Jul 18

July Newsmakers

DCI IN THE NEWS

LISTEN: Cancer in the Granite State, Part II: New Treatments (New Hampshire Public Radio)
Features Yousuf Zafar, MD on the financial and emotional stresses of dealing with cancer

Uterine cancer risk higher for women with ‘breast cancer gene’ mutation (The Washington Post)
Features Noah Kauff, MD

Breast Cancer Gene Mutation Increases Risk of Aggressive Uterus Cancer, Study Reveals (Breast Cancer News) Features Noah Kauff, MD.

Mouse Study Illuminates the Spread of Breast Cancer to Bone (NIH)
Features Dorothy A. Sipkins, MD, PhD, and Trevor Price, PhD.

Hysterectomies may be advisable for women at high risk of uterine cancer (Charlotte Observer)
Features Noah Kauff, MD.

 

PUBLISHED RESEARCH

Effect of Palliative Care–Led Meetings for Families of Patients With Chronic Critical Illness
A Randomized Clinical Trial (JAMA)

Authors:  Shannon S. Carson, MD1 ( University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill); Christopher E. Cox, MD, MPH2 (Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina); Sylvan Wallenstein, PhD3 (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York); Laura C. Hanson, MD, MPH1; Marion Danis, MD4 (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland); James A Tulsky (Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, MD5_; Emily Chai, MD3; Judith E. Nelson, MD, JD6 (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill-Cornell Medical College, New York, New York)

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6578

Jul 18

Lung Cancer Initiative To Host 2016 LUNGe Forward 5K Run And Walk

PrintThe Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina will host its 2016 LUNGe Forward 5K Run and Walk at Midtown Park at North Hills Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Funds raised will provide for Lung Cancer Initiative research grants. In July the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina announced Duke radiation oncologist Jordan A. Torok, MD, as the winner of this year’s Lung Cancer Research Fellows program. Torok received a $25,000 fellows grant for his project “Using Circulating Tumor DNA to Guide Therapy in Locally Advanced Lung Cancer.”

According to the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, lung cancer claims more lives than any other cancer and more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Since 2008, the initiative has contributed more than $1.1 million toward lung cancer research.

As the state’s leading non-profit organization supporting lung cancer research and education, the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina specializes in connecting patients, survivors and loved ones with the medical and research community. The organization’s mission is to save lives and provide support to those affected by lung cancer through research, awareness, education and access programs across North Carolina.

LUNGe Forward, presented by Duke Raleigh Hospital, will be held Sunday, Sept. 25, at Midtown Park at 4208 Six Forks Road in Raleigh, North Carolina. There is a $30 registration fee for those who register before Sept. 25. There is a $35 registration fee on event-day. Event-day registration begins at 12:30 p.m. The race starts at 2 p.m. Registration fees include food and entertainment. Participants are encouraged to form teams and raise funds. For more information or to register, visit LUNGe Forward. To donate or to join the Duke Raleigh team, go to Duke Raleigh Inhalers.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6599

Jul 15

Scientists Trace Origin Cell of Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors, Test Drug Target

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Benjamin Alman, M.D.

Scientists at Duke Health are part of a team that has discovered a type of cell surrounding blood vessels can also serve as a starting point for sarcoma, a form of cancer that occurs in bones and connective tissues.

The findings, made through studies of mice, offer insights that could aid in the development of potential new treatments for the rare but devastating cancer, which has 15,000 new diagnoses annually in the U.S.

In an article published online July 14 in the journal Cell Reports, the international team of researchers describe tracing the lineage of the cancer back to the pericyte, a cell that supports the body’s blood vessels. According to the findings, genetic mutations in these cells led to osteosarcoma and soft-tissue sarcoma, as well as non-cancerous tumors.

“About half of all sarcomas in the U.S. affect people under 35,” said senior author Benjamin Alman, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Duke. “This cancer is difficult to treat, and for those who survive, they are living with the effects for decades. With new chemotherapies and surgery, we have seen long-term survival improve to about 60 to 65 percent, but advances have leveled off in recent years. We hope that by looking at the biological development of the tumor, we can come up with new ways to intervene.”

Alman and fellow authors — who represent Duke as well as the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Tokyo Medical and Dental University Graduate School and Faculty of Medicine, and Seoul National University Hospital — found that cancer cells contained less of a protein called beta catenin compared to the pericytes from which they originated. Alman said this suggests that at some point, the beta catenin was “turned off” in the cell.

When the researchers activated beta catenin in cells using lithium, a drug already used in patients, this appeared to limit the size and growth of the cancers that formed.

Previous studies of beta catenin in sarcoma cells lacked any means of comparison for determining whether levels were high or low, Alman said. By identifying the pericyte as a cell of origin, scientists now have baseline levels for comparison.

The researchers hope to further investigate the use of lithium to regulate beta catenin.

“Lithium has been tried in lung cancer treatments, so perhaps we could see it being used down the road to suppress sarcomas,” Alman said. “It’s premature to do clinical trials in humans at this point. The next step is to grow larger numbers of human sarcomas in mice and treat them with lithium to see whether this can stop or even shrink existing tumors.”

NOTE: The Duke Multidisciplinary Sarcoma Research Program will host its annual Strike Out for Sarcoma 5K and Family Fun Walk at its new location, WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, on Sunday, Sept. 11. To register, visit Strike Out For Sarcoma.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6587

Jul 12

Team Renacer To Host Bake Sales To Benefit Fight Against Breast Cancer

Team Renacer LRLed by DCI patient navigator Xiomara Boyce, team Renacer will host bake sales on Thursday, Aug. 18, and Thursday, Sept. 15. Both events will benefit this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Bake sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hock Plaza on Erwin Road. Both will feature Latin-inspired pastries.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Boyce moved to the United States when she was 14 years old. She began instructing part-time at Duke about 22 years ago. Boyce, who has been affiliated with Duke full-time for 12 years, is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

The 10th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will be held on Saturday, Saturday, Oct. 15, at North Hills Mall in Raleigh. Team Renacer is one of several teams under the umbrella of Team Duke Cancer Institute. To join team Renacer or to donate, visit team Renacer.

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6557

Jul 08

North Carolina Oncology Navigation Association Works To Bridge Health Systems And Communities

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Steven Patierno, PhD, deputy director, DCI

By Valarie Worthy, MSN, RN, Patient Navigator Manager

The North Carolina Oncology Navigation Association (NCONA) held its 9th annual conference on Friday, June 26. More than 175 participants from across North Carolina attended this event.

NCONA is led by Steven Patierno, PhD, deputy director of Duke Cancer Institute, and Jean Sellers, administrative clinical director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The vision of NCONA is to advance the role of patient navigation by providing a network for collaboration amongst navigators and to promote the development of best practices for improved outcomes and access to cancer care.

This year’s NCONA conference focused on Bridging Health Systems and Communities. Speakers from Duke Cancer Institute, Steve Patierno and Yousuf Zafar, MD, presented on transforming health systems to mitigate barriers to care, and financial toxicity respectively. Nadine Barrett, PhD, director of the Office of Health Equity and Disparities (OHED) served as a panelist to discuss the types of services and populations served by OHED and approaches to collaborating with community health workers to broaden and strengthen community outreach.

Patient Navigation was founded in the 1990’s by Harold Freeman, MD, with the goal of eliminating barriers to timely cancer screenings, diagnosis and treatment. Patient navigation has gained in popularity over the last 10 ten years as more cancer centers across the nation pursue strategies to provide seamless cancer care to patients. In 2012, the Commission on Cancer (CoC), required all NCI-designated cancer centers to develop a navigation process to address barriers and access to care for patients.

“This year’s NCONA conference brought together patient navigators and community health workers from all across North Carolina,” said Patierno. “We also had participants from Virginia and South Carolina. Our goal was to engage in training, stimulate collaboration and participate in discussions on how to transform our health system to mitigate barriers to quality cancer care across the entire continuum of cancer care.”

The CoC is a program of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS), that recognizes cancer care organizations for their commitment to providing comprehensive, high-quality, and multidisciplinary patient centered care. This program focuses on improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research and education. Duke Cancer Institute offers an evidenced-based longitudinal patient navigation model that utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to addressing barriers to cancer care.

References
Commission on Cancer retrieved June 28, 2016 from https://www.facs.org/quality-programs/cancer/coc.

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6498

Jul 08

Leaders Make Collaboration Focus of Cancer Moonshot Summit

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Flanked by directors from UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, makes opening remarks at last month’s Regional Cancer Moonshot Summit. Photos courtesy of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Brian Strickland Photography.

By Alexis Kemp, Communications Intern.

As a part of Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, DC last month, leaders from North Carolina’s three comprehensive cancer centers gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to convene their own regional summit.

“The goal of the ‘moonshot’ is to propel us forward today,” said Biden in an impassioned live- stream appeal on June 29 to thousands of medical researchers, oncologists and other care providers across the U.S. whose support he seeks for his “moonshot” quest to cure cancer. “’Moonshot is all of you — we’re all here because we can do something about it.”

The fight against cancer is personal for Biden whose son, Beau, lost his battle with brain cancer just over a year ago. Following the death of Biden’s son, President Obama called on Biden to lead “mission control” on a “cancer moonshot” initiative. In response to that charge, laid out in Obama’s 2016 State of the Union speech, Biden began visiting cancer centers nationwide, including Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) in February for a round table discussion.

Biden’s “moonshot” includes doubling the rate of progress toward a cure; to achieve a decade of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in five years. According to experts there are about 14 million new cancer cases worldwide, and over 8 million cancer-related deaths each year. Biden stated in his address that if there isn’t progress by 2025, there will be nearly 20 million new cancer cases and about 14 million deaths. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6484

Jun 30

Women with BRCA1 Gene Mutation at Higher Risk of Deadly Uterine Cancer

Women who carry the BRCA1 gene mutation that dramatically increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancers are also at higher risk for a lethal form of uterine cancer, according to a study led by a Duke Cancer Institute researcher.

This newly defined risk — the first to show a conclusive link between the BRCA1 gene mutation and a small but significant chance of developing an aggressive uterine cancer — could become a consideration in weighing treatment options.

Currently, women with the BRCA1 mutation often have preventive surgeries to remove both breasts, as well as their ovaries and fallopian tubes, based on studies showing that the gene mutation elevates their risk for cancers in those organs.

But conflicting evidence has created controversy over the need to remove the uterus. Smaller studies identified a link between the gene mutation and uterine cancer, but the evidence to change practice has hinged on results from a well-designed study using a larger patient population from multiple sites.

“This is the study that has been needed,” said lead author Noah D. Kauff, MD, who leads the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at the Duke Cancer Institute. “Our study presents the strongest evidence to date that women with this genetic mutation should at least discuss with their doctors the option of having a hysterectomy along with removal of their ovaries and fallopian tubes.”

In the current study, published online June 30 in the journal JAMA Oncology, Kauff and colleagues from nine other institutions in the U.S. and the United Kingdom analyzed data from 1,083 women. All had BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations, had undergone removal of their ovaries and fallopian tubes, and were followed for a median 5.1 years.

Incidences of uterine cancer in the BRCA-positive women in the study were compared to the rates that would be expected in the general population, based on data from the U.S. government’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, or SEER. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6465

Jun 28

Southern Pines Man Steps Out In Fight Against Breast Cancer

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Joseph “Joe” Rasmus poses with his wife, Marty, when the pair served as officers in the United States Army. Joe, who is retired from military service, lost his wife to cancer on Valentine’s Day.

Joseph “Joe” Rasmus, 52, may not have breast cancer, but after losing his wife to cancer earlier this year and with his own battle with lipomas, Joe was compelled to step out June 11 for the local Komen Race For the Cure.

“Since my diagnosis in 2008 I have had 24 lipomas removed—five of which were removed from my right breast,” Joe explained. “Because of my experience with lipomas and, more importantly, the recent loss of my wife to cervical cancer, I wanted to demonstrate my support for women’s cancers. The recent race allowed me to do just that.”

While Joe was being treated by Randall Scheri, MD, at Duke Cancer Center, his wife Martha “Marty” became very ill. In September 2014 she was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer.

“She was the love of my life,” Joe said, as his eyes welled with tears. “Even after 27 years of marriage, we still loved to hold hands. We kissed and hugged every day. I always told her how much I loved her. She was my soul mate, and I was hers.”

Over the better part of the next year Marty underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and the radiation.

“When her cancer went into remission in March 2015, Marty and I wanted to celebrate her being cancer free,” said Joe, who lives in Southern Pines, North Carolina. “We revisited San Antonio, Texas, where we had honeymooned all those years ago. Then we went to New York City to visit our 23-year-old son. Marty had always dreamed of going to a Broadway show, so before leaving we went to see “Matilda.”

All of the excitement, however, would soon come to an abrupt halt when Marty’s cancer resurfaced in August 2015. To their shock, they learned Marty’s cancer metastasized to her brain, lung and also her spine.

“It was difficult to watch her suffer,” said Joe. “I prayed to God that if I was going to lose her, let it be on Valentine’s Day—after all, she was the love of my life.” Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6429

Jun 28

Willett To Receive 2016 ASTRO Gold Medal Award

Dr. Christopher Willett MD, Radiation Oncology

Christopher Willett, MD

Christopher Willett, MD, was one of three individuals recently named by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) to receive a Gold Medal Award, the highest honor given to select members of the world’s largest radiation oncology society.

Willett, who in 1981 received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, is professor and chair of the department of radiation oncology at Duke University Medical Center. Previously, he was the director of Clinical Research at Duke Cancer Institute and is currently the director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program.

Willett completed a surgical internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a residency in radiation medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the faculty of Harvard in 1986 after completing his residency and rose to the rank of professor at Harvard Medical School. Willett has held appointments as a radiation oncologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston and as clinical director of radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Previously, Willett was president of the International Society of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (ISIORT) and was a founding member of ISIORT in 1996. Willett has also served as chair of the GI Committee of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, a national cooperative conducting clinical trials in cancer. He is the author of more than 400 scientific papers and reviews.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology awards its annual Gold Medal to individuals who have made outstanding lifetime contributions in the field of radiation oncology, including achievements in clinical patient care, research, teaching and service to the profession. This year marks the 30th consecutive year that ASTRO has presented this accolade, and the new awardees join an exclusive class of only 78 gold medalists selected over the decades from the society’s more than 10,000 members.

Other 2016 recipients include Benedick A. Fraass, PhD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Anthony L. Zietman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Drs. Fraass, Willett and Zietman, both as a cohort and as individual trailblazers in the field, represent the highest echelon of cutting-edge oncology research, of success training future generations of radiation oncologists and medical physicists, and of devoted and impactful service to their colleagues and patients,” said ASTRO Chair Bruce D. Minsky, MD, FASTRO.

For more information on the 2016 ASTRO Gold Medal Award winners, visit ASTRO.

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6415

Jun 23

Duke Research Program Ready To Strike Out For Sarcoma

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The Duke Multidisciplinary Sarcoma Research Program will host its annual Strike Out for Sarcoma 5K and Family Fun Walk at its new location, WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, on Sunday, Sept. 11.

In addition to the 5K and fun walk, Strike Out for Sarcoma features post-race refreshments and fun-filled activities.

Sarcomas are a diverse but rare form of cancer that develops in cartilage, fat, muscle, fibrous tissue, blood vessels and other connective or supportive tissues of the body. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there were about 12,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma and 3,000 cases of bone sarcomas diagnosed in 2014.

Individuals interested in participating in Strike Out for Sarcoma are encouraged to form teams and raise funds. Awards will be given for both individual and team participation. Pre-event registration is $30. Event-day registration is $35. Entry includes technical race tee-shirt, timing chip and post-race refreshments. Children 12 and under are $10 per person. Entry includes Kid’s Dash, event tee-shirt and bounce house.

Organizers hope to raise more than $50,000. Proceeds benefit the Duke Multidisciplinary Sarcoma Research Program. WakeMed Soccer Park is located at 201 Soccer Park Drive in Cary. Event-day registration and participant check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. The 5K run starts 9 a.m. Strike Out For Sarcoma also features 100-yard dash for children slated for 10 a.m. The family fun walk begins at 10:15 a.m. For more information, to donate or to register, visit Strike Out For Sarcoma.

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/?p=6419

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