Read the latest news from the Division of Hematology/Oncology including awards, publications and announcements.
Children with allergies to vaccines, and individuals with weak or compromised immune systems, rely on "herd immunity" for protection from disease. "Statistically, there are significant increases in vaccine-preventable diseases during modern times when the numbers of vaccinations in certain areas dropped," says Shikha Jain, M.D., a hematologist and oncologist at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In other words, when everyone else is vaccinated, it provides "indirect protection to those who are unable to receive the vaccine," she says. that survivors are living longer.
A new study has provided yet more evidence that survivors of endometrial cancer should be closely monitored for cardiovascular disease. These women are at higher risk for various long-term cardiovascular problems compared with their cancer-free counterparts, especially phlebitis and thrombophlebitis, pulmonary heart disease, hypotension, and atrial fibrillation.
In providing a rationale for their study, the research team from New York Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital, Northwestern Medicine, and the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, pointed to the “particularly concerning effect” posed by cancer therapy–related cardiac dysfunction now that survivors are living longer.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) might help identify bladder cancer patients who may not be cured by radical cystectomy alone, researchers in Germany suggest.
Dr. Sabine Riethdorf of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf told Reuters Health, “Analyzing peripheral blood for CTCs has gained attraction not only for detection of occult micrometastatic disease and estimation of prognosis, but also for therapeutic decision-making.”
“As results of our study show,” she said by email, “the presence of CTCs before radical cystectomy might identify urethelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) patients in need of aggressive adjuvant chemo-, radio- or targeted therapy irrespective of histological subtype of the tumor.
Dr. Shikha Jain of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago told Reuters Health, “This study had a small sample size with short-term follow up. There were limited patients in the variant UCB histology group, which the authors agree may have affected the results. Patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy were also not included in this study.” -
Genetic testing in its various forms may be used to identify increased risk of health problems, choose treatments, or assess responses to treatment.
From the clinician side, more investigation is necessary to optimize the use of biomarkers. “Although the technology is available, a significant investment in bioinformatics is necessary to achieve analytical and technical validity of testing,” says Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, associate director for precision medicine and translational research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Furthermore, linking clinical data to genomic data will ultimately prove the clinical utility of testing and provide the rationale for identifying biological information—in view of the fact that testing will reflect disease biology and represent a false negative or false positive result.” On the positive side, “The rate of error is decreasing tremendously due to the large number of patients being treated and improvements in technology.”
Northwestern Medicine scientists showed how bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) family proteins regulate collagen I production and fibrosis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), one of the deadliest cancer.
This study was co-lead by Krishan Kumar in the Munshi Lab. Other Northwestern Medicine co-authors include Brian DeCant and Kazumi Ebine, members of the Munshi Lab, David Bentrem, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, and HG Munshi, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. Read more
- On September 26, faculty of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine presented a panel discussion on gastrointestinal (GI) cancer research, treatment, and novel trials to supporters and friends of Northwestern Medicine. In welcoming the attendees and panel, Frank Giles, MD, professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Deputy Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, noted that a key focus at Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine was to advance the array of sciences needed to understand human malignancies while translating such insights into better therapies for our patients. “We are a patient-first group,” he said.
Expert Addresses Common Misconceptions About Medical Marijuana Use in Patients With CancerThe use of medical marijuana, which is available in more than a dozen states across America, is surrounded by stigma, questions and misconceptions.
After polling our readers on what they would like to know about the substance and its use for patients with cancer, CUREinterviewed Judith Paice, Ph.D., R.N., research professor, Medicine, Hematology and Oncology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
Paice discussed the process, cost, usage and benefits of marijuana usage for patients with cancer.
Lefkofsky startup takes on cancer
Eric Lefkofsky is bringing his genomics startup, Tempus, out of stealth mode, announcing today its first partnership, with Northwestern University's cancer center.
Several other hospital collaborations are expected to be announced soon as the chairman and former CEO of Groupon embarks on his most ambitious venture ever—utilizing Big Data to help physicians tailor cancer treatment based on a patient's own genetic profile.
Lefkofsky, who co-founded Groupon and such other e-commerce companies as InnerWorkings and Echo Global Logistics with longtime business partner Brad Keywell, launched the health care software startup late last year. Since then, he quietly has built a company with a headcount approaching 100, heavy on Ph.D.s and data scientists, and a 20,000-square-foot genomics lab in the River North building that houses Groupon and Lightbank, the partners' venture fund.
- Combining and sequencing novel targeted therapies, such as CDK 4/6 inhibitors and PI3K inhibitors with anti-hormonal therapies will be a key factor in helping patients with hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer overcome drug resistance. Then, physicians can focus on optimizing treatment for these patients, says William J. Gradishar, M.D.
Gradishar addressed this topic in a presentation at the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium hosted by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Gradishar is the deputy director of the Lurie Cancer Center Clinical Network and director of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Maggie Daley Center for Women's Cancer Care in Prentice Women's Hospital.
- Adult cancer survivors living with chronic pain are finally receiving the attention they need following release of a new clinical practice guideline from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). With an emphasis on multimodal therapy that incorporates nonpharmacologic treatment as well as pharmacologic, this guide is expected to provide clinicians with a practice resource to help them treat the nation’s growing population of cancer survivors, among whom as many as 40% experience persistent pain as a result of their treatment.
- The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, through its International Relations Institute, and in partnership with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Integrated Media Services, launched an eHealth Distance Learning Portal on August 1 to encourage global collaborations.
On June 30, faculty of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine presented a panel discussion on lymphoma research, treatment, and novel trials to supporters and friends of the lymphoma research program. The panel included faculty clinicians and scientists, as well as nurse practitioners.
"Advances in the field of lymphoma are at an accelerated pace right now, directly in line with the field of cancer biology and research, both of which translate directly to clinical benefit," said Leo I. Gordon, MD, director of the Lymphoma Research Program at Northwestern, who served as the panel's moderator. "The way this field has evolved makes it exciting to be a part of today," said Dr. Gordon, who serves as the Abby and John Friend Professor of Cancer Research.
- "Because I can" became a motto for Jeanne as she started her battle with cancer on July 11, 2011, when her two sons -- Wylie and Casey -- found her after she had fainted in their home. That day, her father took her to the emergency room, and the doctors diagnosed her with acute myeloid leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer. With her father's suggestion of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, she was sent to meet Dr. Jessica Altman, director of the Acute Leukemia Program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. She then met the team that would ultimately save her life.
- Identifying mutations in the estrogen receptor (ER) gene can help clinicians choose effective therapies for patients with metastatic breast cancer, according to recent research co-authored by Northwestern Medicine scientist Massimo Cristofanilli, MD. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- In a city filled with runs and walks, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason behind the steps, all of them taken to help the causes they support.
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Massimo Cristofanilli, an oncologist at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, has used Guardant Health’s test on more than 200 breast cancer patients with late-stage disease and said it has been helpful in about 6o to 70 percent of cases to determine a next course of treatment. He sees FDA approval as critical for widespread adoption. “Physicians, especially community physicians, won’t feel comfortable until they have more of a guarantee that the tests are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” he said.
- Ann Lurie, president of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation, announced that Northwestern Medicine had donated $100,000 to kick off the night's Raising Hope Challenge. She introduced Dr. Leonidas Platanias, director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. "Cancer is a disease that goes back 5,000 years, with the discovery of breast cancer," he said. "Approximately 8 million people die every year from cancer. We need to end this disease once and for all, and with the great advances in technology, we may be able to do it now," he added.
Investigating Kidney Cancer Therapies
Two drugs known to improve survival for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma do not reduce the risk of cancer recurrence when administered after surgery, according to a recent clinical trial published in The Lancet. The phase III study, co-authored by Timothy Kuzel, MD, ’87 ’90 GME, professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and of Dermatology, tested the use of drugs sunitinib and sorafenib as options for adjuvant therapy – secondary treatment meant to stop cancer from coming back.
In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Northwestern Medicine is working to help educate everyone about this preventable and treatable disease.
"Despite what many people assume, colorectal cancer is not a disease that only affects men," said Dr. Tara Troy, a Northwestern Medicine physician who specializes in gastroenterology at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. "Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death for women, but it doesn't have to be. Know your risk factors, pay attention to warnings signs and get regular screenings that can detect colorectal cancer early, when it's small and easier to treat."
Exploring How Arsenic Combats Leukemia
Though normally considered a dangerous poison, arsenic is actually used to help cure one kind of leukemia. A new Northwestern Medicine study has unearthed the mechanisms behind the chemical’s anti-cancer effects to show how arsenic could also combat other types of leukemia.
Currently, a compound of arsenic called arsenic trioxide is used in very small doses to treat patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia. The small doses do not work against other types of the cancer, and larger doses would be toxic.