Posts Tagged ‘radiation’

Winship Cancer Institute, Emory Break Ground on $200+ Million Emory Proton Therapy Center!

A new era in cancer treatment in Georgia recently began as Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute broke ground on the first facility in Georgia to offer the most advanced radiation therapy possible – proton beam therapy.

Proton therapy is the next generation of radiation oncology. It uses protons to precisely treat cancerous tumors and minimize radiation to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. For certain cancers, and for pediatric cancer patients, it may provide more effective treatment with fewer side effects. This innovative therapy is offered at fewer than a dozen centers in the United States but is available in other countries and more than 110,000 people worldwide have received this FDA-approved therapy.  The Emory facility is being built in partnership with Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC of San Diego, CA.

Proton therapy may be most beneficial for patients with cancerous our benign tumors in certain anatomic areas, including  the brain, prostate, liver, esophagus, head and neck and the base-of-skull.  It’s also  beneficial for treating children because of the risk to growth and developmental from conventional radiation.  Studies in children have shown that proton therapy minimizes damage to healthy tissues and produces fewer side effects.

The Emory Proton Therapy Center will enable Winship researchers  to continue studying the benefits of proton therapy, with the goal of producing better outcomes for our patients.  At Winship we constantly seek out the most effective treatment available, and for many of our patients, proton therapy is that treatment.

As Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center, Winship is committed to cancer research projects which improve our patients’ lives.

About Dr. Curran

Walter J. Curran, Jr. was appointed Executive Director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in September 2009. He joined Emory in January 2008, as the Lawrence W. Davis Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology and Chief Medical Officer of the Winship Cancer Institute.

Dr. Curran, who is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, has been a principal investigator on several National Cancer Institute (NCI) 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. He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Ga CORE). Dr. Curran is the only individual currently serving as director of an NCI-designated cancer center and as group chairman of an NCI-supported cancer cooperative group, the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group.

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. In 2006, he was named the leading radiation oncologist/cancer researcher in a peer survey by the journal Medical Imaging. Under Dr. Curran’s leadership Emory’s Radiation Oncology Department has been recently selected as a “Top Five Radiation Therapy Centers to Watch in 2009” by Imaging Technology News. Dr. Curran ranked among the top 10 principal investigators in terms of overall NCI funding in 2010 and among the top 20 principal investigators in overall NIH funding in 2010.

Related  Resources

Dietary Recommendations & Nutrition for Cancer Patients – Keep Your Body Strong During Cancer Treatment

dietary recommendations for cancer patientsMost of us know that fruits, veggies and whole grains are important parts of a healthy diet, but you may not know that people diagnosed with cancer have very different nutritional needs from the average adult. In fact, many cancer treatments can make it difficult for cancer patients to get enough nutrition, and, for some, can even make it difficult just to eat. Cancer patients, especially those undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, can combat some of the weakness and fatigue with nutrition that strengthens their health.

While cancer treatments are designed to obliterate cancerous cells, they also can kill off healthy cells in the process. As a result of this healthy cell damage, side effects, such as those that pose a barrier to eating, can present themselves. Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation and changes in a patient’s taste, smell and general appetite are not uncommon. While these symptoms can make it difficult or unappealing to eat, some cancer treatments also can result in changes inside the body that hinder the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients being consumed. Both the decline in ability or desire to eat, and the decline in the body’s ability to properly absorb food can add to the already ever-present sense of fatigue and weakness facing many cancer patients. So the question is, what can cancer patients do from a nutritional standpoint to support their body in beating the fight against cancer?

  • Start eating healthy before treatment starts - building strength prior to cancer treatment is key. It will help you build a foundation and do a better job of maintaining strength during treatment.
  • Eat extra protein and calories - cancer patients often need more calories, specifically, calories from protein than non-cancer patients. Higher protein levels help support your strength and aid in fighting fatigue and weakness.
  • Recognize patterns – you may notice as a cancer patient that your appetite is strongest, for example, in the mornings. If that’s the case, prioritize taking in more calories during that time.
  • Talk with a dietitian – most cancer treatment programs will (and should) include the opportunity for cancer patients to consult with a registered dietitian. Seek advice from your treatment team, including your doctors and nurses, and if available to you through your treatment plan, your dietitian. They can help make specific recommendations based on your body and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  • Lots of liquids – whenever you’re able, take in as much healthy liquid as possible, especially water. Hydration is key to your body being able to perform at its optimal state and fight infection
  • Don’t make your immune system work any harder – some cancer treatment options can compromise the immune system of cancer patients and make it harder to fight off infection. Make sure to pay special attention to food handling, cooking and storing techniques. If you are a cancer patient, avoid buffets and buying food in bulk from bins that can increase the bacteria to which you are exposed. Similarly, stay away from unpasteurized liquids, raw fish and other foods and drinks that can expose you to increased and potentially harmful bacteria.

Hear More from Dr. Kucuk on Nutrition for Cancer Patients in the Podcast Below:


For more tips and nutrition information for cancer patients, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a great ebook, “Eating Hints,” that offers lots of information, ideas, and recommendations on how cancer patients can better cope with their disease through nutrition.

You also can learn more right here at home from Winship at Emory’s Nutrition Services program.

Why You Should Consider More than Sticker Price when Shopping for Your Cell Phone

Recent news indicates that cell phones and the radiation they emit may be tied to cancer. What does this mean for you?

Can cell phones cause cancer?

When news broke recently that cell phones could possibly cause cancer, our own cell phones began ringing here at Winship Cancer Institute. Reporters wanted help to put the news in perspective after a panel of the World Health Organization placed cell phones in the same category they have placed coffee, exhaust fumes, the pesticide DDT and pickled vegetables, saying that the devices could possibly cause cancer.

Because cell phones are so pervasive – there are an estimated 5 billion world-wide subscribers  – people were naturally concerned. Previous studies have acquitted the phones, but on May 31 a new review was saying they could be guilty after all.

It was important to me then as it is important to me now to try to help people understand the findings of the WHO panel. I think an important message from this report is that there is a possible risk, and that we need more information. Also, the report highlights just how difficult it can be to untangle cancer’s web, to find its causes and the best therapies.  Just think of cigarette smoking. How many millions of people smoked for decades before tens of thousands of cases of lung cancer began to instruct us of the lethal consequences? Cancer often takes years or even decades to develop, and thus it can be years or decades before patterns of disease become clear.

The WHO panel, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, is composed of 31 thoughtful, intelligent scientists from 14 countries who examined several previous studies. They concluded that they cannot rule out the possibility that cell phones can cause cancer. The panel was also careful to say that no known cases of cancer have been linked to cell phone usage.

The radiation that cell phones emit, called nonionizing radiation, is the issue. In general, most scientists have believed that these radio frequency waves were too weak to cause DNA damage that is often the cause of cancer.

That said, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported this year on research from the National Institutes of Health that found that brain activity in the part of the brain closest to the phone antenna can accelerate with less than one hour of cell phone use. That report offered a theoretical explanation – but note, only a theoretical explanation – of how such exposure could possibly cause an inflammatory response in the brain or trigger the formation of free radicals. The inflammatory response, the body’s natural reaction to injury or illness, can and often does go awry, wreaking havoc on a cellular level. Inflammation is now linked to a number of cancers. As for free radicals, this refers to free oxygen radicals within the body. They, too, are bad – thus all the advertisements you see for anti-oxidants that may fight their deleterious effect.

Also, a study last year conducted in 13 countries reported that people considered to be heavy cell phone users had a 40 percent higher risk of gliomas, a type of  brain tumor, such as the tumor  that claimed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

So where does this leave us? Do we need to toss our cell phones? No, but we do need more information. And some of that information needs to be how much radiation a particular cell phone emits. We need to know which phones are potentially safer. There is no reason to panic, but there is reason to begin to ask for information from cell phone manufacturers. There should be more to shopping for a cell phone than price.

Walter J. Curran Jr., MD
Executive Director, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Associate Vice President, Cancer, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Chair of Radiation Oncology

Could Space Travel Cause Lung Cancer in Astronauts?

Researchers are launching a new cancer research initiative – literally. NASA partners with Emory & MCG

NASA has awarded a team of investigators from both the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia $7.6 million over five years to study how a component of space radiation may induce lung cancer.

The award establishes a NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR), consisting of a team of scientists with complementary skills who work closely together to solve a set of research questions. Ya Wang, PhD, professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute, is director of the NSCOR at Emory.

Interplanetary space travel could expose astronauts to conditions where they are chronically subject to types of radiation not normally encountered on earth. One of these radiation types is high energy charged particles (HZE), which results in complex damage to DNA and a broader stress response by the affected cells and tissues.

There is no epidemiological data for human exposure to HZE particles, although some estimates have been made studying uranium miners and Japanese atomic bomb survivors. Animal experiments show that HZE particle exposure induces more tumors than other forms of radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays.

Because it is a leading form of cancer, lung cancer can be expected to be prominent among increased risks from radiation even though astronauts do not smoke. However, the risk for astronauts remains unclear because the dose of HZE astronauts are expected to receive is very low.

The Emory-MCG researchers will probe whether the broader stress response induced by HZE particles amplifies cancer risk. Investigators will collaborate with physicists at Brookhaven National Laboratory to gather information on HZE’s effects. Individual projects include the study of how cells repair DNA damage induced by HZE particles, how HZE particles generate oxidative stress, and how they trigger regulatory changes in DNA known as methylation.

“The information generated by this project will be critical for estimating risks and establishing countermeasures for cancers associated with long term space travel. In addition, new insights into cancer resulting from all types of radiation exposure, including those found on earth, are likely to emerge from this project,” concludes Dr. Paul Doetsch, PhD, professor of radiation oncology and biochemistry, and associate director of Emory’s NSCOR.