Cancer cells are masters of survival. Despite excessive damage to their most basic workings and the constant vigilance of the body’s immune system, they manage to persevere.
Much of this extraordinary ability to survive falls under the control of proteins bearing the name STAT, short for signal transducer and activator of transcription. Prominent among these is STAT3. This protein helps shield tumor cells from the immune system. It also shuts down apoptosis, the process that normally forces sick cells to die, and it can help cancers spread through the body.
Hua Yu, Ph.D., the Billy and Audrey L Wilder Professor in Tumor Immmunotherapy and chair of the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology at City of Hope, has made STAT3 the focus of much of her research. The first scientist to show for certain that STAT3 could be a molecular target for cancer therapy in animal models of the disease, she is widely regarded as a leader in the field, with numerous breakthrough discoveries surrounding the protein. That global leadership position recently received further affirmation when the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation elected her to receive the Humboldt Research Award. » Continue Reading
One person receives the breast cancer diagnosis, but the cancer affects the entire family.
Couples, in particular, can find the diagnosis and treatment challenging, especially if they have traditional male/female communication styles.
“Though every individual is unique, men and women often respond differently during times of stress,” said Courtney Bitz, L.C.S.W., a social worker in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. “This is where men and women can learn from and build upon the strengths of their partner and work together as a team. For many couples, the cancer experience can be an opportunity to grow closer to one another.”
Bitz offers these specific and practical behavior tips. They’ve emerged from the wisdom of past patients and partners, from research and from clinical experience: » Continue Reading
Here’s a statistic you’ll hear and read frequently over the next month: One in eight women born in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime.
Although this statement is accurate, based on breast cancer incidence rates in 2013, it’s often misunderstood.
Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., director of cancer etiology at City of Hope, has spent much of her career researching cancer risk, including the factors linked to breast cancer and how risk can be reduced. What that statistic doesn’t mean, she says, is that if you’re gathered at dinner in a group of eight adult women, that one of you is going to develop breast cancer.
Bernstein sheds some light on the oft-repeated statistic: » Continue Reading
This time of year, how can anyone not think pink? Through the power of pastel packaging, October has been etched permanently into the American public’s consciousness as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The color pink is now synonymous with breast cancer.
Suffice to say, awareness has been raised.
Now it’s time to make the most of that awareness. Now it’s time for action. That action can come when you choose a health plan, when you choose an oncologist, when you donate or even when you shop for a purse, a tape dispenser or a really great moisturizer.
* If you’re choosing a health plan, choose one that provides access to top-of-the-line expertise.
Research by Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Sciences, has found that, in cancer, where you get care matters. » Continue Reading
Beyond the pink ribbons, special product fundraisers, and the pastel sea of color that marks October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month offers a reason to celebrate and to reflect.
More than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors live in the U.S. They are survivors of the second most-common cancer in women, behind skin cancer, and survival rates continue to climb due to better treatments and increased screening that finds cancers when they are most treatable.
Another reason credited for the increased survival rates: Awareness. With women more knowledgeable about warning signs, the importance of self-exams, treatment options and second opinions, they are better prepared than ever before to confront a breast cancer diagnosis – something an estimated one in eight women will do in her lifetime.
But breast cancer remains a leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. So, in the spirit of heightening awareness – and screening, we offer one fact about breast cancer for every day in October: » Continue Reading
Gliomas, a type of tumor that grows in the brain, are very difficult to treat successfully due to their complex nature. That might not always be the case.
First some background: The most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumor in adults is glioblastoma. Although the brain tumor mass can often be removed surgically, complete resection (or removal) of all the tumor cells is virtually impossible due to the invasive nature of glioblastoma, and tumor recurrence is the norm.
Karen S. Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, believes the key to recurrence prevention lies in special cells called neural stem cells. She has collaborated with Jana Portnow, M.D., associate professor of Medical Oncology and associate director of the Brain Tumor Program at City of Hope, on a Federal Drug Administration-approved clinical trial that aims to deliver drugs to brain tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue. » Continue Reading
Cutaneous T cell lymphomas are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that arise when infection-fighting white blood cells in the lymphatic system – called lymphocytes – become malignant and affect the skin. The result is rashes and, sometimes, tumors, which can be mistaken for other dermatological conditions. In a small number of people, the disease may progress to the lymph nodes or internal organs, causing serious complications.
Here Jasmine Zain, M.D., associate clinical professor and director of City of Hope’s T Cell Lymphoma Program, discusses how in recent years, greater research efforts, advanced treatment options and more collaboration among physicians have contributed to better care and outcomes for patients, and helped many to return to a normal life.
What is cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and what are the symptoms?
CTCL is a rare form of lymphoma that arises primarily in the skin. It is not to be confused with the more common forms of skin cancer that include melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphoid system and usually arise in lymph nodes. However, with skin being the largest lymphoid organ in the body and our first line of defense against the outside environment, occasionally it becomes the site of lymphoma formation. » Continue Reading
Weighing your breast cancer risk? One study suggests a measure to consider is skirt size.
A British study suggests that for each increase in skirt size every 10 years after age 25, the five-year risk of developing breast cancer postmenopause increases from one in 61 to one in 51 – a 77 percent increase in risk.
The new study, published online in BMJ Open, was based on information from 93,000 women in a British database for cancer screening between 2005 and 2010. All were 50 years old or older, and their average skirt size was a 10. Three out of four women reported gaining sizes. The average size for these women at age 25 was 8, and when they entered the study, the average size was 10.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Gynecological Cancer Research Center at University College London.
Even when considering other risk factors – such as hormone replacement and family history – increased skirt size emerged as the strongest predictor. The skirt size served as a measure of abdominal weight gain. While scientists haven’t pinned down the exact mechanism linking abdominal fat to breast cancer risk, it is known that obesity increases the amount of estrogen in the body. Many breast cancers rely on this hormone to grow. » Continue Reading
Runners prize medals for 5Ks and marathons. Becky Stokes has a medal she cherishes from a very different kind of race: the marathon of treatments necessary to beat her aggressive triple-negative breast cancer.
Just a week ago, she completed her last radiation treatment, and danced in the hospital with the staff. (You can see for yourself on this video taken by her son.) As is a City of Hope tradition, at the conclusion of her therapy she received a medal and a certificate, tokens she cherishes.
This week, People Magazine‘s cover page will feature former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden, recently diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, smiling proudly, her head shaved, as she vows to beat her cancer. Lunden opted to shave her head rather than waiting for it to fall out, describing that wait as “excruciating.”
Becky said she agrees with that advice, and shared her thoughts on the provocative cover. She wrote: » Continue Reading