By Erica Quiroz, MD Anderson staff writer
Although Jamie Gilmore's cancer has relapsed three times, she's hoping the fourth time will be the charm to finally beat it.
Gilmore was first diagnosed at 14 years old with acinic cell carcinoma (ACC), a rare salivary gland cancer. But her most notable experience with ACC happened when she was 20.
She had pain on the left side of her face -- the exact spot where she had a mass removed six years earlier -- and was scheduled for surgery.
A happy surprise
"This time the tumor was all around my facial nerves," Gilmore says. "The surgery was going to be five to six hours for removal of the tumor and then another five to six hours for reconstructive surgery."
As Gilmore's husband and family waited, the anesthesiologist noticed her hormone levels were elevated.
"My mom had me on a lot of natural remedies, and I thought that was why," she says. "When the anesthesiologist came in and said I was pregnant, I was shocked."
Recently in Cancer Research Category
By Erica Quiroz, MD Anderson staff writer
By Val Marshall
Val Marshall's cancer journey began in May 2009, when her son Addison was diagnosed acute lymphocytic leukemia. A visit to the family doctor for what they thought was a simple high school football injury turned out to be much more.
Inspired by her son's strength and hope, Val strives to be a voice that connects other parents on this journey. Her series shares insight into her life as a mom of a typical teenager who just happens to be fighting leukemia.
Addison Marshall crush cancer
Friday, Sept. 21, was a special day, as I was invited to two very different events.
MD Anderson hosted a press conference highlighting the new Moon Shots Program, boldly defining the next frontier of cancer research. Eight diseases (lung, melanoma, breast/ovarian, prostate and several blood cancers) have been sniper-targeted for eradication in the coming decade.
True to form, MD Anderson invited family and caregivers to meet with MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, M.D., before the press conference and be awarded assigned seats. I'm not sure if I would be impressed meeting Lady Gaga, but I was gaga over meeting Dr. D.
By Ronald A. DePinho, M.D.
Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., became president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in September 2011.
For MD Anderson Cancer Center, a place where hope abounds and an indomitable spirit is on constant display in our clinics and hallways, Sept. 21, 2012 marks a new chapter in our 71-year history.
Today we take another step -- make that a giant leap -- toward fulfilling our mission of Making Cancer History.
With this morning's launch of our Moon Shots Program, we set forth on a bold new course that will better enable us to convert scientific discoveries into clinical applications and to more quickly and directly benefit the patients who turn to us for help, for hope and for cure.
Inspired by President John Kennedy's historic speech here in Houston 50 years ago this month that both challenged and propelled America's space program to reach the moon within a decade, our Moon Shots Program is equally ambitious -- and achievable, aiming to significantly increase patient survival and reduce suffering over the next decade.
MD Anderson is all about new ideas.
For more than 70 years, we've been developing and researching new drugs, combinations, diagnostic tests, techniques and technologies for our patients and others around the world.
But where we draw the line is directly endorsing a company or a company's product or service.
For that reason, you might be a little confused about some buzz regarding a skin care product called Nerium, and a vague connection to MD Anderson.
It's suggested that the product, which is featured on multiple social media channels, the product's website and at in-home sales parties, was discovered by an MD Anderson researcher.
By: Ed Steger
Ed Steger is a head and neck cancer survivor. He was diagnosed in 2005 and after rough patches in 2006 and 2007 has been in remission. He writes a blog about his cancer experience at www.hncancer.blogspot.com.
As part of my volunteer activities as a patient research advocate in MD Anderson's head and neck SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) program, I've observed multiple patients going through the tumor tissue biopsy consent process.
These sessions were generally held a day or two before major surgery, thus competing with the patients' already extreme stress, strong emotions and very trying circumstances.
The clinician asking for the biopsy consent was well skilled in communicating with each patient/caregiver the process of donating their cancer tumor tissue for research purposes. Yet, there were still questions, some explicit, others implicit, asked by patients and caregivers in those consent sessions.
Witnessing these interactions makes it clear to me that increased patient awareness and information beforehand could make this an easier process for the patient, clinician and doctor, ultimately improving the science of curing cancer.
What you need to know
At some point during your cancer journey at MD Anderson (or at your own cancer center) your doctor may ask for your consent, or permission, to use your tumor tissue for research purposes. If you consent, you will be asked to sign a form to that effect.
There are three distinct purposes for evaluating a tumor sample:
By Charles Haynes, J.D.
In 2006, frustrated by the lack of research and treatment options for patients with ependymoma, Mark Gilbert, M.D., deputy chair of the Department of Neuro-Oncology at MD Anderson, proposed creating an international group to develop new treatments for this rare type of brain tumor.
Under Gilbert's guidance, the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) Foundation was established with the mission of developing new treatments for ependymoma, improving the outcomes and care of patients and, ultimately, finding a cure.
Today, the CERN Foundation is a dynamic, multi-institutional collaborative effort comprised of investigators from over 20 international cancer centers with leadership from MD Anderson (for adults) and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (for pediatrics).
The CERN initiative is built around the following interrelated projects: pathology, developmental therapeutics, stem cells and laboratory models, patient outcomes assessment, public awareness and outreach. These complimentary projects are all focused on supporting CERN's clinical trial efforts, which are currently accruing patients to three Phase II trials and one Phase I trial.
On April 19, 2012, the CERN Foundation was joined by patients, caregivers, advocates and health care professionals from around the world in celebrating the first Ependymoma Awareness Day. Ten governmental entities, including the City of Houston and the state of Texas, officially recognized April 19 as Ependymoma Awareness Day.
Hope takes flight
The special day was commemorated with a mass butterfly release on the grounds of the Houstonian Hotel. Over 700 live butterflies were released to honor those affected by ependymoma and to support ependymoma research.
I have spent more than 30 years of my career trying to help cancer patients prevent or overcome sexual problems
related to treatment. Although we better understand the causes of those
problems, and have a few medical options to restore firm erections,
most men still don't get accurate information when they need it.
To try to solve this situation, my research team has been working with a small business grant from the National Cancer Institute (and our small business partner Paul Martinetti, M.D., of Digital Science Technologies L.L.C.), to create a website that will provide education, self-help suggestions and advice on getting the best medical care for men's cancer-related sexual problems.
In creating the website, we interviewed 48 men of varying ages and ethnicities with different types of cancer. We asked them to review drafts of the website and report their experiences.
The first, rather discouraging finding was that many men had never been given a chance to discuss this important part of life after cancer. Some valued the interview so much that they sent emails or called back to personally thank Evan Odensky, the senior behavioral research coordinator on our project.
Another common pattern was that men didn't realize how important a sexual problem could be until they experienced it. When they were planning their cancer treatment, 62% worried just a little or not at all that cancer treatment would damage their sex life.
Preserving sexual function was a major factor in choosing a treatment for only 13%. At the time of the interview, however, 79% of men rated their sexual function as moderately to very important.
By Cheryl Keenan, advanced practice nurse, Department of Neurosurgery
I have been involved with Run for the Rose since it started 10 years ago.
Dr. Marnie Rose was one of our patients. I met her when she was working in her pediatric residency. She was a brave and courageous physician and patient.
It was during her residency that Marnie found she had a brain tumor.
In 2005, the neurosurgeon I worked for and who helped care for Marnie during her illness was also diagnosed with a brain tumor. My involvement with these two exceptional physicians has driven me to be passionate about the care of brain tumor patients and Run for the Rose.
The Brain and Spine Center team from MD Anderson is out there every year with a booth for patient and family education. We pass out information about our center, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the world.
Financial support from the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation has done so much to help with brain cancer research and improved patient outcomes in the Brain and Spine Center.
It's also heartwarming to see survivors with their families returning to support Run for the Rose.
Results from a report released today in a leading medical journal indicate that low dose daily aspirin reduces the risk of metastasis of several cancers. According to articles in The Lancet, the protective effect occurs within 3-5 years of beginning aspirin use.
Read more about the study in a post from our Cancer Frontline blog.
Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D, MD Anderson's provost and executive vice president and a professor of cancer biology and cancer medicine, shares his insights on the study's significance and addresses questions about aspirin dose, and how cancer patients should respond to this news.
At MD Anderson, we continue to focus on improving the effectiveness of cancer treatments for our patients.
Today, with the announcement of the new Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS), we intend to develop a more robust process for testing new cancer targets and drugs. The institute will make that possible by accelerating the translation of scientific discoveries into new, safe and effective drugs for cancer patients.
In 2011, we reached the 40th anniversary of the landmark National Cancer Act, heralded in when President Richard Nixon declared a "war on cancer" in 1971 and increased the federal dollars devoted to winning that war.
While far too many people still die from cancer, real progress has been made. Between 1990 and 2007, death rates in the United States for all cancers combined decreased by 22% for men and 14% for women. This means that 898,000 fewer people died from cancer during this time period (American Cancer Society, Facts & Figures, 2011).
Leaky pipeline for new drugs
This progress we've achieved in curbing cancer death rates is a direct result of ongoing drug discovery and development, an incredibly time-consuming and expensive endeavor.
According to statistics from the American Association for Cancer Research, completing the clinical trials and getting Food and Drug Administration approval for every cancer drug that makes it into the clinic takes more than seven years and $1 billion.
By Patrick B. Mulvey, vice president, Development
At Thursday's annual meeting of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, we announced big news: the completion of MD Anderson's largest fundraising campaign ever.
Thanks to the generosity of supporters around the world, Making Cancer History®: The Campaign to Transform Cancer Care has raised $1.215 billion. That's a remarkable
accomplishment in these challenging economic times, and extremely important during an era of declining federal and state funding.
Even more remarkable, the campaign closed ahead of schedule, well exceeding its original goal of $1 billion.
Every dollar of private philanthropy generates an invaluable return on investment, and that Return on Investment translates to hope for a future free of cancer.
The more than 630,000 gifts contributed to this campaign since we began just more than five years ago add up to enormous benefits for thousands of patients, their families and friends. Every gift, regardless of size, plays a significant role, enabling researchers to pursue novel ideas, gather data and successfully compete for federal funding.
Making a difference
The Board of Visitors has spearheaded five major campaign initiatives since 1993, and the Making Cancer History® campaign, led by Harry Longwell of Dallas, was by far the most ambitious.
Along with my colleagues in the Development Office, I'm grateful for the efforts and expertise of the 19-member campaign executive committee and for the support of each BOV member whose personal financial commitment was an inspiration others.
By Will Fitzgerald, MD Anderson Staff Writer
On the morning of Sept. 24, runners, walkers and all those interested in supporting melanoma research will congregate at MD Anderson's Mays Clinic for the 2011 AIM for a Cure Melanoma Walk and Fun Run. The event is an opportunity for patients/survivors, family members and friends to unite against one of the most dangerous and commonly diagnosed forms of skin cancer.
It's co-hosted by MD Anderson and the AIM at Melanoma Foundation, with high hopes of surpassing the more than $80,000 raised last year to support the latest advances occurring in MD Anderson's Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology. Just as critical as supporting innovative research, the run also raises awareness about a disease that more than 70,000 men and women will be diagnosed with this year alone.
Judy Sager, president of AIM at Melanoma's Houston Chapter and event organizer, was personally affected by melanoma after losing her husband Jurgen to the disease at age 48.
"My husband searched the world for any treatment that he thought would save his life," Sager says. He was willing to try anything and practically did, but it didn't save his life. We can do better."
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- Shedding Light on the Ependymoma Fight
- Using the Internet to Help Men With Cancer-Related Sexual Problems
- Brain and Spine Supports Run for the Rose
- Can Aspirin Reduce Risk for Cancer Metastasis?
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