News

Winship Named a Top Ranked Cancer Program in the U.S.

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 multidisciplinary cancer care and a wide variety of clinical trials often not available elsewhere.

“We are so proud to be named one of the best cancer centers in the U.S.,” says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship. “The top ranking is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our outstanding physicians, nurses and other caregivers.”

Winship is the only cancer program in Georgia to be named in the top 50 in the country. Click here for more information about the rankings and make sure to check out where all our Emory hospitals landed on the rankings!

Winship Cancer Institute Launches New Ad

As you’re watching the Winter Olympics this month, keep an eye out for a new television ad spotlighting the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. The 60-second commercial depicts aging fighter jets as a metaphor for outdated cancer treatment. In contrast, Winship offers state-of-the-art care to tens of thousands of cancer patients every year.

As Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, Winship serves the citizens of the Southeast by working tirelessly to prevent, treat and cure cancer. Patients are offered integrative, multi-disciplinary care that they could not receive anywhere else in the state. The ad notes that over the past seven years, Winship has led or participated in clinical trials for over 75-percent of new FDA-approved cancer treatments.

Last fall, Emory Healthcare began running a series of ads that look at what’s impacting the health care industry today and speaks to the way in which our dedicated teams provide care that includes the whole family. The tag line, “We’re all in this together,” is exemplified daily throughout Winship and the greater Emory Healthcare Network. The compassion and dedication of the doctors, nurses and supportive care teams are unmatched as we strive to meet the unique needs of every patient and family who seek care in one of our facilities. Through the discoveries made possible by a dedicated team of many of the nation’s best physicians and researchers, Winship at Emory is working toward a future when science triumphs over cancer.

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Cancer Risk Dramatically Reduced Since Landmark Smoking Report Issued 50 years Ago

Dr. Fadlo KhuriFifty years ago this month, Dr. Luther Terry, Surgeon General of the United States, issued the landmark 1964 Surgeon General’s Report providing the first definitive proof that cigarette smoking causes both lung and laryngeal cancer. This announcement came after a committee of experts had worked for 18 months, reviewing more than 7,000 published papers and engaging 150 consultants.

The importance of this report and its findings cannot be overstated. Fifty years ago, we did not know that smoking definitely causes lung cancer and other diseases, only that smoking was associated with a higher risk of these diseases. Recognizing that the impact of tobacco on our national and, indeed, the world’s health was the major public health issue of the day, Dr. Terry assembled an unimpeachable panel of distinguished physicians and scientists. He chose individuals for the panel who were not only among the giants of medicine and science, but were also objective and could ensure the integrity of the report.

The report was based on what ranked as the largest and most careful review of the medical literature yet undertaken. Most importantly, the report was clear, evidence based and unequivocal. It showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that smoking caused both lung cancer and larynx cancer. The report concluded that cigarette smoking is 1) a cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men; 2) a probable cause of lung cancer in women; and 3) the most important cause of chronic bronchitis.

The impact of the report on public perception was astonishing. In 1958, only 44% of Americans believed that smoking seriously impacted health, according to a Gallup Poll. Ten years later, and four years after the report’s release, that number had climbed to 78%. The report also galvanized the anti-tobacco movement. Its findings have lent enormous credence to smoking cessation efforts over the last 50 years. In 1964, 52% of adult men and 35% of adult women smoked cigarettes. This had fallen to 21.6% of adult men and 16.5% of adult women by 2011.

Today, we are certain that tobacco causes some of the most widespread and devastating diseases in the world, including cancers of the lung, larynx (voice box), esophagus, mouth, throat and bladder, which together account for about 30% of the world’s cancer-related deaths. Tobacco is also a major cause of heart disease, emphysema and other diseases of the lungs and heart.

There have been several subsequent reports issued by the Surgeons General, the latest an eye-opening look at smoking behavior among the younger generation. This, like all prior reports, builds on that first landmark report from a great physician leader and his matchless panel of experts. The impact of their efforts on smoking in the US and the world is unquestionable. The debt that the world owes these 12 brave scientists has never been greater.

Author: Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, deputy director, Winship Cancer Institute

Want to learn more about the impact of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking? View this video as Dr. Khuri further discusses the effect the report has had on the medical community.

About Dr. Fadlo Khuri
Fadlo 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.

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Winship Cancer Institute Recognized for “Exceptional Contributions” to Advancing Research and Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

A team of researchers from Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been awarded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Accelerator Award. The award recognizes Sagar Lonial, MD, Jonathan Kaufman, MD, Ajay Nooka, MD, MPH, Lawrence Boise, PhD and Leon Bernal-Mizrachi, MD, for their “outstanding efforts and exceptional contributions to starting new clinical trials supported through the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) and rapidly enrolling patients in those trials.”

Emory researchers receive MMRF award

From left to right: Beverly Harrison, Vice President of Clinical Development at the MMRC, Dr. Leon Bernal-Mizrachi and Dr. Jonathan Kaufman of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, and Walter M. Capone, Chief Operating Officer of the MMRF.

The MMRC is a non-profit organization that brings together 16 leading academic institutions with a focus on accelerating drug development in multiple myeloma. Out of the 16 institutions, Winship earned best overall performance for 2013. In addition to these honors, Lonial was recognized for his exceptional leadership of the MMRC Steering Committee, PRC and the MMRF CoMMpass℠ Study Steering Committee.

A Very Happy Re-Birth Day for Bone Marrow Transplant Patients & Families

The Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center of Winship Cancer Institute performed its first transplant in 1979. On Wed., Sept. 25, 2013, it performed its 4000th transplant.

What did that number mean to lymphoma patient Vicky Scott, who was one of three people receiving a transplant on Wednesday?

“It means that four thousand people get to be with their families, and get a new chance at life,” she said from her room in the special transplant unit.

Vicky, a retired nurse from Enterprise, Alabama, was waiting patiently with her husband Richard for unrelated donor bone marrow cells to arrive for her transplant. Although the infusion is a routine procedure, it is a special moment when the transplanted cells start coursing through the bloodstream and head for the bone marrow to re-start the body’s production of white blood cells.

“We have been able to really decrease risk and side effects with our supportive care and better medications,” said Dr. Jonathan Kaufman, who was on service that day in the unit. “By doing that we can open up transplant to a lot more patients.”

Duane Fulk and his wife Sue, in the room next to Vicky, didn’t have to wait long for his autologous transplant, meaning one with his own stem cells.

“I see this as the final treatment, eradication of the mantel cells, and us going forward without looking back over our shoulders,” said Sue, watching the transplant team perform her husband’s procedure. For members of the team, the 4000th transplant represents the fruition of decades of their experience and dedication to caring for patients.

Like many patients, Duane had a sudden onset of illness that signaled something was wrong. It’s been a year since he was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma.

But Vicky has been struggling with auto-immune diseases for years, and in fact received an autologous stem cell transplant ten years ago in Colorado. She has some perspective on how dramatically the procedures and drugs have changed in ten years.

“It’s night and day,” she said. “I was so sick that first time, I didn’t think I was going to make it. This time, I’ve had virtually no side effects from the drugs and other than feeling weak from the disease, I’m in much better shape.”

As Duane neared the end of his transplant, a group of nurses came to his room to sing their own very special version of “Happy Birthday,” a ritual they’ve developed to mark what is for many, a re-birth day.

The lyrics of their song convey the excitement and possibilities of the transplant: “Happy, happy birthday, it’s time to start brand new!”

“The ability to get a transplant represents hope for survival, hope for getting back to life,” said Dr. Jonathan Kaufman.

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3D Mammography: A New View on Breast Cancer Prevention

3D Mammogram vs 2D mammogramBreast cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the U.S., behind lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

However, the ACS also notes that the rate of deaths caused by breast cancer has been declining since the late 80s, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. The trend is attributed to increased awareness, improved treatments and earlier detection through screening.

Mammograms, which were introduced in the 70s and have transitioned from film to digital, are still the only screening tool approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

No technology is perfect, and mammograms can miss some breast cancer cases. Since research has found that early detection significantly enhances the success of breast cancer treatment, the healthcare industry is in constant pursuit of better ways to see inside the breast.

Enter 3D mammography. Also called breast tomosynthesis, this relatively new breast imaging technology was approved for use in combination with conventional 2D mammography by the FDA in 2011.

“Breast tomosynthesis allows us to see the inside of the breast from many different angles, and it also gives us the ability to view breast tissue layer by layer, in 1 millimeter increments, or slices,” says, Dr. Maria Piraner,  breast imager (radiologist) for the Center for Breast Care at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

During a 3D mammogram, the X-ray arm of the mammography machine passes over the breast in a slight arc, taking numerous low-dose images at multiple angles. A computer software program then combines those images into a 3D rendering of the entire breast. For patients who have had previous mammograms, the procedure is nearly identical to conventional mammograms, except each compression takes about 4 seconds longer.

3D mammography does not replace conventional 2D mammography; rather, the two procedures are done in combination on the same machine. The addition of the 3D component can help reduce the chance that a patient will need to be called back for additional images. Since conventional 2D mammograms produce single, flat images of the breast, a cancer can sometimes hide in the overlapping tissue, or overlapping tissue can give the appearance of an abnormality that isn’t there.

While women 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year for as long as they are healthy, the choice to add 3D to their conventional 2D mammogram depends on personal factors, such as:

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Having a high risk factor for breast cancer
  • Frequency of call backs on previous mammograms
  • Having dense breast tissue

Dr. Piraner says the advantages of the combination 2D/3D mammogram are:

  • Fewer patients need to be called back for additional images
  • Allows radiologists to see cancers when they are smaller and less complicated to treat
  • Is particularly useful for patients with dense breast tissue

Download our FAQ sheet, “3D Mammography and You” for more information.

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Winship Cancer Institute Recognized Among Best Cancer Centers in the U.S. by Men’s Health Magazine!

Best Cancer Hospitals in the U.S.Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been named among the best cancer centers in the United States according to Men’s Health magazine!

The publication recognized Winship for its multi-specialty patient care and advanced clinical research. As Georgia’s first and only NCI-designated cancer center, Winship is honored to be the only hospital in Atlanta ranked on the best cancer centers list, and also recognized as one of the nation’s top cancer facilities.

From discovering a new treatment method for prostate cancer, to providing cancer survivors with unique support and wellness programs, at Winship, we are constantly working to discover better ways to prevent, detect, and treat many types of cancer.

Thank you to our community for inspiring us to bridge innovative medical research and technology with compassionate patient and family-centered care, each and every day. We are honored by this recognition!

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New Treatment for Prostate Cancer: Saint Joseph’s Hospital First in State to Treat Patient with Xofigo

Xofigo new prostate cancer treatment medicationA double bass player in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Doug Sommer claims he was just “in the right place at the right time with the right doctors,” when he was offered the opportunity to be the first in the state to receive a new treatment option for his prostate cancer.

Doug is the first patient in Georgia to receive a new FDA-approved radioactive therapeutic drug for advanced metastatic prostate cancer. He received the treatment, a single injection of radium Ra 223 dichloride, (brand name Xofigo) at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. This was the first of six injections. Xofigo has been shown to reduce bone pain and improve quality of life.

“Patients with a type of cancer called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) with metastatic bone disease, who have failed hormone suppression therapy, now have a new treatment option for their disease.”

- Peter Rossi, MD, medical director of radiation oncology at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and assistant professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine & Winship Cancer Institute

Read more about this new treatment for prostate cancer on the Saint Joseph’s Hospital blog >>

Winship Cancer Institute Patients Participate in 5K Relay for Be The Match

A few days before the 2013 Be The Match Walk+Run 5K that took place on Saturday, June 15, bone marrow transplant patients, family members and staff at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University conducted their own 5-kilometer relay in the transplant ward of Emory University Hospital. Since some participants couldn’t walk the entire circuit, most walked as long as they could before passing the baton off to the next person. Sixty-six laps around the transplant ward equaled five kilometers.

Bone marrow transplant patients and their family members often experience long weeks (and sometimes even months) of treatment.

“[The relay] is fun and it gives people an idea that they are not losing so much or giving up so much by being here, and they can still participate in things. Also, it’s a way for them to give back. It’s a way for all of us to give back,” says Amelia Langston, MD, medical director of the Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center.

Learn more about the Winship Cancer Institute Bone Marrow Transplant Program by watching the video below, or by using the related resources links provided below the video.

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Can Throat Cancer be Caused by HPV 16?

HPV Throat Cancer Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas recently brought HPV16-Related Throat Cancer into the forefront of many people’s minds this week when he commented that oral sex is a cause of throat cancer and the possible cause of his own throat cancer.

HPV, known to cause cervical cancer for many years, recently was also linked to a common head and neck cancer. HPV16 – related throat cancer typically affects otherwise healthy men between the ages of 50 and 60 who are non-smokers and non-drinkers.  The  symptoms are very unlike traditional oral cancers.  It first appears as a mass in the neck with no other symptoms.

Winship Cancer Institute Head and Neck Surgeon, Amy Chen, MD stated in an article in Prevention that “HPV16 has been found to be associated with one type of oral cancer at the base of the tongue and the tonsil, otherwise known as the pharynx.    Unfortunately at this time there are no screening tests for HPV of the throat.

The good news is the prognosis for cases of HPV16-caused throat cancer is good, so long as the patient is a non-smoker. Winship researchers and others are looking for ways to identify whether patients with HPV16-caused throat cancer need as much treatment as patients whose cancer is not caused by the virus.

More good news –  there is a vaccine available that can help young boys from developing the HPV16 -related throat cancer later in life.  It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that all boys ages 11 – 21 receive a vaccine.  The vaccine can also help boys prevent cancers of the penis and anus.

Education about the disease and the vaccine available is crucial to help prevent this disease.  Spread the word to all your families about the importance of getting the vaccine.

About Amy Chen, MD, MPH, FACS

Amy Chen, MD, MPH, FACS, is a member of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine. She has a joint appointment at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, and she served as Director of Health Services Research in the Department of Surveillance and Health Policy Research of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Chen has been instrumental in developing a team approach to patient care. She developed and continues to lead the multidisciplinary head and neck tumor conference as well as the thyroid tumor conference. Dr. Chen began practicing at Emory in 2001.

Dr. Chen specializes in otolaryngology (ENT) and has been Board-Certified since 1999. She also completed a head and neck surgical oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her expertise is in upper aerodigestive tract cancers, parotid, and thyroid tumors. Dr. Chen also specializes in robotic surgery. Her other areas of clinical interest are head and neck cancer, laser surgery, melanoma, parathyroid surgery, skin cancer, thyroid surgery, and tongue malignancies.

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