LATEST POSTS

Colorectal cancer rising in young adults? Physician offers perspective

November 7, 2014 | by   
colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is rising in young adults, a new study finds. City of Hope expert Donald David stresses the importance of individualized screening.

A new study suggests that the colorectal cancer outlook is more grim than many thought, with the number of cases among young adults actually rising. But the study, which made headlines around the country, might not have the obvious message many consumers think.

Donald David, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at City of Hope, says some of the statistics might be linked to detection bias.

First, some context: Colorectal cancer cases and related deaths  have been steadily declining in the United States for the past couple of decades. Chalk that up to improvements in prevention, screening and treatment. But the new research found that not only is colorectal cancer rising in young adults, it will probably continue to rise over the next 15 years. » Continue Reading

SupportScreen app reaches 10,000 patients

November 6, 2014 | by   
SupportScreen

Talking about their cancer and their needs can be difficult for some patients. City of Hope’s SupportScreen makes that conversation easier for patients.

Patients faced with a cancer diagnosis have a lot to take in. It’s no surprise that many need help airing their concerns to their care teams. That’s why a City of Hope team developed SupportScreen, to enable patients to communicate their needs better.

Last week, the tablet-based app hit an important milestone, screening its 10,000th patient.

The achievement comes at an important time, as new accreditation standards go into effect in January 2015 from two important organizations charged with evaluating cancer care providers — the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The standards focus on screening for psychosocial distress, unmet needs and other psychosocial barriers to care, which SupportScreen was designed to address.

» Continue Reading

Get the FACTs on quality of City of Hope’s stem cell transplant program

November 5, 2014 | by   

Among bone marrow and stem cell transplant programs, one measure of quality stands out: accreditation by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, or FACT. Now, City of Hope’s program has received a full three-year accreditation from FACT — its fourth since first applying in 2004.

Stem cell transplant

City of Hope’s stem cell transplant program has received a full three-year accreditation from FACT — the fourth since first applying in 2004.

The accreditation — which is now required by many insurance payors — applies to all City of Hope services and facilities inspected by FACT. These include adult and pediatric autologous (self-donated) and allogeneic (donor-derived) blood stem cell transplantation, bone marrow and peripheral blood cellular therapy product collection, and cellular therapy product processing.

Eileen Smith, M.D., associate director of clinical research in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT), says that FACT “is the most important accreditation for transplant programs in the U.S.” She helped oversee the accreditation process in collaboration with David Snyder, M.D., director of quality management for the HCT Program.

“FACT accreditation is similar to Joint Commission accreditation — it gives patients, payors and referring physicians confidence that we’re among the top centers in the country,” Smith said. » Continue Reading

What’s in cigarette smoke? Find out in this video

November 4, 2014 | by   


What do rat poison, rocket fuel and embalming fluid have in common?

They all share ingredients found in cigarette smoke.

Once a cigarette is lit, it releases more than 7,000 chemicals into the air, many of them both toxic and carcinogenic. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association study attributed 14 million medical conditions to smoking tobacco products.

About one in five deaths in the United States are caused by smoking – more than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents combined. It’s also linked to around 85 percent of lung cancers. Check out our video to see what’s in cigarette smoke.

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Learn more about lung cancer research and treatment at City of Hope, as well as lung cancer screening.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). 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.

Lung cancer isn’t just a smoker’s disease: Know the risk factors

November 3, 2014 | by   

The single largest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, and it contributes to the overwhelming majority of lung cancer cases.

lungs

While smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer, a growing number of patients never smoked. Here are other risk factors that are known and being studied.

That’s old news, of course. What might be news to many people is that, although smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, it’s not the only cause. In fact, a growing number of cases are occurring in patients who never smoked and who did not have significant exposure to secondhand smoke.

About 15 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed in people who do not smoke. Further, about 60 percent or more occur in nonsmokers, including people who never smoked and those who quit many years before their diagnosis.

Success in smoking education and cessation efforts means fewer smokers, but as the numbers of smokers developing lung cancer declines, scientists are recognizing how much we have to learn about the causes of this disease.

Other lung cancer risk factors: » Continue Reading

Walk for Hope: Thousands come together to help cure women’s cancers

November 2, 2014 | by   
Walk for Hope

Nearly 8,000 people walk to help end women’s cancers at the 18th annual Walk for Hope. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Thousands gathered at City of Hope on Sunday, Nov. 2, to participate in the 18th annual Walk for Hope, a unique event that raises money for, and awareness of, women’s cancers.

Together participants cheered, supported, honored and commemorated those who have been affected by breast and gynecologic cancers. With more than 600 survivors in attendance, the impact of City of Hope’s research and care was evident to all.

Walk for Hope is the only walk series that benefits research, treatment and education programs for all cancers unique to women, and all funds raised support City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program.

Most special about the walk is that it celebrates the collaboration between researchers, patients and the community to end women’s cancers. Further, it’s the only walk held on the grounds of an institution where the research occurs and where the care is delivered. Participants not only walked by buildings where the breakthroughs of tomorrow will be discovered, they walked by City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, waving to (and receiving waves from) patients watching from the windows.

“City of Hope’s specialized treatment of cancer, greater understanding of the causes of cancer and the research into survivorship after cancer have all been made possible by your support,” said Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer at City of Hope,  addressing the crowd. “You help us with our research, and our research helps the world.”

Beverly Austin, a 16-year breast  cancer survivor, shared her story during the opening ceremony, highlighting the community’s support and City of Hope’s care. “Because of people like you, I’m here today,” she said.

And because of people like Austin, every year, City of Hope hosts Walk for Hope so that we can one day live in a world without women’s cancers.

Team name: Fight Like Mami Chela at City of Hope's Walk for Hope

The “Fight Like Mami Chela” team joins thousands of other Walk for Hope participants to help find cures for women’s cancers.  (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Walk for Hope

Breast cancer patient Becky Stokes, shown here at the 18th annual Walk for Hope, celebrates a milestone. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

For November, 30 facts (one a day) about lung cancer

November 1, 2014 | by   

Lung cancer is a men’s health issue. It’s a women’s health issue. The truth is, anyone can get lung cancer.

lung cancer

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Today 400,000 survivors live in the U.S. More research and screening is needed to keep that number on the rise.

Arriving on the calendar after month-long (and higher profile) awareness campaigns for prostate and breast cancers, Lung Cancer Awareness Month calls for more research, more breakthroughs, and more understanding of a disease that kills more Americans than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

Through breakthroughs in screening and diagnosis, targeted medications and more advanced surgeries, more people are surviving the disease than ever before. Screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans can prevent 20 percent of lung cancer deaths by identifying them early.

Among the discoveries in this growing body of research is that – as with all cancers – no one is immune from lung cancer risk. Lung cancer is often considered to be a disease that affects only the elderly, or a disease that affects only smokers. Smoking is indeed the top risk factor – so quitting smoking is a huge step toward reducing risk – but it’s not the only factor.

More cases of the disease are found in nonsmokers every year. About 15 percent of all cases are in never-smokers. About 60 percent of cases are patients who quit many years ago or who never smoked at all.

Although lung cancer is by far the top cause of cancer death for both men and women, many don’t seem to realize this fact. This spring, the American Lung Association released the results of its first Women’s Lung Health Barometer, a survey of more than 1,000 women. Only 1 percent of women named lung cancer as a top-of-mind cancer. Further, 78 percent did not know the disease has killed more women than breast cancer since 1987.

Together, we can raise awareness of, and reduce deaths attributed to, lung cancer. To that end, we offer 30 facts (one for each day of November) about lung cancer.

» Continue Reading

Ryan Chavira was determined to beat ovarian cancer – and to Walk for Hope

October 31, 2014 | by   

Ryan Chavira was a senior in high school when she began feeling sluggish, fatigued and, well, “down.” Trips to the doctor ended in “you’re fine” pronouncements; blood tests results showed nothing of real concern.

Ryan Chavira, ovarian cancer survivor

Ovarian cancer survivor Ryan Chavira holds her team’s sign at the 2013 Walk for Hope. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Chavira)

But Chavira’s grandmother had passed away from ovarian cancer when she was in eighth grade, and the distended stomach and bloated feeling that Chavira was experiencing reminded her of her grandmother’s symptoms.

When the bloating gave way to pain, then excruciating pain, Chavira went to a hospital emergency room. A CT scan revealed a tumor the size of a watermelon engulfing her ovaries. Emergency surgery was the only option.

Chavira, now 22, describes the diagnosis and decision on a course of action in this way: “They come in, say ‘You have cancer and we’ll be right back to operate.’” There was no time for the diagnosis to sink in. » Continue Reading

Made in City of Hope: Neural stem cells could stop brain tumor recurrence

October 31, 2014 | by   

Brain tumors are exceptionally difficult to treat. They can be removed surgically, but individual cancer cells may have already spread elsewhere in the brain and can escape the effects of both radiation and chemotherapy. To prevent tumors from recurring, doctors need a way to find and stop those invasive cancer cells. Researchers at City of Hope think a special type of cell, known as a neural stem cell, could be the answer. Neural stem cells – known for their ability to become any type of cell in the nervous system — not only are attracted to cancer cells, they have the ability to deliver drugs directly to the tumor sites, sparing healthy tissues and minimizing side effects.

Karen Aboody of City of Hope

Karen S. Aboody and her colleagues are using stem cells to prevent brain tumor recurrence.

A drive to bring discovery to patients

As a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Karen Aboody, M.D., discovered the natural ability of neural stem cells to target cancer cells in the brain. Her pioneering work helped to establish a new field of cancer treatment, one that uses neural stem cells to deliver drugs or other therapies directly to tumor sites. » Continue Reading

Have breast cancer in family? Need to know risk? There’s an app for that

October 30, 2014 | by   

Breast cancer risk is personal; breast cancer risk assessment should be, too. To that end, City of Hope researchers have developed a starting point to help women (and their doctors) with a family history of the disease begin that risk assessment process.

breast cancer risk app

An app developed at City of Hope helps women with a family history of breast cancer assess their breast cancer risk by age. Doctors find it useful, too.

The result is an iPhone app, called BRISK, for Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Application. It’s the work of City of Hope’s Division of Research Informatics, in collaboration with the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics.

For women with a family history of the disease, the app walks them through their age-specific risk of developing the disease, beginning with a question about whether the family history involved a first-degree relative, a second-degree relative, a mother and paternal aunt, and so on.

The app clearly cautions that it is not fail-safe. It is not a substitution for a formal cancer risk assessment by a skilled physician. It doesn’t include risk factors other than family history, and it’s not to be used by women who are carriers of gene mutations making them more susceptible to breast cancer.

But it does help women and their physicians gain some perspective.

Here, Bita Nehoray, a genetic counselor in the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, answers questions about the app, its purpose and how it should be used: » Continue Reading