Posts Tagged ‘cancer research’

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: Year in Review

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityAs we near the end of 2013, it’s common to reflect on events from the past year, both the challenging and the inspiring. For the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, it was an exciting year as strides were made in many areas, including enrolling over 800 patients in clinical trials, breaking ground on the Emory Proton Therapy Center, performing our 4,000th bone marrow and stem cell transplant and continuing to pioneer exciting research discoveries, such as the development of drug therapies aimed to cure brain cancer.

Winship opened its doors in 1937 and was the first center to provide advanced care for cancer patients in the Southeast. Today, as Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute – designated cancer center, Winship is among the nation’s leading institutions as it continues to pursue a future where cancer ceases to exist.

Through the generosity of donations of any size, as well as fundraising events like the Winship Win the Fight 5K, the physicians, staff and researchers at Winship are working harder than ever to achieve that goal for the residents of Georgia and beyond. The video below recaps some of the 2013 achievements as we prepare to welcome 2014 with eagerness and hopefulness!

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.

Running to Carry Forth a Father’s Passion to Make a Difference…

The Winship Win the Fight 5K brings together runners and supporters who participate for a wide variety of reasons. Some run to raise awareness for the importance of cancer funding and research, while others participate to honor the legacy of loved ones who are either currently in the fight against cancer, or those who have lost the battle.

Charles Stevens with daughters

Chandra Stephens-Albright & Charlita Stephens-Walker with their father, Charles.

For Chandra Stephens-Albright and Charlita Stephens-Walker, this weekend’s race is extremely important as the sisters prepare to run for a very special person, their father, Charles R. Stephens. “His name was Charles, his legacy is never giving up, and his leadership was, and remains, in raising funds to do good,” said Chandra about her father who passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer in February 2013.

Charles spent his professional career as a fundraising leader, serving in senior development positions at many educational institutions including his alma mater, Morehouse College. Other places of work included Dillard University, Clark College, Clark Atlanta University, Indiana University Center on Philanthropy and The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He also served as the national campaign director for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

But Charles’s impact goes far beyond the institutions and organizations for which he served his professional time raising funds. Today, his legacy extends nationally to the individuals who shared his passion for fundraising. As the first African American Chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), a prestigious and international fundraising association, Charles dedicated his life to changing the fundraising industry from the inside out.

A passage from the AFP’s tribute to Charles following his passing captures it all: “Charles’s lifetime passion was to merge philanthropy and diversity (which he saw as nearly the same ideas) and introduce people of diverse backgrounds to the profession he calls ‘inclusive, noble, and worthwhile.’ His efforts changed the way the fundraising community looks at diversity, brought countless women and minorities into the profession and earned him the AFP Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service, an honor that has been granted to less than 20 people since it was instituted in 1982.”

The Chair’s Award was given to Charles during the AFP’s national conference in 2011, which was shortly after Charles had been diagnosed with cancer. Chandra and Charlita accompanied their father to the conference in Chicago, where they learned for the first time the full scope of Charles’s impact on the entire fundraising profession.

“He was a rock star, but to us he had never said so,” said Chandra, a 1985 Emory College alumna. She adds, “My sister and I did not really understand his national contribution until this cancer came along. It is this that establishes the groundwork for our Winship 5K team name – Charles’ Legacy Leaders.”

During his battle with cancer, Charles continued to live life fully by not only continuing to work at his passion, but by taking special vacations and spending quality time with his family, friends and peers.

“I can’t do justice to my father’s spirit with words,” Chandra said. “Not only did he undergo multiple rounds of chemo, but he did so while maintaining his positive spirit and his irrepressible sense of humor. We had two fantastic years to spend with him – years we didn’t think we’d have – in large part due to the fantastic care he got from the team at Winship.”

At the Winship 5K, there is no shortage of inspirational stories like Charles’s to be found. Incredible people like the Stephen sisters are joining in the fight against cancer to honor those who have gone before and made an impact on the world. If you would like to donate to the Winship 5K, contribute to the Charles Legacy Leaders team, or sign-up for the race yourself, please visit our Winship 5K website for more information.

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Brain Tumor Patient Embraces Life – One Step at a Time

Brain Tumor Patient Story

Dr. Costas Hadjipanayis and Jennifer Giliberto at the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation’s 2011 Race for Research.

In 2007, Jennifer Giliberto received the news that would change her and her young family’s life. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor — a grade II astrocytoma. Jennifer had a choice – let the brain tumor put her on the sidelines or continue to embrace life. She and her family chose the latter. Since her diagnosis, Jennifer has become a board member for the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation (SBTF) and currently serves as board Vice President. She also is a top fundraiser for their annual Race for Research which is slated for Saturday, September 21 at Atlantic Station.

Emory University Hospital Midtown’s chief of neurosurgery and Jennifer’s own surgeon, Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, says that the SBTF often is a lifeline for patients and their families. Dr. Hadjipanayis also serves as president of the SBTF.

“The Race for Research brings together patients, their families and their friends to raise awareness and funds for brain tumor research,” says Hadjipanayis. “It’s not only a fun event, but it also helps fund grants for brain tumor research at leading medical research centers throughout the southeast like Emory.”

Learn more about Jennifer’s inspiring story by watching the CNN video below:

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Why I Run: To Raise Awareness & Funding For My Dad’s Cancer

Nething Family Melanoma Patient StoryWhen Sarah Nething learned that her father’s melanoma had come back, she knew it was time to take charge in the fight against cancer. “When cancer comes, you feel kind of helpless,” says Sarah. “Our family believes very strongly in the power of prayer, but you still feel like you want to do something.” And Sarah is doing something. As the oldest of ten children and a graduate student in South Carolina, Sarah has set up a team for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University’s Win the Fight 5K Run/Walk.

“I can’t take away my dad’s cancer; however, I can participate in something that raises research money to help the doctors try to figure out how to stop it,” says Sarah. So on October 5, Sarah and other members of the Nething family will run the 5K in their father’s honor. Their team – Race for Matt – is running to not only raise general awareness, but also funds for Winship’s Melanoma & Skin Cancer Fund. The Winship Melanoma & Skin Cancer Fund is one of 18 funds which Winship 5K participants can direct their donations to.

In preparing for the upcoming race, Sarah has yet to lose any motivation. “A friend of ours describes how our family feels perfectly when he says ‘Trust God completely, fight cancer aggressively.’ That’s exactly what we plan to do,” she concludes.

If you are interested in learning more about the Win the Fight 5K, want to run or simply help support other runners like the Nething family, visit the Winship 5K website for more information.

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Cancer Researchers, Patients Support Winship 5K Side-by-Side

Winship 5K on FacebookOne of the most inspiring parts of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University’s Win the Fight 5K race is seeing physicians and researchers run alongside their patients. In fact, many members of the Winship care team turn out on race day to support the cause, and many even host their own teams. Among these participants is Donald Harvey, PharmD, and director of Winship’s Phase I Clinical Trials Unit.

Dr. Harvey and other researchers in the Phase I unit work with volunteer participants to test the safety of new drugs and treatments and identify possible side effects. Winship’s Phase I Center is one of only two such units in Georgia and by far the largest and busiest, with 38 trials conducted in 2011 and research that has led to four drugs in the FDA approval pipeline. These drugs will hopefully go on to cure people of cancer or extend their lives for many years.

A New Interactive Tool to Answer Your Cancer Questions: Introducing the Whiteboard

Cancer Facts & FAQs whiteboardWe’re excited to introduce a new interactive initiative that was launched in partnership between Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. This platform, called “Whiteboard,” opens up a new way for people to do their own kind of research about cancer. Readers can scroll through a variety of questions on different cancer topics, read and like these questions, or submit their own. Newly submitted questions will be reviewed by our Winship team, including our physicians, investigators, nurses and other support and care team members. Depending on the type of question, we are able to respond quickly (within a business day or two). More complex or specific questions may require further research and collaboration on our part and therefore may take us longer to answer.

The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, meaning that Winship meets the highest standards of cancer research. Members of the Winship team are constantly working to find new cancer treatments as well as to discover ways to prevent cancer and detect it early. By creating the Whiteboard, our online community has a way to conduct its own cancer research and get trustworthy answers directly from Winship’s experts.

Getting cancer questions answered via the Winship Whiteboard is easy. Simply go to the Whiteboard, click on the notepad on the top right, ask your question, and click submit; the team at Winship will get back to you with an answer. Questions can be submitted related to any cancer topic or type, ranging from general prevention tips and survivorship resources, to questions related to specific types of cancer, such as prostate cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer.

We’ve received some fantastic cancer questions on the Whiteboard so far. Kevin, for example, asked, “My PSA was elevated at my check-up. Do I have prostate cancer?” Justin asked, “What can former smokers do to possibly offset the damage of past smoking and reduce cancer risk?” While Travis asked, “Are there any foods I can eat to help prevent cancer?” All of these cancer questions have been answered by the doctors and researchers from the Winship Cancer Institute on our Whiteboard. Whether you have just one cancer question, or many, you can submit them all on the Whiteboard and get answers from the cancer experts at Winship. Even if you don’t have a question, please take the time to browse and like your favorites!

We welcome your feedback on our new cancer FAQ site in the comments below.

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Breast Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Heart Disease after Breast CancerAlthough many women who have survived breast cancer are worried about the chance of recurrence, recent research suggests that risk of a heart problem is greater or equal to the risk of breast cancer reoccurring. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for breast cancer can often be toxic to the heart muscle as well as to other organs. Chemotherapy side effects may increase the risk of heart disease, including weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).

A significant proportion of women with breast cancer have one or more risk factors for heart disease at the time of breast cancer diagnosis that further increase the risk of cardiotoxicity, including smoking, obesity, lack of activity and high cholesterol. Additionally, if a woman had radiation therapy on the area of body that includes the heart, there may be an increased risk of cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease and heart attack. The combination of radiation and chemotherapy can further increase a woman’s risk of heart damage. Thus, after second malignancies, heart disease is the leading cause of long-term morbidity and mortality among breast cancer survivors.

If you are a survivor of breast cancer, take control of your heart and breast health by following some simple guidelines:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Manage stress!  – Stress can shut down your immune system, making it harder for you to fight off disease. It also can prevent the body from healing, which can put you at greater risk for heart disease.
  • Exercise! Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 times a week.
  • Monitor and manage diabetes.
  • Eat healthy! Your diet should be low in fat and include generous amounts of fruits and vegetables.
  • Actively monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Work with your physician to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol if they are high.
  • Get rest. Most people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night to heal and keep the immune system healthy.

Importantly, if you have received chemotherapy or radiation for breast cancer, it may be useful to follow up with a preventive cardiologist on a regular basis. If you experience significant problems such as shortness of breath or chest pain, report it immediately to your health care providers.

About Dr. Parashar

Dr. Susmita Parashar, Emory HealthcareSusmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Parashar was Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Medicine at Emory for 8 years. She applies her experience as a Board certified internist in providing a holistic care to patients.

She has received several grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association to conduct research on women and heart disease. She has served as Emory principal investigator for large NIH – funded clinical research for heart attack patients. She was also invited to participate as a co-investigator for the NIH- fnded Cardiovascular Health Study for older adults.

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Survivorship Care Plan- Are You Prepared? Take-Aways from Web Chat

Cancer Survivorship SupportRecently, I conducted a chat with Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University on the Effects of Chemo and Radiation on Cancer Survivors. In 1978, as a child, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. I received radiation and chemotherapy at that time that resulted in my development of significant late side effects in my adult life.

The participants asked some great questions. One particular question we did not have time to answer was,

“Did you find a survivorship care plan an effective tool for you or your parents once you moved from active treatment?”

For me, a cancer treatment summary or a survivorship care plan was extremely helpful after my active treatment. Without the knowledge from my parents and their guidance, I would not have been able to properly prepare a care plan.

I recommend that every cancer survivor become well informed and secure a treatment summary and survivorship care plan.  Consider it the first step in accepting responsibility for your personal health and well-being after cancer treatment.

A Cancer Treatment Summary should include the following information at a minimum:

  • Identifiers for you (name, medical record number and birthdate)
  • A description of your cancer diagnosis including pathology and staging information
  • A list of all treatments you have received (surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, hormonal therapy, and/or radiation therapy)
  • All dates and doses of treatment you received  (i.e. cumulative doses of anthracyclines)
  • Any significant side effects you experienced during treatment
  • Contact name and phone number of a member of your family or close friend
  • Names and Contact information of all providers involved in your care

A Survivorship Care Plan should include the following information at a minimum:

  • A Treatment Summary
  • A plan for long term follow-up including appointments and testing you will need and when you should have them
  • A list of any long term side effects that you need to be aware of and ways to handle them (including physical issues as well as emotional and social issues you may experience)

For more information on how to prepare your survivorship plan and the benefits of having one, check out the chat transcript.

About Stephanie Zimmerman

Stephanie’s personal experience as a child diagnosed and treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma in the late 1970’s led her to become a nurse serving the physical and psychosocial needs of children and their families along the cancer trajectory. In April 2008, Stephanie’s heart failed because of the chest radiation and Doxorubicin used to cure her Ewing’s Sarcoma three decades prior. Unable to return to clinical practice following a heart transplant, yet unwilling to abandon her passion for the survivor population, Stephanie partnered with Judy Bode of Grand Rapids, MI in the founding of myHeart, yourHands, Inc. [MHYH]

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