Posts tagged ‘lung cancer’

Brain metastasis from breast cancer: Our research means better treatments

October 17, 2014 | by

A hallmark of cancer is that it doesn’t always limit itself to a primary location. It spreads. Breast cancer and lung cancer in particular are prone to spread, or metastasize, to the brain. Often the brain metastasis isn’t discovered until years after the initial diagnosis, just when patients were beginning to regain some sense of normalcy and control over their lives.

Like many patients, Joan Rose-Hall thought she had completely recovered from breast cancer. She thought she was past the treatment, past the fear. Then she begin to experience changes, small things really, in her daily routine.

“I noticed that I had difficulty concentrating, difficulty finding my words. I became slow on the keyboard,” she says in the video above. “I actually thought I was cracking up.”

Rose-Hall didn’t associate the changes with her previous diagnosis of breast cancer. Many people wouldn’t.

Instead, she went to see a psychiatrist. That psychiatrist referred her to City of Hope.

» Continue Reading

Four symptoms not to ignore if you’ve had cancer

October 6, 2014 | by
Raul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D.

Neurosurgeon and scientist Rahul Jandial says some symptoms should never be ignored by former cancer patients.

More and more people are surviving cancer, thanks to advanced cancer treatments and screening tools. Today there are nearly 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States.

But in up to 20 percent of cancer patients, the disease ultimately spreads to their brain. Each year, nearly 170,000 new cases of brain metastasis are diagnosed in the United States, sometimes years after an initial cancer diagnosis. The cancers most likely to spread to the brain are melanoma and cancers of the lung, breast and colon.

Neurosurgeon and scientist Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, says that recognizing symptoms and seeking medical attention as early as possible is vital.

“The warning signs are important not to ignore because it gives us the opportunity to catch potential complications. Early detection gives us a better chance to help patients recover the brain or nerve function that was affected by the cancer,” Jandial said.

Here, Jandial highlights four common symptoms of brain metastasis that are often ignored but that warrant immediate medical attention when occurring in cancer survivors. » Continue Reading

How is environment linked to cancer? Study helps explain

September 23, 2014 | by

The environment plays a role in causing cancer – this much we know. But scientists are still trying to understand what that role is, what environmental factors are in play and how precisely those factors are linked to cancer.


Nickel, known to cause lung and nasal cancers, enters the air mostly through fossil fuel combustion. New City of Hope research explains how nickel leads to cancer.

Now City of Hope researchers have unlocked a clue as to how one carcinogen triggers cancer, and they hope this discovery will shed light on how other environmental factors may cause cancer. The study, published online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on one carcinogen in particular, nickel.

In the United States, fossil fuel combustion is the leading culprit for spewing nickel into the air we breathe. In other countries, heavy metal factories are also a common cause. Breathing in nickel increases the risk of nasal cancer and of lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S.

“Nickel has been proven to be a carcinogen, but unlike most carcinogens, it doesn’t change the DNA at all,” said Dustin Schones, Ph.D., assistant professor of cancer biology at City of Hope and a lead author of the paper. » Continue Reading

AACR report: Now is the time to invest in cancer research

September 16, 2014 | by

Advances in cancer treatment, built on discoveries made in the laboratory then brought to the bedside, have phenomenally changed the reality of living with a cancer diagnosis. More than any other time in history, people diagnosed with cancer are more likely to survive and to enjoy a high quality of life.

Scientist in laboratory

With new drugs approved and new scientific breakthroughs, the chances of surviving cancer have never been higher. Now is the time to keep investing in cancer research.

However, much work remains to be done. On average, one American will die of cancer every minute of every day this year, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, which today released its annual Cancer Progress Report.  Following a year that saw six new cancer drugs approved, an estimated 14.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States, and considerable research breakthroughs, now is the time to continue fueling lifesaving cancer research through investment in the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and other organizations and agencies devoted to cancer research.

While gains in cancer research have been impressive, the pace of progress has been slowed due to years of budget cuts at the NIH and NCI.

“Incredible strides have been made in advancing our understanding, enhancing prevention and improving therapy of cancer,” said Steven Rosen, M.D., provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope and director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. “To maintain momentum with the ultimate goal of maximizing cure of these devastating diseases, the necessary funds must be available.”

» Continue Reading

To stop smoking, consider a drug – and a patch

July 8, 2014 | by

To stop smoking, two approaches might be better than one. A new study has found that using the medication varenicline, or Chantix – along with nicotine patches – was more effective than the medicine alone in helping people quit.

A new study in JAMA finds using nicotine patches in combination with medication is more effective for helping smokers quit than the drug alone.

A new study finds that using nicotine patches in combination with medication is more effective for helping smokers quit than a drug alone.

The study, conducted by Stellanbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 446 generally healthy smokers. One half used a nicotine patch, and the other half used a placebo patch; both groups began using the patches two weeks before their target quit date, and continued for an additional 12 weeks. One week before the target quite date, participants in both groups began using the drug varenicline and continued to take it for 12 weeks, tapering off in week 13.

Researchers found that patients who received the nicotine patch and varenicline were more likely to quit smoking and to have continued that abstinence at 12 weeks, 24 weeks and six months than the placebo group. In fact, at 6 months, 65.1 percent of the combination therapy group was still abstaining from smoking – confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide measurements – versus 46.7 percent in the placebo group.

Brian Tiep, M.D.,  director of pulmonary rehabilitation at City of Hope, said the study not only points to a promising treatment option for smokers, but also underscores the importance of working with professionals who can create a tailored treatment plan for smokers wanting to quit the habit. Smoking is an addiction, and requires serious medical assistance, he says. » 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

ASCO 2014: Younger women with breast cancer are less likely to survive

May 29, 2014 | by

Cancer can affect a person at any age, with the disease often considered one of aging. But increased age isn’t always linked to an increased risk of death. City of Hope researchers have found that, when it comes to breast cancer, younger women are more likely to die than their older counterparts.

Breast cancer

Younger women diagnosed with breast cancer face poorer outcomes, according to a new study by City of Hope researchers.

That research will be presented on June 2 by Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Sciences, in an abstract at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“Adolescents and young adults are documented to have poorer cancer outcomes, but no one has studied outcome differences for cancers that are typical in young adults, including breast cancer,” Wolfson said.

In their research, Wolfson and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 67,000 patients from the Los Angeles County cancer registry from 1998 to 2008, including almost 6,000 from the young adult age group (22 to 39 years old). They then looked at overall survival and mortality rates for the seven cancers most common in young adults (breast, liver, lung, colorectal, gastric, cervical and oral).

After adjusting for demographic and clinical characteristics (such as stage of cancer and race/ethnicity), the researchers found that younger women with breast cancer have worse outcomes than older women with breast cancer. In their analysis, the mortality rate for this group was 10 to 30 percent higher than that of older women (40 to 65 years old). » Continue Reading

ASCO 2014: New drug may overcome lung cancer’s chemotherapy resistance

May 21, 2014 | by

For lung cancer patients whose tumors are resistant to a class of chemotherapy called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), a drug called cabozantinib may be able to undo that resistance, according to a new City of Hope study.

A new City of Hope study shows that the drug cabozantinib undo lung cancer's resistance to chemotherapy.

A new City of Hope study shows that the drug cabozantinib could help undo lung cancer’s resistance to chemotherapy.

The results will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting on June 3.

“Previous studies have shown that in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer linked to a EGFR gene mutation, the proteins MET and VEGF promote tumor growth and make it resistant to TKI chemotherapy,” said Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program and first author of the abstract. “Because cabozantinib can block both of these proteins, we want to see if can can reverse that drug resistance as well.”

For this phase II trial, Reckamp and her colleagues studied 35 patients with advanced, EGFR-mutant nonsmall cell lung cancer whose disease had progressed despite TKI therapy. The patients were given 40 milligrams of cabozantinib in addition to 150  milligrams of TKI drug erlotinib daily for 28 days, and were then examined to determine whether their tumors had responded to the combination therapy. » Continue Reading

Lung cancer expert not buying ASCO report on screenings’ cost

May 14, 2014 | by

New screening guidelines for lung cancer could save thousands of lives – but it won’t come cheap, according to a mathematical model devised to estimate Medicare costs for screening seniors who fit the criteria. The findings add fuel to ongoing debate over lung cancer screening, two weeks after an advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended against coverage for the screening. City of Hope’s Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, takes issue with the new mathematical model, just as he did with the panel’s recommendation.

A government panel has recommended against Medicare coverage for lung cancer screening that could, according to studies, save more than 12,000 lives a year.

A government panel has recommended against Medicare coverage for lung cancer screening that could, according to studies, save more than 12,000 lives a year.

The model’s projections, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting on June 2, were shared publicly Wednesday. They show that implementing the screening would detect nearly 55,000 more lung cancer cases over five years, most in the potentially curable early stages. But the cost to Medicare for screening and subsequent treatment would be $9.3 billion over five years, about a $3 per month premium increase for every Medicare member, according to the projections.

Both the findings and the recommendation from the advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are drawing criticism from lung cancer experts and patient advocates. The recommendation itself runs contrary to the judgment of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which last year recommended low-dose CT screening for heavy smokers. The task force – which determines which screenings health insurance must cover – recommends annual scans for current and former smokers between ages 55 and 79 who smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for at least 30 years. » Continue Reading

Medicare panel exaggerated risks of lung cancer screening, expert says

May 6, 2014 | by

When the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) recommended last week that Medicare not cover potentially lifesaving lung cancer screening, lung cancer experts criticized the decision, saying the panel had missed an opportunity to help prevent deaths from the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of City of Hope's Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, says lung cancer screening with low-dose radiation chest CT scans saves lives.

Dan Raz, co-director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, says lung cancer screening with low-dose radiation chest CT scans saves lives.

They weren’t the only ones dismayed by the decision. Our Facebook followers posed a few questions themselves:

One wrote: “This doesn’t make sense. Is it some kind of Dollars vs. Deaths decision?”

Another asked: “What can be done to challenge the decision?”

Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope, was among the expert presenters at the advisory committee meeting. He offers these answers to our Facebook followers:


Thanks for the questions, and for feeling so strongly about this very important issue. First, to offer a little background, this panel offers nonbinding recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – which, under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) determines which services insurers must cover – recommends this same low-dose CT scanning for screening, and insurers will be required to cover it. The CMS will issue a proposed decision by November, and adopt a final decision in February 2015.

However, should Medicare not cover the screening, a huge portion of the population that is most at risk for lung cancer would lose access to lung cancer screening. I presented to the panel at its meeting last week, advocating for the screening to be covered because the science shows it’s effective and it would save lives. This is an opportunity to transform lung cancer from something we can only sometimes cure to a disease we can usually cure, because finding it early is critical. » Continue Reading