Cancer

Keith R. Stevenson / Pocono Record via AP

When Carolyn Choate was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2003, her tumor had already grown the size of a golf ball. Doctors gave her three years to live.

Fourteen years later, Choate is kayaking the Delaware River for a cause that's close to her heart: continuing the work of the woman who saved her life.

"This trip is our tribute to Dr. Angela Brodie," Choate said. "She's not here to see me finish this, but we want her work to continue."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A cancer patient says a Southwest Airlines employee went above and beyond to help track down her missing luggage that contained important medication.

Stacy Hurt says she called customer service July 23 at Pittsburgh International Airport after her luggage failed to arrive on a flight from Nashville.

She was panicking because the bag contained medication that helps her with the side effects of chemo for her colon cancer. It also had sentimental items like a rosary and a lucky T-shirt. She was worried it wouldn't arrive in time for her chemotherapy appointment the next day.

Gerry Broome / AP

A report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network finds Pennsylvania isn’t doing enough to produce statewide policies that help prevent and fight cancer.

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A former hospital staffer has acknowledged to lying about cancer tests to 124 patients he tested at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Sixty-two-year-old Floyd Benko pleaded guilty Wednesday in Harrisburg federal court to false statement charges. The U.S. Attorney's office says Benko lied to patients about following standard operating procedures in regard to genetic tests.

The gene mutation tests are designed to help doctors tailor cancer treatments. Prosecutors say Benko failed to preform mandatory steps in the tests and lied about them.

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Highmark Health says Allegheny Health Network will build a state-of-the-art cancer institute at Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital as part of a $200 million investment in cancer care.

The health network says about a half-dozen more community cancer treatment centers will be added in the region over the next two years. Officials didn't release the locations of the centers, which will bring as many as 175 health care jobs to western Pennsylvania, but said they would offer medical and radiation oncology care.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network and Highmark are partnering to invest $200 million in a 50,000 square-foot academic cancer center on the North Side and satellite cancer care offices throughout the region.

Allegheny General Hospital president Jeff Cohen said the satellite centers are meant to improve access and make health care more affordable and convenient for patients.

Pennsylvania DEP

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is warning residents about dangerously high levels of radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that may cause up to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year nationally.

A spokesperson for the agency says he could not share which area is affected.

The agency says at least one home has a radon level 25 times higher than recommended. In a letter sent to one resident, the agency says Pennsylvania generally has "some of the highest radon values in the country."

Ewa Krawczyk / National Cancer Institute via AP

University of Pittsburgh researchers have found a gene editing technique that could be used to treat aggressive forms of cancer.

Marc Levy / AP

A federal task force is walking back a 2012 recommendation that men between ages 55 and 69 not be screened for prostate cancer.

That brings federal guidelines in step with recommendations from a state task force, released last week.

Both the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Task Force now advise men to talk with their doctors about whether they should be screened.

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.

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