Posts tagged ‘lung cancer’


Cancer Insights: Lung cancer clinical trials are on the right track

March 31, 2015 | by

Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., has an office next to my own, and we often see patients at the same time. As such, I’ve gotten to know her quite well over the years, and I’ve also gotten a glimpse of many of her patients.

lung cancer in women

Lung cancer clinical trials are yielding promising results, changing the prognosis for more people with the disease. Shown here: Lung cancer in a female patient.

She specializes in lung cancer, and most of her patients have tumors that have spread widely to the bones, brain and other sites (termed “advanced,” or “metastatic,” disease). When I first started in the field about a decade ago, her patients had a characteristic appearance – weak and debilitated by chemotherapy, and dejected by a grim prognosis.

Now, things have changed.

Reckamp, co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, has been at the forefront of a number of lung cancer clinical trials that have had a marked impact on survival, meaning her patients have benefited from new therapies before they’ve become available to the general patient community. These clinical trials frequently involve drugs that more selectively target cancer tissue and spare normal tissue, enhancing effectiveness while limiting toxic side effects. This has had a palpable effect on what I observe in her clinic – her patients appear to be enjoying a far better quality of life than in years past. » Continue Reading


National Doctors Day: Behind great medical care, there’s research

March 30, 2015 | by

Today is National Doctors Day, the official day to recognize, thank and celebrate the tremendous work physicians do each and every day.

Launched in 1991 via a presidential proclamation from then-President George Bush, the observance offers a chance to reflect on the qualities that define truly great medical care. Compassion and expertise are vital, of course, as is the intuitive understanding that each patient must be treated as a person, not his or her disease. But research is vital as well.

research and doctors day

The proclamation launching National Doctors Day highlights the impact of research. So does City of Hope.

As the proclamation states: “The day-to-day work of healing conducted by physicians throughout the United States has been shaped, in large part, by great pioneers in medical research.”

Here, we acknowledge a few of the City of Hope physicians working to improve care and treatment of patients everywhere by maximizing the most leading-edge research from around the world – and by conducting it themselves at City of Hope.

Karen S. Aboody, M.D.: Pushing the frontiers of brain cancer therapy

Although the mass of a glioblastoma, the most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumor in adults, can be removed surgically, removal of all the tumor cells is virtually impossible – meaning recurrence is common. Karen S. Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, believes the answer could lie in special cells called neural stem cells. Neural stem cells are known for their ability to become any type of cell in the nervous system. These cells not only are attracted to cancer cells, they have the ability to deliver drugs directly to the tumor sites, sparing healthy tissues and minimizing side effects. City of Hope is currently conducting a phase I clinical trial of neural stem cells to treat glioblastoma. » Continue Reading


Need lung cancer screening? Medicare will pay for some beneficiaries

February 18, 2015 | by

Providing lung cancer treatments to patients when their cancer is at its earliest and most treatable stages will now be a more attainable goal: Medicare has agreed to cover lung cancer screening for those beneficiaries who meet the requirements.

lung cancer screening

Medicare will now cover annual lung cancer screening for seniors who qualify using low-dose CT scans.

The only proven way to detect lung cancer early enough to save lives is through low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening. One of the largest randomized, controlled clinical trials in the National Cancer Institute’s history showed that this screening could reduce lung cancer mortality rates by at least 20 percent. This is a significant reduction; lung cancer currently has a five-year survival rate of 17 percent. For people diagnosed at advanced stages, survival rates are less than 4 percent.

“Finally, seniors who are at high risk for lung cancer can undergo screening without the barrier of out-of-pocket costs,” said Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer  and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope. “Medicare got this right because lung cancer screening saves lives in high-risk current and former smokers. In fact, the low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer has the potential to save more lives than any cancer test in history.” » Continue Reading


Observe World Cancer Day by reducing your cancer risk. Here’s how:

February 2, 2015 | by

With this week’s World Cancer Day challenging us to think about cancer on a global scale, we should also keep in mind that daily choices affect cancer risk on an individual scale. Simply put, lifestyle changes and everyday actions can reduce your cancer risk and perhaps prevent some cancers.

cancer risk reduction

Choosing healthy foods, exercise and other healthy habits are essential to cancer risk reduction.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through reduced alcohol consumption, healthier diets and improved physical activity levels. If smoking were also eliminated, that number could jump to as many as half of all common cancers.

Here are a few suggestions. Truly, they’re not that difficult. Give them a try this week to mark World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, Try them the next week too. And the week after that …

In a word, exercise. Simple exercise benefits everyone, and even a little helps. Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Cancer Etiology at City of Hope, recommends a 45-minute walk five days a week. While that is ideal, her research has found that, for some people, even 30 minutes per week can make a difference. The benefit of exercise applies for people of all weights and fitness levels.

The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Don’t deny yourself the benefits just because you don’t have a large block of time or can’t get into the gym for a more formal workout. » Continue Reading


Blood and urine tests could identify lung cancer mutation without biopsy

January 27, 2015 | by

As treatments for lung cancer become more targeted and effective, the need for better technology to detect lung cancer mutations becomes increasingly important. A new clinical study at City of Hope is examining the feasibility of using blood and urine tests to detect lung cancer mutations, potentially allowing for targeted cancer treatments without an invasive biopsy.

cancer mutation

A new clinical trial at City of Hope will assess the ability of blood and urine tests to identify non-small cell lung cancer mutation without a biopsy.

The trial, a collaboration with Trovagene Inc., focuses specifically on mutations that make EGFR proteins (for epidermal growth factor receptor) grow and divide faster than they should. The protein is normally found on the surface of cells, but nonsmall cell lung cancer cells can have too much of this protein.

Sometimes, a patient can require two procedures to obtain an adequate biopsy that determines the presence of EGFR mutation. In this first clinical study, patients who have been biopsied will also get specific blood and urine tests to determine if those tests are as effective as a traditional biopsy to determine an EGFR mutation.

“Tracking various alterations in the EGFR oncogene has potential to improve therapeutic strategies for treating patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer,” said Mihaela Cristea, M.D., lead investigator and associate professor in City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program. “We look forward to evaluating Trovagene’s molecular diagnostics for the monitoring of circulating tumor DNA found in both urine and blood, with the goal of delivering highly personalized cancer treatment to improve patient outcomes.” » Continue Reading


Cancer research 2015: T cell immunotherapy, targeted drugs and more

January 1, 2015 | by

Every year, researchers make gains in the understanding of cancer, and physicians make gains in the treatment of cancer. As a result, every year, more cancer patients survive their disease.

2015 in cancer research

In 2015, cancer research will move forward in ways both high-profile and little-heralded.

In those ways, 2015 will be no different. What will be different are the specific research discoveries and the specific advances in screening and treatment. We asked City of Hope experts to weigh in on the research and treatment advances they predict for the year to come.

Some of those advances will make headlines around the world – expect to hear much more about T cell therapy and targeted drug therapy – while some will garner attention largely among those affected by, or treating, the disease.

But all will have an impact. » 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


Lung cancer 2015: It’s all about customization

December 30, 2014 | by
New targeted immune therapies can activate one's own immune system to attack lung cancer.

New targeted immune therapies can activate one’s own immune system to attack lung cancer.

Lung cancer experts understand the impact of molecular biology and the genetic makeup of  tumors more than ever before. Now they’re using that knowledge to great effect.

“Each person’s tumor is somewhat different,” said Karen Reckamp,  M.D., M.S., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope. “Now, with diagnoses and treatments, we’re focused on customizing in a precision way to attack a specific person’s cancer.”

Factor in a patient’s own immune system, which can attack lung cancer, and the ability to customize will grow even further. “There are new therapies that we’re looking at that activate a person’s own immune system against the lung cancer and seem to have some very durable long-term responses,” Reckamp said. And, she noted, they don’t rely on chemotherapy. » Continue Reading


The City of Hope difference? Take patients’ word for it, not ours

December 22, 2014 | by
The Wolfrank family stands atop City of Hope’s Rose Parade float during its preparation for the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

The Wolfrank family stands atop City of Hope’s Rose Parade float during its preparation for the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

“World-class expertise,” “leading-edge research” and “compassionate patient care” are not just words at City of Hope; they’re a way of life.

No one knows this more than City of Hope’s patients. On New Year’s Day, six of those patients and their loved ones – plus a nurse who is both a City of Hope caregiver and a patient – will ride City of Hope’s Rose Parade float, celebrating the tomorrows that the institution’s researchers, doctors and staff have made possible. Here’s what those patients have to say about City of Hope.

Gavin Wolfrank’s family:

“It’s 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.” » Continue Reading


Lung metastasis isn’t the same as lung cancer. Know the difference

December 10, 2014 | by

lungsSometimes cancer found in the lungs is not lung cancer at all. It can be another type of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body and spread, or metastasized, to the lungs through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. These tumors are called lung metastases, or metastatic cancer to the lungs, and are not the same as lung cancer or even metastatic lung cancer.

Metastatic lung cancer originates in the lungs, but then spreads. It happens when cancer cells break away from the lungs and travel to other parts of the body, such as the brain or breasts. (Even though a cancerous growth may have formed in a different location, it is still named after the part of the body where it started.)

Lung metastases are different, and treatment of them requires a thorough understanding of the various types of lung tumors. Unfortunately, almost any cancer can metastasize to the lungs and initiate a lung metastasis. The most common cancers include bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor and sarcoma. There’s no way around it – a lung metastasis is a serious, life-threatening condition that is difficult to treat successfully, although some patients may gain years through surgical removal of the tumor. » Continue Reading