Cancer

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Could a virus offer a cure to cancer?

That’s the question researchers at Western Oncolytics, based in Harmar, are trying to answer. In fact, they’re hoping to start clinical trials in 2017.

Chief science officer Stephen Thorne said the idea that a virus could help kill cancer has been around for a century, but only since the 1990s have scientists been able to modify DNA to create a virus specifically designed to fight cancer.  

The first wave of research focused on creating a virus that could only grow inside a tumor.

Bon Secours

UPMC is continuing its overseas growth with an announcement this month that it's opening a second cancer center in Ireland. The health care provider opened the Whitfield Cancer Center in Waterford, Ireland 10 years ago. The second effort will be a joint venture with Bon Secours in Cork, Ireland.

SkinJect / YouTube

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of their life

But thanks to a new device from a Pittsburgh-based company called Skinject, some people with skin cancer may be able to skip invasive surgeries.

“Skinject is a totally new approach to handling this problem which is growing throughout the world as more and more people expose their skin to the sun,” said the company’s CEO James Nolan.  

Carnegie Mellon University

Outside Kathryn Whitehead’s office at Carnegie Mellon University is a nametag with the words “Nanoparticle Queen” written in black marker. She said a student made it for her at the Department of Chemical Engineering’s weekly happy hour, and she liked it enough to slap it on the wall.

Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP for College of American Pathologists

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

Hundreds of clinics around the country are offering to treat a long list of health problems with stem cells.

The clinics claim that stem cells found in fat tissue, blood, bone marrow and even placentas can help people suffering from arthritic joints and torn tendons to more serious medical problems, including spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease and strokes. Some even claim the cells can help children with autism.

But leading stem cell researchers say there's not enough evidence to support the clinics' claims.

St. Clair Hospital

 

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. is known for employing doctors with highly refined subspecialties, and now St. Clair Hospital doctors can tap into that expertise.

An agreement between the two hospitals, finalized this week, will allow St. Clair doctors to access eTumor Boards – a virtual version of tumor board reviews, in which multiple doctors brainstorm ways to treat an individual patient.

National Human Genome Research Institute / genome.gov

At the most basic level cancer can be defined as the DNA of a normal cell going haywire. 

A computer may soon be able to offer highly personalized treatment suggestions for cancer patients based on the specifics of their cases and the full sweep of the most relevant scientific research.

IBM and the New York Genome Center, a consortium of medical research institutions in New York City, are collaborating on a project to speed up cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Cancer centers across the U.S. have more than tripled the amount spent on advertising in the last decade, but a new report finds that doesn't equate to better care.

The report by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University, published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week, found that between 2005 and 2014, 890 for-profit and nonprofit cancer centers increased their total advertising expenditures from $54 million to $173 million. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

For some receiving treatment for cancer, Mrs. Claus doesn’t just visit at Christmas.

“Our mission statement is to bring comfort, hope, encouragement and love to the (person) who has been recently diagnosed with cancer,” said Jeana Watenpool, founder of the Mrs. Claus Club of the North Hills.

The Mrs. Claus Club, which delivers gifts minus the sleigh year-round, has given out more than 500 comfort baskets since it was formed seven years ago. In the last seven months alone it has delivered more than 70 baskets. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Keith Shettler worked to install and retrofit duct systems in downtown buildings for more than 20 years, opening structures that had been closed off for decades.

“You could see the coal dust that was there when the steel mills were there," Shettler said, "to the asbestos that might be hidden behind all that put there years ago when asbestos was prevalent to put on job sites.”

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Gov. Tom Wolf has cancer.

Wolf announced the diagnosis a statement Wednesday, calling it a treatable form of prostate cancer.

Legendary Musician David Bowie Dies Of Cancer At 69

Jan 11, 2016
Associated Press

David Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday. 

Simon Dyjas / Karma Agency

The symptoms are subtle and common -- abdominal bloating, a feeling of fullness and the urge to urinate more frequently than normal.

Flickr

Breast Cancer Awareness month, in October, has become very visible and well-known in recent years. But, in September, the American Cancer Society aims to raise awareness on several other kinds of cancer as well. September is the awareness month for childhood, ovarian, thyroid and prostate cancers.

“It is the number one killer for men, about 1,500 a year here in Pennsylvania, it has the second-highest death rate of any cancer for men throughout the United States,” said state Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester).

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It occurs mainly in older men with about 6 in ten cases diagnosed at age 65 or older; diagnosis before age 40 is rare.

Dinniman is a survivor of prostate cancer and said the key is early detection.

“Prostate cancer is curable,” he said, “you don’t have to die from it if you go through early detection.”

But, Dinniman points out that prostate exams can be uncomfortable or a source of fear or reluctance for many men.

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) has been rated “outstanding” by the National Cancer Institute and has been designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Each five years we have to go through a process of self-assessment and an evaluation by outside colleagues and we’re really please this year we were labeled as ‘outstanding’ among the most elite, and of course we’re extremely excited about the funding that this brings to help to support our important research and care missions,” said Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Center.

Task Force Would Increase Prostate Cancer Awareness

Mar 29, 2015

One in six Pennsylvania men will suffer from prostate cancer in his lifetime. One in 30 dies from the disease, more than the national average, according to the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate to create the Prostate Cancer Task Force through the Department of Health.

Seven participants in the 18-member task force will be healthcare professionals with experience treating prostate cancer, according to the text of the bill.

Fund To Help Cancer Patients Preserve Fertility

Mar 16, 2015
Submitted

“I can’t imagine not having my daughter now,” said Amanda Hopwood-Brophy, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 28.

She underwent fertility preservation treatments along with a chemotherapy regimen until being declared cancer-free. She now has a two year old daughter.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has launched a program to help more patients like Hopwood-Brophy have children even after undergoing cancer treatments.

Courtesy The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon

Hundreds of students are spending this weekend dancing inside Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center, the culmination of a year-long, multi-million dollar fundraising effort.

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON for short, is an annual 46-hour dance marathon meant to give “kids and their families the opportunity to forget about their cancer diagnosis.”

University of Pittsburgh researchers might have stumbled onto a cost-effective way to fight cancer – with cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins.

When it comes to cancer, Dr. Zoltán Oltvai, senior author of the study and associate professor of pathology, said most patients don’t die from their original tumor but rather from the cancer spreading throughout their bodies.

A new study indicates that adding head and neck cancer screenings to lung cancer screenings could help with patient outcomes. Analysis conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Center shows that head and neck cancer screenings given at the same time as a lung cancer screening may help detect early stages of cancer and with treatment, lead to higher survival rates.  Dr.

Susan Steel ignored a mole in 2005.

The Chicago resident and mother of two said she put it off but eventually went to her dermatologist only when the mole began to bleed. The first visit confirmed she had melanoma and the growth needed to be surgically removed.

“You go into surgery very quickly and then the surgeon comes out and looks desperate and tells you that you have less than a year to live,” she said.

At that time there were no effective treatments, some options had a “high” 6 percent chance of survival, Steel says.

Health and breast cancer awareness advocates delivered 150,000 petitions to the Susan G. Komen offices in Pittsburgh Friday, urging the nonprofit to cut ties with the oil and gas industry.

Groups, including Breast Cancer Action, New Voices Pittsburgh and Food and Water Watch, are urging Komen to refuse a $100,000 check from oil and gas extraction company Baker Hughes, which, according to Forbes.com, saw a net income of roughly $1.6 billion over the last 12 months.

Why do certain cancers spread in bones?

The National Cancer Institute has awarded $2 million over five years to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine to answer that question.

Researchers will look for ways to repress X-box binding proteins (XBP1s), a molecule that regulates the production of other inflammatory proteins that boost tumor cell growth, in hopes of treating multiple myeloma bone disease.

Viral Story Sparks Questions on Employment Law

Sep 15, 2014

The revelation of her cancer diagnosis has resulted in a Hopewell woman being laid off by her employer, a Beaver County oral surgeon. She was informed of her layoff via a letter which has been posted online and gone viral. We’ll address the employment issues this situation raises with attorney Allison Feldstein.

A five-year agreement between Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine has been signed, finalizing a partnership between AHN and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC.

“Cancer patients and their families benefit and their outcomes improve when we share knowledge and expertise because then we can accelerate knowledge transfer and treatment advances outside of communities where patients live,” said Dr. David Parda, system chair of the AHN Cancer Institute.

If a cancer cell forms in the body, does it make a sound?

John Viator, director of the Duquesne University biomedical engineering program, would say yes—if it’s hit by a laser.

Viator and his team received a five-year, $1.4 million federal grant to use lasers in detecting, capturing and analyzing circulating melanoma cells, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

More people in Pennsylvania are being diagnosed with cancer, but less are dying.

That’s according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which released the State of Cancer Care in America: 2014 — the first-ever report of its kind.

According to ASCO, the report provides a “comprehensive look” at demographic, economic and oncology practice trends and how they will affect the United States in the future.

"The Fault in Our Stars," a movie adaptation of a critically and commercially popular young adult novel, has just finished filming in Pittsburgh and in the Netherlands.

The book and movie center around two teenagers who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group. Many of the extras in the movie are young people with cancer.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the movie adaptation of the beloved novel. Book author John Green says the story goes against the typical trope popular media brings us about the ailing.

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