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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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Emory Johns Creek Hospital
Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital

Why Winship?

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University“For every question that we answer or seek to answer, new questions arise.”

Winship’s executive director, Wally Curran , MD, said that in answer to an interview question about Winship, and I think it provides insight on the incremental way that progress is made against cancer.

It also helps describe the dedication of cancer doctors and researchers who are willing to keep pursuing answers to this vastly complex puzzle.

The communications team at Winship has been asking another type of question lately: “Why Winship?” The answers we got are now the basis of a website, social media and poster campaign highlighting stories that show how our doctors, researchers and healthcare staff make discoveries and translate the latest breakthroughs in cancer research into better treatments for patients.

The stories are told through the words and thoughts of people who have been treated at Winship, and through the Winship staff who work toward finding ever-better ways to defeat cancer.

Our first round of “Why Winship?” videos, now on our website, features a group of Winship physicians who represent the comprehensive spectrum of patient care we are able to offer, from the latest drug and radiation therapies, to innovative surgical techniques. Here is a sampling of their thoughts on what makes Winship a unique place for them.

WALTER J. CURRAN, JR., MD
WINSHIP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“Winship is about depth and breadth. It’s the depth and breadth of our team that approaches a cancer problem. For example, in lung cancer, we have depth and breadth in the surgical, pulmonary, oncology, scientific, and epidemiologic teams which confront the leading cancer killer. Without the depth and breadth, we could not make the progress for a given patient and we also could not make the progress for a given problem as complex as lung cancer.”

FADLO R. KHURI, MD
WINSHIP DEPUTY DIRECTOR
“I think there is a spirit of humility and genuine discovery that suffuses the place. People want to know not just why, but why didn’t a treatment work, why didn’t a patient benefit, and go back to understand from every specific patient encounter how we can do better and more importantly how we can help them to do better.”

KAREN GODETTE, MD
WINSHIP RADIATION ONCOLOGIST
“With that team effort, [you’re] getting the best technology, multi-modality therapy with what we call translational research and the up-to-date protocols and everything in one place. Rather than having to hunt around to get the best in each thing you have it right here. An example is our sarcoma conference. There’s a thoracic surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, everyone is right there at the same time talking about the patient…. you have the best of everything right there.”

PETER ROSSI, MD
Winship Radiation Oncologist
“I know that I am going to be supported to go in the direction I think is most cutting edge that is the best for my patients… You have to have an administration that has a long-term vision of that. You don’t see that commonly and we have that at Winship Cancer Institute.”

VIRAJ MASTER, MD, PhD
Winship Urologist
“What gets me really excited about working at Winship is I have the ability to have incredible collaborative efforts that take place every day, and I particularly point out my colleagues in surgery, be it thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, surgical oncology. We work well together because we truly believe that the sum is greater than the individual. It allows us to do operations that I only dreamed of doing when I was in training, and we do it better here at Winship than anywhere else.”

About Catherine Williams

catherine-williams-2014As Senior Communications Manager for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Catherine Williams creates print, video and electronic communications materials and serves as a media relations contact for consumer health, news and science media.

Catherine came to Winship after 30 years as a television producer in New York, Washington and Atlanta, producing news, magazine and documentary programming. She has won awards for special reports covering health/science, public affairs and entertainment. She says news was exciting but nothing compares to the satisfaction of working with the dedicated and inspiring staff of Winship.

A Look Back at Winship Cancer Institute’s Extraordinary 2014

Since 1937, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has provided cancer patients throughout Georgia, the Southeast and beyond, with outstanding patient care and research, and 2014 was no exception. From several national recognitions to record-setting fundraising goals, Winship at Emory continues to be among the leaders in the state of Georgia and the nation in finding ways to defeat cancer. While we enter 2015 with excitement and expectancy, the administrators, physicians and researchers of Winship at Emory have taken time to celebrate the remarkable last year. Click on the “Year in Review” video below to see some of Winship’s highlights from 2014, including:

Key 2014 milestones:

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked cancer care at Emory University Hospital through Winship among the 25 best in the country.
  • Nurses at Emory University Hospital and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital were honored with the prestigious Magnet award for excellence in patient care.
  • Winship was the only cancer center in Georgia named as one of 30 U.S. cancer centers for the new National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network.
  • Winship exceeded its fundraising goal for the Win the Fight 5K in September, bringing in more than $600,000 for cancer research.

Winship 2014

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Progress and Thanks for Five Years of Phase I Clinical Trials

Phase I AnniversaryPatients.

Clinical trials.

We cannot have one without the other.

The Phase I Clinical Trials Unit at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University opened in 2009, a time when a significant expansion of clinical trial efforts was underway to support the National Cancer Institute cancer center designation. Over this rapid five-year period, a truly collaborative culture has led to a cutting-edge, early drug development program at a nationally recognized, top 25 cancer center.

None of this has been possible without patients putting their trust in our physicians, nurses, scientists, and many others, to deliver optimal care while asking critical questions about novel drugs and approaches. When I think about the impact of our Phase I unit on patients and their families, I recall a recent conversation with a seasoned oncologist here at Emory. He said, “Donald, if I saw anyone in the chairs here at a store, I wouldn’t know they had cancer.” A simple statement, but one that conveys a number of key messages about how our phase I trials have evolved over five years. Drugs we now have at hand, as a whole, are much safer and better tolerated than conventional chemotherapy. We also have access to more agents with much better activity against cancer, leading to more treatment options.

With improved treatment comes a sense of satisfaction. However, we cannot over-emphasize the critical effect patients have on us as health care providers, researchers, and human beings. As a clinician-researcher, the greatest motivating factor I have is seeing patients do well on trials and coming to visits to talk about trips, family gatherings, important personal events, and the role that treatment on a trial had in helping them live their lives.

For this, we say thank you to our patients and their families for their trust and the courage they show on a daily basis. You keep up your fight, and we will keep up ours.

About Dr. Harvey

R. Donald Harvey, FCCP, BCOPR. Donald Harvey, PharmD, FCCP BCOP is director of the Winship Cancer Institute’s Phase I Clinical Trials section, and Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and a board certified oncology pharmacist. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Harvey’s research interests include the clinical application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenomic data to patient care.

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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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