Posts tagged ‘cancer’

Triple-negative breast cancer patient Homa Sadat: What I learned

January 23, 2015 | by

No one ever plans to have cancer – and there’s never a good time. For Homa Sadat, her cancer came at a particularly bad time: just one year after losing her father to the pancreatic cancer he had battled for two years.

triple negative breast cancer

Triple-negative breast cancer patient Homa Sadat, now 30, has some advice for others. Tip 1: Don’t think negatively.

She was working a grueling schedule managing three commercial office buildings. She’d just started dating someone very promising – and her family was still mourning her father.

Sadat, now 30, was 27 when she first found a lump in her breast. She called it to her doctor’s attention, but her concerns were dismissed. She couldn’t have cancer, her doctor said. She was too young. Six months later, a shooting pain prompted her to insist on a biopsy that found breast cancer. Specifically, she had triple-negative breast cancer – the hardest type to treat, because it doesn’t respond to any current targeted therapies.

Sadat considered other caregivers, but ultimately chose the Breast Cancer Program at City of Hope because of her confidence in her oncologist, George Somlo, M.D., professor in the departments of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research and Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. One of Somlo’s areas of research interest is triple-negative breast cancer. Sadat volunteered for a Phase II clinical trial that combined carboplatin and a novel nano-particle drug called nab-paclitaxel. The trial called for her to undergo 16 weeks of chemotherapy before having surgery to address her cancer.

Halfway through chemotherapy regimen, she had a extremely welcome surprise.

“I went in for an ultrasound-guided biopsy, and they said there’s nothing to biopsy,” Sadat said. “They couldn’t find the tumor.” » Continue Reading

Atypical hyperplasia’s link to breast cancer ‘more serious’ than thought

January 14, 2015 | by

Doctors have long known that women with a precancerous condition called atypical hyperplasia have an elevated risk of breast cancer. Now a new study has found that the risk is more serious than previously thought.

atypical hyperplasia

New research has found that women with atypical hyperplasia have up to a 30 percent risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.  This is a higher risk than physicians had thought was linked to atypical hyperplasia. Researchers hope the findings will lead to more thorough screening options, such as MRI (shown), for women facing this increased risk.

Hyperplasia itself is an overgrowth of cells; atypical hyperplasia is an overgrowth in a distorted pattern. The condition is common, amounting to about 10 percent of the more than 1 million breast biopsies with benign findings in the U.S. The commonness of the condition is one reason the new study is so concerning.

The breast cancer risk study, conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic and published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that about 30 percent of women with atypical hyperplasia developed breast cancer within 25 years of the diagnosis.

“The news is atypical hyperplasia is much more serious than we have been taking it,” said Laura Kruper, a breast surgeon and head of breast surgery service at City of Hope, in a HealthDay article on the study.  “When you say a cumulative risk of 30 percent at 25 years, that is pretty serious. … We as a medical community need to pay more attention to this.” » Continue Reading

Cancer statistics show decline in deaths, but new threats loom

December 31, 2014 | by

The American Cancer Society’s annual statistics show the death rate from cancer in the U.S. is down significantly from its peak more than a decade ago – certainly a reason to celebrate. But before the kudos give way to complacency, be forewarned: A number of increasingly serious public health issues could send cancer deaths and cancer incidence climbing again.

Cancer statistics don't tell whole picture

Breakthroughs in cancer treatment, early detection and reduction in smoking have resulted in a 22 percent decline in cancer deaths since 1991. But obesity could help send those numbers climbing again.

That’s the sobering perspective provided by City of Hope’s provost and chief scientific officer, Steven T. Rosen, M.D.

He added some context to the annual statistical analysis from the American Cancer Society. That analysis found that the death rate from cancer has dropped 22 percent from its peak in 1991; amounting to about 1.5 million deaths from cancer avoided. Between 2007 and 2011 – the most recent five years with data available – new cancer cases dropped by 1.8 percent per year in men and stayed the same in women. Cancer deaths decreased 1.8 percent per year in men and 1.4 percent in women for that same period of time.

Rosen attributed the overall decline in deaths to a number of factors, namely prevention, early detection and better therapies. » Continue Reading

Inspiring Stories: To family of son with leukemia, every day is a gift

December 3, 2014 | by

On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.”

The Wolfrank family will ride the float the same way they fought son Gavin’s leukemia together. 

By Diana and Ken Wolfrank

We see every day as a gift. Our family has endured a number of challenges in the past eight years but today … is a good day.

With cancer behind him, Gavin's story has just begun. (Photo courtesy of the Wolfrank family)

With leukemia behind him, Gavin’s story has just begun. (Photo courtesy of the Wolfrank family)

Our son, Gavin, was 7 months old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He endured  3 ½ years of various chemotherapy treatments, just to have the disease return. We were told his only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant. We were lucky to find our donor, Catherine “Cat” Benson, who saved not only our son but our family. She was our only hope. After eight rounds of radiation in four days and a dozen meds, Gavin was ready to receive Cat’s bone marrow.

It’s tough to sit in a room day after day where children are hooked up to IV pumps, enduring so much. Families spend lots of time sharing stories and good luck prayers. Over the years, we’ve known many families who have lost loved ones. We spent 95 days at City of Hope praying that our son would survive and be able to come home and be a happy and “normal” kid. After three trying months, Gavin was able to come home, but not without a long road still ahead of him.

City of Hope is just what the name says it is. It’s a small city full of hope for all patients and families who walk through their doors. The doctors and nurses do so much to make miracles happen. We feel very blessed to have been able to walk out of there with hope in our future.

It has been four years since Gavin’s transplant and, thanks to all the efforts of everyone at City of Hope, our life today is filled with laughter, happiness, determination, appreciation and love.

We are inspired daily as we watch Gavin be a kid and enjoy all the things children should be able to enjoy. We know that City of Hope is working hard to save lives and we are eternally grateful for what they have done for us and continue to do for many others.

The opportunity to ride on the City of Hope float means more to our family than anyone can imagine. We will ride on that float and remember all the ones who lost their battle and show support for all those who continue to fight. Our life truly is made possible by City of Hope and our family will never forget that.

Rose Parade Photo Day with young leukemia survivor Gavin Wolfrank and his family

The Wolfrank family (parents Diana and Ken with kids Gavin and Emma) helped kick off City of Hope’s Rose Parade float entry at the Tournament’s recent photo day. It’s been four years since Gavin battled leukemia and received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant at City of Hope.


Read more about City of Hope’s Rose Parade float.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website 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.

Holiday shopping tips: 10 do’s/don’ts for a friend with cancer

December 2, 2014 | by
friend with cancer, holiday shopping list

When shopping for a friend facing cancer, keep a few things in mind.

You’ve done the easy stuff – braved the toy store and the Black Friday frenzy, stayed up all night trolling deals online, picked up gift cards for your colleagues at work. There’s just one gift left, the one you’ve been putting off and the one that means so much. What do you give your friend who is in the fight of her life – fighting cancer?

By now, she probably has more slippers and fuzzy blankets than she needs. Whether she’s at home or in the hospital, here are some holiday shopping tips to get you started: » Continue Reading

Holiday food safety tips for all (especially cancer patients)

November 26, 2014 | by
food safety tips

Food preparation is a big responsibility. Thanksgiving food preparation is an even bigger responsibility, especially if one of your guests is a cancer patient.

Preparing a holiday meal is a huge responsibility, not just in terms of taste and presentation, but also in terms of food safety. Special care must be taken when handling, assembling and cooking the feast  – and this is never more true than when your guests will include immunosuppressed patients, such as cancer patients currently in treatment.

For them, illnesses can be longer and more debilitating, possibly resulting in hospitalization. Their bodies simply can’t clear infection as easily as other people’s bodies. Here are some Thanksgiving food safety tips from City of Hope dietitians to help you shop, and prepare, carefully. » Continue Reading

Made in City of Hope: T cells – enlisting the immune system to beat cancer

November 21, 2014 | by

The body’s immune system is usually adept at attacking outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. But because cancer originates from the body’s own cells, the immune system can fail to see it as foreign. As a result, the body’s most powerful ally can remain largely idle against cancer as the disease progresses. Immunotherapy in general seeks to spur the immune system to action, helping the body fight cancer. One type of immunotherapy —T cell therapy — reprograms immune cells known as T cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Stephen Forman

Stephen J. Forman, the head of City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program, is leading a wave of T cell clinical trials, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients.

A wave of clinical trials

Normally, T cells attack bacteria and other infectious agents. In T cell therapy, T cells are isolated from a sample of the patient’s blood, then genetically engineered to seek out and attack a specific cancer. Researchers grow millions of these engineered T cells in the laboratory. The engineered cells are reinfused into the patient, where they go to work eliminating cancer.

Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, has long pursued breakthrough treatments for hematologic cancers and blood-related disorders, and heads up City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program. Under his direction, a wave of T cell clinical trials is underway, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients. » Continue Reading

Thinking about e-cigs for the Great American Smokeout? Think again

November 20, 2014 | by

Are you thinking about switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes for the Great American Smokeout? Are you thinking that might be a better option than the traditional quit-smoking route? Think again.

For lung expert Brian Tiep, M.D., the dislike and distrust he feels for e-cigs comes down to this: The public has been burned by tobacco companies before.

ecig electronic cigarette

With no labeling required for e-cigs, the consumer doesn’t know for sure what’s in the products.

The same companies that claimed cigarettes were safe, he says, now claim that electronic cigarettes – which aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration – are safe.

“I was opened-minded initially,” said Tiep, a physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine at City of Hope. “Then the tobacco companies started buying out the e-cigarette companies. These products have no regulations whatsoever right now. You’re trusting them to do the right thing by you. They claimed tobacco was safe, and it turned out not to be.”

As for tobacco cigarettes, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association tied smoking among U.S. adults to 14 million health conditions. Further, a U.S. District Court judge who in 2006 found tobacco companies guilty of lying to the public about the dangers of smoking, ordered the companies to admit their wrongdoing. The judge ruled they defrauded the public in five key ways: lying about the health damage caused by smoking, lying about the addictive nature of nicotine, marketing “low tar” and “light” cigarettes as healthier with no evidence that they are, deliberately making their products as addictive as possible and hiding the dangers of secondhand smoke. » Continue Reading

Couples and cancer: 10 tips for better communication

November 15, 2014 | by

Cancer is a couple’s disease. It affects not just the person diagnosed, but his or her partner as well. It also affects the ability of both people to communicate effectively.

Couples and cancer: Tips for coping

Cancer affects not just the person but his or her partner, too. City of Hope helps couples overcome their communication problems and work together during cancer treatment.

The Couples Coping with Cancer Together program at City of Hope teaches couples how to communicate and solve problems as a unit. Here are some practical behavior tips from that program:

Advice for the nonpatient:

•    Actively encourage the sharing of emotional concerns and fears.
•    Be open to her expression of concerns as often as she needs.
•    Listen to her concerns without trying to “fix,” minimize or give advice (unless asked).
•    Be physically present at all medical appointments, even when not asked.
•    Talk with the breast cancer patient about how the illness is impacting you. » Continue Reading

SupportScreen app reaches 10,000 patients

November 6, 2014 | by

Talking about their cancer and their needs can be difficult for some patients. City of Hope’s SupportScreen makes that conversation easier for patients.

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.

» Continue Reading