LATEST POSTS

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
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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
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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
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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

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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

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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

Bladder cancer patient thought symptoms were due to infection (VIDEO)

March 13, 2014 | by   

Christine Crews thought she had a bladder infection she just couldn’t shake. Turns out, the Memphis, Tenn., resident had been living with bladder cancer for 15 years.

A surgeon recommended invasive surgery, but Crews wasn’t comfortable with that recommendation; she wanted other options. When a urologist friend recommended she call City of Hope, she did.

“They actually listened to what I wanted from the surgery,” Crews said. “They were able to give me options that other hospitals were not able to give me.”

In the video above, Crews shares her story to help other people with bladder cancer understand just how special City of Hope is, and what their options really are.

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Read the Breakthroughs post “8 questions and answers about bladder cancer.”

Learn more about City of Hope’s bladder cancer program.

 

Lung cancer patient highlights need for survivor research (VIDEO)

March 12, 2014 | by   

“Susan survived breast cancer 20 years ago.” So begins a video of a former City of Hope patient sharing the story of her lung cancer diagnosis and her subsequent treatment at City of Hope.

In her narrative, the former patient expresses shock at her diagnosis, saying she was “totally floored.” After all, she’d never smoked, and the common perception of lung cancer has been that it’s a disease only of smokers. That perception is slowly changing.

As explained by Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., co-director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program: “The most common cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoke, and the risk increases with the quantity and duration of smoking. Yet nearly 15 percent of those who develop lung cancer have never smoked, so there are other factors clearly involved such as the environment and genetics. Although these causes are not well-outlined, research is ongoing to improve our understanding of nonsmoking-related lung cancers.” » Continue Reading

Yoga eases fatigue for breast cancer patients undergoing radiation

March 11, 2014 | by   

Women undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer should try yoga. That’s the take-home message of a new study linking yoga to a greater sense of well-being and better regulation of stress hormones among female breast cancer patients.

Yoga for cancer patients

Yoga improves well-being and reduces fatigue among female breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, a new study has found.

The study, published online March 3 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was conducted by researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and adds to increasing evidence that exercise benefits cancer patients.

“This study supports that the more you do, the better off you are,” said City of Hope’s Joanne Mortimer, M.D., providing expert commentary on the study to HealthDay. Mortimer is director of Women’s Cancers Programs.

To measure the impact of yoga, researchers assigned women undergoing radiation therapy to one of three groups. One group practiced yoga for up to three times a week, one group did stretching exercises for up to three times a week and one group did neither. Participants in each group shared with researchers their feelings of fatigue and how that impacted their quality of life, as well as their levels of depression and sleep disturbances. They also gave saliva samples so researchers could measure their levels of cortisol, considered an indicator of stress.   » Continue Reading