LATEST POSTS

Protein power: How one protein can control many cellular effects

August 1, 2014 | by   

Some proteins really know how to multitask. Some of the best are called G-protein coupled receptors, or GPCRs, for short.

Computer rendering of protein

City of Hope scientists Nagarajan Vaidehi and Supriyo Bhattacharya have developed an advanced method to understand how one protein can affect multiple biochemical signaling pathways in a cell.

New research by City of Hope scientists Nagarajan Vaidehi, Ph.D., and Supriyo Bhattacharya, Ph.D., shows how a single GPCR can have very different effects in a cell depending on the molecule that stimulates it. The scientists’ findings could help researchers create better targeted drugs with fewer side effects.

A protein supergroup

GPCRs comprise a superfamily of proteins involved in a wide range of biological processes including immunity, maintaining blood pressure, nerve cell activity and even cancer growth and spread. » Continue Reading

Uterine cancer expert warns against morcellation, says dangers are known

July 31, 2014 | by   

A common surgical device, often used for minimally invasive hysterectomies, may be riskier than previously thought because of its potential to spread several types of cancer, not just uterine cancer, a new study has found.

Uterine removal via a power morcellator can spread cancer, a new study has found.

Use of a power morcellator to remove the uterus, shown here with the female reproductive system, can spread various types of cancer, a new study has found. A City of Hope surgeon isn’t surprised by the findings, saying he wouldn’t use such a tool.

One out of every 368 women treated with a power morcellator – a device that cuts the uterus into smaller pieces for easy removal – had unsuspected uterine cancer that was found during or after their procedures, the researchers showed. Other types of cancer were found as well, they reported, further reinforcing a government assessment that the device is risky. The discovery by Columbia University physicians, detailed in findings published online July 22 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, brings additional data and context to an issue of considerable debate in the gynecology and oncology communities for the last year. A study last December advised patients and their doctors to carefully discuss the risk and benefits of morcellation before reaching a decision about the procedure, which is a step in treating fibroids and facilitating minimally invasive hysterectomy. » Continue Reading

Surgeon general makes skin cancer a national priority

July 30, 2014 | by   

Skin cancer rates have been on the rise for years. On Tuesday, the U.S. surgeon general said: Enough.

Indoor tanning bed

The U.S. surgeon general has issued the first-ever Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Indoor tanning is especially under fire, in the report and from a City of Hope skin cancer expert.

In issuing the first-ever Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak described skin cancer as a “major public health problem” that requires action by all segments of society.

Nearly 5 million people in the United States are treated for skin cancer each year, the report said, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with annual treatment costs reaching an estimated $8.1 billion. It’s also one of the most preventable cancers.

Everyone has a role to play in the skin cancer prevention effort, Lushniak stressed, saying that governments across the board (not just federal and state, but also tribal, local and territorial) need to be partners with business, health care and education leaders; community, nonprofit and faith-based organizations; and of course individuals and families.

He’ll find little argument from skin cancer experts, including City of Hope dermatologist Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D. She’s seen the profound impact of skin cancer on society and the alarming rise in skin cancer rates among young people. » Continue Reading

Tips for cancer patients: How to get a second opinion

July 29, 2014 | by   
Empowered patients get second opinions.

Take a look at these simple tips on getting a second opinion – and what you need to consider.

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.

Research, plus newest techniques, improves treatment of prostate cancer

July 28, 2014 | by   

Counter-intuitive though it might seem, a prostate cancer diagnosis shouldn’t always lead to immediate prostate cancer treatment.

prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer face difficult and often complicated choices in how to proceed with their medical care. It’s more important now than ever to find doctors with the expertise to know when to pursue aggressive treatment and when to manage with active surveillance.

Although prostate cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men, behind lung cancer, and causes more than 29,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, in many cases, the tumors are small, slow-growing and confined. That means that most prostate cancer tumors might not automatically warrant medical intervention.

“Active surveillance,” in which physicians closely monitor patients so they can identify early signs of disease progression, is emerging as the best course of action for many men with prostate cancer. The strategy enables doctors to treat cancer before it becomes a serious threat, while avoiding unnecessary risk by treating tumors unlikely to spread. » Continue Reading

Meet our doctors: Jinha Park on radiology’s vital role in cancer care

July 26, 2014 | by   

Radiology is one of the cornerstones of any hospital. It is a key diagnostic branch of medicine essential for the initial diagnosis of many diseases and has an important role in monitoring a patient’s treatment and predicting outcome. Radiology is the specialty considered to be both the “eyes” and “ears” of medicine.

Jinha Park, radiologist

Jinha Park says radiology is vital in monitoring a patient’s treatment and predicting outcome.

But because radiologists are often behind the scenes, reading images of the inside of the human body and providing results to other doctors, many are unaware of their vital role in helping patients live longer and healthier lives.

Here Jinha Park, M.D., Ph.D., director of MRI and Radiology Research, discusses how radiology has enhanced diagnostics and cancer treatment, and how his role as a “doctor’s doctor” is helping to make huge headway in the fight against cancer. » Continue Reading

Cancer patients need blood, platelets in summer too; donate blood today

July 25, 2014 | by   

Donating blood and platelets saves lives. We all know this. Yet every summer, potential blood donors become distracted by vacations and schedule changes. As a result, blood donations fall dramatically across the nation, leaving hospitals frantically trying to bring in much-needed blood for their patients.

Earlier this week, the American Red Cross sent out an urgent appeal for blood, reporting that donations are down about 8 percent over the past 11 weeks. “The shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks,” the organization said on its website.

Hospitals with trauma and emergency departments aren’t the only institutions that need blood. City of Hope patients need more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year. In comparison, City of Hope’s Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center brings in about 22,300 units of blood and platelets each year, not nearly enough to meet the hospital’s needs. » Continue Reading

Quality: City of Hope makes Becker’s ‘great oncology programs’ list

July 24, 2014 | by   

To be a great cancer hospital, you need a great oncology program. Just ask City of Hope – and Becker’s Hospital Review.

When it comes to oncology programs, City of Hope ranks.

Quality counts. Becker’s Hospital Review has chosen City of Hope for inclusion on its 2014 list of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”

The health care publishing industry stalwart, described as the “leading hospital magazine for hospital business news and analysis for hospital and health system executives,” recently selected City of Hope to its 2014 edition of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”

The inclusion on the list likely comes as no surprise to City of Hope patients and their families, but outside recognition of top quality is always welcome. In offering its list, Becker’s Hospital Review includes this important note: “Organizations cannot pay for inclusion on this list.”

That’s an important distinction, one that isn’t always true for many such lists. » Continue Reading

Second opinion: A cancer surgeon shares his perspective and advice

July 23, 2014 | by   

Diagnostic errors are far from uncommon. In fact, a recent study found that they affect about 12 million people, or 1 in 20 patients,  in the U.S. each year.

medical chart and second opinions

Diagnosed with cancer? Get a second opinion at an expert research and treatment center like City of Hope. Clayton Lau, M.D., explains why it could save your life.

With cancer, those errors in diagnosis can have a profound impact. A missed or delayed diagnosis can make the disease that much harder to treat, as the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research recently noted in calling attention to the diagnostic errors research.

This means that patients who’ve been diagnosed with cancer shouldn’t always assume that either the diagnosis or their options are precisely what they’ve been told. Sometimes a cancer has progressed more than the diagnostic tests suggest; sometimes it’s progressed less. And sometimes the diagnosis is completely off-base.

Clayton S. Lau, M.D., associate clinical professor and an expert in testicular cancer surgery at City of Hope, explains the difference that second opinions can make in getting a proper cancer diagnosis and care. » Continue Reading

Cancer expertise matters. Just ask ex-lymphoma patient Christine Pechera

July 22, 2014 | by   

Eleven years ago, lymphoma patient Christine Pechera began the long road toward a cancer-free life.

Christine Pechera unveils 2014 City of Hope Rose Parade Float Rendering at the Wrigley Mansion.

Former lymphoma patient Christine Pechera unveils 2014 City of Hope Rose Parade Float Rendering at the Tournament of Roses – Wrigley Mansion. Her second opinion at City of Hope ultimately led to her remission.

She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and told by doctors elsewhere that her lifespan likely would be measured in months, not years. Refusing to give up, she came to City of Hope for a second opinion. There, she received her first encouraging words. She began treatment soon after watching the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, an event that she’d watched as a child and that she thought she might never see again.

After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and an autologous stem cell transplant – a procedure using her own stem cells – Pechera returned to health, only to relapse in 2005.

She can still find the YouTube video pleading for help in the search for a matching bone marrow donor. Because she was Filipino, matches were hard to come by; her search was even featured on “Nightline,” highlighting the need for more diversity among donors. Finally, a man in Hong Kong – who never saw the video or “Nightline” – was identified as a match.

His stem cells – and the expertise of City of Hope’s lymphoma experts – saved Pechera’s life. The journey that began with a poor prognosis at another institution brought her back to the Rose Parade on January 1 of this year. This time, the former lymphoma patient rode on City of Hope’s float, paying tribute to the fact that the dream of being cancer-free can be within reach, even in some of the toughest cases. » Continue Reading