Posts tagged ‘cancer’


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


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


Each day is special for cancer survivors (w/VIDEO)

July 16, 2014 | by

The best measure of success in the fight against cancer is in lives saved and families intact, in extra days made special simply because they exist.

Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope, understands what precedes that special awareness. When cancer strikes, one minute a person may feel healthy and young, he says, and in the next, they’re wondering how many years they have left.

In those situations, expertise matters. Commitment to research, knowledge of new therapies, unrelenting dedication to quality and improvement all play a role in the best possible cancer care. City of Hope has those factors. But the best measure of cancer care is cancer outcomes – and City of Hope has those, too.

» Continue Reading


Her breast cancer diagnosis was grim; a second opinion saved her life

July 15, 2014 | by

At 29, Kommah McDowell was a successful young professional engaged to be married to her best friend. She worked in the financial services sector and kick-boxed to keep in shape and to relax. Then came the diagnosis of triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was told she had a 5 percent chance of living two years. Here’s her story …

breast cancer

Kommah McDowell, a breast cancer survivor, serves as a mentor for black women who recently completed breast cancer treatment and are transitioning into the follow-up stage of their care.

For seven months, McDowell had been visiting her primary care doctor every other week complaining of pain, tenderness, swelling and a lump in her right breast. She was assured it was only a benign cyst that would go away – she was too young to have cancer. Finally, at McDowell’s insistence, the “cyst” was removed. During that surgery, the doctor found cancer.

“Unbelievably, the medical staff was not familiar with the type of cancer,” McDowell said. “They just knew it was cancer and the best course of action was to remove it immediately. Fortunately, I was able to go to City of Hope for a second opinion and treatment.” » Continue Reading


Tamoxifen or exemestane after breast cancer? It’s trade-off, expert says

July 14, 2014 | by

The well-known drug tamoxifen might not always be the best choice for premenopausal women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer and face a heightened risk of recurrence. A new study suggests that the aromatase inhibitor exemestane, or Aromasin, works slightly better than tamoxifen in preventing cancer recurrence.

A new study finds aromatase inhibitors might be more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer relapse in premenopausal patients.

A new study finds that aromatase inhibitors might be more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer relapse in premenopausal patients.

Five years of tamoxifen is considered the standard of care for pre-menopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer; aromatase inhibitors are often used in post-menopausal women.

But in a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 93 percent of women on the aromatase inhibitor exemestane remained free of breast cancer after five years. About 89 percent of women on tamoxifen remained free of breast cancer over the same amount of time.   » Continue Reading


As cancer screening evolves, consumers should follow the science

July 4, 2014 | by

News about the risks or benefits of widespread cancer screening seem to arrive daily – 3D mammography for breast cancer, CT scans for lung cancer, PSA tests for prostate cancer and now pelvic exams for some women’s cancers. Missing in the headlines is a reflection of how cancer detection is evolving.

Rapidly shifting views on cancer screening can leave the average person confused. The key is to know your personal risks and talk with your doctor.

Rapidly shifting views on cancer screening can leave the average person confused. The key is to know your personal risks and talk with your doctor.

Today’s cancer experts say screening advice shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. For most cancers, they advocate individual assessments based on each person’s history. This assessment may lead to more specialized screening – or to no screening at all.

An annual consultation with a primary physician, now standard in the wake of health care reform, should make patients aware of their individual risk. From there come more refined choices. » Continue Reading


New guidelines recommend against pelvic exams for women. But wait …

July 2, 2014 | by

New pelvic exam recommendations or not, women shouldn’t give up those routine gynecological appointments. The revised guidelines from the American College of Physicians exempt most women from pelvic examinations, but a cancer specialist at City of Hope says women should still plan on regular visits with their gynecologist for cancer screening.

gynecologist exam

New guidelines say that most women do not need a regular pelvic exam. However, physicians say, they should still plan on their regular Pap test to screen for cervical cancer. Some experts fear the impact of this change.

The guidelines were published July 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and call for routine pelvic exams to be skipped for women who are asymptomatic, of average risk for problems and not pregnant. No one is disputing the need, however, for regular Pap tests and cervical exams.

The study on which the recommendations are based found that routine pelvic exams were not beneficial to asymptomatic, average risk women who are not pregnant, as the exams rarely detect important disease and don’t reduce mortality, said Linda Humphrey, M.D., co-author of the guideline, in a news release.

The key to communicating this new guideline is making sure women understand that they should still receive Pap smear screening to detect cervical cancer. The incidence and death rates for cervical cancer have plummeted in the last 60 years, and continued to drop in the last decade, largely due to good screening, said Robert Morgan, M.D., co-director of the Gynecological Oncology/Peritoneal Malignancy Program at City of Hope. » Continue Reading


Musicians On Call brings healing power of music to patients

June 27, 2014 | by
Singer Gavin DeGraw meets patient Robert Hughes at the launch of the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program. Photo credit: Andy Featherston

Musician Gavin DeGraw meets patient Robert Hughes at the launch of the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program. Photo credit: Andy Featherston

Music makes a difference – in patient mood and in patient healing. To that end, patient care at City of Hope now has a special new program called the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program, which brings live, in-room performances to patients undergoing treatment or unable to leave their hospital beds.

As a comprehensive cancer center committed to treating the whole patient, City of Hope understands that music can lift the human spirit and enhance treatment programs. Studies have shown that live music soothes hospital patients by lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. For cancer patients in need of an emotional boost, soothing music or an upbeat singalong can be especially powerful. » Continue Reading


Weight-loss surgery might reduce cancer risk; a look at the reasons

June 18, 2014 | by

If obesity raises the risk of cancer, it might stand to reason that weight-loss surgery could reduce the risk.

Obesity may increase the risk of death in some breast cancers.

Obesity may increase the risk of death for some women with breast cancer, research finds.

Brazilian researchers are convinced – at least the ones who recently analyzed the results of 13 studies on cancer rates in the wake of weight-loss surgery. The studies, which included more than 54,000 people total, found that cancer rates among people who had undergone weight-loss surgery were about the same as cancer rates among normal weight people. Cancer rates among obese people were almost twice that.

The results were published recently in Obesity Surgery and summed up by HealthDay. The connection makes sense to Cy A. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., the Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology at City of Hope and the institution’s Deputy Director of Clinical Research.

“The evidence that obesity is related to an increased risk of cancer is significant, even in the modestly obese,” Stein told HealthDay. “There is an association [between obesity and cancer]. It is a risk factor for cancer development.” » Continue Reading


In cancer, expertise is crucial: Tips on getting a second opinion

June 16, 2014 | by

Cancer is a daunting diagnosis, and patients need to be confident in their treatment decisions. Often that means they have to be their own advocates and get a second opinion.

second opinions on cancer care

Cancer patients must be confident in their treatment decisions. Often that means they need a second opinion.

That’s easier said than done. Some patients fear that seeking a second opinion will alienate their doctor, the person in whom they’ve placed their trust. Others simply don’t know how to begin.

Here are a few tips on getting a second opinion from the experts at City of Hope.

1. For starters, be assured that an informed patient is a good patient. Top doctors understand this. Also, it’s not necessary to ask your doctor for an authorization to get a second opinion. Simply call any one of your doctors and ask for your records to be sent to you. It’s that simple – and it’s your right.

2. Be aware that specialized institutions such as City of Hope may have treatment options that are not available elsewhere, such as IORT, short for intraoperative radiation therapy. With IORT, one dose of radiation during surgery reduces treatment from six weeks to just one day. Such therapies are worth investigating, and you deserve to know about them.

3. Inquire about the chance you could participate in a clinical trial. You will still get gold standard treatment – that’s mandatory – but you might also be able to get additional treatment that improve your odds of remission, reduce your side effects or enhance your quality of life. At City of Hope, we offer an array of clinical trials for many types and stages of cancer.

4. Come prepared to your second-opinion appointment – and ask many questions, particularly about treatments, options and where to find them. Also, ask about details of your diagnosis. Diagnostic errors affect about 12 million people in the U.S. each year. One former City of Hope patient, for example, was urged by her physician to undergo a hysterectomy for a benign cyst. Instead she had ovarian cancer. She sought care at City of Hope and is now living cancer free.

5. Understand that getting a second opinion is simply a search for information. Ultimately, City of Hope experts may agree with your doctor’s treatment plan. If they do, and you maintain your original course of therapy, you can do so with increased confidence. If our doctors make different recommendations, you’ll know that their advice is based on extremely specialized expertise and experience in your specific disease.

Learn more about 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.