Awareness

Take Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

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 skin cancer. If we see anything suspicious, the spot is biopsied, which involves removing a small sample of skin tissue. It takes five minutes or less to perform a biopsy and the results are usually available in a few days.

During this visit, we educate patients to be good about self-examination. I recommend that patients pick the first of every month and put it on their calendar to examine their skin head to toe. They should look for any changing moles or any new bumps that may have come up. It can be difficult to know what to worry about or not, but in general a melanoma can show up as a new mole or a changing or bleeding mole. A basal or squamous cell generally presents as a new bump or flat lesion that can bleed, or hurt, or just be new and growing. If you are worried about something, you should make an appointment to be checked by your dermatologist right away.

Sun protection is a big part of preventing skin cancers. The AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) recommends everyone use sunscreen that is broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB), has a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and is water resistant. And you need to apply an adequate amount of sunscreen for it to be effective: generally one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) for the exposed parts of your body for each application. This needs to be repeated every 2 hours on continued sun exposure. Remember to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors.

You can use any type of sunscreen that works for you, such as lotions, creams, gels, sticks or even sprays. Sprays, though, have the disadvantage of accidental inhalation and it’s sometimes hard to know when using a spray if you have applied an adequate amount.

Tanning bed use has been proven to increase the risk of melanoma and also accelerate photo-aging. It should be avoided at all cost. Sunbathing and a history of blistering sunburns also increase your risk of skin cancer. It is very important to avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm, when the rays are the strongest, and to use additional protective clothing such as long sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

As you get ready for fun summer weekends, here’s a checklist to help you prevent skin cancer: avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest, use sunscreen and protective clothing any time you are out in the sun, never use a tanning bed, and when in doubt, check it out! Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist along with your annual physical visit, and for accurate information about safe sun practices, check the AAD website.

About Dr. Bhandarkar

Sulochana Bhandarkar, MDSulochana Bhandarkar, MD, is an assistant professor of dermatology at the Emory School of Medicine. She completed her medical school education from her home country, India, at Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, where she also did a three-year dermatology residency with a special interest in vitiligo, a condition affecting skin pigmentation. After moving to the U.S., she did a clinical research fellowship at the University of California San Francisco, as well as a melanoma research fellowship at Emory University. She did her residency in dermatology at Emory University and became a faculty member at Emory in 2011. Her clinical interests are vitiligo and melanoma.

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Clinical Trials Responsible for Advances in Medical Treatment

Tamara Mobley, 38 and married with 8 and 12 year old sons, has been battling multiple myeloma for five years now under the care of Dr. Sagar Lonial at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She went on a clinical trial at Winship in order to get the most advanced drug for treating this blood cancer. Because of that trial, the drug is now FDA-approved and is helping Tamara maintain her active life.

Clinical trials are responsible for most advances in medical treatment, but they can’t take place without volunteer participants like Tamara. Unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about clinical trials that keep people from participating.

For instance, some believe joining a clinical trial is a last resort in the treatment process, which was not the case for Tamara and many other Winship patients. For Tamara, enrolling in a clinical trial was a good option once her standard cancer drugs stopped working.

In the video below, Fox 5 Atlanta talked to Tamara and Dr. Lonial about the decision to participate in a clinical trial.

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

It is important to speak with your physician about participating in a clinical trial. For more information about a specific trial, please contact the lead research coordinator.

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Growing Hope Together!

Mary BrookhartI was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 33. A cancer diagnosis always comes as a shock, but it’s particularly unexpected at that age. Because my mother had breast cancer at a young age, a new provider sent me for my base line screening mammogram and that turned out to be my first and only mammogram. I can say without a doubt that a mammogram saved my life.

I was treated here at Winship, by Dr. Toncred Styblo and Dr. David Lawson. Twenty-five years later, all three of us are still here. I came back to Winship six years ago, but not as a patient. I took a job as supervisor of business operations for the Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship, and I am one of the organizers of the Celebration of Living event coming up this Sat., June 21.

That’s why the Celebration of Living event is so near and dear to my heart. This is a chance to get together with other survivors, and discover that part of being a survivor is learning that it’s ok to let fun and humor back into your life. Learn to let the fear go and not let it rule your life. Coming to the Celebration of Living event can be a first step toward getting back out into the world, or it can be a continuation of your on-going journey. We all know that battling cancer has very dark moments, but I hope we can bring some hope and lightness into your life.

So I invite all cancer survivors, their family members and friends to come share this special day. There will be workshops for the mind, body and soul, as well as music, food and companionship. It’s free and open to all. Detailed information is available on our website.

I see more and more people surviving cancer because of new and better treatments and earlier detection. In the time since I got my screening mammogram, the technology has greatly improved. Emory and Winship are now offering state-of-the-art 3D mammograms (also called tomosynthesis) at no additional charge above the cost of standard mammograms, so that all women can benefit from this more precise screening technology. For more information about this new service and where it’s available, check out this video about 3D mammography at Emory Healthcare.

For some, the idea of living a normal lifespan with cancer as a chronic disease is a reality.

My hope is that one day, all cancer patients will enjoy a lifetime of survivorship.

Mary Brookhart,
Cancer Survivor

About Mary Brookhart

Mary Brookhart grew up in Ohio before moving to Georgia to get away from the snow. There she enjoyed a 20+ year career in advertising and design. In 2008, looking for something more rewarding, Mary returned to Winship, this time, not as a patient, but as supervisor of business operations for the Emory Glenn Family Breast Center. Besides serving as an advocate for breast cancer patients, Mary coordinates screenings for mammograms and the Emory’s Breast Cancer Seminar for the Newly Diagnosed breast cancer patient. She currently lives in rural Conyers, with her husband of 37 years, and their three horses.

3D Mammography: More Detail in Imaging Can Reduce Call-Backs

According to the American Cancer Society, about 10 percent of women who have mammograms will be called back for additional testing. However, only 8-10 percent of those women will need a biopsy, and 80 percent of the biopsies will turn out to be benign.

While that sounds encouraging, the emotional toll of a call-back can increase a woman’s anxiety about having future mammograms. To help reduce call backs and false positives, three hospitals in the Emory Healthcare system now use an advanced breast imaging technology, called 3D mammography, which provides radiologists with a much more detailed view of a patient’s breast tissue.

Watch CNN’s segment about Ivory Poser’s experience and how Emory Healthcare is using 3D mammography at three of its hospitals to help reduce call-backs and false positives.

“Compared with 2D mammography, a 3D exam allows radiologists to view the breast in small slices providing more detailed pictures of specific areas,” says Michael A. Cohen, MD, director of Breast Imaging for Emory Healthcare. “The state of the art technology is proven to reduce call-backs by 20 to 40 percent and finds more cancers, particularly in women with dense breast tissue.”

In addition, Emory offers this FDA-approved mammography technology, which is typically not covered by insurance, at no additional charge above the cost of a traditional 2D digital mammogram for patients getting their annual screening mammogram.

“Breast tomosynthesis is a real game changer in the early detection of breast cancer,” explains Leonel A. Vasquez, MD, director of Community Radiology and chief of service for Emory Johns Creek Hospital. “The fact that we are offering this advanced technology at no additional cost is both a real value and the best care for our patients.”

The advantages of 3D mammography are:

  • Greater chance for cancer detection
  • Reduction in false-positives
  • Reduction in call-backs (especially for women with dense breasts)
  • Better visualization and confidence for physicians
  • Less anxiety for patients

Mammogram screenings have been shown to detect breast cancer in earlier stages, which can lead to better chances for a cure. According to the American Cancer Society, deaths related to breast cancer have been declining since 1990, partly due to early detection through screenings and advanced treatments. Screening mammograms are recommended for all women at average risk for breast cancer starting at age 40.

3D mammography is currently available at Emory’s breast imaging centers at the Winship Cancer Institute on Emory’s Clifton Campus, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Emory Breast Imaging Center located at
Emory University Hospital Midtown
550 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

To make an appointment: 404-778-7465

Emory Breast Imaging Center located at
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
1365 Clifton Road NE
Building C, 1st Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30322

To make an appointment: 404-778-7465

Center for Breast Care located at
Emory Johns Creek Hospital
Emory Physicians Plaza
6335 Hospital Parkway, Suite 106
Johns Creek, GA 30097

To make an appointment: 678-474-7465

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What You Need to Know About Personalized Cancer Care

personal cancer careThe most promising advances in cancer treatment today center around personalized or precision medicine, but what exactly does that mean? We asked Dr. Fadlo Khuri, deputy director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, to explain the terms and help us understand who is benefitting from these types of treatment.

Q: What is personalized or precision medicine in cancer treatment?

Khuri: The best individualized care plan for every patient is one that delivers the most precise, informed and effective treatment possible. One of the new tools we use today in order to add to the patient’s medical history, social history, and pathologic diagnosis, is modern molecular testing.

Q: What is molecular testing?

Khuri: Molecular testing in cancer is performed on tissue taken during a tumor biopsy. Several tests can be done to reveal the genetic makeup of the mutation present in the cells of a particular cancer, such as non-small cell lung cancer. This genetic mapping, or DNA sequencing, is called genomics.

Q: People are familiar with genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutations that cause ovarian and breast cancers. But how are genomics or genetic targeting used in cancer treatment?

Khuri: Genomics uses modern DNA sequencing methods, recombinant DNA and informatics to study the complete genetic makeup of individual cells, patients, populations and their diseases. We learn how certain gene mutations, such as EGFR or ALK mutations in lung cancer, determine a tumor’s behavior and survival. We use these driver mutations to design treatments that specifically target the protein product of the mutated (or altered) genes. This leads to more targeted treatments based on an individual patient’s cancer.

Q: What is immunotherapy and how is it being used at Winship?

Khuri: Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that stimulates a patient’s own immune system to either work harder overall, or to attack cancer cells specifically. We are exploring immunotherapy at Winship through research and clinical trials. We have a series of clinical trials designed to activate or drive the immune system to recognize the individual’s cancer as foreign to their body, such as vaccines or immune checkpoint inhibitors, to attack the tumor.

Q: Which type of patients benefit from immunotherapy?

Khuri: Patients with leukemia, lymphomas, myeloma, lung cancer, kidney cancer and especially melanoma seem to benefit from immunotherapy. Other diseases are also being studied. Immunotherapies are demonstrating durable (long lasting) responses in a number of the above tumor types, and this has added a powerful new option to the toolbox of targeted therapies of cancer.

Q: What are the advantages and challenges?

Khuri: The advantages include the durability of the responses seen, but the people with cancer who benefit are in the minority so far. Efforts at developing efficient and precise ways to deliver immunotherapy are ongoing.

Q: What is the latest research at Winship that is related to precision medicine?

Khuri: Winship has clinical trials in myeloma, lung cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, colon cancer, thyroid cancer and melanoma which target specific driver mutations and are excellent examples of precision medicine.

Q: How have these approaches changed the way doctors now treat cancer patients?

Khuri: Many centers, like Winship, do reflex testing, which automatically sends a patient’s sample for a molecular screening panel that looks for tumor mutations. Certain gene mutations are known to drive cancer growth, cause drug resistance or susceptibility, or are currently under investigation as therapeutic targets in clinical trials, so the results of those tests can determine the type of treatment a patient receives.

About Dr. Khuri

Fadlo Khuri, MDFadlo R. Khuri, MD, deputy director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, is a leading researcher and physician in the treatment of lung and head and neck cancers. He is Editor-in-Chief of the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cancer.
Dr. Khuri’s contributions have been recognized by a number of national awards, including the prestigious 2013 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award, given to an outstanding cancer researcher by the American Association for Cancer Research.

An accomplished molecular oncologist and translational thought leader, Dr. Khuri has conducted seminal research on oncolytic viral therapy, developed molecular-targeted therapeutic approaches for lung and head and neck tumors combining signal transduction inhibitors with chemotherapy, and has led major chemoprevention efforts in lung and head and neck cancers. Dr. Khuri’s clinical interests include thoracic and head and neck oncology. His research interests include development of molecular, prognostic, therapeutic, and chemopreventive approaches to improve the standard of care for patients with tobacco related cancers. His laboratory is investigating the mechanism of action of signal transduction inhibitors in lung and aerodigestive track cancers.

Related Resources

Genomic Testing for Lung Cancer: What Does it Mean for You?

Sun Damage Lasts a Lifetime

Sun ProtectionAfter a long, rough winter, it feels good to put away the jackets and get out the swim gear. As a melanoma oncologist, the summer is a double-edged sword as it also means that many people will be out in the sun doing irreversible damage to their skin. Not only can sun safety decrease your risk of skin cancer, it also can help protect you from the visible signs of aging. Who doesn’t want less cancer and to look younger at the same time? Unfortunately, some people believe they need a good burn or base tan to start the summer. Hopefully, I can change your mind about this with some basic information about skin cancer and a few tips on enjoying the summer without increasing your risk of developing skin cancer (or more wrinkles).

Skin cancer affects over three million people each year, making it by far, the most common cancer. The three most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell cancers are the most prevalent and originate from keratinocytes. These cancers are often referred to as “non-melanoma skin cancers.” They affect a little over two million Americans each year, with 80 percent of these being basal cell cancers. Most non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by repeated exposure of the skin to ultraviolet rays (primarily UVA and UVB) from sunlight or from artificial sources such as tanning beds. These rays damage the DNA in skin cells and cause them to grow and divide unregulated, thus producing a cancer. These types of skin cancers tend to stay in the skin, and therefore very few patients will die from basal or squamous cell cancers. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 people die each year from non-melanoma skin cancers.

In contrast, melanoma is a cancer that originates from melanocytes that normally make pigment to protect the other layers of the skin from sun damage. Melanocytes can also make non-cancerous growths like moles. The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 76,100 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2014 with 9,710 deaths from this disease, making it the most deadly form of skin cancer. Lifetime risk of melanoma in the U.S. is about 1 in 50, and notably it is one of the most common cancers in those younger than 30. When diagnosed early, surgery alone has excellent survival rates. In the past there were few long-term survivors from advanced cases of melanoma. Fortunately, many novel therapeutic agents are being developed that have transformed the treatment of more advanced stages of melanoma with five new agents approved by the FDA since 2011. All of these new drugs are changing the landscape of melanoma treatment and patients are now not only living longer, but also with better quality of life.

Though melanoma development is more multi-factorial than basal or squamous cell cancer development, it is still linked to UV exposure through sunlight or tanning beds. The best way to decrease one’s risk of skin cancer development is to avoid long exposures to intense sunlight and practice sun safety measures. When outside, I recommend the use of broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), use of sun protective clothing such as sun shirts and board brim hats, and avoid direct exposure between 10AM and 2PM when the intensity of the rays is the strongest. Sunscreen should be applied about 20-30 minutes prior to going outside and reapplied approximately every two hours. Because this is difficult to do, even for myself, I recommend barriers like sun shirts or umbrellas over sunscreen if possible.

Keep in mind the sun damage that occurs now will be with you for the rest of your life, so please don’t forget your sun protective gear on your way out to enjoy the beautiful weather.

About Dr. Kudchadkar

Ragini Kudchadkar, MDRagini R. Kudchadkar, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She specializes in cutaneous oncology with an emphasis on the development of clinical trials for patients with metastatic melanoma. Dr. Kudchadkar previously worked as an assistant member of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. In addition to her clinical practice, Kudchadkar is involved in research that focuses on signal transduction inhibitors for the treatment of metastatic melanoma with a secondary interest in rare cutaneous malignancies such as advanced merkel cell and basal cell carcinomas.

Kudchadkar graduated from the Emory School of Medicine in 2003 and completed her internal medicine residency at Emory in 2006. She pursued her hematology and medical oncology training at the University of Colorado in Denver, CO, where she also served as chief fellow.

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10 Ways to Talk With Your Child About Cancer

Mother Child TalkingHaving to tell others about your cancer diagnosis can be very challenging and uncomfortable. Sharing the news with a young child or teenager can be even more difficult. Many patients I talk with are hesitant to tell their children about their diagnosis because they want to protect or shield them from the information. Children can sense that something is wrong and keeping that type of secret can be overwhelming.

Here are ten ways to discuss a cancer diagnosis with your child:

  1. Talk to your children in words that they can understand. Try not to provide young children with too many details as this can be overwhelming for them.
  2. Use the word cancer. This helps to avoid confusion when you talk about other illnesses.
  3. Books are a great tool when talking with children about your diagnosis. For young children (ages 3-5 years-old) use picture books. Some good books include What is Cancer Anyway? by Karen L. Carney and NoWhere Hair: Explains Cancer and Chemo to Your Kids by Sue Glader.
  4. Provide reassurance that they will be taken care of.
  5. Remind children that they did not cause the cancer and cancer is not contagious so they cannot “catch it.”
  6. Give them information about changes within the home. For example, if another family member will pick them up from school instead of you.
  7. Provide children with an explanation of what they may expect as you begin treatment. For example, remind children that you may lose your hair when you start chemotherapy or may have to go into the hospital to get better. Reassurance that this is normal is also important.
  8. Expect questions. Even though you may not know the answer to a question, be honest and say that you do not know. It is important that children know they can ask questions.
  9. Check in with your child about how they are feeling. Some children may get angry, quiet or sad. Remind them that they can talk with you about how they are feeling.
  10. Consider registering your child to participate in the CLIMB support group for youngsters. This group is designed for children ages 6-12 who have a parent or grandparent with a cancer diagnosis. Kids meet with other children who are also experiencing something similar and they are encouraged to talk about their feelings. Contact a Winship Cancer Institute social worker for more details.

It is important to remember that every child responds differently to news of a cancer diagnosis. The disease not only affects the patient but the whole family. If you have concerns about how your child is coping with your diagnosis, consider talking with a counselor at your child’s school, or with a social worker at the Winship Cancer Institute.

Additional Resources:

About Joy McCall, LMSW

Joy McCallJoy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.

Local Firefighter Stomps Out Head and Neck Cancer: Get Screened on April 25!

While the human papillomavirus (HPV) is most commonly known as a risk factor for cervical cancer in women, it is also a growing risk factor for head and neck cancers in men. According to the American Cancer Society, oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers (tongue, tonsils, oropharynx, gums and other parts of the mouth) occur more than twice as often among men as they do among women. Tobacco and alcohol use are still the most common risk factors for all head and neck cancers, but recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 60 to 70 percent of cancers in the throat and base on the tongue may be linked to HPV.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that head and neck cancers account for approximately three percent of all cancers in the U.S. Head and neck cancer includes cancers that occur in the head or neck region, ranging from the nasal cavity and sinuses, to the back of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue.

In this FOX 5 video, meet Frank Summers, a local Atlanta-area firefighter who sought treatment at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, after his startling diagnosis of HPV-related head and neck cancer.

 

Free Head & Neck Cancer Screening

Want to get screened? Emory’s Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) will hold a FREE head and neck cancer screening tomorrow, Friday, April 25, 2014 at Emory University Hospital Midtown. The screening will be held from 8am to 12pm at the address below. Walk-ins are welcome!

Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
Emory University Hospital Midtown
Medical Office Tower (MOT), 9th Floor, Suite 9400
550 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

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Be a Donor—Save a life!

Emory Bone Marrow Transplant Center logoAs medical director of the Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center at Winship, I oversee a potentially lifesaving procedure that offers hope for survival to many patients with bone marrow disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, immune deficiency and other blood diseases. Some patients can use their own cells for the transplant, but others require a donor because their own marrow or immune system is diseased. In this sort of transplant, the patient’s sick marrow is destroyed, and replaced by the donor’s normal marrow and immune system. If it works, it can cure a person who may not have other options!

Who can be a donor?

The best bone marrow or stem cell donor is a compatible brother or sister. Unfortunately, most people who need a transplant don’t have a brother/sister match, so we have to go to the Be The Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, to try to find a compatible donor.

What is the Be The Match Registry?

The registry is really a large database of people who would be willing to serve as donors for patients who need a transplant and don’t have a family donor. The database is set up in such a way that doctors can search for the most compatible potential donors based on typing that is done when a person joins the registry.

What do I have to do to join the registry?

There are several different ways to join the registry: you can sign up online, you can attend a donor drive, or you can sign up when you donate blood. What’s required is some simple health information to make sure you are eligible to be a donor, and a sample of either blood or a scraping from the inside of your cheek. The sample goes to a lab for typing, and that typing information goes into the database.

What if I match someone who needs a transplant?

First you would be contacted by the donor center and asked to come in to provide a second confirmatory sample. If you are a confirmed match, you would be called again and asked to go through a full medical examination, more blood work, an EKG, and a chest Xray. If you pass all of the tests, you can be the donor!

How does the donation itself work?

You could be asked to donate stem cells (think of them as marrow seeds) from either the bone marrow or the blood. If you donate marrow, you would be taken to the operating room and marrow would be extracted from the hip bones (under anesthesia). The extraction takes an hour or two, and you would go home that same evening. If you donate blood stem cells, you would first take growth factor shots for a few days, and then on the day of the donation you would be connected to two IV lines so that your blood could be circulated through an apheresis machine that extracts the stem cells and then returns the rest of your blood back to your system. The whole process takes about four hours, and most of the time can be done in a single day.

Many of our patients mark the day they get a bone marrow or stem cell transplant as a second birthday, a literal re-starting of their immune system and a new chance at a healthy life. Registering to be a donor is an invaluable gift to them.

This Weekend!

Winship staff are teaming up for the Be The Match Walk/Run in Atlanta on Sat., April 26. This fundraiser supports Be The Match Registry, the largest and most diverse donor registry in the world. For more information, go to bethematch.org.

About Dr. Langston

Dr. Amelia Langston, MDAmelia Langston, MD, a Winship hematologist and medical oncologist specializing in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma, is medical director and section chief of the Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center, which has performed over 4,000 transplants for patients with blood cancers and diseases. She is also a professor of hematology and medical oncology in the Emory School of Medicine.

Dr. Langston’s research interests include novel strategies for autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation, use of biologically targeted agents for anti-leukemic therapy, and prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients.

Dr. Langston received her MD from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Durham North Carolina, followed by a Medical Oncology fellowship at the University of Washington Hospitals.

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Celebrating Volunteers at Winship

Winship Volunteers

This is National Volunteer Week (April 6 – 12), a great opportunity to thank the many people who volunteer their services here at Winship in order to make life better for cancer patients and their families.

On any given day, there may be 20 or more trained Winship volunteers helping patients and staff in the clinics, waiting rooms, treatment areas and Patient and Family Resource Center.  You can spot them escorting people around the building, offering snacks or companionship to patients in treatment, playing the piano in the lobby or a cello in the hallway.  They also perform many tasks behind the scenes, such as doing clerical work, keeping the resource center stocked, and providing encouragement and support through the Peer Partners program.

These Winship ambassadors can make a world of difference in a cancer patient’s day.  Our goal is to give patients the very best care possible, and volunteers help us do that.  Winship’s volunteer program was birthed a little over ten years ago when this building first opened.  It started with twelve volunteers; today, there are 150 dedicated people who work on-site.  And those original twelve are still here and serve as the Volunteer Board, which directs volunteer activities and resources.   Today’s volunteer staff includes former patients, patient family members, students and many others who want to give back.

DaVida Lee-Williams manages Guest & Volunteer Services on a day-to-day basis, as well for special events like the Winship Win the Fight 5K and the Celebration of Living.  She rallied over 280 for the 2013 Winship 5K and they made a real difference in how people experienced the race.  The fact is, we couldn’t do these activities without the devoted and enthusiastic work of volunteers. Lee-Williams says volunteers also gain from the experience.

“Volunteering is an opportunity to interact, create a sense of family with Winship patients and staff, and gain an understanding that people with cancer are more than just their disease,” Lee-Williams points out.

Volunteer services continue to grow.  Last fall, a new Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Buddy Program was launched in order to help bone marrow transplant patients get through the preparatory tests and paperwork that have to be done in the two or three days prior to hospital check-in.

During this National Volunteer Week, I want to say thank you to the many individuals who give of their time, their talents and their hearts to Winship.  Volunteers are making a difference here and we’re grateful!

About Dr. Curran:
Walter J. Curran Jr., MDWalter J. Curran, Jr., MD, was appointed Executive Director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in 2009. He joined Emory in January 2008, as the Lawrence W. Davis Professor and Chairman of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology. He also serves as Group Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a National Cancer Institute-funded cooperative group, a position he has held since 1997. Curran has been named a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Chair in Cancer Research as well as a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.

Dr. Curran has been a principal investigator on over thirty National Cancer Institute-supported grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors. He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma and for leading the randomized trial which defined the best therapeutic approach to patients with locally advanced lung cancer. He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and is a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE). Dr. Curran is the only radiation oncologist to have ever served as Director of a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center.

Dr. Curran is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Curran ranked among the top ten principal investigators in terms of National Cancer Institute grant awards in 2013, and was first among investigators in Georgia, and first among cancer center directors.

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