Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’


Bladder cancer patient has a mission: Cure metastatic bladder cancer

March 27, 2015 | by
Frank Di Bella, pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D., raised more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella (right), pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, has already helped raise more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella, 70, is on a mission: Find a cure for metastatic bladder cancer.

It’s just possible he might.

Although Di Bella isn’t a world-renowned physician, cancer researcher or scientist, he knows how to make things happen. For more than 20 years, he served as chairman of annual fundraising galas on behalf of muscular dystrophy research, and he’s successfully raised more than $10 million toward that cause.

Now his attention is focused on his own disease: metastatic bladder cancer. The former business consultant recently held a black-tie gala titled “Let’s Be Frank about Cancer” to help raise funds for City of Hope’s bladder cancer research, led by Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D.

The gala was filled with distinguished leaders, such as Gov. Jerry Brown, and brought in more than $1.6 million for Pal’s research.

But for Di Bella, that’s just the start.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life raising money to help City of Hope and Dr. Pal,” Di Bella said.

» Continue Reading


Cancer side effects: 4 tips for coping with appearance changes

March 26, 2015 | by
beauty bus event

Cancer side effects can take a toll on self-confidence. Here, patient Veronica Bedjakian receives a makeover during a recent Beauty Bus event at City of Hope’s Positive Image Center.

The physical side effects of cancer can damage anyone’s self-confidence, but especially that of women who, rightly or wrongly, are more likely to find their appearance (or their own perception of their appearance) directly connected to their ability to face the world with something resembling aplomb.

Further, although many people may think they’re prepared for such side effects, the reality is often different.

City of Hope understands this.

  • The Positive Image CenterSM routinely sponsors complimentary events and beauty classes for patients going through treatment.
  • It hosts monthly Look Good . . . Feel Better sessions, part of a free, national program sponsored by the American Cancer Society for women currently undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. The classes are taught by specially trained, licensed cosmetologists on skin care techniques, alternatives for hair loss and much more.
  • And twice a year, City of Hope welcomes the Beauty Bus, a mobile self-confidence boost that “delivers dignity, hope and respite to chronically ill men, women and children and their caregivers through beauty and grooming services and pampering products.”

This healing-on-wheels program brings complimentary salon services to patients directly, many of whom have compromised immune systems that prevent them from going to salons.

Amy Donner, L.C.S.W., in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope, offers the following tips for anyone, especially women, struggling with the physical changes of cancer. » Continue Reading


End-of-life nursing care has evolved worldwide. Here’s how …

March 18, 2015 | by
Betty Ferrel

Betty Ferrell, director and professor of nursing research and education at City of Hope, is the principal investigator of ELNEC, a palliative-care education program that has helped end-of-life care evolve worldwide.

Nurses and other medical professionals have come to understand that it’s not enough just to fight disease. They also must provide pain relief, symptom control, and an unrelenting commitment to improve patients’ quality of life — especially at the end of life. Not too long ago, this was a relatively novel concept.

That’s why ELNEC matters.

ELNEC is the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, pioneered by City of Hope in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. It was created in 2000 after groundbreaking research at both institutions pointed to a serious lack of comprehensive, rigorous, systematic and high-quality, end-of-life care education.

The training raises awareness of patients’ end-of-life needs, even as it teaches the specialized nursing skills required when patients’ goals shift from a cure to ensuring that their remaining days hold as much meaning as possible for themselves and their families.

» Continue Reading


Cancer Insights: The dawn of precision medicine for cancer

March 17, 2015 | by

“Tonight, I’m launching a new precision medicine initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer.” These were the words of President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, 2015, during his State of the Union address. So what is precision medicine, and how close are we to making it a reality for patients?

Potential of precision medicine

Precision medicine is rapidly becoming a reality. With it comes an unprecedented potential to treat patients as the individuals they are.

Let’s begin with some definitions. Precision medicine entails two general tenets: (1) understanding the biology of an individual patient’s cancer, and (2) treating the patient according to this biology. When I was in medical school, both elements would have been perceived as a pipe dream. Now, they are slowly becoming a reality.

Comprehensive genetic tests that used to take days to weeks to run can now be done in minutes; these tests can point an oncologist toward specific medications that target proteins at the cancer cell surface, while sparing normal cells. In contrast to chemotherapy (which attacks cells indiscriminately), targeted therapies may potentially have fewer side effects. » Continue Reading


Cancer Insights: The real link between prostate cancer and hair loss

March 10, 2015 | by
Sumanta Pal, M.D.

Sumanta Kumar Pal: The connection between prostate cancer and hair loss is not coincidence, but it might not be exactly what many men think either.

My colleagues in the clinic know I’ve got a soft spot. Last week, a patient of mine offered me a fantastic compliment. “You’re looking younger these days, Dr. Pal!” she said, offering me a big hug as she proceeded out of the clinic room.

Lovely, I thought. The early morning workouts are paying off.

She continued: “Now if you’d just consider using some Rogaine, I think you’d set the dial back about 10 years!”

Ouch. My nurse gave me a somber look, understanding the pain these words had inflicted. I wouldn’t consider myself to be vain by any means, but my hair loss has created increasing conflict between me and my bathroom mirror. With every passing morning, I notice a little less hair up front, and a bit less up top. This pattern, termed frontal and vertex balding respectively, plagues nearly half of American males, albeit to different degrees. Until recently, the major toll of this hair loss for me has been cosmetic, chipping away at my self-image as a youthful oncologist.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, however, suggests a more significant price. The study authors, based at several U.S. institutions, utilized a database of over 39,000 male patients who were involved in a trial to assess cancer screening. These men were asked to recall their pattern of hair loss at the age of 45, characterizing the degree of frontal and vertex balding. » Continue Reading


The future of colorectal cancer screening? It might be in your DNA

March 4, 2015 | by

We’ve all heard the mantra: Cancer screening saves lives. And it does, especially with colorectal cancer.

DNA tests for colorectal cancer

A new colorectal screening that tests stool for DNA may persuade some colonoscopy-phobic people to be screened. It doesn’t detect all polyps, but as Dr. James Lin points out: “The best colon cancer screening test is the one the patient is using.”

Regular colonoscopies have been proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer death by up to 70 percent. Screening for colorectal cancer using the even simpler fecal occult blood tests has been found to reduce the risk of death by up to 33 percent.

Yet, despite the proven benefits of colorectal cancer screening, many people still put it off – or skip it altogether. To raise awareness of the very real need for colorectal cancer screening, March has been deemed Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 132,700 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year and that approximately 49,700 patients will die from this disease.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that adults begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 and continue until they are 75 years old. Depending on which test is used, screening only need happen as little as once every 10 years.

New screening and prevention tools for colorectal cancer continue to evolve. In August of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new DNA stool test that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer.

» Continue Reading


Cancer Insights: The potential of CAR-T cells to fight prostate cancer

March 3, 2015 | by

Pick up any biotech industry report and you’re guaranteed to come across one term repeatedly – CAR-T therapy. A fierce competition is now underway to bring CAR-T treatments to market – several companies (Juno, Novartis, Kite and Cellectis, to name a few) have major stakes in the race. I’ve found the CAR-T buzz has also penetrated the clinic — not a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a patient regarding this emerging technology.

Sumanta Pal, M.D.

Sumanta Kumar Pal explains the potential of CAR-T cell therapies for prostate cancer.

So what is CAR-T? Essentially, it’s an engineered immune cell (called a T cell) that has on its surface a highly specific protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). These “souped up” immune cells can mount a potent and highly specific attack against tumors.

Last year, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published results in the New England Journal of Medicine pertaining to 30 patients who had received CAR-T therapies. These patients were suffering from a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and had failed standard treatments. The results were nothing short of remarkable – at six months following treatment, roughly two-thirds of patients remained free of disease.

These findings were a phenomenal leap forward for patients with this relatively rare disorder. A couple of roadblocks stand in the way of further development of CAR-T cells, however. » Continue Reading


Evening of Remembrance: Coping tips for families who have lost loved ones to cancer

March 2, 2015 | by
Evening of Remembrance

City of Hope will host its inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12, 2015.

Patients undergoing treatment at City of Hope know they will be receiving the best medical care available, that their treatment will be delivered with compassion and that their care will extend to their families.

“When we treat a patient here, we treat a family,” says Jo Ann S. Namm, child life manager and specialist in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine. Sometimes, however, a patient dies. When this happens, City of Hope’s care for the family does not stop.

City of Hope’s commitment to the continuum of care ensures that the family is viewed as an extension of the patient. As a part of this commitment, City of Hope will hold an inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Duarte campus’ Cooper Auditorium.

» Continue Reading


Spine tumors: 4 things you need to know

February 23, 2015 | by
spinal cord tumors

The spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Because spine tumors can interfere with the body’s ability to function normally, early detection is crucial.

The spinal cord is an integral part of the human body, connecting the brain to everything else. So when a tumor grows on the spine, any messages that the brain tries to send to the rest of the body are interrupted, making everyday tasks — such as walking — more difficult.

This year an estimated 22,850 people will be diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in the United States, and nearly 15, 320 people will die from these tumors. That number doesn’t include tumors that have spread to the spine from other parts of the body.

These numbers may seem alarming, but an increased use of diagnostic imaging has led to improved detection of spine tumors, making them more treatable than ever before.

Here, neurosurgeon and scientist Mike Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in City of Hope’s Brain Tumor Program, presents a fuller picture of spine tumors, explaining what everyone needs to know, especially former cancer patients. » Continue Reading


Powered by philanthropy: Bold science, better cancer treatments

February 17, 2015 | by
Impact of cancer research

At City of Hope, the breakthroughs discovered here are shared with cancer researchers, clinicians and patients worldwide.

At City of Hope, innovative scientific research, important clinical studies and vital construction projects are all powered by philanthropy. Generous supporters fuel a powerful and diverse range of progress in science and medicine, enabling researchers and clinicians to improve cancer treatments and create cures not just for cancer, but also for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.

Take a look at what City of Hope supporters have helped build, launch and create over the past year:

Improving care through science

Innovative approaches: In 2014, John Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine, pushed ahead in his research on meditope technology. As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these engineered peptides “fit” into antibodies, much like a lock and key, making it possible to selectively deliver material to cancer cells.

This research has already earned funding from the prestigious W. M. Keck Foundation, which is helping Williams’ team advance its applications. Those include the recent development of several new meditopes that can be attached to therapeutic antibodies targeting several different forms of cancer, including breast cancer. » Continue Reading