Cancer News

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital to offer Gamma Knife Treatment

Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is the first hospital in the state and one of only seven medical centers in the nation to offer advanced radiosurgery for the brain with the Gamma Knife Icon. The device delivers minimally invasive radiation treatment for malignant and nonmalignant tumors, trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain syndrome) and other neurological disorders.

“This technology pinpoints the tumor with the greatest accuracy to date, and also preserves cognitive function by avoiding critical brain structures. The Gamma Knife Icon is the best combination of all we’ve come to learn about stereotactic radiosurgery for the brain,” says Peter Rossi, MD, Winship director of radiation oncology at Emory Saint Joseph’s.

Gamma Knife Treatment

Gamma Knife treatment is an alternative to open brain surgery, as it does not require a scalpel or an incision. The procedure treats brain lesions with enough radiation to control them. As a result, the lesion will disappear, shrink or stop growing. This often occurs in the most critical, difficult-to-access areas of the brain. With Gamma Knife treatment, patients avoid whole brain radiation therapy, and do not experience side effects such as memory loss.

The Gamma Knife treatment lasts from 20 minutes to two hours, and patients go home the same day. The day of the procedure, the patient will first receive an MRI. The treatment team, a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist and physicist, will then use the MRI to carefully plan and identify the area of the brain to be treated. Next, the patient is fitted with either a head frame or mask to stabilize the head during the procedure. The patient is then moved into the machine for treatment.

“There is minimal pain involved for patients,” says Shannon Kahn, MD, Winship radiation oncologist at Emory Saint Joseph’s. “After being fitted with either the head frame or mask, patients lay on a table with a comfortable mattress and often sleep during treatment. After treatment is complete, patients can go home the same day.”

Gamma Knife Patient Experience

Joseph Garrett, the first patient at Emory Saint Joseph’s to be treated with the Gamma Knife Icon, was pleased with his treatment. Garrett, who experienced vision problems and was later diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, said, “I didn’t experience any side effects at all.” He reported treatment to be painless, and immediately returned to normal activities.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Winship Cancer Institute Launch Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program

Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital and Winship Cancer Institute have launched a comprehensive lung cancer screening program for high risk patients.Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Winship Cancer Institute have launched a comprehensive lung cancer screening program for Emory Healthcare that offers a low-dose CT (computed tomography) scan for patients most at risk for developing the disease.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the nation’s leading cancer killer and research shows that lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans and appropriate follow-up care significantly reduce lung cancer deaths. The CT scan of the chest is used to screen for pulmonary nodules – collections of abnormal tissue within the lungs that may be early manifestations of lung cancer. These nodules are often detectable by lung screening before physical symptoms of lung cancer develop.

“Our goal is to detect lung cancer early,” says Stephen Szabo, MD, director of Winship’s community oncology at Emory Saint Joseph’s, “and our program is unique because we have a team of specialists in radiology, oncology, cardiothoracic surgery and pulmonology providing a continuum of care for each patient.” Participants also have access to the latest clinical trials and cutting edge new therapies within one academic medical system.

“Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and for women. This comprehensive lung cancer screening program will increase the chances of detecting any lung cancers at an earlier, more curable stage” says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, Winship’s executive director.

The CT scan is recommended for current or former smokers ages 55-80 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history (packs per day x total years smoked = pack years) or for those who have quit within the past 15 years.

Patients meeting the criteria for the CT scan are required to have a provider referral. Emory Saint Joseph and Winship will assist those candidates without a referral by scheduling a shared decision making appointment with a provider on site in order to facilitate the screening.

Once the scan is completed and read by a radiologist within 48 hours, the multidisciplinary team will determine the best care plan for each patient based upon the results, whether it is immediate treatment or an annual follow up appointment. Patients that have nodules identified during the screening are provided an appointment within 48 hours for a lung nodule consultation with a physician who is a part of the multidisciplinary team.

For more information about lung cancer screening at Emory Healthcare, call 404-686-5864 (LUNG) or visit http://www.emoryhealthcare.org.

View the Emory New Center article here.

Winship Cancer Institute Celebrates 2015 as a Banner Year

Ranked first in Georgia for cancer care, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University offers patients with access to progressive resources, technology and cancer treatment options through Georgia’s largest health care system Emory Healthcare. As Georgia’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, Winship is a national leader in seeking out new ways to defeat cancer and in translating that knowledge into patient care.

Key 2015 Highlights:

  • For the second year in a row, Winship was ranked as a top 25 cancer program nationwide, moving up from 24th to 22nd nationally, and as best in Georgia by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Winship expanded staff and services this year at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory John’s Creek Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown.
  • Winship’s clinical trials program enrolled more patients on trials than in any other year and contributed to the approval of four new therapies for multiple myeloma.
  • Winship exceeded its fundraising goal for the Win the Fight 5K in September, bringing in more than $778,000 for cancer research.

Read the full transcript of the video here.

Winship key to four new myeloma drugs in 2015

lonial patientThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved elotuzumab as part of an innovative immune-based therapy treatment for patients with relapsed multiple myeloma. This is the third myeloma drug approved by the FDA within the last month and the fourth new myeloma treatment approved within the last year. All four new agents were tested in clinical trials at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Sagar Lonial, MD, chief medical officer of Winship, says the potential of elotuzumab can be seen in the overall response rate as well as the longer duration of progression-free survival.

“The Winship multiple myeloma team has shepherded several of these treatments from the beginning stages of testing through to their approval,” said Lonial. “It’s a great source of pride to know we were instrumental in the process that has led to many more treatment options for our patients.”

Read the full press release here.

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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month – Reduce Your Cancer Risks Today

lung-cancerAccording to the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer accounts for about 13% of all new cancers. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. For smokers, the risk of lung cancer is higher than non-smokers risks so I encourage smokers to make a plan to quit smoking during this lung cancer awareness month.

I would also recommend that you stay away from all tobacco products and byproducts, including second hand smoke. It’s never too late to stop smoking, contact Emory HealthConnection at 404-778-7777 to learn more from a registered nurse about finding a primary physician who can assist you in your health goals.

In addition to not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests you get your home tested for radon. Radon, a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon can have a big impact on indoor air quality if you would like more information on test kits call 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visit the website www.UGAradon.org.

About Dr. Sancheti

sanchetiLocated at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. Sancheti specializes in thoracic oncology, minimally invasive thoracic surgery, esophageal surgery, and lung transplantation.

A board certified thoracic surgeon, Manu S. Sancheti, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery of the Department of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. He joined the Emory faculty in 2014. Dr. Sancheti holds memberships with the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Dr. Sancheti received his MD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 2006, after which he did a general surgery residency at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City from 2006-2011. He joined the faculty at Emory University after completing his cardiothoracic surgery residency on a general thoracic track there.

New Mammography Guidelines

mammogramAlthough the American Cancer Society (ACS) confirms that mammography saves lives, the organization issued new breast cancer screening guidelines on Oct. 20 that recommend women at average risk for breast cancer start getting annual mammograms at age 45. The previous recommendation was to start at age 40, and I will continue to recommend that women get yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40.

Evidence shows that the most lives are saved when screening starts at age 40. Although breast cancer is a little less common in women aged 40 to 44, this group receives the same life-saving benefit from screening mammography that older women do. As a radiologist specializing in breast cancer detection and diagnosis, I see this first-hand. My colleagues in the American College of Radiology agree and are also continuing to recommend that yearly screenings begin at age 40.

The new ACS guidelines note that the “harms” associated with screening may outweigh the benefits in women age 40-44. It is vital that women compare the magnitude and implication of the harms versus benefits associated with screening mammography. The harms they identify are about getting false positive readings from mammograms that can result in women being called back in for more imaging or an ultrasound. About 10% of women are recalled for these additional tests and the vast majority are cleared at that point. About 1 – 2% of patients who are recalled receive a needle biopsy using local anesthetic.

The benefits include saving lives and finding cancers smaller and earlier so that less aggressive treatment is required. I believe most women will agree that the drawbacks pale in comparison to the benefits of screening, and will choose to proceed with yearly screening. In fact, the ACS declares that yearly screening is beneficial and something that the majority of women would want, as long as they are healthy and have a 10 year or longer life expectancy. It is vital that we preserve a woman’s access to this life-saving technology so that she may choose to screen.

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About Dr. Newell

Newell_MaryMary S. Newell, MD, began practicing with Emory Healthcare in 2001 where she is a board certified radiologist specializing in breast cancer imaging and diagnosis. Dr. Newell has interests in emerging imaging technologies, teaching, and healthcare policy.

Dr. Newell chairs the American Board of Radiology Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Breast Committee and the American College of Radiology Joint Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards and Appropriateness Committee on Criteria. She is Head of Curriculum Assessment for the Society of Breast Imaging and Special Consulting Editor for CME for the American Journal of Roentgenology. She also serves as the treasurer for the Georgia Radiologicial Society, is a councilor to the American college of radiology representing the state of Georgia, and serves on numerous committees institutionally and nationally.

Dr. Newell earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School. She then completed her residency in diagnostic radiology and fellowship in body imaging at the St. Francis Hospital in Illinois. Dr. Newell’s research focuses on discovery and evaluation of new imaging modalities for future use in breast cancer screening and detection.

Landmark Multiple Myeloma Studies from Winship

In recognition of September being Blood Caner Awareness Month, Dr. Sagar Lonial, Winship’s Chief Medical Officer shares a video about his Winship phase III clinical trial study on elotuzumab in treating myeloma patients.

Many cancers have benefited from FDA approvals for monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Multiple myeloma, a second common blood cancer, had limited outcome improvements with mAbs until Dr. Lonial’s recent work. Dr. Lonial’s research was presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.

Learn more about Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Winship Trial Reduces Mortality Rate for APL Patients

Winship's APL team (left to right): Martha Arellano, Kaitlin Sitchenko, Anand P. Jillella, Vamsi Kota, Ann Shen, Emily Bennett.

Winship’s APL team (left to right): Martha Arellano, Kaitlin Sitchenko, Anand P. Jillella, Vamsi Kota, Ann Shen, Emily Bennett.

Winship oncologist Anand Jillella, MD is spearheading a clinical trial for patients with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) that could change the mortality rate for this disease on a major scale.

Often called the heart attack of leukemias, APL is a highly aggressive disease that is curable if treated early. A third of patients, however, do not survive the first month of treatment. By observing and analyzing the problem, Jillella and his team of physicians, nurses, and research staff came up with a collaborative approach that decreases mortality from 30 percent to about five percent. This new trial is open to patients all across the country.

Jillella has found that some physicians who treat patients with APL may not be familiar with the potential complications that can develop during treatment. He took a very detailed treatment algorithm and boiled it down to a three-step process that can be easily shared. “As soon as we get a call from a community physician, we send the simplified algorithm via smart phone,” says Jillella. “We come up with a treatment plan based on what the patient is experiencing and follow up with them regularly to get them through that difficult first month.”

RELATED RESOURCES:
Getting the Best Cancer Treatments into Outlying Communities
Clinical Trials: Leading the Way to Better Health Care

President Obama Names Winship Member to National Cancer Advisory Board

deborag watkins brunerPresident Barack Obama recently appointed Emory University Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Nursing Deborah Watkins Bruner as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).

“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to serve our country. They bring their years of experience and expertise to this Administration, and I look forward to working with them,” said President Obama in a White House press release.

The NCAB and the President’s Cancer Panel are the only advisory bodies at either the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services whose members are appointed by the President. The primary task of the NCAB is to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and ultimately the President of the United States on a range of issues affecting the nation’s cancer program and, specifically, NCI operations. The NCAB reviews and recommends grants and cooperative agreements following technical and scientific peer review.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Bruner for her appointment to this presidential advisory board,” says Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “Dr. Bruner is one of the nation’s preeminent oncology researchers and we know she will play an important role in helping our nation advance cancer research and improve the quality of life of Americans with cancer.

Bruner has devoted her research to improving outcomes for cancer patients. Her areas of focus are quality of life and symptom management across cancer sites, as well as decision-making for cancer therapies. She also is internationally known for her research in sexuality after cancer therapy.

Bruner is also associate director of cancer outcomes research at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. She is internationally recognized for her trailblazing leadership within the NCI-cancer clinical trials research network for scientifically measuring the cancer patient experience and incorporating that experience into improvements in care.

“Dr. Bruner’s contributions to Winship and to NRG Oncology have defined new methods of evaluating cancer clinical trials and patient outcomes,” says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute. “We are delighted that President Obama has recognized her abilities and the contributions she will make to the NCAB. The NCAB has significant influence in guiding the nation’s strategies against cancer, and Dr. Bruner will be an invaluable advisor to the President and other national leaders on our research policies.”

Bruner is best known for her pioneering leadership within the National Cancer Institute (NCI) supported NRG Oncology (formerly Radiation Therapy Oncology Group – RTOG). She is the first and only nurse to lead one of NCI’s national clinical community oncology programs (CCOP) research bases and is NRG’s Vice Chair for Outcomes. Bruner is a member of the NCI Clinical Trials Advisory Committee (CTAC) which helps set the national cancer clinical trials research agenda and co-chairs NCI’s Symptoms Management Steering Committee.

Bruner is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. In 2015, she received the Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award from the Oncology Nursing Society.

Bruner received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Chester University. She earned her master’s degrees in nursing oncology and administration from Widener University and a doctoral degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

RELATED RESOURCES:
Bio: Deborah Watkins Bruner
Cancer Research @ Emory Nursing
Winship Cancer Institute

Winship Cancer Institute Expands Hospital Access

winship expands sign picWinship Cancer Institute has expanded access to its high quality cancer care in alignment with its broad clinical research program at both Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital (ESJH) and Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH). In addition, Winship has established the Winship Cancer Network as a means to improve access to such vital services throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

Longstanding and continued support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has enabled Winship to advance cancer care and access to services like these for tens of thousands of patients throughout Georgia and beyond.

In addition to expanding services at ESJH and EJCH, the Woodruff Foundation’s most recent grant will be used to expand and improve Winship’s Shared Resource portfolio with special emphasis on its Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. Researchers in this program are continually evaluating the best methods to reduce and eliminate the development of cancer among high-risk individuals across Georgia and the Southeast.

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Related Resources
Emory Johns Creek Hospital
Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital