James Bird gets emotional talking about it. How he qualified for a clinical trial that, in his view, preserved his manhood after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2022.
“The day I went in to see if I qualified, there were 10 other guys out there in the lobby who didn’t get into the trial,” he says. “I felt so sorry for them. One of the technicians who was involved with the trial told me he was getting calls from all over, from guys begging to get in. That’s how important this is.”
When your life is about being outdoors — about making your way up and around complex rock formations, looking for that flow you get into as every foothold and ledge reveals itself — the last place you want to be is stuck in a hospital bed, enduring the side effects of chemotherapy.
Barb Spanjer lay on the floor of her office. She had never been so tired. Her stomach and left side ached, and the pain under her left shoulder blade was relentless. She had seen her doctor a couple of times that autumn of 2017, but the medicine for the ulcer he suspected she had wasn’t working. She had been too tired and too busy running the construction company she and her husband, Steve, owned to follow up with the doctor. But it was getting harder to ignore the symptoms. Something just wasn’t right.
Ryan’s father died of colorectal cancer when he was just 45, so Ryan knew he was at high risk for the disease. When he turned 50, he made plans to get a screening colonoscopy. (In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer from 50 to 45 for men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer.)
To start with, there was his usual schedule of national travel for his job as a Wall Street journeyman – he was always flying somewhere. Add to that moving to Castle Rock from San Francisco, plus a love for concerts and baseball games and whatever else life offers, and it’s no wonder that Lincoln Yersin was feeling run down.
But this run down? This exhausted? He went to see his primary care provider in San Francisco a few times, had a few tests, and the diagnosis was stress.
Before receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis eight years ago – a diagnosis that resulted from persistent self-advocacy – Carolyn Degrafinried spent one awful weekend wondering if she was losing her mind.
Jane Hart is a lot of things: extremely proud mom of Shelby, daughter extraordinaire and apple of Jane’s eye. Dog mom to (deservedly spoiled) Maizy, Taco, Winnie, and Walter. Collector of Talavera pottery. Unabashed “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” fan. A surprising 71, because she looks at least 10 years younger.
Cancer survivor – stage 4 laryngeal cancer that necessitated a tracheostomy and laryngectomy, that forced her to relearn how to breathe and talk.
Amanda Vegter did not have time for whatever it was that she felt on the side of her left breast.
She was six weeks into her fourth year of veterinary school, she had backpacking trips to go on with her boyfriend, walks to go on with her two dogs, plus plans for a summer externship in South Africa. She was busy and happy and it was probably nothing.
But that firm spot she first felt on her breast in January 2021 while working out at her boyfriend’s house didn’t just go away. Now she can look back and shake her head – of course it was breast cancer.
Scarlet Doyle was 29 when she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare type of breast cancer. She had found a lump and had to advocate for herself to get her breast cancer diagnosis. After having her care transferred to the University of Colorado Cancer Center, she was seen by Breelyn Wilky, MD, associate professor of medical oncology and deputy associate director of clinical research at the CU Cancer Center, and Gretchen Ahrendt, MD, professor of surgical oncology.
Less than a year ago, Ken Herfert got a puppy and named her Bailey after the Colorado town where she was born.
This was a big deal for several reasons, including the responsibility of adopting a new family member, but perhaps the biggest was this: About six months after receiving a diagnosis of esophageal cancer in early 2018, Herfert’s oncologist in California told him he had maybe a year to live, maybe less.
It was summer 2021, and the sarcoma that had started in the Denver resident’s left thigh seemed to be under control, subdued by radiation and chemotherapy following a surgery in 2018 to remove the initial tumor and another surgery in 2019 to remove cancerous tumors in his groin. McNeilly was doing so well, in fact, that his doctors at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital authorized a “chemo vacation” to give his body a break from some of the side effects of the treatment.
In recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day on June 5, we wanted to share how far cancer survivorship has come, our efforts at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to further the research that results in survivorship, and some of our survivor stories from the past year.
When Myles Krick started his freshman year of college in fall 2021, he couldn’t help but look back to 15 years ago, when he received the brain cancer diagnosis that made his family worry he might not live long enough to go to college.
At her lowest point, after hearing there wasn’t much more that medicine or science could do for her, Connie Walters asked her best friend and ex-husband, Abel, to stay with her overnight. She wasn’t sure she would wake up and she didn’t want to die alone.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
University of Colorado Cancer Center member Ryan Weight, DO, MS, has always been passionate about caring for patients. However, in early April, in the middle of a global pandemic, the way he goes about patient care looks a little different.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
It is said that ignorance is bliss. In some cases, choosing to not acknowledge a “truth” or “fact” is detrimental to an individual. However, there are times when not knowing is the thing that keeps you going. Take Lydia Mallernee for example. When she was diagnosed with cancer in March of 2018, Lydia was unaware that she had two to eight months to live.
After 8 years of serving as the Mayor of the city of Centennial, Cathy Noon was ready for a vacation. A shocking diagnosis of late-stage pancreatic cancer turned her plans of rest and relaxation upside down. Now, Cathy’s care team at theUniversity of Colorado Cancer Centeris giving her what she desires most – time.
“I have good news and bad news,” the ER doctor told me. I had been sent to the ER under the suspicion of a heart attack because of chest pains. “We took an x-ray of your chest. The good news is that your heart is fine. However, we found a large mass in your left lung. You probably have lung cancer. You should see someone about that.” Then he handed me a prescription for a very powerful pain killer. I did not see that as a good omen.
Within a few days I had the PET scan and the biopsy to confirm the diagnosis: non-small cell lung cancer. It had already metastasized to my spine and my ribs (the cause of my chest pains). I was Stage IV from the initial diagnosis.
My first meeting with the community oncologist was not real upbeat. I was warned to stay off the internet because I would only find the dismal survival statistics. The best they could offer was the standard of care chemotherapy, a doublet of a platinum-based chemo drug paired with another drug.
Of course I didn’t stay off the internet. I researched what were the “new and exciting” lung cancer treatments. I learned about gene mutations that could drive the growth of a cancer. Ones such as EGFR and ALK were responsible for some lung cancers. And for these there were already drugs available to treat, a class of drugs called inhibitors.
I also researched what cancer centers and what doctors were the experts in treating lung cancer and were doing research into new treatments. The University of Colorado Cancer Center was often on the top of the list. Additionally, I found that Dr. Ross Camidge was a leader in the research and practice around the overall treatment of lung cancer and specifically the treatment of mutation-driven cancers. And best of all, this was practically in my own backyard, a mere 60 miles from northern Colorado.
It was amazingly easy to get an appointment with Dr. Camidge. He educated me about the mutations that had been identified in NSCLC. And what drugs were available to treat which mutations. Another biopsy was scheduled and a molecular analysis to determine what actionable mutations, if any, I might have.
It was indeed my lucky day (if there is such a thing for someone with lung cancer) when he informed me that I was ALK positive. And there was an inhibitor to treat it. The drug crizotinib had been approved by the FDA just the previous last year. I started on it and my next scan showed great results. I was sent back to my local oncologist. Dr. Camidge said to return when my cancer comes back.
Inhibitors are truly wonder drugs. A few pills each day. And overall less-severe side effects than traditional chemotherapy. But they have a limitation. Almost invariably, resistance to the drug will develop. Minor mutations in the gene driving the cancer disable the drug’s therapeutic power. And the cancer comes back.
After about three years of life as normal, routine scans showed that my cancer was back. I had developed resistance to crizotinib. I returned to UCH and Dr. Camidge. He told me about a new ALK-inhibitor that was then in clinical trials. Brigatinib was successful in overcoming the resistance to crizotinib. He offered me the opportunity to enter the clinical trial.
I had several motivations to enroll in a clinical trial. Most importantly, it would provide access to a drug that potentially control my cancer. It’s also an important way that the practice of medicine can make scientific progress. I had run across many claims for cancer treatments that were based on limited, inaccurate, or anecdotal data. A clinical trial is the standard by how claims of efficacy are judged. The data is collected according to a very precisely defined protocol. The results are presented at professional conferences and published in established medical journals.
The clinical trial also allowed me to work more closely with the doctors, staff, and trial coordinators. I received wonderful support. Appointments were scheduled for me. The drugs were handed to me. I didn’t have to deal with insurance for anything related to the trial. I was responsible for only the standard of care items that I would have had regardless of my trial participation.
And then there’s the economic motivation to participate in a trial. You not only get access to the drug that could save your life, but in most cases the drug is provided by the drug manufacturer at no cost.
Brigatinib controlled my cancer for a year before I showed progression. Next up was the lorlatinib clinical trial. Lorlatinib is a third-generation ALK inhibitor and showed promise of working after brigatinib. I came off brigatinib, signed the paperwork, and a few weeks later started lorlatinib. Many more tests were involved. I had more scans and blood work. I spent a day at the hospital having my heart activity tracked via EKG after I took the dose of lorlatinib. And during each visit I took cognitive tests, computer-based activities to test my reaction time and short term memory.
Lorlatinib worked great for a while. But once again I showed progression, localized in a few lymph nodes. This time, there was no next-generation drug trial to jump to. Instead we opted to use targeted radiation to zap (technical term: ablate) the suspicious lymph nodes. I became familiar with the Radiation Oncology department on the first floor of the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion. A few months later after 10 radiation treatments, my scans were clear. My cancer was under control. I was fortunate to continue on with the clinical study protocol.
I’ve repeated this process two more times. As long as lorlatinib provides overall control of my cancer and the sites of progression are localized, I will continue. My last radiation treatment was January 2019 and my scans have been coming back clear – no sign (yet) of the cancer coming back.
This treatment of using radiotherapy to treat this pattern of progression in ALK patients was pioneered here at UCH.
Over these years, I’ve been fortunate that I had an “easy” cancer. I know that for many, their cancer is anything but easy. But I’ve been able to maintain my life as normal. I continued to work for several years after diagnosis before I took an early retirement offer.
I enjoy my retired life. My wife and I travel. I travel into the mountains often. And after a hiatus of about 50 years, I’ve started camping again. It’s been great to head off to the mountains with one of my son. And this last summer, my wife has started to join me on my camping trips.
Patients aren’t the only ones affected by cancer. Often alongside patients are family caregivers who struggle to keep their own lives on track while supporting their loved one’s treatment and recovery. It’s not easy. For example, a study showed that stress increases a family caregiver’s chance of death by 63 percent over four years. Now a nearly $4M grant from the National Cancer Institute to researchers at University of Colorado Cancer Center seeks to lessen the impacts of stress specifically on cancer caregivers who are also employed. The project hopes to help caregivers manage the demands of their jobs and their lives, while also meeting the day-to-day needs of their loved one with cancer.
The grant leverages the expertise of co-principal investigators Cathy Bradley, PhD, a health economist, and Mark Laudenslager, PhD, a stress researcher.
Dr. Bradley, Deputy Director and the David F. and Margaret Turley Grohne Endowed Chair for Cancer Prevention and Control Research at CU Cancer Center, focuses her research on defining the associations between health insurance and employment on cancer outcomes, while identifying socioeconomic disparities in the delivery of and response to care. Dr. Laudenslager, is a professor in the CU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, and director of the Behavioral Immunology and Endocrinology Laboratory. His works focuses on the physiological impacts of stress such as increased inflammation and shortening of telomeres, the protective caps on chromosomes that shorten with stress and aging.
The current study will test the ability of an intervention that was proven effective in reducing stress in cancer caregivers when delivered face-to-face, now transformed by Laudenslager and former fellow, Dr. Nicole Amoyal-Pensak, for delivery via a website (Pep-Pal) at the caregiver’s discretion.
“Mark has developed effective interventions to reduce stress in caregivers. My research is on employment outcomes of people with cancer. We intersect at the point of employed caregivers,” Bradley says.
Pep-Pal will be delivered via a mobile application and/or website including eight 20-minute sessions: (1) Introduction to Stress Management, (2) Stress and the Mind-Body Connection, (3) How Our Thoughts Can Lead to Stress, (4) Coping With Stress, (5) Strategies for Maintaining Energy and Stamina, (6) Coping With Uncertainty, (7) Managing Relationships, and (8) Getting the Support You Need. In addition, the website includes short (3-minute) videos demonstrating an activity or exercise to decrease stress, focusing on relaxation and mood.
“The caregiver actually gets to select between face-to-face meetings with a social worker, video chat with the social worker, or using Pep-Pal at their discretion. The idea is to maximize caregiver convenience and hopefully keep them more engaged during the three-month program,” Laudenslager says.
The study follows caregivers for one year, starting when the caregiver’s patient begins “adjuvant” therapy (used after primary treatment to keep cancer from returning).
“The grant will allow us to look at whether less stress correlates with improved health and employment outcomes for the caregivers – and perhaps result in improved outcomes for patients,” Bradley says.
If the intervention proves effective in employed caregivers, the team hopes the program could provide a model for reducing caregiver stress, and perhaps be useful with health conditions beyond cancer.
Cancer treatment isn’t the same for everybody. Research by the University of Colorado Cancer Center Deputy Director, Cathy J. Bradley, PhD, and Assistant Professor, Marcelo Perraillon, PhD, shows that people in rural areas of Colorado are diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, do not get the same care, and have poorer outcomes than people living in urban areas.
If you drew a line straight back between your eyes, you would hit the pituitary gland in about three inches. Though only about the size of a pea, the pituitary is a master regulator of hormone systems throughout the body. It’s also a fairly common origin of tumors. One in every 10,000 people will be diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor originating in the pituitary; one in five people will develop a pituitary mass without knowing it. Most of these pituitary masses aren’t cancer – they become dangerous only when they affect pituitary function or grow large enough to squeeze against other nearby structures, often creating headaches or affecting vision. But some pituitary masses are cancer. Knowing the difference can be tricky and treating these diverse pituitary tumors can be especially challenging.
For most people finding out that they have prostate cancer multiple times in the span of just a few years seem like a cruel joke. But Jonathan Ormes is not most people. After being told for the third time that he had the disease he decided to take a chance on a University of Colorado Cancer Center study drug that, so far, is controlling his cancer. Ormes is not letting prostate cancer slow him down. In fact, he is using his experience to create poetry.
Crizotinib and entrectinib are both active against ROS1+ non-small cell lung cancer. But which is best? The answer seems easy: Just compare the drugs’ clinical trial results. However, not all trials are created equal, and these differences in trial designs can lead to irrelevant comparisons – like comparing athletes’ running times without noting that one ran a kilometer while the other ran a mile. Now results from an innovative, “virtual” clinical trial presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2019 attempt to place crizotinib and entrectinib on an equal playing field. In this analysis, patients taking entrectinib were able to stay on treatment longer and had about almost 6 months longer progression-free survival than patients treated with crizotinib.
The incidence of early onset colorectal cancer has increased nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago aimed to identify factors that may aid in earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2019 shows that while 73 percent of surveyed oncology providers believe that medical marijuana provides benefits for cancer patients, only 46 percent are comfortable recommending it. Major concerns included uncertain dosing, limited knowledge of available products and where to get them, and possible interactions with other medications.
The use of textured breast implants during augmentation or reconstructive surgery can slightly increase a patient’s risk of developing Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a form of cancer that is distinct from other breast cancers. Nowan articlerecently published inAesthetic Surgery Journalformalizes the treatment strategy for this diagnosis, offering clear guidelines for plastic and oncologic surgeons. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and World Health Organization all recommend the surgical technique known as stepwise en bloc resection, which includes total capsulectomy (removing scar tissue around the implant), explantation (removal) of the implant, complete removal of any associated masses, and removal of any involved (proven by biopsy) or suspicious lymph nodes.
Emily Daniels was 32 years-old and pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. One year later, Emily presented a check for more than $100,000 to theLung Cancer Colorado Fund(LCCF) bringing the fund over the $1 million mark.
Study after study has shown that for cancer survivors, exercise is good. But what kind of exercise is best? A pilot study by Colorado researchers hints that group exercise and personal training may lead to similar physical gains, but that a specially designed class for cancer survivors incorporating group dynamics-strategies may increase quality of life beyond that of survivors using personal training. The study now results in a $718,000 grant from the American Cancer Society that will dramatically expand the program, including new offerings through University of Colorado Cancer Center at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.
When Tom Donahue came to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital (UCH), University of Colorado Cancer Center’s clinical partner, he thought he had a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. But Donahue had a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia (precancerous cells) and an oncologist in Scottsbluff, Nebraska referred to him to UCH because he needed to see a specialist.
According to the National Cancer Institute, patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) between the years 1995 and 2001 had 15 percent chance of being alive 5 years later. For patients with stage IV disease, describing cancer that has spread to distant sites beyond the original tumor, that statistic drops to 2 percent. Now a University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology tells a much more optimistic story. For stage IV NSCLC patients whose tumors test positive for rearrangements of the gene ALK (ALK+ NSCLC), treated at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital between 2009 and 2017, median overall survival was 6.8 years. This means that in this population, instead of only 2 percent of patients being alive 5 years after diagnosis, 50 percent of patients were alive 6.8 years after diagnosis.
Clinical trial results published in the journal Nature Medicine show 91 percent response rate to the combination of venetoclax with azacitidine in older adults newly diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Of 33 patients given combination venetoclax and azacitidine, 20 experienced a complete response (aka complete remission) and eight experienced a complete response but with continued low blood counts. Of the three patients who did not respond to treatment, two discontinued the study before the first week due to personal reasons unrelated to treatment or side-effects.
Bob Rupp is a drummer. He works with the best musicians in the world and he’s celebrated for his contributions to the music scene in the Metro Area. There is even a day in his honor in the City and County of Denver.
Last year when surgeon Gretchen Ahrendt, MD, was considering a move from the University of Pittsburgh to accept the position of Director of the Diane O’Connor Thompson Breast Center on the Anschutz Campus, she and her husband, Steven – also a surgical oncologist – agreed their three daughters would have to support the move.
For many years, oncologists have known that cancers can secrete complex molecules into the blood and that levels of these molecules can be easily measured. These so-called ‘tumor markers’ are traditionally associated with a single dominant cancer type, for example Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) linked to prostate cancer, Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) to colorectal cancer, CA125 to ovarian cancer, CA19.9 to pancreatic cancer and CA27.29 to breast cancer. However, the real challenge has been to determine a practical use for these markers. They don’t appear to be useful as a means of screening otherwise healthy people for evidence of underlying cancers.
With long blonde hair, a fit physique, and an overwhelmingly positive attitude, Katy Davenport hardly looks like someone who is enduring cancer. Yet at 34 years old Katy went in for a precautionary colonoscopy after noticing some blood in her stool. Her doctor was shocked to discover a tumor.
In this episode of "How This Is Building Me," Drs Camidge and Vokes discuss the span of countries and institutions along Dr Vokes’ journey to MD Anderson Cancer Center, how Dr Vokes balances research and work in the clinic, and how the correct mentors can help shape career paths in oncology.