City of Hope has a longstanding commitment to combating diabetes, a leading national and global health threat. Already, it’s scored some successes, from research that led to the development of synthetic human insulin – still used by millions of patients – to potentially lifesaving islet cell transplants.
Diabetes researchers here continue to push forward in the fields of epigenetics, immunology, developmental biology, translational medicine, obesity, nutrition and metabolism. A pioneer in translational research for diabetes, City of Hope serves as the West Coast’s leading center for islet cell therapy, and is a leader in epigenetics and molecular research. Its diabetes program is built on a rich history that started with its founder, Rachmiel Levine, M.D. He was the first scientist to describe the role of insulin in regulating glucose entry into the cell. That work led to an understanding of what’s now known as “insulin resistance,” the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes comes in two basic types. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In this disease, the body attacks its own pancreatic islet cells, which produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy the body needs. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly, leading to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal – also called hyperglycemia. At first, the pancreas produces extra insulin to compensate, but over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t maintain normal glucose levels.
Dee Hunt never smoked.
Neither did her five sisters and brothers. They didn’t have exposure to radon or asbestos, either. That didn’t prevent every one of them from being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Their parents were smokers, but they’d all left home more than 30 years before any of them were diagnosed. For most of her life, secondhand smoke was not ever raised as a health risk or concern.
“I thought it was only smoking-related,” Hunt said in a recent interview of her early impressions of lung cancer. Now she knows better. “It’s in our environment. It’s what we breathe. It’s in our genes.”
Hunt’s older sister died of lung cancer only six months after being diagnosed with the disease. That diagnosis was preceded by three years of being misdiagnosed with pneumonia.
That ordeal prompted Hunt, now 58, to take her health into her own hands. She began pushing for a screening of her lungs to identify any cancer. She ultimately got the screening and, when she did, doctors discovered a small tumor. Her other siblings followed suit, with all of them ultimately diagnosed with tumors of various sizes. » Continue Reading
They may not talk about it, but women with cancers in the pelvic region, such as cervical cancer, bladder cancer and uterine cancer, often have problems controlling their urine, bowel or flatus. Although they may feel isolated, they’re far from alone.
Many other women have such problems, too. In fact, nearly one in three women in the United States have what’s known as a pelvic floor disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. Such disorders occur when muscles or other tissue within the pelvic region weaken, causing symptoms such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, in which a pelvic organ drops from its normal position.
But the condition is not as debilitating as many women think.
“Pelvic floor disorders not only can be treated, they can often cured,” says City of Hope urogynecologist Christopher Chung, M.D., a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. » Continue Reading
Cancer that spreads to the liver poses a significant threat to patients, and a great challenge to surgeons. The organ’s anatomical complexity and its maze of blood vessels make removal of tumors difficult, even for specialized liver cancer surgeons. Following chemotherapy, the livers of cancer patients are not optimally healthy. This compromises the power of the residual liver to compensate functionally, postsurgery, and to regenerate over time. Hence, saving as much of the liver as possible is key.
Gagandeep Singh, M.D., has long pursued surgical techniques that would allow for successful removal of tumors. Over time, he devised a technique that incorporated tools normally used in laparoscopy and neurosurgery.
Using this technique in 2012, he operated on Susan Stringfellow, a patient in her 60s, whose colon cancer had metastasized to her liver. Removal of the tumors required resecting almost 75 percent of her liver. In the year following the surgery, the patient’s liver regenerated itself. Encouraged, Singh continued to use the technique, teaching it to his surgical oncology fellows at City of Hope. Close to 200 surgeries later, he had amassed data confirming that the technique reduced the need for blood transfusions and resulted in no biliary leaks.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The single largest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, and it contributes to the overwhelming majority of lung cancer cases.
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
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.