Posts Tagged ‘winship cancer institute at emory university’

Treatment for Multiple Myeloma at Emory – Real Patient Story

Meet these real-life Multiple myeloma patients and learn about treatment for Multiple Myeloma at EmoryWhen Cathy Mooney was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the myeloma program at Winship was just beginning to take off. Today, the center provides treatment for multiple myeloma to 400 to 500 new patients a year, with about 1,600 multiple myeloma patients overall. More than 200 Winship patients participate in the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit directed by Donald Harvey.

“That’s a huge group that we are able to see in one city,” says Ajay Nooka, assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology and part of the hematology care team at Winship. In addition to caring for patients, Nooka, who specializes in cancer epidemiology, structures and oversees many of Winship’s clinical trials and assesses their outcomes.

The large patient population and high rate of clinical trial enrollment is a gold mine of data for researchers.

“The ultimate goal is to see where we stand in terms of treatment for multiple myeloma progress and what changes we can make to further improvements in patient outcomes,” Nooka says.
Another advantage for Winship’s multiple myeloma team is Atlanta’s large population of African Americans, who are twice as likely as the white population to be diagnosed with the disease.

“The difference between us and other centers is that a lot of our patients are our neighbors,” Lonial says. “A lot of the game in clinical trials is not just, are you able to do them, but do you have the patients? The growth for us has stemmed from access to new drugs and access to patients. That’s a big reason why we had four drugs approved last year as a part of treatment for multiple myeloma.”

In November, the FDA approved elotuzumab as part of an innovative immune-based therapy treatment for patients with relapsed multiple myeloma. That was the third myeloma drug approved by the FDA within the previous month and the fourth approved within the last year.

That’s good news for patients like Quincy Washington, who was 42 when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2007.

At first his doctor suspected rheumatoid arthritis, but then sent Washington to an oncologist, where he learned about myeloma for the first time. The disease typically strikes African American men at a younger age than any other patient group.

“The doctor said, you have multiple myeloma. I said, okay. What do we do next?” Washington remembers. “She looked at my wife and said, is he in shock? And my wife said no, that’s pretty much his personality. I don’t really do the whole gloom-and-doom perspective.”

Washington happened to have a friend who specializes in oncology at Winship, and that’s how he discovered that he could get the most leading-edge care within miles of his home in Lithonia. He began treatment for multiple myeloma immediately, including enrollment in a clinical trial.

Now in long-term remission, Washington says, “My plan is to be cured. At some point, my numbers will be zero. When it comes to age, I’m a triple-digit kind of guy.”

Treatment for Multiple Myeloma at Emory – Real Patient Story

myeloma_mooney_coverCathy Mooney shares her multiple myeloma patient story. Treatment for multiple myeloma is the topic very relevant to even those who consider themselves a “health nut” or a “gym rat”. This article shares a story of how one health-conscious young lady had to undergo a treatment for multiple myeloma at Emory.

Cathy Mooney didn’t need a wake-up call. In 2002, at 48 years old, “I felt like I was at the top of my game,” she says. “I was exercising regularly, walking four miles five days a week. I was following a great diet. I had really never been in better health.” But a routine physical exam turned up some troubling results, and a long series of visits to specialists and tests followed. After a frustrating three months, Mooney heard two words she never knew before: multiple myeloma.

“I learned that the survival rate was three to five years,” she says. “We were devastated. I felt wonderful; I did not feel sick.” Mooney received an advise to travel from her home in Thomasville, Georgia, to Little Rock, Arkansas. There was a center specializing in myeloma.

For several years she received the following treatment there:

  • chemotherapy
  • autologous stem cell transplantation
  • maintenance medications

Although her cancer could be coaxed into remission, it kept coming back.

In 2008, Mooney and her husband flew north to visit myeloma specialists at Sloan Kettering and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The latter was Ken Anderson, who had been following Lonial’s progress at Winship. Both told Mooney that she could get the best, most current treatment in her home state of Georgia.

“When we went to Emory and met with Dr. Lonial and his team, we found him to be a compassionate person who cared and was passionate about finding a cure for multiple myeloma,” Mooney says. “He’s such a respected doctor in this field, one of the top in leading research and a rising star.”

Since Mooney’s diagnosis, her twin daughter and son have married and had children of their own. Her five grandchildren are a constant delight.

“This year was 14 years since my diagnosis, which is a lot more than I hoped for,” she says. “I’m feeling great. The cancer has given me an opportunity to reassess my life and set new priorities. And Winship gives me hope for a bright future.”

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms & Treatment – Real Patient Story

Meet Emory's real Multiple myeloma patient and learn about Multiple myeloma symptoms and treatment optionsMultiple myeloma begins in the bone marrow with plasma cells going haywire. This article shares a multiple myeloma patient story, as well as discusses symptoms and treatment options.
Seven years ago, Tamara Mobley was so busy, active, and energetic that if she were a cartoon, she’d be a blur. The dedicated mother of two young boys, a loving wife and a full-time employee in a good job, she didn’t get much downtime.

“I think I was just busy, like any other typical mom,” Mobley says. “You know, just doing things to take care of the house, my family and doing my best to be a valued employee. That was my life before, just ripping and running.”

Then Mobley, who was 33, got tired. Not just garden-variety, too-little-sleep, I’ve-been-doing-too-much sort of tired. But bone tired, from the moment she woke up each morning. Then, there was the severe back pain. And then, the passing out. She was getting sick and it was happening fast. For a young, vibrant, working wife and mother that was terrifying.

A trip to the emergency room led to a rapid diagnosis of multiple myeloma — a cancer of the blood — and a recommendation from her doctor to seek treatment at Emory and Winship.
Mobley was so ill that she got to Emory University Hospital in an ambulance. And that’s when all the ripping and running slowed way, way down — at least for a while.

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

As cancer goes, multiple myeloma is a bit of a misfit.

For one thing, it’s rare. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 30,000 new cases of myeloma will be diagnosed this year, trailing far behind the most common cancers — breast and lung — each of which will derail more than 220,000 lives. That’s stiff competition for research funding and awareness.

For another, it’s mysterious. Multiple myeloma begins in the bone marrow with plasma cells going haywire. But experts aren’t entirely sure how the process starts or what the key risk factors are. The disease is most common in people over 65, men are slightly more vulnerable and that African Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to get it. But we don’t know why.
The most notable differ
ence between multiple myeloma and pretty much all other types of cancer is that the life expectancy for myeloma patients has doubled in the past decade. All thanks to treatments developed and tested at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

Multiple Myeloma Treatment

Last November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the fourth new myeloma drug to be green-lighted within one year —three of those within one monthv—and all four were tested in clinical trials at Winship.

“There’s no other story like that in cancer,” says Sagar Lonial, Winship’s chief medical officer and chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology in the School of Medicine.
Since his arrival at Emory and Winship in 1997, Lonial has built the multiple myeloma program into one of the best and most sought-after in the country. A team of experts who specialize in the disease leads this program. As Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center and one of just 69 in the US, Winship offers patients the chance to be treated in the same building where research is taking place. There are three floors dedicated to basic science and three to clinical care.

“That marriage of research and patient care is powerful,” Lonial says. “Our scientists see cancer patients every day.”

One of those is Mobley, who has been in treatment at Winship since that devastating ambulance ride in 2009. Once her condition was stabilized, she began the standard protocol. It consists of a three-pronged attack:

  • Chemotherapy to blast away the cancerous cells
  • Stem cell harvesting and transplantation to regenerate healthy bone marrow cells
  • Regimen of medications calibrated to keep the cancer at bay and send it into remission for a long time.

It’s that last phase that has put Winship’s approach ahead of other myeloma treatment centers. Instead of a one-by-one, trial-and-error approach to drug therapy, Lonial has advocated a full court press. It allowed to hit the residual cancer with a simultaneous three-drug combination.

Mobley was put on an aggressive course of therapy made up of

  • Lenolidamide (Revlimid), an immune modulator
  • Bortezomib (Velcade), a proteasome inhibitor
  • Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid

“That concept of combination therapy is one that our center is focused on and one that benefited her early on,” Lonial says.

According to myeloma researcher Lawrence Boise, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar and coleader of the Cancer Cell Biology Program at Winship, scientists are finding that there are many reasons for this. But the most compelling is that it works. “Dr. Lonial doesn’t leave any bullets in the chamber,” Boise says. “In all the trials, all the data, all the comparisons show that three drugs are better than two.”

When Lonial joined Emory’s hematology and oncology department nearly two decades ago, other researchers might have seen a department struggling with turnover and inadequate resources. With the encouragement of a mentor—Kenneth Anderson, probably the best-known myeloma specialist in the world—Lonial saw an opportunity to build a program, from the ground up.

The bottom floor of Winship houses the Clinical Trials Unit, the key to the multiple myeloma program’s growth and success. Within a few years, Lonial had recruited top scientists and clinicians, including Boise, and was testing new classes of drugs in Phase I clinical trials. They proved to be game changers.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood that develops when normal, antibody-producing plasma cells become malignant and their growth spirals out of control. They build up in the bone marrow until they crowd out healthy blood cells. They can form lesions and tumors in multiple bones, hence the condition’s name.

But the cancerous cells also secrete protein and, like normal cells, they’re engineered to do this in a particular way—the protein assembled and folded just so. When that assembly goes awry, as it does in myeloma cells, the malformed proteins are broken down by proteasomes—protein complexes whose job it is to get rid of problem proteins by degrading them—and that opens up the pipeline for more myeloma cell production.

About ten years ago, scientists discovered that if you interfere with the proteasome’s work—allowing the abnormal proteins to accumulate—the cancerous cells, which in a sense are trying to function normally, will self-destruct. Rapidly.

“Proteasome is part of quality control, so if you inhibit that, and all these mid-folded proteins build up, that causes stress, and the cell kills itself,” Boise explains.

Winship conducted trials of a promising proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib (Velcade), in 2002. One of the first patients to receive it went into remission quickly. “If there was a moment when the light went on, it was then. I remember running upstairs to the director’s office with the graph of this patient’s counts,” Lonial says. “That treatment is now the standard of care.”

Learn more about Tamara’s story here.

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors, Screenings, Symptoms & Therapy Live Chat

bc-cil-638What questions do you have about breast cancer?

Emory Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship Cancer Institute is dedicated to breast cancer prevention, detection and comprehensive treatment of breast health issues and breast cancer including aggressive forms of triple negative breast cancer.

Our breast cancer doctors and researchers are thought leaders in the field of breast cancer, and are uniquely positioned to have access to the latest information on cancer care.  The breast cancer program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University offers multidisciplinary teams including oncology surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and advanced practice nurses with expertise in only breast cancer.  There are a variety of treatment options for breast cancer; for some patients, a combination of treatment methods may be used.

Join physicians with Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University’s breast cancer team, on Tuesday, October 11th at 12pm EST for a live chat where they will answer your questions about breast cancer risk factors, screenings, symptoms and therapy. All are welcome to attend an online open-forum discussion about breast cancer. Sign up for this live chat here.

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Kidney Cancer and Robotic Cancer Treatment

kidney-concept250x250The American Cancer Society estimates about 62,700 new cases of kidney cancer (39,650 in men and 23,050 in women) will occur in in the United States this year.

When people think about the kidneys it’s likely they picture a pair of bean-shaped organs, one on the left and the other just to the right of the backbone. It’s not likely that people think about connections to the heart or even the toes through a large vein called the vena cava. The kidneys are apart of a complex system that extends into the main blood vessels and the heart.

Kidney cancer can begin in either the outer part of the kidney or its inner lining. The outer cortex of the kidney filters the blood and concentrates the excrement into urine. Kidney cancer that occurs in the outer portion of the kidney is known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Kidney cancer that starts in the inner lining of the kidney, which funnels and drains urine, is known as urothelial or transitional cell carcinoma. Urothelial carcinoma is very similar in many ways to most types of bladder cancer.

Treatment of both types of kidney cancer requires either partial or whole nephrectomy, or removal of the kidney. Urothelial carcinoma treatment also involves the surgical removal of a portion of the ureter.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

Kidney cancers in the early stages usually do not cause any signs or symptoms, but patients will sometimes experience signs that should be brought to a doctor’s attention, such as:

  • Noticing blood or very dark urine
  • Flank/back pain on one side (not caused by injury)
  • A mass (lump) on the side or lower back
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss not caused by dieting
  • Fever that is not caused by an infection and doesn’t go away

Contact your doctor if you see changes like these. Recognizing your body’s warning signals can reduce your risks.

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About Viraj Master, MD

master-virajDr. Master is an Associate Professor of Urology at the Emory University School of Medicine, Associate Chair for Clinical Affairs and Quality, and Director of Clinical Research Unit.

Following his undergraduate education at Northwestern University, Dr. Master attended medical school at the University of Chicago where he received both MD and PhD degrees. He completed his urology residency and two fellowships training at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) before joining the Department of Urology at Emory University in 2005. Dr. Master is a diplomate of the American Board of Urology (2006) a Fellow of the American College of Surgery (FACS).

Dr. Master’s primary clinical interest is urologic oncology, in particular kidney cancer, adrenal tumors, testicular cancer, high-risk prostate cancer and penile cancers. Dr. Master is a renowned national expert in the surgical treatment of kidney cancer particularly a complex variety that extends into the main blood vessels and the heart. He also has a special interest in minimally invasive laparoscopic technique that removes of cancerous lymph nodes with minimal interference with the patients’ quality of life.

As the Director of Clinical Research, he is active in investigating the role of inflammation in cancers and in researching “host” (patient) interaction with the disease. In his role as Associate Chair for Clinical Affairs and Quality, he works closely with all faculty members towards a common goal of providing the highest quality of care to our patients. Emory University Hospital (EUH) ranks number one hospital (out of 187) in both Georgia and metro Atlanta (2013-2014 U.S. News & World Report), and the Department of Urology ranks as one of Emory’s top ten high-performing adult specialty areas.

The Emory Department of Urology is leading the way in the treatment of kidney cancers, treating the smallest to the most advanced tumors. Our physicians provide expertise in focally treating kidney tumors while sparing the healthy portion of the kidney. Avoiding the removal of the entire kidney lessens the chance of kidney failure and other complications after surgery. This treatment for kidney cancer, in which only the tumorous portion of the kidney is removed, is also known as a The Emory Department of Urology is leading the way in the treatment of kidney cancers, treating the smallest to the most advanced tumors. Our physicians provide expertise in focally treating kidney tumors while sparing the healthy portion of the kidney. Avoiding the removal of the entire kidney lessens the chance of kidney failure and other complications after surgery. This treatment for kidney cancer, in which only the tumorous portion of the kidney is removed, is also known as a robotic partial nephrectomy.

Takeaways from the Colorectal Cancer Live Chat at Winship

colorectal-chat-emailThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, March 8th for the live online colorectal cancer program chat at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University hosted by Drs. Bassel El-Rayes & Seth Rosen.

Drs. El-Rayes & Rosen answered several of your questions about colorectal cancer risk factors, symptoms and therapy. The colorectal cancer program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University offers multidisciplinary teams including oncology surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and advanced practice nurses with expertise in colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers. There are a variety of treatment options for colorectal cancer; for some patients, a combination of treatment methods may be used.

Check out the conversation by viewing the chat transcript! Here are just a few questions from the chat:

Question: How prevalent is family history? Should I have a plan to have [colorectal cancer] testing done?

  • Answer from Dr. Rosen: Approximately 15% of colorectal cancer patients have a family history of the cancer.
  • Answer from Dr. El-Rayes: Family history is an important predictor of the risk of developing colon cancer. Patients with family history of multiple relatives with colorectal or other cancers should seek evaluation to determine if their family history puts them at added risk for developing cancer. At Winship we have a multidisciplinary team that includes geneticists, genetic counselors, colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists, and medical oncologists who can work with families who have inherited pre-dispositions for colon cancer.

Question: If you have been diagnosed/hospitalized (8 years ago) with divraticulos how often should you have a colonoscopy? And is it related to bleeding that starts and stops when you are stressed and your bowels lock up? And is it hereditary?

  • Answer from Dr. Rosen: Diverticular disease does not have any bearing on risk of colorectal cancer, so it does not change surveillance or screening recommendations. It can cause bleeding, and there is possibly a hereditary component.
  • Answer from Dr. El-Rayes: The frequency of colonoscopy is dependent on family history, presence of chronic inflammatory conditions (like Ulcerative colitis) and presence of polyps. Diverticulosis of in of itself does not impact the risk of developing colon cancer.

Question: If a person with family history of Colon Cancer can’t afford the test who can help them?

  • Answer from Dr. Rosen: The Affordable Care Act offers free screening for colorectal cancer.

 

If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. For more information go to the Colorectal Cancer at Winship Cancer Institute website or 404-778-7777 to learn more from a registered nurse.

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If you have additional questions for Drs. El-Rayes & Rosen, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

 

Winship Cancer Institute Celebrates 2015 as a Banner Year

Ranked first in Georgia for cancer care, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University offers patients with access to progressive resources, technology and cancer treatment options through Georgia’s largest health care system Emory Healthcare. As Georgia’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, Winship is a national leader in seeking out new ways to defeat cancer and in translating that knowledge into patient care.

Key 2015 Highlights:

  • For the second year in a row, Winship was ranked as a top 25 cancer program nationwide, moving up from 24th to 22nd nationally, and as best in Georgia by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Winship expanded staff and services this year at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory John’s Creek Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown.
  • Winship’s clinical trials program enrolled more patients on trials than in any other year and contributed to the approval of four new therapies for multiple myeloma.
  • Winship exceeded its fundraising goal for the Win the Fight 5K in September, bringing in more than $778,000 for cancer research.

Read the full transcript of the video here.

Winship key to four new myeloma drugs in 2015

lonial patientThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved elotuzumab as part of an innovative immune-based therapy treatment for patients with relapsed multiple myeloma. This is the third myeloma drug approved by the FDA within the last month and the fourth new myeloma treatment approved within the last year. All four new agents were tested in clinical trials at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Sagar Lonial, MD, chief medical officer of Winship, says the potential of elotuzumab can be seen in the overall response rate as well as the longer duration of progression-free survival.

“The Winship multiple myeloma team has shepherded several of these treatments from the beginning stages of testing through to their approval,” said Lonial. “It’s a great source of pride to know we were instrumental in the process that has led to many more treatment options for our patients.”

Read the full press release here.

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Takeaways from the Prostate Cancer Live Chat at Winship

prostate-chat-cil638Thanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, November 24th for the live online prostate cancer program chat at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University hosted by Drs. Pattaras & Rossi.

Drs. Pattaras & Rossi answered several of your questions about prostate cancer risk factors, symptoms and therapy. Check out the conversation by viewing the chat transcript! Here are just a few follow up questions we didn’t get to from the chat:

Question: What preventive measures are most effective for improving urinary function and quality of life?

Answer: Preventative measures include exercise, weight loss and a healthy low fat diet. Unfortunately there are genetic predispositions for prostate enlargement and bladder dysfunction including spinal disorders that even prevention will not help. See a urologist if there is a noticeable change in urination.

Question: Conventional wisdom is that if you have prostate cancer you should no take testosterone. Dr. Abraham Morgantaler has written a number of articles in JAMA and NEJM challenging that conventional wisdom. Are doctors Pattaras and Rossi familiar with his research, and if so, any thoughts?

Answer: Though specifically not familiar with his publications there are numerous studies which suggest that men with low testosterone could be supplemented to normal levels if watched carefully. Testosterone itself does not cause prostate cancer but can feed advanced cases. Chemical castration is a therapy for advanced prostate cancer but is not done for localized treated cancer so testosterone supplementation is feasible but does have risks. We have placed men on testosterone replacement after therapy as long as they are compliant.

If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. For more information go to the Prostate Cancer at Winship Cancer Institute website or 404-778-7777 to learn more from a registered nurse.

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If you have additional questions for Drs. Pattaras & Rossi, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Prostate Cancer: Risk Factors, Screenings, Symptoms & Therapy Live Chat on November 24th

prostate-chatAccording to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. If detected early and depending on the type and stage of the disease, prostate cancer can be treated.

Join John G. Pattaras, MD and Peter Rossi, MD, two physicians with Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University’s prostate cancer team, on Tuesday, November 24th at 12pm EST for a live chat where they will answer your questions about prostate cancer risk factors, screenings, symptoms and therapy. All are welcome to attend an online open-forum discussion about prostate cancer with Dr. Pattaras and Dr. Rossi. Sign up for this live chat here.

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