News

Cancer Survival Rates Expected to Rise by 37% over 10 years!

By the year 2022, there will be 18 million cancer survivors living in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Association for Cancer Research. The report points out that as survival rates increase and cancer survivors become an ever-growing portion of the population, a coordinated effort will become crucial to meeting long-term medical, psychosocial and practical needs.

When news of the boost in survivor numbers made headlines, CNN Newsroom anchor Brooke Baldwin brought Emory surgical oncologist Charles Staley, MD on set to interview him as both a cancer doctor, and a cancer survivor. Watch the full interview below:

As more people are living longer after a cancer diagnosis it is very important to educate survivors on the after effects, long term effects, nutrition, and fitness following cancer care. Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University has a Survivorship program to help patients get back to life after surviving cancer. Get more information about the survivorship program.

Over the course of the next few months we will highlight many different areas of survivorship on the Winship blog so make sure to follow us to get more detailed information on living after cancer.

Dr. Charles StaleyAbout Dr. Charles Staley

Dr. Staley is the Chief of Surgical Oncology for Emory University Hospital and Chief Medical Officer for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Staley specializes in treating cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, liver, small bowel and rectum. He has investigated gene therapy for metastatic colon cancer and radiofrequency ablation with intra-arterial chemotherapy for patients with colorectal liver metastases. Currently, he and his colleagues are exploring methods of using nanotechnology to treat and diagnose pancreatic and breast cancer. He joined Emory University School of Medicine faculty in 1995 after a surgical fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Staley earned his medical degree at Dartmouth University School of Medicine and conducted his residency at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Health Center. Dr. Staley is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Georgia Surgical Society, and the Society of Surgical Oncology.

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Winship Physician Named Nation’s Leading Young Cancer Researcher

Dr. Fadlo Khuri, Winship Cancer Institute

Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, surrounded by colleagues at Winship Cancer Institute, including institute executive director Dr. Walter J. Curran Jr., who stands to Khuri’s immediate right.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University deputy director, Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, one of the world’s leading experts in lung and other aerodigestive cancers, will be awarded the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. The Rosenthal Award is given each year to an investigator under the age of 50 whose contributions to cancer research have led to new understandings of cancer and show promise for even greater advances in the future.

The award recognizes Dr. Khuri’s outstanding contributions and accomplishments as an investigator in lung and aerodigestive medical oncology, especially in the area of prevention and treatment of lung and head and neck cancers. He will receive the award April 10 at the AACR’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute, nominated Khuri for this award and said that the honor is not a surprise to those who know his work.

“Fadlo’s leadership in lung and head and neck cancer research is legendary, and he has helped advance our understanding of the nation’s number one cancer killer by introducing novel therapeutic agents that have changed how people live with this disease,” said Curran.

Khuri was instrumental in obtaining the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation to Winship Cancer Institute in 2009. He holds the Roberto C. Goizueta Chair in translational research at Emory University School of Medicine and is also the Editor-in-chief of Cancer.

Dr. Khuri’s achievement illustrates one of many ways Winship Cancer Institute is helping patients win the fight against cancer. Congratulations, Dr. Khuri!

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Canine Brain Tumor Trial Shows Promising Results!

Petey cancer clinical trialFox 5 News health reporter Beth Galvin features the first “patient” in a Brain Tumor trial that combined surgery with a new experimental agent. Petey, a dog, is a part of a research trial aimed at translating new brain cancer therapies to humans by assessing results in dogs with similar diseases.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University neurosurgeon, Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, developed the experimental agent in his Brain Tumor Nanotechology Laboratory. Petey’s tumor was partially removed in surgery at the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Veterinary Medicine, and the new, investigational drug was infused directly into the tumor area. Now, 15 months later, his tumor has shrunk and Petey is seizure-free and doing well. Watch the full story here:

 

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Winship Central to New Study Evaluating Bone Marrow vs. Blood Stem Cell Transplant

Patients with leukemia or blood-related cancers are typically treated with one of two techniques, either a bone marrow transplant, or a blood stem cell transplants. Currently, there are many studies are currently being conducted to determine which option is right for each patient type.

Past studies have shown that when blood stem cell (as opposed to bone marrow) transplants are used between HumanLeukocyte Antigen (HLA)-identical siblings, or siblings whose tissue is immunologically compatible,  the engraftment process is accelerated. Engraftment is when the donated cells, in this case, blood stem cells, begin to grow and produce their own new blood cells. However, with this benefit, there can be some risk. Studies have also shown that when blood stem cell transplants are used, the risk of acute and chronic graft-versus-host-diseaese (GVHD) is increased when compared to GVHD rates experienced by patients who receive bone marrow transplants. Other studies have demonstrated that patients with high-risk leukemia experience a decreased rate of relapse and improved survival rates from of blood stem cell transplant. Because these two treatment options have varying benefits and risks depending on unique patient circumstances, ongoing research is being conducted to better understand those potential benefits and  risks.

Edmund K. Waller, MD, Winship Cancer Institute

Edmund K. Waller, MD
Director of Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant
Winship Cancer Institute

Edmund K. Waller, MD, Director of the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Center at Winship Cancer Institute, was a key author and researcher in a study published on October 18, 2012, in the New England Journal of Medicine that could influence whether leukemia and blood-related cancer patients receive transplants from blood stem cells or bone marrow.

The study reported on the first randomized trial comparing bone marrow with peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) for unrelated-donor transplantation. The trial involved 48 centers enrolling 551 patients as part of the Bone Marrow and Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN). Dr. Waller helped design the study, and his lab at Winship analyzed the cells in each type of graft as the central core lab for the trial.

The study found no significant difference in the overall survival rate at two years, and no difference in relapse rates or in acute graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). It did, however, find a significantly higher rate of chronic GVHD among patients receiving blood stem cell transplants.

Because GVHD can be a difficult and sometimes life-threatening complication from transplants, this finding could result in patients and their physicians choosing different treatments. At the very least, this finding will generate serious discussion among leaders in the transplant field about whether bone marrow or PBSC transplantation is a better treatment option.

Chronic GVHD starts more than three months after a transplant and can severely diminish a patient’s quality of life over his or her lifetime. Dr. Waller says the study leads him to believe that since the survival rates are the same, bone marrow should be the standard for the majority of unrelated-donor transplants. Exceptions to this would be patients with life-threatening infections and patients at high risk for graft rejection.

Winship played a key role in this study and, according to Waller, is part of on-going BMT CTN studies that will help shape transplant protocols and outcomes.

“This is an outstanding example of Winship investigators leading in the resolution of major questions in cancer care,” said Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, Deputy Director of the Winship Cancer Institute, and Chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University. “Dr. Waller and his colleagues have helped define a major question, namely, whether patients who receive grafts from unrelated donors should receive peripheral stem cells or cells from the bone marrow harvest of others. This is paradigm shifting work, and Dr. Waller and his colleagues are to be congratulated for their foresight and persistence in answering this important question.”

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“TOTAL” Care for Lung Cancer – One Team, One Place, One Goal

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityEspecially in their later stages, lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases can be very complex to treat. The treatment of lung cancer can involve pulmonary surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonary medicine specialists, interventional pulmonologists, pathologists, researches, nurses and supportive care team members. Because the treatment of pulmonary diseases like lung cancer requires a multifaceted and comprehensive team approach, the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has established the “TOTAL” Lung Clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

The Winship Thoracic Oncology Treatment and Long Term Care Lung (TOTAL) Clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown is designed to make it easier for patients with lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases to seek all of their treatment in one place, with one team who are working together to coordinate the care of each and every patient. Patients of the TOTAL Clinic are able to see up to four lung cancer specialists in one setting and one trip: thoracic surgeon; interventional pulmonologist; medical oncologist; and radiation oncologist. In addition, patients may consult with supportive services, including dietitians and social services, at the same visit and setting.

The TOTAL Clinic was started by the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University approximately a year ago to make the journey through lung cancer treatment and survival an easier one on our patients. Below, hear from two of the patients of the Thoracic Oncology Treatment and Long Term Care Lung Clinic  what comprehensive treatment and care means to them:

The team/clinic approach has worked well for me and continues to do so. Initially, I was referred to cardiac/thoracic department by neurology. It was here that I became acquainted with Dr. Berkowitz, Dr. Pickens, and Dr. Kono. I was diagnosed, given a plan of action, and started on this plan within days due to their cooperation and effort.

I applaud Emory for their approach to healing and their remarkable professionals.

-Elizabeth Ross

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, there was no question as to where I would begin my treatment.Emory’s top-notch reputation has lived up to all my expectations.

Through the entire process I have felt the doctor’s, nurses, and staff genuinely care about my well-being. That is one less concern for me as I battle to defeat this disease.

-Belinda Conley

For more information on the TOTAL Clinic, the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, or lung cancer treatment programs available at Emory Healthcare, please use the “Related Resources” links below.

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Emory Cancer Program Receives National Outstanding Achievement Award for Cancer Care

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityEstablished in 2004, The Commission on Cancer (CoC) Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) recognizes cancer programs that strive for excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients. Just recently, the CoC of the American College of Surgeons awarded a select group of 106 currently accredited and newly accredited cancer programs across the United States with its OAA.

We want to congratulate Emory University Hospital (EUH) and our physicians at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University for receiving a CoC Outstanding Achievement Award for 2011. EUH was the only hospital in Atlanta to be granted this award and only one of two in Georgia.

Rein Saral, MD, associate director for community affairs and outreach for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, said he is pleased because the award recognizes the “extraordinary excellence of the overall collaboration between Emory University Hospital and Winship Cancer Institute, Georgia’s only NCI-designated cancer center.”

The OAA is granted to facilities that demonstrate a Commendation level of compliance with seven standards that represent six areas of cancer program activity: cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical management, research, community outreach, and quality improvement. The level of compliance with the seven standards is determined during an onsite evaluation by a physician surveyor. Awarded facilities must also receive a compliance rating for the remaining 29 cancer program standards.

For 2011, just 22 percent of the 489 programs surveyed received the award. A majority of recipients are community-based facilities; however, there were also teaching hospitals, NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, and Veterans Affairs hospitals that received the award.

To see a comprehensive list of all the CoC OAA winners, visit: http://www.facs.org/cancer/coc/outstandingachievement2011.html

Could Winship be Joined by a Second NCI Cancer Center in Georgia?

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityThere are 66 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers across the United States. Through their designation, these centers and their teams are charged with conducting and leading cancer research and putting that work into life-saving clinical practice every day.  The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is Georgia’s only NCI-designated cancer center.  But in a state where more than 15,000 lives are lost annually to cancer-related deaths, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is taking steps to help lower these numbers.

It is Deal’s goal to bring a second NCI cancer center to Georgia to help attract additional researchers and cancer research dollars to the state and at the same time, improve access to high quality cancer treatments for the Georgia community. According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Deal wants the General Assembly to commit $5 million toward the goal this year, but it will take tens of millions more — and years of work” to achieve bringing a second NCI designated cancer center to the state.

After years of effort and support from groups like the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Winship Cancer Institute earned NCI designation in 2009. As a result of the growth leading up to the designation and the designation itself, grant funding for Winship from the NCI grew from $9.5 million in 2001 to $29.5 million in 2011. Throughout the multi-year process,  Winship brought elite researchers and faculty on board and built the infrastructure necessary to become one of the most sophisticated cancer research and treatment centers in the country.

This sophistication in cancer treatment available right here in the state of Georgia has allowed Winship to provide the Georgia community with local treatment options for even the most complex cancer cases. Furthermore, it has given doctors across the state a trusted team to collaborate with when a patient referral is needed get Georgia patients access to the most advanced cancer treatment options available.

Now that the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is considered a place Georgians can call home when they are fighting cancer, it’s time to advance that access. We look forward to seeing a strong push behind the need for a second NCI-designated cancer center in Georgia, and look forward to seeing the possibilities for cancer treatment in Georgia advanced as a result.

For more information on Governor Deal’s push for a second NCI-designated center in the state of Georgia, check out this article in the AJC.

6 Cancer-Related Considerations Before You Make Alcohol Part of Your Holiday Celebration

Drinking during holidaysMost of us have heard that moderate drinking – a glass of wine a day – can be beneficial in preventing heart disease.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in early November, however, suggests that even moderate alcohol consumption can increase a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Alcohol use already has been linked to oropharyngeal cancers, esophageal and, to lesser degree, stomach and colon cancers, so what does this news mean to you as you go into the holidays?

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t imbibe, but it does mean that you should be aware that alcohol is considered a carcinogen.

Here are six things to think about as you get ready for the parties and the tree-trimming.

  1. The JAMA article reported that women who drank three to six alcoholic beverages a week had a 15% increased risk of breast cancer. Women who consumed two drinks per day had a more than 50% greater risk than women who did not drink.
  2. If you drink to decrease your risk of heart disease, reconsider. There are far better ways to do that, experts suggest, than by having an alcoholic beverage. Regular exercise, weight control, not smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol and healthy eating are all more beneficial. While it may be hard to factor in gym time during the holidays, try to manage at least a brisk walk of 30 minutes each day.
  3. Lifetime consumption of alcohol may be a factor in cancer risk, the authors of the study suggest. Cumulative consumption of alcoholic beverages over a period of years appears to place a woman at higher risk of developing breast cancer. Thus, if you are an older woman – particularly post-menopausal when excess body fat increases the amount of circulating estrogen in the body – think about slowing down the flow of alcohol.
  4. “But I only drink a few drinks once a week,” such as at a party, dinner or girls’ night out, you might think. Doesn’t matter, the experts say, and binge drinking – typically defined as drinking three or more drinks in one setting – may actually be more detrimental than three drinks spread over the course of a week.
  5. Consider the effect on your body of the empty calories of alcohol. A glass of wine is 125 calories; a martini is about 190. To burn off the martini, you would need to walk about 45 minutes or swim about 20.
  6. The study’s authors – as well as many other researchers – note that alcohol consumption is often under-reported. That is, patients do not typically like to tell their doctors how much they drink. Remember that  your physician is there to keep you healthy or to heal you, not judge. Make sure you accurately report your drinking patterns to him or her.

 

Questions on Validity of PSA Test as Prostate Cancer Screening Tool?

Prostate Cancer PSA ScreeningViraj Master, MD Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men.  Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.  More than 32,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year.  In Georgia, 7,360 men will be diagnosed and 1,080 will die.  With statistics like that, we want every advantage possible in our fight with this disease.

Since the early 1990s, the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test has been the primary screening tool used to detect prostate cancer. The PSA is a simple blood test, non-invasive and easy to administer and process.  The US Preventive Services Task Force has recently recommended, however, that the PSA test no longer be offered to men as a screening tool.

This task force is a federally funded independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.  It is comprised of primary care providers such as internists, family practitioners and pediatricians, but not oncologists or urologists.  Their job is to evaluate the benefits of preventive services like screening and make recommendations about which services should be routinely incorporated into primary medical care.

Screening, or early detection, for prostate cancer is a complicated issue.  Unlike the colonoscopy, which provides clear evidence of early detection and has been determined to have saved lives in multiple studies, the PSA test has been contradictory, with some studies showing a benefit, while others did not.  There are many reasons, including the fact that most forms of prostate cancer are relatively slow-growing cancers.  Generally, a man with prostate cancer may live for many years without ever having the cancer discovered.  In fact, many men with prostate cancer will not die from it, but with it.  In addition, high or increasing levels of PSA can indicate an increased risk for prostate cancer, but can also indicate an infection or an enlarged prostate.  So, the USPSTF determined that because of these uncertainties, the risk of over treatment is greater than the benefit, and their recommendation states that PSA tests should no longer be offered as a screening tool.

The biggest issue in prostate cancer that confronts patients, their families and their healthcare providers is to delink screening with treatment.  Not all forms of prostate cancer require active therapeutic interventions, but some do.

While the PSA test is imperfect, it is – at this time – the best tool we have at our disposal for early detection of prostate cancer.  The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University aligns with the American Urological Association, the American Cancer Society, American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine and recommends informed decision-making.  Our recommendation is that men at average risk should receive information, including a PSA test if they want it, at an appropriate middle age, although African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer should receive information at an earlier age, such as 40, or 45 years.

So, what do we mean when we say “informed decision-making”?  This means that doctors should discuss the potential benefits and harms of PSA screening with their patients and consider their patients’ preferences, overall health, and family history when making decisions regarding screening with a PSA test.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  Each patient comes to us with his own distinctive characteristics, and those characteristics must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to have the PSA test.

About Dr. Viraj Master
Dr. Master specializes in the treatment of adrenal cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer. He is also an expert in laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Master received his Medical Degree in the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, in 1997. He completed his Internship at University of California, San Francisco in 1999, where he also completed his Fellowship in 2003.

Beating Breast & Prostate Cancer with the Help of 11 Alive News

There are over 5 million people in the U.S. battling breast and prostate cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting American women. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the U.S. So how can we take action to help the 5 million+ already fighting a battle against breast or prostate cancer, and how do we increase awareness and healthy habits to help lower incidence rates in the future?

One of the most important steps we can take in the fight against cancer is education. That’s why we’re partnering with 11 Alive News to bring our community an informative special covering both breast and prostate cancer, including insights from our team at the Winship Cancer Institute on cancer screening, prevention, risk, diagnosis, treatment options, and survivorship.

Cutting Edge Cancer Treatment SpecialIf you didn’t already know it, as an Atlanta resident, you have Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center in your back yard. As such, the  And did you also know that the cancer research that’s produced at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is used not only to advance technology and treatment options for cancer patients, but also to serve as an educational foundation to help our community make smart decisions when it comes to their health? As a leading cancer institute its our goal to raise community awareness around cancer through education.

11 Alive will feature their special on beating breast and prostate cancer on Saturday, October 8th at 8:00pm EST. If you’re able to, we highly encourage you to check it out. We’ll be tweeting live during the special, so if you’re watching it, you can join the discussion with us and the 11 Alive crew as well! Simply use the hashtag #cuttingedgemed If there are any questions we can’t answer for you, we’ll get you answers from our doctors. If you have questions now, you’re more than welcome to leave them in the comments below, and we’ll get in touch with our doctors to get you answers. Hope to see you on Twitter on the 8th!