happens, City of Hope’s care for the family does not stop.

City of Hope’s commitment to the continuum of care ensures that the family is viewed as an extension of the patient. As a part of this commitment, City of Hope will hold an inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Duarte campus’ Cooper Auditorium.

» Continue Reading

Get the facts about colorectal cancer. Here are 31 (one a day) for March

March 1, 2015 | by   
colon

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to better treatments and increased screening, more people are surviving the disease today.

Did you know that colorectal cancer equally affects men and women? Or that it’s the third-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.? Most important, did you know that colorectal cancer is very treatable and highly curable if detected early? If you didn’t know these facts, it’s time to learn.

More and more people are surviving colorectal cancer through better treatments and increased screening, so getting the screening – a very simple procedure – is crucial.

Help raise awareness of colorectal cancer – and the need for screening – by sharing the following 31 facts, one for each day of March, also known as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, with family and friends to continue the fight against colorectal cancer.

1. Genetics, family history, age or environmental/lifestyle factors can each increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

2. Colorectal screening is crucial. It allows doctors to find and remove polyps (small areas of tissue that can become cancerous), as well as discover colorectal tumors at an early stage, rather than waiting for symptoms to occur. » Continue Reading

Celebrating the Lunar New Year: City of Hope charges forward

February 26, 2015 | by   
City of Hope Patients and physicians welcomed the New Year of the Ram in L.A.'s annual Chinese New Year parade

City of Hope patients and physicians welcome the New Year of the Ram in L.A.’s annual Lunar New Year parade

To celebrate the beginning of Lunar New  Year 2015, City of Hope honored not just a new lunar calendar, but also the diversity of the community it serves.

On Feb. 21, as tens of thousands of people celebrated Lunar New Year (and the arrival of the Year of the Ram) in the streets of L.A.’s Chinatown, City of Hope did so as well – with its own ram’s head-bedecked float. Riding atop the float were two City of Hope patients and their families, as well as three City of Hope physicians.

Jerry Wang, a gastric cancer survivor was joined by his wife, Sharon, who works at City of Hope, and their twins Ellie and Marcus. Yan Hou, who says her journey with breast cancer inspires her continuing volunteer work at City of Hope, rode with her husband, John Wang.

Celebrating with them were City of Hope physicians Michael Lew, M.D., clinical professor and chair, Department of Anesthesiology; Helen Chen, M.D., a radiation oncologist; and Yuman Fong, M.D.,  professor and chair of the Department of Surgery and associate director for international relations.

City of Hope has a long history of research that benefits diverse populations, especially those in its neighboring communities. Through its services – including in-language materials, translators and a dedicated Chinese website – City of Hope supports patients and their families as they battle cancer. In 2014, City of Hope launched its International Medicine Program, focusing its efforts initially on patients seeking care from China.

Through its float in the annual Golden Dragon Parade, sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, as well as celebrations on the Duarte campus and at its community practice locations across Southern California, City of Hope celebrated not just Lunar New Year 2015, but the very community to which it is so committed.

**

Visit our Chinese-language website.

**

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

 

Charlie Rose: Experts talk of cancer breakthroughs and ‘tyranny of time’

February 26, 2015 | by   
Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose interviews, from left, City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, Steven T. Rosen and City of Hope President and CEO Robert W. Stone.

The breakthroughs that have revolutionized cancer treatment, transforming cancer in many cases to a very manageable and even curable disease, started out as just ideas.

“I will often tell patients there’s no therapy we’re using to help them that wasn’t derived from somebody’s idea in some laboratory, working late into the night,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “There’s a challenge, I think, maintaining a certain level of funding so that all good ideas get a chance to see if they’re going to help someone.”

The commitment to that ingenuity, along with the ability to seamlessly and safely bring those ideas from the laboratory to the patient, are what set City of Hope apart. The challenges in translating medicine into practical benefit, the future of precision medicine, how the field of cancer treatment has evolved and the role of 101-year-old City of Hope were the topics recently on “Charlie Rose,” a nationally syndicated show on PBS and Bloomberg television.

City of Hope President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Stone, Provost and Chief Scientific Officer Steven T. Rosen, M.D., and Forman sat down with Rose in an interview that aired Feb. 25. » Continue Reading

To screen for PSA or not …? Study links ‘not’ to higher-risk cancer

February 26, 2015 | by   
New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss, Ph.D., found US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may have prompted an increase in higher-risks prostate cancer.

New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss found that U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may be linked to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

The prostate cancer screening debate, at least as it relates to regular assessment of prostate specific antigen levels, is far from over.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine PSA screening for prostate cancer in 2012, maintaining that the routine use of the PSA blood test does more harm than good, threatening men’s quality of life. Many doctors and other medical professionals, however, never accepted this recommendation as prudent. They’ve continued to debate, or argue, the benefits and risks of regular prostate cancer screening.

A new study, led by Timothy E. Schultheiss, Ph.D, professor and chief of radiation physics at City of Hope, will add data fuel to the debate fire. In findings presented this week at the 2015 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Schultheiss reports that the recommendations against PSA screening for prostate cancer may have led to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

Schultheiss and his colleagues analyzed data on nearly 87,500 men treated for prostate cancer since 2005 and found a 6 percent increase in intermediate and higher-risk cases of the disease between 2011 and 2013. They estimated that the suggested trend could produce an additional 1,400 prostate cancer deaths annually.

» Continue Reading

True supportive care treats patients as individuals, not a concept

February 26, 2015 | by   

Cancer patients should get more than medical treatment. They should get comprehensive, evidence-based care that addresses their full range of needs. That kind of patient-focused care is City of Hope’s specialty.

Supportive care

City of Hope was a pioneer in supportive care. Now it’s taking that care to new levels.

Under the guidance of Dawn Gross, M.D., Ph.D., the new Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Supportive Care Medicine and chair of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, City of Hope is taking such care to new levels, starting with an interdisciplinary team model that focuses on patients as the complex individuals they are.

Following this approach, a team of practitioners that includes social workers, chaplains, psychologists, palliative care physicians, psychiatrists and nurse specialists gather at the start of the day to discuss the most complicated patient and family situations. From this discussion, they agree on next steps and the most appropriate practitioner to carry out these steps, based on information such as the patient’s needs and relationships to practitioners on the supportive care team. » Continue Reading

Take measured view of study on ovarian cancer risk, expert advises

February 25, 2015 | by   

Think twice before tossing out those hormone replacement pills. Although a new Lancet study suggests that hormone replacement therapy could increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, a City of Hope expert urges women to keep this news in perspective.

hormone pills

Don’t lose perspective when weighing the recent study linking hormone replacement therapy to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, one expert advises.

Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to help alleviate symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, that can damage quality of life in menopausal women. The University of Oxford study found that women who used hormone replacement therapy for less than five years after menopause had a 40 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than other women.

However, while the statistical finding is an important one, the study was not designed to definitively show that the hormone therapy caused the increased ovarian cancer risk. No mechanism has been identified.

Robert Morgan, M.D., co-director of the gynecological cancers program at City of Hope, said that women do indeed face a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when using hormone replacement, but that the overall risk for the general population is very low. Over 21,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and over 14,000 are expected to die of the disease.

“The fact alone of a slight increased risk of ovarian cancer in women taking hormone therapy won’t, and shouldn’t, impact treatment decisions,” Morgan said in a HealthDay interview. » Continue Reading