Posts tagged ‘survivorship’
Thirty years ago, children with cancer had only a 30 percent chance of surviving. Now, not only are more patients with pediatric cancers surviving, they’re also living longer and healthier lives than in generations past.
Research and care at City of Hope have helped make that possible. Here’s a look at some of that work:
Ewing’s sarcoma: A new approach to treatment
Ewing’s sarcoma, the second most-common primary bone tumor in children and adolescents, represents 3 percent of all pediatric malignancies. Tumors usually develop in the bones of the arms, legs, pelvis or chest.
In rare cases, some tumors may develop in the skull. As many as 30 percent of children diagnosed with these tumors do not respond to conventional therapies and ultimately die. Continue reading “Odds for pediatric cancer patients have improved, but not enough” »
The number of cancer survivors has been steadily increasing, due in part to increased awareness of symptoms, improved screenings and, of course, better treatments. There are now approximately 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, greater than the population of New York City.
But although the physical treatment eventually becomes a thing of the past, returning to a “normal” life isn’t always a cakewalk for newly minted cancer survivors. Only now are social workers, psychologists and other health-care workers turning their attention to cancer’s long-term impact. City of Hope specialists are among those leading the way.
To help survivors through the complete recovery process, the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center has partnered with Cancer Support Community and LIVESTRONG Foundation to organize a series of six weekly, interactive classes for people who have recently completed treatment.
“We have put together this program because of the questions that we have heard from new survivors,” said Linda Klein, manager of operations at the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. “Many have a general fear of recurrence and want to know what they can do to stay healthy, and others may encounter communication and emotional issues after this life-changing experience.”
Additional concerns that survivors have focus on returning to work after cancer treatment, how to coordinate and manage follow-up care, and handling issues with health insurance, Klein said. Continue reading “City of Hope classes help smooth the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor” »
Prior studies by City of Hope researchers established that race plays a major role in gastric cancer. Asian-Americans have the highest incidence rate of the cancer, but also have a better survival rate. African-American patients have worse outcomes, and Caucasian patients fall in between.
However, further research by Joseph Kim, M.D., a surgical oncologist at City of Hope who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers, has revealed that over time, the racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes for gastric cancer patients even out. The study findings were recently presented at the 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
“We have a whole lot of evidence that shows gastric cancer survivorship is dependent on race or ethnicity,” said Kim. “In our current study, though, we found that if a patient survives beyond a certain time, that disparity disappears.”
Continue reading “Stomach cancer survival: Racial gaps ultimately vanish, study finds” »
Primary liver sarcoma is a rare type of liver cancer with a poor survival rate – an average length of less than two years. Only 1.8 percent of all liver cancer diagnoses are primary liver sarcoma, and patients with the disease appreciate, and need, any improvements in treatment and care. Now they and their doctors may have a roadmap for such improvements.
Mary L. Guye, M.D., a fellow in City of Hope’s Division of Surgical Oncology, analyzed medical data of 541 patients in the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results database who were diagnosed with primary liver sarcoma from 1988 through 2009. Under the guidance of Gagandeep Singh, M.D., chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, she evaluated survival outcomes to better understand what factors influenced – and even predicted – survivorship.
The study findings were recently presented at the 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
“Patients who are amenable to surgery have the best survival outcomes,” said Guye, author of the study. “Those who received both surgery and radiation had the best overall survival. Those who received radiation alone did just as poorly as those who received no treatment at all.”
Continue reading “For patients with rare liver cancer, study offers survival clues” »
Kommah McDowell was confidently on track in her personal and professional life. At 28, she was engaged to be married, prospering in the competitive financial services industry, and was so hardy that she relieved stress through kickboxing.
Then she found the lump in her right breast.
Her doctors assured her it was a benign cyst because she was “too young” to have cancer. Meanwhile, the symptoms mounted: Her nipple inverted as her right breast began swelling, and became inflamed and painful. McDowell insisted that her doctors remove the growth. That’s when they finally confirmed what she already knew. In July 2005, she transferred her care to City of Hope where she had temped in college. She was diagnosed with late-stage inflammatory breast cancer – a particularly aggressive variety – and became a patient of George Somlo, M.D., co-director of the Breast Cancer Program.
Many cancer patients are given survival rate projections for five years; McDowell was told she had a 5 percent chance of surviving two years.
Given the impending bombardment of treatment, she also learned she’d probably never bear a child – and would have to wait at least two years after radiation before even trying to conceive. She and her fiancé, Charles, decided they would likely adopt and focused instead on getting her safely through treatment. In between chemotherapy appointments, recounts McDowell, they even squeezed in their wedding with her “bald head and all.”
Months after recovering from a radical mastectomy on her right side, McDowell found lumps on her left breast. After they were excised, she underwent bilateral reconstructive surgery.
Exactly two years after her final radiation treatment, McDowell heard more astonishing medical news: She was pregnant. Continue reading “‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – Kommah McDowell” »
Patients with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread beyond the gland itself have a broad range of treatment options – including surgery, radiation therapy and active surveillance. As new research shows, the option they choose can have a large impact on quality of life.
A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that treatment side effects – such as incontinence, bowel function and erectile function – can last years after prostate cancer treatment. Further, the long-term side effects are similar no matter which immediate treatment was chosen. ”Men treated for localized prostate cancer commonly had declines in all functional domains during 15 years of follow-up,” the study found.
Researchers analyzed medical information from 1,655 men age 55 to 74 who had been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer in 1994 and 1995. About two-thirds of the men had the prostate gland removed surgically, known as a radical prostatectomy. The other third underwent radiation therapy. The status of the patients’ urine, bowel and erectile function was assessed prior to surgery, and at two years, five years and 15 years afterward. Continue reading “Prostate cancer: Treatment effects can last lifetime, study finds” »
Fears about the potential radiation dangers of CT scans have been growing nationwide in recent years, with some health experts urging doctors to think twice before ordering the scans. But with cancer treatment, CT scans are hardly optional.
Now City of Hope has become one of the few hospitals in the nation, and the first in Southern California, to use a high-definition – but low-dose – CT scanner.
The scanner enables physicians to obtain higher-diagnostic-quality images than most CT scanners in use today but at lower radiation doses to the patients. The Discovery CT750 HD with Veo technology is described by manufacturer GE Healthcare as the world’s first high-definition CT scanner. Continue reading “Now possible: Higher-definition CT scans at a lower radiation dose” »
Oprah Winfrey says that during her interview with Lance Armstrong, to be aired in two parts starting Thursday, he admitted to doping during his cycling career. That detail is feeding speculation among the public and the media about whether those doping activities may have contributed to his diagnosis of testicular cancer.
So far, it’s not possible to give a definitive answer to that question. The known connection between testicular cancer and common doping regimens is tenuous at best.
Further, although there’s been plenty of speculation about how Armstrong doped, there hasn’t been confirmation about what substances he used. The amounts and the duration of use – either before or after his cancer diagnosis and treatment – are also unconfirmed.
This is what’s currently known. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996, at the age of 25, with advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, with a 95 percent survival rate if caught in an early stage when it’s confined to a testicle. It has an 80 percent survival rate if caught in more advanced stages, when it has spread to other organs. Continue reading “Can doping increase risk of cancer? Yes. Testicular cancer? Unknown.” »
The shadows of the former World Trade Center buildings have lingered over the American mindscape since the towers fell in 2001. New fears may be raised by a new study released online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association reporting an increase in cancer incidence among rescue and recovery workers who worked in the aftermath of the incident. But one cancer expert cautions against undue panic.
The study’s authors, who work for the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, analyzed data from the World Trade Center Health Registry – and found an increased incidence of prostate, thyroid and multiple myeloma cancer cases among rescue and recovery workers compared to the general population of New York state. However, they found no significant difference in the overall cancer rate between the groups.
The New York Department of Health had established the registry in 2002 to monitor the health of people exposed to the disaster and the cloud of toxic dust created by it. More than 55,000 New York City residents enrolled in the registry, of which nearly 22,000 were rescue or recovery workers at Ground Zero. In the new study, researchers analyzed data from the registry and 11 state cancer registries to evaluate the cancer rate among workers at Ground Zero, volunteers in the area, and those with no direct exposure to the area.
The researchers looked at cancers diagnosed between 2007-2008, because those cases would be “most likely to be related to exposure during September 11 and its aftermath.”
Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., the Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences at City of Hope, stresses the importance of monitoring the health of this population, saying the only way to fully understand the long-term consequences of toxic-chemical exposure is to continue to follow the people. Continue reading “9/11 site and cancer risk: Long-term studies needed, expert says” »
Health-care reform is a hot button issue of the Presidential debates, and the high cost of health care is on Americans’ minds. “Cut costs,” the pundits cry. “Trim the fat.”
You might think the human side of health care – what we call supportive care — would be the first to fall victim to the budget-slicing knife in times like these. There’s reduced reimbursement for psychology and no insurance reimbursement for supportive care professionals like clinical social workers, navigators, health educators or chaplains. What would be the incentive for a medical center to keep them on staff, other than an ethical commitment to our shared humanity?
As it turns out, beyond being “the right thing to do,” this care may cut health-care costs.