LATEST POSTS

Appendix rupture led to surprise diagnosis of kidney cancer (VIDEO)

March 20, 2014 | by   

“One day I had a pain in my side and ended up having my appendix rupture. During that time of the appendix rupturing, they discovered I had a large tumor covering most of my kidney,” said Joelle Hood, a learning center principal and a certified life coach.

Hood’s doctor referred her to City of Hope, where she met urologic oncology specialist Clayton Lau, M.D., an assistant clinical professor. They discussed the best treatment option for her cancer and took it day by day from there.

» Continue Reading

Scientists uncover important step in tumors’ blocking of immune system

March 19, 2014 | by   

Cancers thrive and spread in part because of their ability to create fortresses around themselves that ward off the body’s natural immune defenses, a so-called immunosuppressive microenvironment. 

A new study sheds light on how a tumor is able to work against the body's immune system, a discovery with the potential to unlock new immunotherapies.

A new study sheds light on how a tumor is able to work against the body’s immune system, a discovery with the potential to unlock new immunotherapies.

Although a healthy body’s defenses against cancer and infection are driven by T cells that recognize and destroy foreign intruders, the environment created by cancer tumors often prevents this system from working. A new City of Hope study may ultimately provide a way to overcome this challenge to T cells.

City of Hope scientists had long established that the protein STAT3 regulates a large array of genes in tumor cells, including those related to immunosuppression. Their new study, published this month in the journal Cell Reports, sheds light on how STAT3 interacts with another key protein, known as S1PR1, to regulate T cells that suppress the immune system. Those T cells are known as regulatory T cells, or Tregs.

“This has many therapeutic implications,” said Saul Priceman, Ph.D., an assistant research professor at City of Hope and the study’s first author. “This could be helpful across the board for solid cancers in combination with other immunotherapies. In most solid cancers, these proteins are blocking the immune system from killing the tumor. Our new findings suggest that by selectively targeting S1PR1, we can put the brakes on T cells that prevent the immune system from effectively attacking the tumor.” » Continue Reading

Colorectal cancer: Why more people are surviving the disease

March 18, 2014 | by   

For the past 20 years, the death rate for colorectal cancer has been dropping for both men and women. That decline can be traced to a number of factors, including advanced screening techniques, new drugs and improved surgical and medical treatments.

colon

Cancer of the colon … Shown here: A highlighted colon.

As a result, the United States now has more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer. But even with all these advancements, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 136,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year and that approximately 50,000 patients will die from this disease.

Here, Stephen M. Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A., clinical professor of surgery at City of Hope, explains the risk factors for colorectal cancer and what advancements to expect in the near future.

Who is most at risk for colorectal cancer?

In the U.S., we are all at risk of colon and rectal cancer. Colon and rectal cancer is the third most-common cancer and second most-common cause of death from cancer.

Colon and rectal cancer can occur at any age, but the incidence increases as we age, particularly as we get over 50 years of age. For both men and women here in the U.S., the lifetime chance of getting colon and rectal cancer is about 5 percent. In some families, the risk is much higher due to genetic risk factors. » Continue Reading

Women’s cancers: Support is vital in, and after, cancer treatment

March 17, 2014 | by   

In this series – this part focuses on the need for support during, and after, treatment – we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments, and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.

Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.
In Part 1, we explained ways in which researchers are seeking to fight cancer through basic science.
In Part 2, we showed how researchers are trying to better understand risks and prevention.
In Part 3, we explored the search for new treatments.
In Part 4, we highlighted some upcoming clinical trials.
Part 5: Helping women thrive during, and after, cancer treatment
**

Research to help older women

Arti Hurria, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Cancer and Aging Research Program and associate professor of medical oncology, is collaborating with researchers from across the country on several important projects. In one ongoing nationwide collaborative study with more than 15 institutions, and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Hurria is evaluating risk factors for toxicity in older women receiving cancer treatment.

older women

Older women with breast cancer have unique needs. City of Hope researchers are helping identify those needs.

The team’s goal is to develop questionnaires and blood tests that will give the physicians insight into a patient’s risk for side effects, so that care can be tailored accordingly. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation awarded Hurria and her team additional funds to enable them to understand the impact of breast cancer and its treatment on a patient’s physical function, comparing patients with breast cancer to an age-matched group who does not have breast cancer.

Hurria was also awarded funds from the NIH to study the impact of cancer and cancer therapies on cognitive aging in survivors of breast cancer. Another recent study explored the impact of aromatase inhibitors (a common breast cancer therapy) on cognitive function in older women; that study was published by the journal Clinical Breast Cancer. Hurria’s leading-edge research is improving treatment standards for older breast cancer patients around the world. » Continue Reading

Women’s cancers: Clinical trials play pivotal role

March 17, 2014 | by   
In this series –  this part highlights our new clinical trials – we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.

Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.
In Part 1, we explained ways in which researchers are seeking to fight cancer through basic science.
In Part 2, we showed how researchers are trying to better understand risks and prevention.
In Part 3, we explored the search for new therapies.
Part 4: Bringing new treatments to the clinic via clinical trials
**
Novel drug combination brings promising results
clinical trials for cancer

Clinical trials are crucial to improving treatment of ovarian and breast cancer. At City of Hope, one clinical trial seeks to help women with triple-negative breast cancer, another aims to improve radiation therapy and still another focuses on ovarian cancer.

A phase I clinical trial led by researchers at City of Hope has demonstrated the promise of a new drug combination for women with triple-negative breast cancer.

This type of breast cancer doesn’t produce any of the three proteins that common cancer therapies target — the identifying characteristic that gives it its name, and which makes it especially difficult to treat. The trial, led by Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., and George Somlo, M.D., both professors of medical oncology and therapeutics research, tests the common drug carboplatin in combination with a novel targeted therapy called a PARP inhibitor. » Continue Reading

Women’s cancers: New treatments depend on innovation

March 17, 2014 | by   

In this series – this part explores the search for innovative new therapies – we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.

Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.
In Part 1, we explained ways in which researchers are seeking to fight cancer through basic science.
In Part 2, we showed how researchers are trying to better understand risks and prevention.
Part 3: Developing innovative therapeutics
**

Sophisticated technology for targeted treatment

City of Hope researchers recently received a $1 million Keck Foundation grant to study meditopes. Researchers here discovered a sit in the middle of a monoclonal antibody where a peptide can easily attach, acting as a "hitch" that allows them to easily attach drugs to the antibodies. In this way, there's potential to harness the immune system to fight cancer and other diseases.

City of Hope researchers recently received a $1 million Keck Foundation grant to study meditopes. Researchers here discovered a site in the middle of a monoclonal antibody where a peptide can easily attach, acting as a “hitch” that allows them to easily attach drugs to the antibodies. In this way, there’s potential to harness the immune system to fight cancer and other diseases.

This year, John C. Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine, published research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on his advances in developing meditope technology.

These engineered peptides “fit” into antibodies, much like a lock and key, making it possible to selectively deliver material to cancer cells. This research also earned prestigious funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation, which will help Williams and his team advance its applications. This includes the recent development of several new meditopes that have the ability to attach to therapeutic antibodies for several different forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

Williams also continues to work with Jinha Park, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology, to design meditopes to bind specifically to novel HER2 antibodies that attack HER2 breast cancer. Their work is critical, since it provides a new, more targeted treatment for this aggressive, hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. » Continue Reading

Women’s cancers: Scientists study both risk and prevention

March 17, 2014 | by   
In this series – this part examines how researchers are identifying risks and possible ways to prevent cancer – we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.
Breast cancer in Latin America

Research into breast cancer risk takes City of Hope researchers far from California. By better understanding the disease, they can better fight it and prevent it.

Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.

In Part 1, we explained ways in which researchers are seeking to fight cancer through basic science.

Part 2: Studies of risk and prevention

**

Addressing risk among Latinas

Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, has focused much of his research on understanding the role and prevalence of BRCA mutations in the Latin American population. Specific mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. » Continue Reading

Women’s cancers: Discoveries start with basic research

March 17, 2014 | by   
At City of Hope, we’re committed to caring for the whole person. This mission is especially important when it comes to treating women, who devote so much of their time and energy to caring for others — for their families, friends and communities. We believe cures are within reach for women battling breast and gynecological cancers, and we want to make these treatments available now.
Research to fight cancer

Gains against women’s cancers, including breast cancer and ovarian cancer, start with basic research.

In this series, we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.

Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.
Part 1: Basic research seeks new ways to attack cancer

**

Advances in immunotherapy

Peter P. Lee, M.D., chair of cancer immunotherapeutics and tumor immunology at City of Hope, is pursuing several projects that are part of a what he calls integrated immunotherapy. This concept advances the idea that effective cancer treatment must address each phase or action of the body’s complex immune system. » Continue Reading

HPV test instead of Pap test? Cervical cancer expert weighs in

March 15, 2014 | by   

If the new recommendations of a Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) advisory panel are widely adopted, HPV testing eventually may replace the Pap test as the primary way to detect cervical cancer. City of Hope cervical cancer expert says the recommendations have merit. 

Human papillomavirus

HPV’s links to cervical cancer have led an FDA panel to recommend that an HPV test be used as first-line screening for cervical cancer. Shown here: An illustration of human papillomavirus.

The Pap test – named for its inventor, pathologist George Papanicolaou – is designed to identify cancers and precancers in the cervix, and has been the standard screening for cervical cancer during the past 60 years. The screening is credited with dramatically lowering death rates.

The new test, developed by Roche Molecular Systems, detects HPV’s DNA. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is now known to cause nearly all cervical cancer cases.

The 13 academic gynecologists, pathologists and microbiologists on the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee Microbiology Panel unanimously concluded that the Roche test is safe and effective as a first-line screening for cervical cancer. It reviewed data from the ATHENA trial, which included more than 47,000 women. » Continue Reading

Secondary thyroid cancers are more deadly, study finds (w/VIDEO)

March 14, 2014 | by   




Although thyroid tumors are rarely life-threatening, scientists have found that patients with secondary thyroid cancer (in other words, thyroid cancer that develops after the person has survived another cancer) are more likely to die of the disease compared to those whose thyroid cancer was as their primary — or first — cancer.

The findings were published online in advance of print recently in the journal Cancer. In the study, the researchers analyzed more than 41,000 cases of thyroid cancer among teens and young adults (up to 39 years old). Approximately 3 percent of those cases were secondary thyroid cancers.

After controlling for other factors — including demographics, stage of cancer upon diagnosis and how it was treated — the authors found that people with secondary thyroid cancers are 6.6 times more likely to die of the disease compared to those with primary thyroid cancers.

That statistic may sound alarming, but John Yim, M.D., associate professor and surgeon in City of Hope’s Division of Surgical Oncology, said that, overall, thyroid cancer prognoses are very good. » Continue Reading