Posts tagged ‘top cancer hospitals’

Now possible: Higher-definition CT scans at a lower radiation dose

January 19, 2013 | by

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.

128-slice CT scan

City of Hope’s new CT scanner offers high-resolution images at lower levels of radiation exposure compared to older machines. (Credit: GE Healthcare)

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

They’re going after neuroblastoma’s hiding place

November 15, 2011 | by
Hua Yu, Ph.D. (Walter Urie Photography)

Hua Yu, Ph.D. (Walter Urie Photography)

Scientists now think that areas of the body like the bone marrow actually may welcome and protect spreading cancer cells. City of Hope researchers have paired up with scientists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to target these hiding places — specifically in the treatment of neuroblastoma.

Neuroblastoma, which forms in the nervous system, is the most common type of cancer in infants and the fourth most common childhood cancer. Some neuroblastomas are highly aggressive and difficult to treat successfully because they resist drugs. But a new $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) now backs a major project that explores how this kind of drug resistance happens and how to overcome it.

In neuroblastoma, researchers believe the bone marrow provides a nest of sorts for cancer cells, protecting them from chemotherapy. Something about the bone marrow environment seems to help neuroblastoma cells survive strong anticancer therapy and create drug-resistant offspring.

Richard Jove (Walter Urie Photography)

Richard Jove, Ph.D. (Walter Urie Photography)

The NCI grant sets up a special center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to study environment-mediated drug resistance, and City of Hope scientists are a major part of it. City of Hope researchers Richard Jove, Ph.D., and Hua Yu, Ph.D., will investigate whether cutting off certain lines of communication in bone marrow cells can actually keep neuroblastoma cells from growing resistant to drugs. The researchers’ joint goal: to develop specific, targeted therapies that can be tested in clinical trials.


Clinic brings men and women together to tackle breast cancer as a team

November 7, 2011 | by
The Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center - City of Hope

The Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center will house a new evening clinic (Photo by Alicia Di Rado)

Through its very nature, breast cancer is a relationship disease. It can change a woman’s feelings about her body, and it’s a disease that can affect intimacy with her spouse or partner.

City of Hope surgeon Courtney Vito, M.D., knows that. She helps breast cancer patients every day, and she sees that men often don’t know how to react or relate to a woman going through the disease. In turn, women struggle with their self-image and femininity.

Courtney Vito, M.D.

Courtney Vito, M.D. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Vito)

“Treatment for breast cancer means a very visual change, a sexual change,” Vito says. “We want men and women to start talking about it: How are you going to work through that as a couple?”

That’s part of the thinking behind the new Evening Partners Clinic, a unique, once-a-week clinic set up exclusively for breast cancer patients and their husband or partner. The idea is to bring men and women together as a team so that women can feel supported during treatment.

Couples meet with Courtney Davis, L.C.S.W., and Matthew Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., clinical social workers who understand how to get men and women talking about their relationship and then build on their strengths. Then the couples move on to Vito, who helps them make decisions about medical treatment with confidence.

Matt Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., Liliane Elkins Professor in Supportive Care Programs

Matt Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., (Photo by p.cunningham)

It’s critical to maintain these relationships during treatment. As Davis says, research has shown that having social support helps women with breast cancer live longer. Research also found that as many as 42 percent of couples reported that a breast cancer diagnosis brought them closer together. Unfortunately, Vito also has seen couples break up after cancer, but the City of Hope team provides tools to help a couple keep the communication flowing.

Courtney Davis, L.C.S.W.

Courtney Davis, L.C.S.W. (Photo by p.cunningham)

“You often see both people in a couple trying to be really strong — and emotionally inaccessible,” Vito says. “But after they meet with Matt and Courtney, you can see a stronger, more open relationship between them.”

Interested in learning more about how men and women can better relate during breast cancer? Loscalzo has written a guide about the subject and the American Cancer Society offers resources on caregiving  in general.


Education brings more quality nursing to the seriously ill

November 4, 2011 | by

Just as every life begins, every life ends. But when City of Hope nursing researchers in the late 1990s looked at the textbooks most often used in the nation’s nursing schools, they found that only 2 percent of all the content dealt with helping patients through their last months and days. It’s no wonder that studies showed that nurses nationwide felt unprepared to provide high-quality palliative care.

Palliative care strives to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by helping them manage symptoms and cope with the stress of illness. It’s so critical that the City of Hope researchers teamed up with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to create a training program that gives nurses skills and knowledge so they can take care of seriously ill patients with confidence. So the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) project was born.

A decade after it started, ELNEC has touched more than 13,000 nurses and improved palliative care throughout the world, adapting its training to groups ranging from aging adults to military veterans. A new $535,000 grant from the California Health Care Foundation extends the influence even further, improving palliative care in California’s 16 public hospitals by funding palliative care education for nurses at those facilities.

The education is grounded in the needs of patients in today’s real world. The curriculum will address special issues within the public hospital setting, for example, such as an increase of disadvantaged patients who may have delayed treatment and have more advanced disease because they lack insurance.

Researchers tackle cancer stem cells to counter triple-negative breast cancer

November 1, 2011 | by

Nearly one out of five breast cancer patients has triple-negative breast cancer — an aggressive type of tumor that often returns despite treatment. This cancer can defy conventional therapy, and breast cancer stem cells may be to blame, explains City of Hope’s George Somlo, M.D., F.A.C.P.  in this video.

Somlo, co-director of City of Hope’s Breast Cancer Program, says that successful, modern therapies like Herceptin target receptors found on the surface of most breast cancer cells. But triple-negative breast cancers have none of those receptors. They can resist other drug treatments, too, because their cells appear to act like cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells can survive chemotherapy and radiation and then spread to other parts of the body.

But Somlo has joined with researchers at Stanford University to go after these stem cells. With major funding from the National Institutes of Health, the scientists are looking at triple-negative breast cancers in different ethnic groups and studying the characteristics of these cells. By understanding how the cells are different from other cancer cells and healthy breast cells, they hope to find pathways that are critical to the cells’ survival. Once they find those pathways, they can test drugs to block them.

For more about breast cancer clinical trials at City of Hope, visit Clinical Trials On-Line and select breast cancer from the menu.

Exercise your power to reduce your breast cancer risk

October 31, 2011 | by
Laura Kruper, M.D.

Laura Kruper, M.D.(Photo by Walter Urie)

The profusion of pink products, advertisements and inspiring survivor stories this time of year all serve to remind the public that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yet, many are unaware that they can take steps today to beat breast cancer or avoid it altogether.

Detecting breast cancer early is the best way to beat the disease, and City of Hope surgeon Laura Kruper, M.D., wants women to get the tools to find tumors when they’re highly curable. She recently appeared on NBC’s Nonstop News LA to talk about breast cancer myths and tips.

Kruper, director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center and head of City of Hope’s Breast Surgery Service, strongly urges women to get an annual mammogram starting at age 40 so that their breast tumors can be found before they spread. “Earlier detection means better chance of cure — an earlier stage and a better prognosis,” she says.

And for women who think they’re immune because they have no family history of the disease, she offers a bracing statistic: About 80 percent of breast cancers are spontaneous and happen in women with no known inherited genetic risk.

Can women do anything to increase their odds of avoiding breast cancer — or beating it after they are diagnosed with the disease? Yes, she says: “Exercise.”

This year, doctors will diagnose about 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer, including 2,140 new cases in men, according to the American Cancer Society.

Bottom line on cervical cancer screenings: More testing needed

October 27, 2011 | by

Questions swirl around recommendations for various cancer screenings these days, and now a panel of health experts has added cervical cancer to the mix.

Even though many doctors test for human papillomavirus, or HPV, as part of the routine women’s exams they provide, the U.S. Preventive Services said on Monday that there’s insufficient evidence to recommend these tests for woman age 30 or older. The HPV test checks whether a woman is carrying risky forms of the virus that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

The panel indicated that younger women are frequently positive for HPV and may undergo invasive procedures that remove cervical tissue. These procedures can potentially cause trouble with child-bearing later. Evidence shows that Pap tests are still best for finding cervical cancer.

Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H., chief of gynecologic oncology at City of Hope

Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H.

But the questions obscure an important issue, says Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H., chief of gynecologic oncology at City of Hope.

As he told, many women are getting no tests at all, especially the underserved. “About half of all cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have had no screening, or who have not had a screening in the previous five years,” he said.

National experts agree that women should have their first Pap smear at the age of 21, not earlier. More information is available online about who should be tested and how often.


City of Hope teams with Caltech on new cancer and HIV/AIDS therapies

October 18, 2011 | by
City of Hope Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer

City of Hope Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology

Scientists from City of Hope and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have joined forces on biomedical and bioengineering research projects that may ultimately boost treatment for cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

Through the Caltech/City of Hope Biomedical Research Initiative, four scientific teams have split grants totaling $400,000.  The new grants support research into gene therapy for HIV/AIDS and cancer, genetic profiling of cancer stem cells and testing drug targets for leukemia.The research initiative was established in 2008 through a $3 million seed gift and supports research projects between the two institutions.

“When we effectively apply the strengths of both City of Hope and Caltech to scientific research, we can more easily leverage groundbreaking discovery into the development of improved therapies for people facing serious illness such as cancer, HIV or diabetes,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope and the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair.

Nursing researchers lead the way on caring for cancer survivors

October 17, 2011 | by

For cancer patients who are finishing treatment, proper care means having a plan for regular follow-ups and taking steps for cancer prevention and early detection in the coming months and years. But too few patients get this kind of care.

Marcia Grant, R.N., D.N.Sc., director and professor of the Division of Nursing Research and Education

Marcia Grant, R.N., D.N.Sc., director and professor of the Division of Nursing Research and Education(photo by Walter Urie)

Now the National Cancer Institute  has granted City of Hope and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center more than $1.4 million to train nurses in how to care for cancer survivors. Two hundred nurses from across the country will get intensive training through workshops so they can help patients and their families achieve the best possible quality of life after cancer treatment. They’ll focus on how to prevent new cancers through lifestyle choices, deciding when patients should have tests and follow-ups and how best to communicate with patients.

Nearly 12 million people in the U.S. are now living with or beyond cancer, and nursing researchers know that those numbers will grow. They also know they’ll be on the front lines of this new model of survivorship care. To create their training, they’ve used the elements of an influential Institute of Medicine report that called for better care for cancer survivors.

If you’re in treatment or are a cancer survivor, our Restore site has a practical list of information you need to get the best care for the years to come. The Institute of Medicine also has a handy fact sheet online that can help you get the facts you need from your health-care team.

City of Hope surgeon Laura Crocitto, M.D., talks about vitamin E and prostate cancer

October 17, 2011 | by

You may have heard talk on the news about a link between vitamins and prostate cancer. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association  reveals that men should be more aware of the vitamins and supplements they may be taking.

The SELECT study enrolled more than 35,000 healthy men across the country and found that those taking high doses of vitamin E over a seven-year period had about a 17 percent greater risk of prostate cancer compared to men taking a placebo.

Laura Crocitto, M.D., clinical associate professor of surgery in City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Cancer, gives a summary of the trial on video  and lets men know what they should take away from the results. You can also learn more in interviews she gave to the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) as well as ABC7 Eyewitness News.