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Cancer
5,000-Mile Bone Marrow Transplant Connection
Sep 16, 2014 By Erin Blonshine

Bone Marrow Transplant Donor

I just celebrated the 5th anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, and I can't believe it's been 5 years. In some ways, it feels like yesterday, but in other ways, it seems like forever ago when I first learned that I would need a life-saving transplant ...

I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) in 2007, and I underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, which thankfully, resulted in remission. To celebrate the journey and one year of remission, my family and I planned a trip to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. We were so excited to celebrate! We planned to leave on a Sunday in June, and I had one more appointment on the Friday before we left. At that appointment, I found out I had relapsed; the leukemia was back. Absolutely devastated, we decided to postpone the trip and start treatment right away instead. I was evaluated for a bone marrow transplant, and [...]

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Cancer
Finding Powerful Tools to Fight Ovarian Cancer
Sep 9, 2014 By Cecelia Bellcross, PhD, MS, CGC

GeneticsThe last decade has produced amazing advances in our understanding of the genetic risk factors for ovarian cancer. Of the one in 70 women who will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime, 20 to 25 percent are the result of a major genetic cause. This means that of the 22,000 new diagnoses of ovarian cancer expected in the US in 2014, over 5,000 may be associated with an underlying hereditary cancer syndrome. Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (HBOC) is the most common cause of inherited ovarian cancer risk. HBOC is due to changes (mutations) in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (BRCA1/2). In families where a BRCA1/2 mutation is present, there may be early-onset breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and sometimes melanoma, pancreatic or prostate cancer. Several individuals on one side of the family (either mother or father’s side) in more than one generation may be affected. For [...]

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Cancer
How Will I Cope with Cancer?
Sep 3, 2014 By Wendy Baer, MD

Wendy Baer, MDGetting diagnosed with cancer is a unique experience for every person. It can mean many different things depending on the type of cancer, the stage, the treatment options and the overall health of the person. Regardless of the type of cancer, most people experience a whirlwind of emotions during the time of diagnosis. Uncertainty and loss of control are two common feelings. Uncertainty is especially intense in the work-up phase when you are not sure what kind of cancer you have, what your options are for treatment or who is going to take care of you during treatment. Loss of control may be an issue when you feel your body is broken, tumors may be growing, cells may be multiplying, and you wonder about dying. You may feel loss of control over your energy since you are not able to do activities or work you enjoy. The time needed for appointments may make you may feel as if the [...]

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Cancer
Doctor as Patient
Aug 27, 2014 By Winship Cancer Institute

Dr. Sagar LonialWinship multiple myeloma expert Dr. Sagar Lonial has seen hundreds of patients through the ups and downs of treatment and recovery, and has pioneered many new drug therapies that have changed the course of survival for multiple myeloma patients. He found his sense of purpose early in his career, seeing discoveries in the lab benefit the patients he was caring for and knowing that his research was intimately tied to their struggles. But it wasn’t until he became a patient himself that he gained full insight into how purpose drives the trajectory of a patient’s journey. Late in 2013, Dr. Lonial sustained a fall that resulted in severely broken bones requiring surgery, hospitalization and months of physical therapy. Lonial wrote about this insight in a recently published essay. Here is an excerpt from his story: Recently, I experienced a medical issue that allowed me to [...]

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Cancer
Bone Marrow Transplant Patient Story: Georgia Teacher Finds Perfect Match Across the Globe
Aug 19, 2014 By Winship Cancer Institute

Bone Marrow Transplant Patient StoryErin Blonshine, a 29 year old teacher from Dacula, Georgia, was diagnosed at 21 with AML, a form of Leukemia. Across the globe, Johannes Saur from Ulm, in southern Germany had joined his country’s bone marrow registry at the age of 18, and at 20, when Erin was diagnosed, Johannes got a call that he was a match for an American. At that time, Erin’s cancer went into remission before the transplant was needed, but a year later, it resurfaced. “Her leukemia relapsed, and we knew that the only potential cure was a transplant,” says Amelia Langston, MD, Medical Director of Winship’s Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Center. In August of 2009, Johanne’s bone marrow was flown to the U.S. for Erin’s transplant, and today, she has made a complete recovery. “5 years, for most leukemia survivors, means cure. It means we’re done worrying about the leukemia,” says Langston. [...]

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Cancer
Winship Named a Top Ranked Cancer Program in the U.S.
Aug 12, 2014 By Winship Cancer Institute

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityWinship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been named as one of the top 25 best cancer center programs in the nation according to the latest U.S. News & World Report. The annual list ranks cancer care at Emory University Hospital, through Winship, the 24th best in the country, a 20-position jump from 2013. When Winship Cancer Institute opened its doors in 1937, the mission was to create a facility that would bring researchers and physicians together under one roof so no Georgian would have a reason to leave the state to receive cancer care. Today, Winship sees over 14,000 patients a year who travel from all over the world seeking progressive cancer treatment and integrated, specialized patient-and family-centered care. As the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Georgia, Winship joins an elite group of cancer centers offering access to [...]

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Cancer
Caring for the Caregiver
Jul 29, 2014 By Joy McCall, LMSW

Cancer CaregiverCaring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer is such an important role. Most often it is a spouse, family member or close friend who becomes the primary caregiver for the patient. It’s a big responsibility that can, at times, be overwhelming. Sometimes we forget that caregivers need to be taken care of too. Here are some tips for caring for the caregiver:

  • Reach out to other friends and family members for assistance. Make a list of duties that need to be completed in order to care for the patient. Ask others to help complete those tasks. This can help alleviate some stress for the caregiver.
  • Sign up for a caregiver support group. This can introduce you to other caregivers who are in a similar situation. It is also a great way to share ideas and tips. Winship Cancer Institute has a Caregiver Support Group that meets on the third Wednesday of each month for
[...]

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Cancer
What the Inside of an Operating Room is Like During a Life-Saving Procedure
Jul 7, 2014 By Shishir Maithel, MD, FACS

Operating RoomIt’s 7 a.m. and the surgical staff at Emory University Hospital is prepping a patient for a potentially life-saving procedure. As a surgical oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, I am leading one of the two groups of specialists working together to remove a type of stomach tumor known as a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). This is a rare tumor with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed in the Unites States every year. If left untouched, the tumor could enlarge or metastasize, requiring more radical treatment. Stomach tumors are usually removed using one of two common techniques: endoscopy, in which doctors enter through the patient’s mouth using a flexible tube outfitted with a miniature camera and lasso-like device; or surgery, in which surgeons use minimally-invasive laparoscopic techniques to insert tiny surgical instruments through small [...]

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Cancer
Takeaways from Dr. Saba’s Head and Neck Cancer Chat
Jul 2, 2014 By Winship Cancer Institute

Thanks to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, June 24, for our live online chat on “Risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for head and neck cancer” led by Nabil Saba, MD, Chief of Head and Neck Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), head and neck cancers account for approximately three percent of all cancers in the U.S. During the chat, Dr. Saba addressed some of your questions relating to risk factors, symptoms and the latest research for head and neck cancer. See all of Dr. Saba’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat: Question: What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer? How do I know if I need to go get checked out? Nabil Saba, MDDr. Saba: Symptoms include having a lump in the neck, persistent changes in your voice over time, difficulty swallowing, [...]

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Cancer
Take Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer
Jun 30, 2014 By Sulochana Bhandarkar, MD

Skin ExamI am a dermatologist in the Emory Clinic and my focus is medical dermatology with a monthly melanoma clinic. I see patients of all skin types but a large part of my practice is seeing patients for total body skin exams (TBSE). We recommend that patients with all skin types get a total body skin exam, but patients who have a family history of melanoma, atypical mole syndrome or non-melanoma skin cancer should be particularly proactive about scheduling their skin checks. As a broad rule, once a year skin checks should suffice. These checks become more frequent in patients who have a personal history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer. A skin exam entails wearing a gown at the dermatologist’s office and getting all parts of your skin looked at for moles that may appear abnormal or growths that may be non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell skin cancer or squamous cell [...]

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