Two University of Colorado Cancer Center physicians have been recognized as world experts in in pancreatic neoplasms by the 2021 Expertscape rankings.
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One of the primary tools that oncologists use to stage cancers is the PET (positron emission tomography) scan, an imaging test that uses a small amount of radioactive sugar to detect metabolically active areas within the body.
Lung cancer screening is recommended only for those who are at high risk for the disease — adults ages 50–80 who smoke at least 20 packs a year — but even among members of that high-risk group, screening rates remain low, ranging from 5% to 20% of those eligible for the screening CT scan.
“When you lose hope, you lose everything,” says Ron Randolph. “It’s like you’re in the bottom of a hole and you see this light at the top of the hole. It’s a very small light, but there’s no way to escape.”
Janice Woodward was already a member of the club nobody wants to join — the cancer club, membership involuntary — when she got an irregular mammogram result in May 2019.
The cancer diagnosis came at a time when it seemed as though everything was happening – he was only 37 and soon to become president of the Denver City Council; his three children were ages 4, 6, and 9; he had just run the BOLDERBoulder 10K.
There are two things most people believe about lung cancer, says Jamie Studts, PhD, co-leader of the Cancer Prevention & Control Program at the CU Cancer Center: Those who suffer from it most likely caused it by using tobacco, and the prognosis for surviving the disease is poor.
When a woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis, she may have many questions about her immediate future – the stage of the disease, what treatment she’ll receive, where it will happen.
Three researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center have received grants from the V Foundation, a cancer research nonprofit founded in 1993 by college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano, who died of cancer.
In a grim reminder of the toll COVID-19 can take even among those who are vaccinated against it, former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday of complications from the virus. His family said Powell, who was 84, was fully vaccinated against the disease.
The first time Caley Kurchinski had to think about a double mastectomy, she was only 16. Her mother had died at age 36 from breast cancer, when Caley was 6. When she became a teenager, Caley’s family physician began telling her she needed to get genetic testing.
Erica Ramsthaler was only given three years to live when she was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but after transferring her care to the University of Colorado Cancer Center, she is thriving more than four years later.
Kirsten Stewart was just putting on lotion, like she does every morning after her shower. That particular morning, though, she noticed something different: a lump that hadn’t been there before and that definitely wasn’t normal. She was only 30 years old.
The cancer survivorship journey can have many components, but one of the most important is regular exercise. Physical activity for individuals who have completed cancer treatment can build stamina, reduce anxiety, improve quality of life and physical fitness, and even improve survival outcomes.
One of the reasons why cancer continues developing and growing is not just because cancer cells exist, but because they can recruit help from the body’s own blood vessels, stromal cells, and immune cells.
Actor Willie Garson was probably best known for his role as Stanford Blatch on “Sex and the City,” playing one of Carrie Bradshaw’s New York-savvy best friends.
Recent advances in immunotherapy have allowed doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to more effectively treat melanomas that spread to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy drugs such as checkpoint inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat melanomas, work to strengthen a patient’s immune system so that it can prevent a tumor from “turning off” the ability of the immune system to fight it.
A crucial challenge in cancer research is figuring out how to make immunotherapies more effective, channeling, and selectively guiding the body’s own immune responses in targeting and killing tumors.
University of Colorado Cancer Center member M. Eric Kohler, MD, PhD, was awarded a three-year, $270,650 Young Investigator Grant from CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, in partnership with the SebastianStrong Foundation, to develop a new treatment approach for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rare blood cancer in children.
Comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Norm MacDonald died Tuesday, after what his brother, Neil MacDonald, described as a nine-year battle with acute leukemia. Norm MacDonald, known for his intelligence and sarcastic wit, was 61.
Looking to understand why some brain tumors with a specific mutation can start to reject drugs commonly used to treat them, CU Cancer Center member Jean Mulcahy Levy, MD, led researchers from institutions around the country — including several from the University of Colorado School of Medicine — to study samples of brain tumors before and after being treated with the drug.
Evan Conant was one of the lucky ones. His stage I colon cancer was caught early, during a routine colonoscopy, and doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center were able to perform a surgery to remove the tumors entirely.
One of the most impactful advancements during the past decade in treating ovarian cancer is the use of PARP inhibitors (short for poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase). PARP inhibitors are a type of cancer drug that blocks the PARP enzyme from helping to repair DNA damage in cancer cells.
When Dara Aisner, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was approached by a colleague at another university about splitting the cost of a bulk purchase of new clinical testing products, she initially declined. Although it would be a valuable resource — and might even save her lab money in the long-term — the short-term cost was prohibitive.
The diagnosis came as a shock. Although, looking back, Bill Mordecai says it shouldn’t have been.
The doctors she saw initially didn’t seem too concerned, but 22-year-old Ella Neal knew something was seriously wrong. A persistent, unusual abdominal pain was keeping her up at night and distracting her from her studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.
David Kooyman transferred his care to University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor of thoracic oncology, Tejas Patil, MD, to be part of a clinical trial to help with his rare lung cancer gene fusion.
Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, becomes close with all of his patients, but he has a special bond with Gerry Turner, one of Schulick’s surgical patients for pancreatic cancer.
Despite the growing threat of the Delta variant, many Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are living life much as they did pre-pandemic — traveling, shopping, going out to eat, and forgoing masks in many situations.
Comedian Kathy Griffin, 60, shared the news with the world Monday via Twitter: She was about to undergo surgery for stage I lung cancer.
The Colorado Cancer Coalition launched the 2021–2025 Colorado State Cancer Plan in the town of Cheyenne Wells on July 23, in concert with the Communities That Care Community Action Plan with Cheyenne County Local Public Health. More than 40 Cheyenne County residents joined in person, and nearly 100 more joined virtually. One of the Colorado Cancer Coalition's main priorities is to focus on increasing capacity and screening rates in rural and frontier counties. Over the past year, the coalition has focused on Cheyenne County, which has the second highest age-adjusted incidence rate of cancer in Colorado.
Though the two main histological types of breast cancer — lobular and ductal — are treated with the same hormonal therapies, women with lobular breast cancer often have recurrence or metastasis of the disease several years after their initial treatment.
When you ask a classroom full of middle schoolers what they want to be when they grow up, you’re likely to get a range of answers, from “pro athletes” and “astronauts” to “musicians” and “movie stars.”
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were an adjustment period for medical professionals across the board, but they brought up particular challenges for the Cancer Clinical Trial Office (CCTO) at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. A number of procedures that used to take place in person or in the office — collecting signatures from patients and doctors, delivering medications, submitting data to trial sponsors — suddenly had to be done in a whole new way.
A study led by D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, director of thoracic oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and CU Cancer Center member, has helped to define MET amplification as a rare but potentially actionable driver for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
It’s difficult enough when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, but employed spouses of those who receive the diagnosis also are confronted with an array of practical problems. It’s now up to them to untangle issues around medical leave, health insurance, caregiving benefits, and more.
Dmitri Simberg, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and a CU Cancer Center member, has released the results of a new study of the effectiveness of different types of fluorescent labels used to monitor the accumulation of liposomes in tumors.
As director of the Animal Imaging Shared Resource at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Natalie Serkova, PhD, has played an integral part in many groundbreaking projects on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Nearly 30 researchers and physicians from the University of Colorado Cancer Center shared the results of their work at a June 15 online event titled “Collaborating to Conquer Cancer: A virtual conversation benefiting the CU Cancer Center.”
All cells use the process of metabolism to turn nutrients into energy — including cancer cells. Metabolism is a fundamental function whose role in cancer is being explored by researchers across the CU Cancer Center.
Two recent collaborative publications by CU Cancer Center members provide insights into how chronic inflammation can serve as a key factor in the development of leukemia and other blood cancers.
Though people most often think of melanoma as affecting the skin, the cancer can occur anywhere in the body where pigment-producing melanocyte cells are found. That includes mucous membranes in the head, neck, eyes, respiratory tract, and genitourinary region.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center is at it again this year, gathering a group of 12 employees or members who will rappel 44 stories to raise money and awareness for Colorado-based cancer research. The Over the Edge event is put on by the Cancer League of Colorado (CLC).
The recent decrease in the age recommendation for colorectal cancer screening came as no surprise to Chris Lieu, MD, associate director of clinical research at the CU Cancer Center. Like many cancer doctors around the country, Lieu has seen an alarming increase in recent years of cases of colorectal cancer in patients younger than 50.
A pilot study of childhood leukemia patients living near Colorado’s oil and gas drilling sites recently led to an American Cancer Society (ACS) grant award for CU Cancer Center member Lisa McKenzie PhD, MPH.
Research and treatment of head and neck cancers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center reached a new level this month with a highly competitive Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The SPORE was approved by NCI Scientific Program leadership for FY2021 funding; the projected starting date is July 1
The COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to significantly slow the spread of the virus, but the Pfizer and Moderna and vaccines are having an unforeseen consequence for breast cancer doctors. The vaccines often cause swelling in the armpit or underarm that can mimic the lumps associated with breast cancer, causing some women undue concern.
Three members of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and a longstanding supporter of the campus are part of a group of more than 200 researchers nationwide who were recognized in April with the Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Looking for better ways to treat patients with esophageal cancer, University of Colorado Cancer Center member Martin McCarter, MD, is investigating whether a new treatment sequence will result in better outcomes.
In a move that has the potential to save thousands of lives, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) this week lowered the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer from 50 to 45 for asymptomatic patients with no family history of colorectal cancer. Considered the leading source of medical guidance in the U.S., the USPSTF is an independent, volunteer organization made up of national experts in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, nursing, behavioral health, and more.
Long before RNA and mRNA became important parts of the COVID-19 vaccine conversation, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine were studying how RNA biology can improve diagnostics and therapeutics for a range of diseases.
It feels odd to use the phrase “perfect timing” when talking about a cancer diagnosis, but that’s exactly how Tonya Quinn describes her experience being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
May is National Cancer Research Month, during this time we aim to raise awareness of the high-quality, innovative cancer research happening at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. This research continues to help the more than 16.9 million people in the United States who are living with, through, and beyond their cancer diagnoses.
When Manali Kamdar, MD, joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Division of Hematology as clinical director of lymphoma services in January 2015, she was fresh off her third fellowship (a bone marrow transplant and lymphoma fellowship at Stanford) and ready for a new challenge.
Bringing more than two decades of experience in the fields of population health and cancer prevention and control, Linda Cook, PhD, will join the University of Colorado Cancer Center in July as associate director of population sciences.
Two members of the University of Colorado Cancer Center have received prestigious Idea Awards from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP).
Not all cancerous tumors are created equal. Some tumors, known as “hot” tumors, show signs of inflammation, which means they are infiltrated with T cells working to fight the cancer. Those tumors are easier to treat, as immunotherapy drugs can then amp up the immune response.
Thirty days of radiation treatments — five days a week, with Saturdays and Sundays off — are difficult for even the toughest of adults. But for a child, they’re even harder to bear. They involve fasting, waking up early, and lying in a dark room alone, without even your parents there for support.
Two University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers have received a five-year R01 Award for $497,893 per year from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study a potential new drug treatment for salivary gland cancer. The award is part of an inter-campus collaboration between Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD, co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program, and Tin Tin Su, PhD, co-leader of the Molecular and Cellular Oncology Program.
Over the past few years, Camille Stewart, MD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, has conducted research for the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) to examine unconscious bias within the organization. In her studies, Stewart examines unconscious bias and microaggressions by focusing on the subtle differences in introductions of speakers at professional meetings and conferences.
Pablo Garcia started to worry when he began experiencing unusual stomach symptoms. He worried even more when his doctor at the Salud Family Health Center in Longmont, Colorado, ordered a colonoscopy to check for signs of colon cancer. Pablo was unfamiliar with the procedure, the preparation, and the hospital where the test was to take place.
A new study co-authored by University of Colorado Cancer Center researcher Srinivas Ramachandran, PhD, shows how DNA segments known as enhancers function in cells.
Although rare, kidney cancer is the third most common type of solid tumor affecting children. Thankfully, pediatric kidney tumors are generally treatable and most have high cure rates. Treatment outcomes depend on several factors including age, tumor type, staging, genetics, the overall health of the patient, and the risk of treatment side effects.
A new phase 3 randomized clinical trial overseen by CU Cancer Center member Chad Rusthoven, MD, and Vinai Gondi, MD, from Northwestern University, is testing whether a new treatment approach could result in improved outcomes for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) that has spread to the brain.
A team of University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers recently published a paper offering new insight into the role that oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, plays in cancer development. CU Cancer Center member Joaquin Espinosa, PhD, is the senior researcher on the paper, which he hopes will help lead to more targeted treatments for cancer.
M. Eric Kohler’s commitment to both cancer research — particularly CAR T-cell therapy — and clinical care make him a double threat when it comes to battling pediatric blood cancer.
Though breast cancer patients are now living longer than ever before, treatments for the disease can have wide-ranging effects on their long-term quality of life. Physical, social, and sexual wellbeing all can be impacted by radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, antiendocrine therapy and other challenges that go along with a breast cancer battle.
Sabrina L. Spencer, PhD, is a CU Boulder researcher and a CU Cancer Center member. Spencer recently won two awards: the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award (from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation) and the Emerging Leader Award (from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research). The preliminary research she used to apply for the grants, "Melanoma subpopulations that rapidly escape MAPK pathway inhibition incur DNA damage and rely on stress signalling," was published in Nature Communications on March 19, 2021.
We spoke to Spencer about the awards and how she plans to use them to further her research.
Three University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers are part of a team that recently published a paper offering new insight into how the immune system relates to cancer. Quentin Vicens, PhD, Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, and Beat Vögeli, PhD, are authors on the paper, which looks at how an enzyme called ADAR1 operates in pathways associated with cancer.
A multiyear grant totaling $500,000 is aimed at making the University of Colorado Cancer Center even better at providing multidisciplinary care for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Ashton Villars has always been a problem solver. As a competitive athlete in basketball, waterskiing, and tennis and an actual rocket scientist, Villars has tackled every challenge in life head on — including his prostate cancer diagnosis. Now, he’s bringing that same problem-solving spirit to supporting cancer research.
Three projects from University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers have received grants from the Denver-based Michele Plachy-Rubin Fund for Pilot Grants in Brain Cancer Research. Receiving $40,000 each to fund their work around brain cancer are Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD; and the teams of Philip Reigan, PhD, and Michael Graner, PhD; and Natalie Serkova, PhD, and Nicholas Foreman, MD, MBChB.
For more than a year, a working group at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has been studying the many ways the aging process impacts cancer — including incidence, progression, and prognosis of the disease, therapeutic options and outcomes, and the psychosocial aspects of living with cancer.
The Denver chapter of Golfers Against Cancer this week named University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center researchers Matthew Sikora, PhD, Jamie Studts, PhD, and Jenna Sopfe, MD, as the beneficiaries of three $50,000 grants for cancer research and clinical trials.
At the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center, we use awareness months and days to highlight and honor our patients – both past and present – that have fought these cancers, as well as educate about warning signs, new treatments, clinical trials, prevention methods, and support options.
Actor Dustin Diamond, best known for playing the nerdy character Screech on teen sitcom “Saved By the Bell,” died Monday at age 44. Diamond died just weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that commonly occurs in the lungs but can also originate in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract.
For the past 20 years, the Union for International Cancer Control has designated February 4 as World Cancer Day — a day to raise awareness, improve education, and catalyze personal, collective, and government action around the deadly disease. The organization hopes to reduce the number of premature deaths from cancer and noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and CU Cancer Center member Lindsay Brubaker, MD, wants everyone to be aware of the relationship between cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted disease that causes the vast majority of cervical cancers. The current HPV vaccine protects against seven predominant strains of the virus that cause cancer, as well as the two that cause genital warts.
New research from CU Cancer Center member Jing Hong Wang, MD, PhD, and recent University of Colorado Immunology program graduate Rachel Woolaver, PhD, may help researchers develop more effective personalized immunotherapy for cancer patients.
There’s never a good time for a cancer diagnosis, but it’s especially difficult in the middle of a pandemic, when concerns about safety compound the worry and anxiety that come along with hearing, “you have cancer.”
A 13-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is coming to the University of Colorado Cancer Center to help lead efforts to develop and apply data science and artificial intelligence and methods to advance research and improve clinical practice.
The global pandemic of 2020 has been a pivotal year for the health care industry. This year lead some CU Cancer Center members to shift their focus to learning more about COVID-19 while others continued their research on cancer. Whether the focus was on COVID-19 or Cancer this year showed how coming together as a community can make a difference.
COVID-19 is the most-talked-about health concern in 2020, but for many, it is not the deadliest disease. University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center leadership is bringing attention to the fact that more people will die from cancer than COVID this year.
Like most people, Arnette Schouten has been touched personally by cancer. One of her cousins is in hospice following a battle with melanoma; her sister-in-law had a long fight with breast cancer; and Arnette herself had early symptoms of ovarian cancer that were caught in time for effective treatment.
The past year has illuminated the need for change. In addition to the toll it has taken on lives, health and livelihood, COVID-19 has shed light on health disparities and inequities facing our communities of color.
Elissa Kolva, PhD, clinical psychiatrist and CU Cancer Center member, shares tips that might be helpful for caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until you or a loved one are facing treatment for a cancer diagnosis, you may not realize the cost associated with treatment and doctor visits. Unfortunately, the cost is continuing to rise as new treatments are discovered and patients are responsible for more of those costs, even if they have health insurance coverage.
Craig Jordan, PhD, has spent more than 20 years developing better treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood and bone marrow that can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and central nervous system.
Longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announced it to the world on March 6, 2019: Like 50,000 other Americans each year, he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Thanks in large part to early work by investigators at the CU Cancer Center, patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a new treatment option that has fewer side effects and has been shown to increase longevity.
A new movie streaming on Disney+ is shining a spotlight on a rare type of bone cancer that occurs most often in children and young adults.
In the 1860s, French physician Armand Trousseau noticed that patients with a certain form of abnormal blood clotting often went on to be diagnosed with pancreas or gastric cancers. Unfortunately, at age 66 he noticed these same symptoms in himself and died of gastric cancer only a few months later.
Studies have long reported that Black cancer patients have poorer outcomes than their white counterparts. But two University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers decided to investigate the data further and figure out why. What they found was that the outcome disparity was caused not by biology, but simply by differences in access to health care.
A consortium of 17 cancer centers around the country have come together to better understand the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to delayed cancer detection, care and prevention.
By now, we’ve all heard about the importance of cancer screening. But for those with a detected cancer, a new article highlights that the removal of the malignancy might not be where you should stop in your health journey.
After nearly four years of work, a group of researchers and clinicians from the University of Colorado (CU) published a paper this week in the Clinical Cancer Research that shares findings from research looking at how the composition of ovarian cancer tumors changes during chemotherapy and contributes to therapeutic response.
Last month the American Cancer Society (ACS) released updated guidelines for cervical cancer screening. The most notable change in guidelines is the changes in the age to begin screening. Per the new guidelines, it is recommended that cervical cancer screening begin at age 25. Previously, the starting age for screening was 21.
As survival rates of many common cancers have improved it is no surprise that conversations around fertility preservation have also increased. These advances in treatments are letting patients think about their future beyond cancer, and if that future includes children.
A key component in treating newly diagnosed leukemia is genetic and molecular testing. With this knowledge, physicians can better determine which treatment options are best suited for patients based on genetic mutations, fusions and other biologic features.
Black and Hispanic children diagnosed with brain and central nervous system (CNS) cancers have worse outcomes than their white counterparts in the United States. The reasons behind this are unclear but may include socioeconomic factors and/or limited access to quality care. Now, researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus are collaborating to better understand these disparities, as well as develop ways to reduce the burden of disease in these populations.
University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor of Pathology Paul Jedlicka, MD, PhD, has received the St. Baldrick’s Research Grant with generous support from Marlee’s Smile. His research will focus on better understanding the mechanisms behind rhabdomyosarcoma, a common and aggressive cancer type in children. The goal of the research is to identify new approaches to interfering with disease progression.
On July 23rd, Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, director of the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center, Cathy Bradley, PhD, deputy director of the CU Cancer Center, James DeGregori, PhD, deputy director of the CU Cancer Center, took part in a virtual panel that highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on cancer as well as the ways the CU Cancer Center is redefining cancer care. The panel was moderated by Don Elliman, Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus.
The American Cancer Society recently updated its recommendation from limiting alcohol to avoiding alcohol altogether to reduce cancer risk. Here, the University of Colorado Cancer Center discusses this update with Valaree Williams, MS, RD, CSO, CNSC, FAND, lead dietician from the Oncology Supportive Services at UCHealth.
Cecilia Caino, PhD, has been researching cancer cell biology at University of Colorado Cancer Center since 2017. Cecilia earned her PhD in Cellular Biology from the University of Buenos Aires with her research component performed at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Wistar Institute. We spoke with Dr. Caino about her research on how cancer cells use energy and how their unique energy strategies could help cancer cells spread.
In the midst of a global pandemic, it seems odd to be asking my 18-year-old neighbor about the dangers of vaping. However, keeping a safe six-foot distance away and wearing homemade masks, we’re able to hold a decent conversation across the front lawn. My question is simple: Is vaping dangerous? His answer: “I don’t know, but I think it is safer than smoking a cigarette.”
“Have you ever had a dream when you wake up and everything is just kind of vibrating? It doesn’t make any sense but it kind of points the way?” asks Fort Collins artist and musician, Shelley Kerr.
In July 2019, Emily McClintock Addlesperger was on vacation in Maine with her husband, Jason, when she felt sick and was airlifted to Portland with internal bleeding. A tumor on her ovary had burst. It was Monday. On Saturday, she passed away. Emily was 44 years old.
January 2020 was unseasonably warm and dry, so pleasant that students on the Anschutz Medical Campus ate lunch at picnic tables and scientists emerged confused and squinting from hibernation in the campus research buildings. One person who was not there was Deguang Kong, visiting graduate student in the lab of Heide Ford, PhD, University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center Associate Director for Basic Research. With his PhD work wrapping up, Deguang had taken a quick leave to interview for jobs near his home…in Wuhan, China.
Telemedicine is not a new concept. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it might not be something that many providers or patients are becoming familiar with. Recently, it was announced that over 200,000 virtual primary care and specialty visits have occurred since the start of the pandemic at UCHealth, where University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center doctors provide care.
While runs and galas that raise money for many different causes have been affected by COVID-19 there is one fundraising event that is made for social distancing, rappelling down a building. The Over the Edge event by the Cancer League of Colorado (CLC) is doing just that while raising money for Colorado based cancer research.
Many patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have symptoms such as a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, and in some cases, incredibly low oxygen levels in their blood. Additionally, many patients report having long-lasting side effects, for example decreased lung capacity, even after they recover from the virus.
Originally posted on the University of Colorado (CU) Department of Psychiatry website. Tips from Joanna Arch, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and CU Cancer Center member.
In late 2019, two remarkable women were brought together by a shared experience that could only happen at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health & Wellness Center. Through their participation in the BFitBWell Program for cancer survivors, they found renewed strength and friendship.
Nearly two thousand people living in Colorado will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer (HNC) in 2020. Generally, a very aggressive disease, head and neck cancer require expert care that is not widely available in community cancer clinics. However, patients that are not well-represented in clinical studies, especially Hispanic patients, are less likely to get care from centers that specialize in the disease, such as the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States. In Colorado more than 2,500 people will be diagnosed with the disease and more than 1,400 will die of it in 2020. While advances in lung cancer treatment have gifted many patients with more time, the benefit of these treatments is limited by the racial and socioeconomic status of some patients in Colorado. A new study at the University of Colorado Cancer Center focuses on reducing disparities in lung cancer patients with diverse backgrounds.
While many cancer types have added new treatments including genetically targeted drugs and immunotherapies, treatment for the rare types of cancer known as sarcomas have remained largely the same for about two decades. Now, two grants to University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers from the Sarcoma Foundation of America hope to change this.
U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) released its 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings this week. In the category of best hospitals for pediatric cancer, Children’s Hospital Colorado was ranked ninth in the country. Pediatric cancer services are provided by University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine faculty who many are members of the CU Cancer Center.
University of Colorado (CU) researcher Srinivas Ramachandran, PhD, was named one of the five 2020 Pew-Stewart Scholars. These researchers are selected to spearhead innovations in cancer research.
University of Colorado radiation oncologist Chad Rusthoven, MD, was recently awarded the prestigious Dr. Charles A. Coltman Jr. research fellowship award from the Hope Foundation for Cancer Research. The award provides two years of salary support to engage early career investigators from Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) affiliated institutions in clinical trial research.
When a blood cancer patient needs a bone marrow transplant, there are four common donor sources: A matched related donor (sibling), a matched unrelated donor (from a donor database), a half-matched donor, or umbilical cord blood. Of course, there are plusses and minuses to each approach, but consensus has generally ranked a matched sibling first, followed by a matched unrelated donor, with cord blood and half-matched donors reserved for patients without either of the first two options. Now a University of Colorado Cancer Center study based on a decade of research and treatment may reshuffle this list. In fact, the comparison of 190 patients receiving cord-blood transplants with 123 patients receiving transplants from the “gold standard” of matched sibling donors showed no difference in survival outcomes between these two approaches, with significantly fewer complications due to chronic graft-versus-host disease in patients receiving transplants from cord blood.
The international First-line Radiosurgery for Small-Cell Lung Cancer (FIRE-SCLC) analysis led by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers and published today in JAMA Oncology details clinical outcomes for 710 patients with brain metastases from small cell lung cancer treated with first-line stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), without prior treatment with whole-brain radiation (WBRT) or prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI).
Results of the phase III Inter-B-NHL-ritux 2010 clinical trial reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine show 95 percent three-year survival for pediatric patients with advanced B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated with the addition of anti-cancer immunotherapy rituximab to standard chemotherapy. The trial represents a major international collaboration between the European Intergroup for Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (EICNHL) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and was led in the United States by Thomas Gross, MD, PhD, University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and in Europe by Véronique Minard-Colin, MD and Catherine Patte, MD, both pediatric oncologists at the Gustave Roussy Department of Child and Adolescent Oncology in Paris, France. The addition of rituximab decreased treatment failures by 70 percent resulting in a 10 percent increase in the three-year survival rate seen with chemotherapy alone (LMB protocol).
From Barbara Wenger, breast cancer survivor:
In mid-March, the University of Colorado Cancer Center Cell Technologies Shared Resource shut down along with almost all the other labs and technologies on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Then shared resource director, Steve Anderson, PhD, got an email from a colleague asking if the facility could make COVID-19 proteins. They could: The shared resource has been making proteins for over 15 years.
In 1844, multiple myeloma was first treated with a rhubarb pill and an infusion of orange peel. Since then, more than 15 drugs have earned FDA approval to treat multiple myeloma and with so many options, a major question has become what cocktail and sequence is best?
In the summer of 2019, Dr. Neil Box toured Colorado with the Sun Bus, attending events with over 700,000 participants and reaching 26,000 people in 46 service days. Free skin cancer screens identified 96 suspected skin cancers, including six cases of dangerous melanoma. The tour also gave Dr. Box the opportunity to hear what people think about skin cancer and sun protection.
One of the few labs on the Anschutz Medical Campus to remain mostly open during the COVID-19 shutdown is the University of Colorado Cancer Center Animal Imaging Shared Resource (AISR).
“For Christmas, we took a family photo with all the grandkids,” says Sam’s wife, Janet. She went on to explain, “The kids wanted to take this photo because they thought Sam would not be here next Christmas.”
You’ve heard of the Human Genome Project. Now the University of Colorado Cancer Center Human Immune Monitoring Shared Resource (HIMSR) is partnering with the Cancer Center Tissue Biobanking and Histology Shared Resource to store COVID-19 samples for individual research efforts and for a major project known as the COVID-ome.
During the COVID-19 pandemic patients with cancer may be experiencing mental health challenges such as increased anxiety or depression. The psycho-oncology team at the CU Cancer Center is providing tips that can help during these difficult times.
One of the major complications of severe COVID-19 is blood clots in the lungs – a pulmonary embolism that can block lung function leading to death. In fact, these blockages are similar to those from chronic heart disease, stroke, and even traumatic injuries like a car crash or gunshot wound. In these non-COVID-19 conditions, doctors use drugs to break up and dissolve the clotted blood. Now a team led by Colorado trauma surgeon Gene Moore, MD, is testing a similar approach against the dangerous blood clots associated with COVID-19.
We all know that in the spring or before going on a beach vacation, it’s important to get a solid tan so that we don’t get burned. After all, it’s sun burns and not sun tans that cause skin cancer, right? Not so fast, says Neil Box, PhD, University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and president of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation.
March 5th: The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Colorado is reported in a young man who had been on vacation to Italy before continuing his vacation amid the skiing and snowboarding crowds up in Vail.
March 10th: While I am in my lung cancer clinic, I get an email from Harry Ren, a doctor from the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital who had worked with us previously. He had heard COVID-19 was in Colorado. Harry warns me to wear protective equipment, to keep myself and the team safe. Over 3,000 Chinese doctors and nurses have gotten sick from COVID-19.
March 11th: The World Health Organization officially labels COVID-19 a pandemic.
March 12th: We admit our first lung cancer patient with COVID-19 symptoms – a potential “patient zero” for us. Bert, short for Roberta, is a wonderful 77-year old retired publisher, who appeared to be responding to her treatment but then developed increasingly difficult breathing and low-grade fevers over a week.1 On her CT scan there are new infiltrates in both lungs. She had received immunotherapy together with her last chemotherapy which can cause inflammation in the lungs. We send blood tests for different infections, including COVID-19.
Bert is stabilized and kept under isolation conditions. Steroids, which can be used to treat inflammation in the lungs, but which could worsen some infections, are kept in reserve while the test results are awaited.
March 16th: All my work meetings have become virtual. From our respective rooms and offices, the clinical and research teams discuss ongoing clinical trial accruals; then new and difficult cases in our weekly Tumor Board.
March 17th: My clinic has changed dramatically. I see a fraction of the patients I would normally see in person; the rest are through telehealth appointments. Our scheduler jokes that tech support for older patients has now become an everyday part of her job.
March 19th: There is little traffic and I get rock star parking at the clinic. We still do not have the COVID-19 results back on Bert. It has been 7 days since she was admitted. Her other infectious tests are all negative.
I do my usual phone call with the thoracic oncology consortium that I direct – 14 University Hospitals and Cancer Centers across the USA and Canada. Patient accruals to clinical trials are down. Everything is becoming bottlenecked. Patients are scared. Staff are scared. However, the feeling on the call is that, as doctors, this is what we went to medical school for.
Because medical situations are the explosions we run toward rather than away from. In medicine, we are used to chaos. We are used to finding and protecting the possible, under a barrage of the uncontrollable, the impossible.
On the call among my colleagues, we all feel as if we are the shepherds of our own flocks. Patients with lung cancer are, in theory, no more susceptible to catch COVID-19 than anyone else, but if they do catch it, they will have a higher risk of dealing with the worst of the symptoms COVID-19 has to offer.
I finish off the day with a Remote Second Opinion from Israel.2 In Haifa, the patient and her children are now faced with not just the stress of her lung cancer growing, but a new kind of stressor. To determine the next best treatment would require a biopsy but going into the hospital to get this done could increase her risks of COVID-19 infection. To not get the biopsy would mean hunkering down with a progressing cancer or switching straight to chemotherapy in the absence of rational alternatives. The risks they are most worried about all relate to catching COVID-19. The risks from her progressing cancer appear clearer.
There are internet adverts for virus killing light-wands. Hydroxy-chloroquine, an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory agent, is being thrown around as a possible ‘treatment’ for COVID-19 without any debate about the source or extent of the data available to support these claims. I revisit how patients with cancer can fall prey to promises of miraculous results from unproven treatments simply because they so desperately want the good news to be true.
March 21st: I get Bert’s COVID-19 test result back. She is negative. She finally starts steroids and her treatment can move on. It took 9 days to get her results back and we can only test people who are in-patients in the hospital. Any attempt to halt the spread of the virus by isolating known positive people using these tools is doomed to failure.3 Instead we have only one solution for the entire population: Keep distant, keep clean.
March 26th: Colorado as a state is ordered to stay at home. In the Cancer Center, we set in place jeopardy and double, triple and quadruple jeopardy plans. Who covers whose patients in the event one of our lung cancer doctors gets quarantined or sick. We even establish back-ups across other tumor-types in case whole teams are incapacitated.
March 31st: My thoughts on the similarities between how we are all dealing with COVID-19 worldwide and what patients with cancer have already been through from the moment they were diagnosed crystalize after a particular conversation in the clinic. The patient said to me, “Now you know what it’s like:”
This is what not knowing whether you will be well next month or on the verge of death feels like.
This is what not knowing if you will be financially ok or ruined because of matters beyond your control feels like.
This is what worrying that every minor symptom is the start of something far more deadly feels like.
This is what consuming every piece of news, hoping for a breakthrough, knowing that most of the breakthroughs you find are not real, but you still consume them because anything is better than nothing, feels like.
This is what watching others die and wondering if you will be next feels like.
But now we have to worry about COVID-19 as well.
That same day I see Bert again. She looks great and feels great. Her treatment, without the immunotherapy, is set to continue. Life goes on.
During COVID19, getting outside for socially distanced activities is one of the few forms of available recreation. But more people getting out also means more sun exposure, and so during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, University of Colorado Cancer Center reached out to one of our members, Neil Box, PhD, president of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation, to learn about the risks and how to stay safe.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center is excited to announce that the “interim” title before Christopher Lieu, MD, has been removed making him the Associate Director of Clinical Research. Dr. Lieu was in the interim role for 8 months before being named the associate director. Dr. Lieu, who is also the director of the gastrointestinal medical oncology program, joined the CU School of Medicine faculty in 2011. For the past nine years Dr. Lieu has been an investigator on numerous CU Cancer Center studies, including taking the lead on early-onset colorectal cancer research. Dr. Lieu received the National Cancer Institute Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award in 2017. Additionally, Dr. Lieu is the Vice-Chair of the National Cancer Institute Colon Cancer Task Force and on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Panel for Neuroendocrine Cancers.
An important goal of early-phase clinical trials is to discover a drug’s possible side effects. But despite FDA guidelines seeking to standardize this reporting, a University of Colorado Cancer Center study finds significant variation in how drug side effects are reported, potentially making some drugs seem safer or less safe than they really are.
Historically, pediatric cancer patients have been much more likely than adult cancer patients to enroll in clinical trials as part of their treatment. Now a study by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers working at Children’s Hospital Colorado shows pediatric oncology clinical trial enrollment may be down, from 40-70 percent seen in studies completed in the 1990s, to 20-25 percent in the early 2000s, to 19.9 percent in the current study.
The Colorado Cancer Screening Program (CCSP) for Patient Navigation is working with the safety net clinics throughout Colorado to help respond to the coronavirus and COVID-19.
“We are responding to the urgent request from our clinics, community partners and state agencies, indicating navigators need support to best serve clients in the front line and to help support patients with acute chronic conditions” says Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, Director of CCSP.
Within the CCSP program, feedback from the clinics note that their navigators have had to turn their efforts to working with COVID-19 as the priority.
“The cancer prevention aspect is not lost as the navigators and clinics, as we work on sharing the importance of rescheduling colonoscopies and if patients have signs and symptoms, they still need to be seen urgently, but we need to support the dire needs of our partners and their patients,” says Dwyer.
Working with Dr. Patricia Valverde, the Primary Investigator (PI) of the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative (PNTC) and the statewide Alliance for Community Health Workers and Patient Navigators, Dwyer and the teams are helping inform the development of supports such as telephone scripts, workflow and assessment tools, technical support and education modules and sessions to better support navigators who are now adapting their positions to work in remote settings, on the front lines and in a much different context.
“Having the expertise and input from clinicians, programs partners, bio-ethic professionals and policy experts is helping us create the best support for our Colorado navigators,” says Valverde.
Tejas Patil, MD, is a medical oncologist. Lisa Ferrigno, MD, MPH, FACS, is a trauma surgeon. Working with lung cancer patients at University of Colorado Cancer Center, they both, independently, noticed something strange: A small percentage of patients taking high doses of the drug osimertinib (Tagrisso) were developing a rare twist in the right side of their colon, a condition called cecal volvulus. Their case series, published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology, describes three of these patients, suggesting that doctors who use osimertinib with EGFR+ non-small cell lung cancer patients may consider watching for rare cases of cecal volvulus along with more expected side effects.
Benjamin Brewer, PsyD, is a University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and health psychologist at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Program, providing mental health and counseling services for highly immunocompromised patients who are often in the hospital four weeks or more. For these patients, catching COVID-19 could be deadly and the climate of uncertainty adds another layer of stress to an already challenging experience. Here we talk with Dr. Brewer about his patients’ new worries and about how our health system is adapting to meet the mental health needs of cancer patients during COVID-19.
Cells have a big decision: Should they replicate or sleep? Healthy cells can go either way. Cancer cells’ replication switches are stuck in the ‘on’ position. Now a study by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers working at CU Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute and published today in the journal Science overturns the conventional wisdom of how these switches work – a model accepted since 1974 and included in current textbooks.
Most ovarian cancer starts in fallopian tubes. Then it sloughs from its site of origin and floats around in fluid until finding new sites of attachment. It’s not easy for cancer cells to survive away from their moorings. Observations by ovarian cancer doctors at University of Colorado Cancer Center and elsewhere hint at how they might do it: These doctors have seen that ovarian cancer cells often collect in tissues with high fat content. Could these cells be somehow using fat to survive the journey from their point of origin to their sites of growth?
It didn’t take long for Jamie Studts, PhD, to notice a big difference between Kentucky, where he worked for 13 years in the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and Colorado, where he was recently appointed Co-Leader of the CU Cancer Center Cancer Prevention & Control Program: “After my recruitment, I was on a visit to search for a house and I went to a bar with some family who live in the area. Outside there were 100 people and not one of them was smoking. There were maybe two or three people vaping, but nobody was smoking. That’s pretty different in Kentucky,” he says.
The pediatric brain cancer known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is almost uniformly fatal. In part, this is due to where and how it grows, forming as a diffuse net of cells in a part of the brainstem called the pons, which controls essential functions like breathing and swallowing. Another factor that makes DIPG especially dangerous is a lack of treatments – currently, there are no targeted therapies or immunotherapies proven effective to treat the condition, and the many chemotherapy clinical trials seeking to treat DIPG have been uniformly unsuccessful.
French and Australian studies suggest the anti-malarial drug chloroquine could be effective against COVID-19. Promising early results now lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fast-track its own tests, and have spurred the drug’s maker, Bayer, to offer the drug free for treatment. Earlier today, President Trump (among others) touted chloroquine as a ready-to-use treatment for the disease.
We should all be doing our best to keep from catching COVID-19, if not for ourselves and our loved ones, then to avoid passing the disease to people in high-risk populations – like cancer patients taking chemotherapy, which can lower white blood cell counts and undercut the effectiveness of remaining white blood cells, leaving these patients immunocompromised and less able to fight infections like COVID-19.
Immunotherapies have revolutionized the treatment of many cancers. The most common anti-cancer immunotherapies are called checkpoint inhibitors, which block a handshake between the protein PD-L1 on tumor cells and the protein PD-1 on immune system T cells. Checkpoint inhibitors including pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) block the action of PD-1 and atezolizumab (Tecentriq) blocks the action of PD-L1, but the result is largely the same: When this tumor-to-T-cell handshake can’t take place, the immune system attacks the cancer.
Cancer researchers have known for years that Black and Hispanic patients have worse outcomes than their non-Hispanic White peers. At least when it comes to adults. But few studies have explored these same disparities in pediatric patients, and fewer still have looked for racial/ethnic differences in treatment outcomes in pediatric brain cancer patients.
The Association of Community Cancer Centers announced recipients of its 11th annual Innovator Awards.
Uncomfortable and possibly discriminatory situations are what keep many LGBTQIA+ community members from seeking health care on a regular basis.
Of all cancers, pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest to suspect, screen for or treat. For Castle Pines resident Maureen Shul, the disease took away two family members and changed her outlook on life.
Despite the continuing effects of COVID-19, a dedicated community of supporters converged Sept. 18 for the sold-out Evening of Hope, generating more than $100,000 to benefit pancreatic cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.