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.

winship expansion banner

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

A New Method to Find the Site of Returning Prostate Cancer

prostate cancer diagram

The yellow arrow and the white arrows on the pictures above indicate areas of prostate cancer that were invisible to previously available imaging techniques. Instead, they were detected using a new positron-emission tomography (PET) test called FACBC, which was developed and is being tested at Emory University.

A voluntary research study is being conducted to help men with recurring prostate cancer by using advanced imaging technology called FACBC to guide radiotherapy and determine the best possible course of treatment. This study would be added as an extra layer in your ongoing cancer treatment.*

We are looking for patients to participate in this clinical trial.

“By participating in this study, patients may have the opportunity to have an FACBC scan. The precision of this type of scan could help guide more effective treatment for patients whose cancer has returned,” says Ashesh Jani, MD, radiation oncologist and principal investigator.

Have you previously had surgery to treat prostate cancer, but think the cancer has returned? Has your doctor recommended radiation therapy as the next step in your care?

Participants must meet specific eligibility criteria:
• You are over 18 years of age.
• You had surgery (prostatectomy) to treat your prostate cancer.
• Your doctor suspects that the cancer has returned (as indicated by a rising PSA).
• Radiation therapy is now being considered as the next step in your care.

The trial is open at these locations: Winship Cancer Institute on the Clifton Road campus, Winship at Emory University Hospital Midtown, Winship at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady.

*You will be followed for a minimum of three years, with PSA levels checked every six months, in addition to having study-related lab work. There is no cost for the FACBC scan or the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) required lab work. All other imaging, lab work, biopsies (if any), radiation therapy and any other therapy will be billed to your insurance provider or paid out of pocket by you. You may be eligible for a travel voucher if you are chosen to undergo the FACBC scan.

For more information or to enroll, contact Ashesh Jani, MD, at (404) 778-3827 or abjani@emory.edu.

Learn more about Winship’s approach to Prostate Cancer Treatment
Read Winship’s Brochure on FACBC

winshiprostateblog1 banner


Coping After Cancer Treatment is Finished

Cancer TherapyA cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. In fact, many patients have told me that cancer can easily define your life with on-going treatment lasting months and even years. Many patients stop working, limit their social interactions and even change roles within their household as a way to focus on completing treatment. You might think that once chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are over a patient would celebrate and move on, but that’s not always the case. Many patients feel lost and can find themselves asking what now? The intense focus on treatment often overshadows the future.

Here are five tips to help you cope after your treatment is finished:

  1. Consider attending a local support group. They are a great way to connect with others who have a similar diagnosis and have completed treatment. Support groups are a safe place to discuss the feelings that go along with being done with treatment and handling post treatment life.
  2. Reach out to a social worker or counselor. They are often available to provide individual counseling. This is helpful in allowing you an opportunity to identify your strengths and appropriate ways to move forward now that you’re better.
  3. Think of what helped you cope before treatment. Make a list of things that made you feel better when you were having a difficult time before you were diagnosed or treated. Some of those same healthy techniques such as exercise, yoga, or talking to a friend could be useful post treatment.
  4. Don’t rush yourself. Be realistic about your expectations of how you should feel after treatment. Be sure to ask your medical team how you should feel both physically and emotionally post treatment. Remember, you have been through a lot, and it will take time for you to fully recover. Putting additional stress and pressure on yourself to “feel better” because you are finished with treatment can only make this more difficult.
  5. Remind yourself you are a survivor! You have survived your diagnosis and treatment. Positive self-talk is beneficial in reducing stress and decreasing depressive symptoms.

More than 14 million Americans are cancer survivors. No matter what the type or stage of the disease, reaching out for additional support and assistance is just as important after treatment as it is during treatment.

About Joy McCall, LCSW

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


Living with Cancer

Finding Powerful Tools to Fight Ovarian Cancer

GeneticsThe last decade has produced amazing advances in our understanding of the genetic risk factors for ovarian cancer. Of the one in 70 women who will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime, 20 to 25 percent are the result of a major genetic cause. This means that of the 22,000 new diagnoses of ovarian cancer expected in the US in 2014, over 5,000 may be associated with an underlying hereditary cancer syndrome.

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (HBOC) is the most common cause of inherited ovarian cancer risk. HBOC is due to changes (mutations) in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (BRCA1/2). In families where a BRCA1/2 mutation is present, there may be early-onset breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and sometimes melanoma, pancreatic or prostate cancer. Several individuals on one side of the family (either mother or father’s side) in more than one generation may be affected. For women who inherit a BRCA1/2 mutation, the lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is 20 to 40 percent, in contrast to the general population risk of less than two percent. These women also have greatly increased chance of developing breast cancer (50 to 80 percent by age 70), which often occurs at a young age.

For a patient who has ovarian cancer, genetic counseling and testing can be very important. First, there are promising new treatments in the final stages of research that are especially effective in women with a BRCA1/2-related ovarian cancer. Second, each of this individual’s children and siblings have a one in two or 50-percent chance to have inherited the same BRCA1/2 mutation. For a woman who has a BRCA1/2 mutation, increased screening and risk-reducing options are available. Several studies have shown that these special management strategies can dramatically reduce her risk to develop breast or ovarian cancer, and may save her life. For family members who do not carry the BRCA1/2 mutation, their risks are considered the same as in the general population.

HBOC is just one of the known inherited causes of ovarian cancer. There are several other hereditary cancer syndromes associated with an increased risk for ovarian, as well as other cancers such as colon, uterine, brain, stomach, pancreatic, adrenal and leukemias. Because up to one-quarter of all ovarian cancers have an underlying genetic cause, it is now being recommended that all women with this diagnosis be offered cancer genetic services.

If you, or someone in your family has ovarian cancer, you should collect as much information as possible about any other cancers in your family. Bring this information to your doctor, and request a consultation with a cancer genetics professional. Understanding your genetic risk for ovarian cancer can be a powerful tool in the fight against this deadly disease.

Qualified cancer genetics professionals can be located at the following sites:

About Cecelia Bellcross, PhD, MS, CGC

Cecilia BellcrossCecelia Bellcross, PhD, MS, CGC, is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, where she developed and is Director of the new Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program. Her areas of interest and expertise include hereditary cancer and translational genomics. She obtained her Master of Science degree in Medical Genetics through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Genetic Counseling program in 1990, and her Ph.D. from the U.W.-Madison Department of Population Health Sciences in 2007. Dr. Bellcross received her certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in 1993, and recently served on the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling.

Related Resources

Should You Be Tested for BRCA (BRCA1 & BRCA2) Genes?

How Will I Cope with Cancer?

Wendy Baer, MDGetting diagnosed with cancer is a unique experience for every person. It can mean many different things depending on the type of cancer, the stage, the treatment options and the overall health of the person. Regardless of the type of cancer, most people experience a whirlwind of emotions during the time of diagnosis. Uncertainty and loss of control are two common feelings. Uncertainty is especially intense in the work-up phase when you are not sure what kind of cancer you have, what your options are for treatment or who is going to take care of you during treatment. Loss of control may be an issue when you feel your body is broken, tumors may be growing, cells may be multiplying, and you wonder about dying. You may feel loss of control over your energy since you are not able to do activities or work you enjoy. The time needed for appointments may make you may feel as if the medical system has taken control of your entire schedule.

If you are asking yourself the question, “How will I cope?” you are actually in a good starting place. Actively thinking about how to manage emotions such as uncertainty and loss of control is a sign that you will be able to get through your cancer experience.

There are two key questions to ponder as you work through the issue of how to cope during cancer. How have I coped before? And, what do I like?

How have I coped before? When faced with difficult situations in the past, everything from a new school or a new home to a relationship breakup or a job loss, what have I done to get by? What thoughts or behaviors helped me manage my emotions? There are definitely many unhelpful coping strategies during stressful life events, such as becoming isolated, sleeping too much or using more alcohol. Unhelpful coping strategies should be noted and avoided. More helpful coping strategies include being with people who really care about your wellbeing, spending time outdoors, listening to music, breathing deeply and slowly, making lists and schedules and allowing other people to help you with chores.

What do I like? Not just what flavor of ice cream or what kind of movie, but what makes you feel joyful? What do you care about, what do you want to be good at? Who in your life matters to you? Who do you like to be around? Cancer can make your own mortality prominent in your mind on a day-to-day basis. The question, “what do I like?” is essential to consider when you recognize time is limited. Thinking about what matters to you, even writing those things down, encourages you to then take steps to include them in your life. Make a list with specifics. There may be simple pleasures you can enjoy during cancer treatment, and others that will have to wait until after treatment, but plan them, talk about them, work towards getting there. Having both short and long term goals can help you cope with cancer.

Some people are not able to answer these two questions because clinical depression gets in the way of seeing anything pleasant or joyful, or severe anxiety short-circuits the ability to think logically. Drugs and alcohol interfere with the ability to experience pleasure in a meaningful way. Emotional and behavior disturbances can be treated, both with medication and with talk therapy. A comprehensive cancer center offers psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers willing and interested in helping you get your mind in a healthy place to answer the two important questions. Taking care of your brain is critical for overall health.

You can cope. Answering the first question shows that you’ve coped with hard things before. Answering the second question gives you motivation to get through treatment for cancer. There may be challenges, really tough ones, but you can absolutely conquer these challenges. How do I know? I witness people surviving and thriving everyday at Winship.

Wishing you well,

Dr. Baer

About Dr. Baer

Wendy Baer, MD is the Medical Director of Psychiatric Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. In her work at Winship, Dr. Baer helps patients and their families deal with the stress of receiving a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. As a psychiatrist, she has expertise in treating clinical depression and anxiety both with medications and psychotherapy to help people manage emotions, behaviors and relationships. The fundamental goal of Dr. Baer’s practice is to promote wellness and maximize patients’ quality of life as much as possible. She believes strongly in the team approach to patient care and collaborates regularly with patients’ doctors, nurses and social workers.

Doctor as Patient

Dr. Sagar LonialWinship multiple myeloma expert Dr. Sagar Lonial has seen hundreds of patients through the ups and downs of treatment and recovery, and has pioneered many new drug therapies that have changed the course of survival for multiple myeloma patients. He found his sense of purpose early in his career, seeing discoveries in the lab benefit the patients he was caring for and knowing that his research was intimately tied to their struggles.

But it wasn’t until he became a patient himself that he gained full insight into how purpose drives the trajectory of a patient’s journey. Late in 2013, Dr. Lonial sustained a fall that resulted in severely broken bones requiring surgery, hospitalization and months of physical therapy.

Lonial wrote about this insight in a recently published essay. Here is an excerpt from his story:

Recently, I experienced a medical issue that allowed me to experience the importance of purpose from the other side of the stethoscope. While it was in no way analogous to what my patients go through during the rigors of aggressive therapy or a transplant (I lay in a hospital bed recovering from surgery to repair broken bones), I felt a strong need to push my recovery.

There were numerous cards and notes from my patients, friends, and family urging me to get better. This showering of prayers and positive energy was humbling but also provided my motivation. That first day it was a small step—sitting up on the side of the bed by my own power—but it was an important step.

I had to get back to work. I had patients waiting on me, willing me to get better. I could not leave them in the lurch. Each day as I worked to regain strength and mobility and to keep my spirits up, it was this purpose—to get back to helping my patients—that drove me to push through my pain and physical setbacks. Purpose provided me with motivation, and, at the same time, it was a powerful analgesic.
It’s exciting to do what I do. I feel very fortunate to be able to share in the lives of patients in their journeys, and to be a part of a system that offers them new hope. I consider my patients to be my friends, and when I meet them I try to understand what the purpose is that motivates them. I use that unique motivation when times are tough.

On my worst clinic days when a friend has died, I go back to the lab and try to understand how I can do better. The ability to do more than what we can do today, to understand more than what we understand today, serves more than solace and comfort—it provides additional purpose.

I hate to lose and I hate losing friends even more, so “making science work for patients” is how I fight back. It’s not always enough but it keeps me hopeful and allows me to give hope to my friends.

[Copyrighted material]
This essay is excerpted, with permission of the author, from The Big Casino: America’s Best Cancer Doctors Share Their Most Powerful Stories, a collection of 40 essays chronicling the extraordinary experiences of patients battling this life-changing disease. Co-author Stanley Winokur, MD, a retired oncologist who practiced in Atlanta for many years, explains that “the big casino” was a phrase sometimes used by doctors in referring to cancer and that the book is an effort “to put a human face and a human heart on this most feared of maladies.” Winship’s deputy director, Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, also contributed a moving essay to the book.

About Dr. Lonial

Dr. Sagar Lonial is Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs for the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, and Director of the Translational Research for the B-Cell Malignancy Program. He is also a professor in the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lonial’s research focuses on combination therapy in B-cell malignancies focusing on myeloma. He is a trained bone marrow transplant physician with an interest in molecular therapy for lymphoma and myeloma. His clinical interests include evaluating the combination of new molecular targeted agents for B-cell tumors as well as target discovery and validation.

Dr. Lonial has authored or coauthored over 200 publications and recently was awarded the Celgene ‘Young Investigator’ Award, the MMRF ‘Top 15 Innovator’ Award, and the MMRC ‘Center of the Year’ award.

He earned his medical degree from the University Of Louisville School Of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, followed by a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.


Bone Marrow Transplant Patient Story: Georgia Teacher Finds Perfect Match Across the Globe

Bone Marrow Transplant Patient StoryErin Blonshine, a 29 year old teacher from Dacula, Georgia, was diagnosed at 21 with AML, a form of Leukemia. Across the globe, Johannes Saur from Ulm, in southern Germany had joined his country’s bone marrow registry at the age of 18, and at 20, when Erin was diagnosed, Johannes got a call that he was a match for an American. At that time, Erin’s cancer went into remission before the transplant was needed, but a year later, it resurfaced. “Her leukemia relapsed, and we knew that the only potential cure was a transplant,” says Amelia Langston, MD, Medical Director of Winship’s Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Center. In August of 2009, Johanne’s bone marrow was flown to the U.S. for Erin’s transplant, and today, she has made a complete recovery. “5 years, for most leukemia survivors, means cure. It means we’re done worrying about the leukemia,” says Langston. If Erin ever wondered if her perfect match was out there, now she knows. To learn more about Winship’s Bone Marrow Transplant Center and Erin’s journey to recovery after her transplant, check out the video story from Fox 5 News below:

4 Ways Men Can Lower Their Risk of Cancer

Family ManOne out of every two men in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. It’s a sobering statistic to consider as we head into Father’s Day weekend. Beyond skin cancer, men are most frequently diagnosed with prostate, lung or colorectal cancer. Those are also the three malignancies responsible for the highest number of deaths in men.

Reducing your risk of cancer is more important than ever. Here are four ways to make an impact today.

  1. If you use any tobacco products, quit now. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than a dozen types of cancer including those involving our lungs, bladder, and mouth. Chewing tobacco and snuff can also cause head and neck, esophageal, stomach or pancreatic cancer. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to help you kick the habit for good. Finding a support group can also make a big difference in whether you succeed.
  2. Cut back on alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking can cause health problems, but did you also know that alcohol can increase your risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, liver and colon? Even worse: drinking and smoking at the same time. It is recommended that men consume no more than two alcoholic drinks a day. In case you were wondering, one drink contains 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  3. Listen to your wife or partner and get a checkup. Starting at the age of 50, men at average risk for colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy. If no polyps are found, the test should be repeated every 10 years. Your doctor may recommend a fecal occult blood test at an earlier age. Also at 50, talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of getting a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. If you are considered to be in a high-risk group, your doctor may recommend that you be tested earlier.
  4. Get off the couch and get some exercise. You’ve heard it before, but as a doctor, I can tell you that regular physical activity is one of the best ways to control your weight, reduce stress and lower your risk of cancer. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts.

As you get ready to celebrate Father’s Day, put down that cigarette and beer, get outside and grab a tennis racket, a soccer ball or even a Frisbee. Also don’t forget to wear sunscreen…at least with a SPF of 30! Have a great Father’s Day!!!

About Dr. Curran

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

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

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

Sign-up to Learn the Biology of Cancer

biology-cancerHave you ever wondered about the biology behind cancer? If so, join Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Gregg Orloff, Ph.D, on Tuesday, August 6 at noon for an interactive, live, web chat on the “Biology of Cancer.” He will be available to discuss questions such as:

  • What is cancer?
  • What causes cancer?
  • What can you do to prevent cancer?
  • How is cancer diagnosed and treated?
  • What is the role of infectious organisms like viruses in cancer?
  • Why and how cancer spreads.
  • Why do cancer drugs not always work.

This interesting chat will open your eyes to what cancer is and what you can do to help reduce the chances that you or your family members will be diagnosed with the disease.

Chat Sign Up

Find Out the Best Medicine for Melanoma

Thank you for joining us for the live online chat on the topic of Skin Cancer and Melanoma on May 28. We had excellent questions on skin cancer and melanoma. The key takeaway from the chat is that prevention is the best medicine for skin cancer and melanoma. Once you are burned the damage is already done to your skin.  So remember to wear your sunscreen (SPF of 30 or greater), wear hats and protective clothing and avoid the sun in the heat of the day (10am – 2pm). Take action now to avoid detrimental long term effects from the sun.You can read a full transcript of the Skin Cancer and Melanoma chat here.