Archive for April, 2012

Siteman Cancer Center and Genome Institute at Washington University

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Ramaswamy Govindan, MD is the director of the thoracic oncology program at Washington University School of Medicine. He is the principal investigator of several institutional, cooperative group, and other multicenter studies. One of his main areas of research is to use genomics to predict outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer. He has authored and coauthored more than 100 publications in peer reviewed prestigious journals. He is the editor of the ASCO Educational Book, Washington Manual of Oncology, and the Review Book based on DeVita’s Cancer Principles and Practice of Oncology. Dr Govindan received his medical degree at the University of Madras, Madras, India, completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and was a fellow in hematology/oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He is board certified in medical oncology. Respond and Donate

Team Draft in St. Louis: Former Ram Chris Draft Spreads Cancer Prevention Message to Siteman

Friday, April 27th, 2012

As the Rams welcome newly drafted Louisiana State defensive tackle Michael Brockers to the fold today, we welcomed former Rams linebacker Chris Draft to our Siteman Cancer Center this morning. Draft visited with lung cancer expert Ramaswamy Govindan, MD to learn more about targeted therapies for cancers.

It’s important to Draft as he started the Chris Draft Family Foundation after the passing of his wife Keasha last year to lung cancer. While the vast majority of lung cancers are directly tied to cigarette smoking, Keasha had never smoked.

Draft was very much part of the community when he played for the Rams and as an asthmatic, he was a big part in getting across the message that smoking is dangerous.

It’s also the message of Team Draft. According to his website, “Team Draft was created by Chris and Keasha during her year-long struggle with lung cancer in hopes that her valiant fight to live, love, laugh,and smile will give hope and comfort to people around the world. Team Draft is working to save lives by changing the face of lung cancer, but it takes a team to tackle cancer, and we need your help.” Respond and Donate

For more about Draft and his visit to Siteman, watch this interview with John Pertzborn from this morning’s FOX2 News.

Carbone Cancer Center at University of Wisconsin

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Dr. Kolesar is the Director of the Analytical Instrumentation Laboratory for Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamcis and Pharmacogenetics (3P) at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center and an Associate Professor (CHS) at the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy. She completed a specialty practice residency in oncology/hematology and 2 year fellowship in molecular oncology pharmacotherapy at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr Kolesar joined the UW faculty in 1996.
Dr. Kolesar’s research includes the use of biomarkers and pharmacokinetics to predict response and monitor efficacy of drug and gene therapy, population genotyping for cancer susceptibility and the regulation of gene expression of the two electron reductases. She holds two patents for developing novel technologies for evaluating gene expression and point mutations. She is currently a member of the National Cancer Institutes’s Adult Central IRB, chairing the adverse events subcommittee and is a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. In addition, Dr. Kolesar chairs the Lung Cancer Biology Subcommittee for the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group as well as serving on the core committess for the Thoracic and Developmental Therapeutics Committees of ECOG.
Dr. Kolesar teaches in the area of oncology and pharmacogenomics and is a co-editor of the textbooks, “Pharmacogenomocs Handbook”, ” Pharmacotherapy Essentials” and Pharmacogenomics: Applications to Patient Care. Respond and Donate

Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University Hospital

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Minesh P. Mehta, M.D., FASTRO, is professor of Radiation Oncology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Board-certified in Radiation Oncology, Dr. Mehta specializes in the management of patients with benign and malignant tumors, vascular malformations, and other brain conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, as well as in the area of thoracic tumors. He maintains an active interest in radiation-drug interactions, amelioration of radiation toxicities, incorporation of advanced radiation and imaging technologies, and is keenly interested in expanding the frontiers of personalized care in radiotherapy.
Dr. Mehta received his medical degree with highest honors from the University of Zambia, School of Medicine, in Lusaka, Zambia, where he received numerous awards through the course of his medical education. His radiation oncology training was completed at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison in 1988.
Following his training, Dr. Mehta was appointed assistant professor of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin and joined the staff of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and served as a consultant at 10 area hospitals. In 1997 he was appointed as the Chairman of the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin, and was promoted to Professor with Tenure. He was also appointed as the Chair of the Brain Tumor Committee of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. During this timeframe, he led the Imaging and Radiation Sciences Program of the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, was the PI for a Program Project Grant and led the University of Wisconsin as the PI for the Brain Tumor Consortium Grant. He developed robust clinical research programs in thoracic and neuro-oncology, and also developed a state-wide network of Radiotherapy centers. In 2007, after 10 years as Department Chair, Dr. Mehta stepped down from administrative responsibilities while devoting time to national leadership efforts at the American Board of Radiology, the FDA Radiological Devices Panel, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society, and the Society of Neuro-Oncology. In 2010, Dr. Mehta accepted the position of Professor of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
During his academic career, Dr. Mehta has lectured all over the world (over 500 presentations), and has authored more than 700 manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters. In 2010, as editor-in-chief, he published what is regarded as the definitive textbook in neuro-oncology. He has also provided leadership for over 100 clinical trials through clinical trials cooperative groups such as ECOG, CCG, COG, RTOG, NABTC, and ABTC, and has also led international, randomized multicenter clinical trials.
Dr. Mehta is a fellow of the American Society of Radiation Oncology. He is a member of several national and international medical societies, having provided a leadership role in several of these organizations. Respond and Donate

Team Draft Visits the Lurie Cancer Center

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

From Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University’s blog.

Former NFL linebacker and Chicago Bear, Chris Draft, visited the Lurie Cancer Center to learn more about advances being made in lung cancer research and treatment.

Team Draft Visits Lurie Cancer Center

Team Draft Visits Lurie Cancer Center

Team Draft, part of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, was created by Chris and his late wife, Keasha, during her year-long struggle with lung cancer. Since Keasha’s death last December, Chris has renewed his commitment to saving lives by changing the face of lung cancer; increasing awareness and crucially needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.”

Chris was not surprised to learn from thoracic oncologist, Jyoti Patel, MD, that 30% of lung cancer patients treated at the Lurie Cancer Center are non-smokers. “Keasha never smoked. The association with smoking makes patients feel guilty, and makes it harder for patients and caregivers to grieve. We were blessed by the strength and love of our family and friends,” he adds. “Keasha and I didn’t want the stigma to keep other lung cancer patients from receiving support when they need it most.”

Chris toured the Lurie Cancer Center, Keasha’s iPad in hand, with Dr. Patel, thoracic surgeon, Malcolm DeCamp, MD, radiation oncologist, Minesh Mehta, MD, and Senior Practice Manager, Karen Giammicchio, MSN, APN, AOCNS. In addition, Chris visited the Lurie Cancer Center’s inpatient units in Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital with Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Barb Gobel, RN, MS, AOCN, and met with Raymond Bergan, MD, to learn about research related to chemoprevention of lung cancer.

At each stop along the way, he took off the cover to show a photo of Keasha, including her in the experience. “The purpose of Team Draft is not just to honor my wife,” he said. “It’s an extension of her passion and spirit—and of other courageous cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare providers dedicated to making a difference.”

Learn more about Chris’s outreach on behalf of Team Draft. Respond and Donate

Janine Gauthier, PhD, Rush University Cancer Integrative Medicine

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Cancer care at Rush thrives on the close integration of patient care and innovative research designed to move quickly from the laboratory bench to the bedside. For patients at risk for lung cancer, low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) offers the opportunity to screen for the presence of early stage tumors on the lungs. While this is a major advance in screening options, it presents significant challenges to physicians who face tough diagnosis and treatment decisions. LDCT scans are expensive, cannot distinguish benign from cancerous nodules, and, through excessive radiation exposure, may actually increase the cancer risk for patients requiring regular screening.

A simple and cost-effective blood test being developed in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Borgia and his colleagues at the Rush Thoracic-Oncology Research Group has the potential to address these challenges and serve as an effective complement to CT scanning. In even the earliest stages of lung cancer, tumors release specific molecules into the blood that differ from those shed by benign nodules. These molecules can range from circulating factors that help regulate tissue metabolism to components of an unsuccessful immune response to the tumor. Dr. Borgia’s team has devised a way to use these molecules to identify a fingerprint that gives important information about each patient’s condition to the physician, ideally allowing for a more timely and accurate diagnosis.

For patients, the benefits are clear. Those with a family history of lung cancer or who are deemed high risk can be evaluated regularly with this blood test without prolonged exposure to radiation. Patients whose LDCT scans show indeterminate nodules can follow up with the blood test to determine if cancer is present. This allows patients who are negative for cancer to avoid invasive biopsies or unnecessary surgeries, and it is far less risky and worrisome than taking a “wait and see” approach as to whether the nodule grows.

Ongoing research also holds the promise of developing a second convenient, low-cost test that offers physicians additional information that will guide treatment and improve patient outcomes. This includes predicting whether the cancer is metastatic, where it is likely to spread, and what type of chemotherapy may benefit a particular patient. Approximately 25% of patients with a single lung tumor die of disease recurrence within five years of surgery, making this a particularly critical area for research. Dr. Borgia is devoting substantial resources to addressing this significant limitation to current diagnostics. If successful, this test will help the surgeons identify which patients may benefit from more aggressive postoperative care as a means to improve survival.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but Dr. Borgia’s program to develop effective and inexpensive screening tests is well positioned to enable physicians to catch the disease early, treat it most effectively, and most importantly, save lives. With clinical trials on the horizon, this new tool may be just a few years away from reducing lung cancer mortality. Respond and Donate

Mark Ferguson, MD, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Dr. Ferguson specializes in the surgical management of diseases of the lungs and esophagus. He is experienced in all techniques of lung and esophageal resection, and is skilled in surgical methods to relieve airway obstruction and malignant pleural effusions. He has served on the boards and committees of numerous national societies and institutions including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Ferguson is the author of more than 80 chapters in medical textbooks. He has edited or written books on esophageal reconstructive surgery, failed anti-reflux therapy, and decision-making in thoracic surgery. He recently authored an atlas of general thoracic surgery. Dr. Ferguson has also written more than 170 papers in medical journals, and serves as an editor or associate editor for two cardiothoracic surgery journals.

His research interests include risk analysis and long-term outcomes after lung resection and esophageal resection. Respond and Donate

Tackling Lung Cancer: Team Draft Visits Chicago

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

“Lung cancer came into my house, and it took my wife. Too many families are affected by this horrible disease.  It’s time to respond,” said CDFF founder, Chris Draft, of his Team Draft initiative.  “That’s why Keasha and I launched Team Draft.  She wanted to be an inspiration to those battling the disease and we wanted to raise awareness so that other families wouldn’t have to go through what we went through. Team Draft is committed to changing the face of lung cancer, but it takes a team to tackle cancer.”

Team Draft is back on the move, and visiting Chicago as part of a Midwest leg  of a nationwide public awareness campaign to change the face of lung cancer.  The visit to Chicago will include stops at three of the nations’s top cancer research and treatment facilities, Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, and also the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Team Draft will share amazing stories from Chicagoans who are Changing the Face of Lung Cancer, and video of phenomenal doctors and researchers at these facilities who are Tackling Lung Cancer, one breath at a time. Respond and Donate

Georgia Becomes the First State to Create Lung Cancer License Plate

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) – Jackie Archer and former NFL player Chris Draft stood next to Gov. Nathan Deal as he signed into law a bill that calls for the creation of a Lung Cancer Awareness license plate.

“I honestly didn’t think that I would be alive to see this happen, but I am,” Archer said as she fought back tears. Archer is a lung cancer survivor. Doctors discovered it in 2005 after she was involved in a car accident.

“My accident saved my life,” said Archer. To this day doctors do not know how Archer got lung cancer because she never smoked and neither did her parents. “The whole stigma that lung cancer is a smokers disease, we are changing that stigma,” said Archer.

Draft, who also played for the Atlanta Falcons, is also helping to change that stigma. His wife lost her battled to lung cancer exactly one month after their wedding. Keasha Rutledge Draft was only 38. She was another non-smoker diagnosed with the deadly disease. Draft held a picture of Keasha while the governor signed the lung cancer license plate into law.

“This plate doesn’t just say lung cancer matters, but it really allows somebody to feel like they matter and fighting against it with family and friends who are right there with them,” said Draft. Draft was there for his wife and although she’s gone, he is still fighting to bring awareness. He said that’s why it was important for him to be there when Georgia became the first state in the country to have a lung cancer license plate. “By having the plate and increasing the awareness people will understand how important it is and do something about it,” said Draft. Respond and Donate

Carolyn Helmer, Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Cancer Center

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Chris Draft speaks often of how his wife, Lakeasha Rutledge Draft, embodied a zest for life and had a spirit that just wouldn’t quit, even in the face of cancer.  She knew how important it was to keep a positive outlook and to concentrate not on dying, but instead on what life has to offer each and every day.  Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Cancer Center provides many programs to keep cancer patients focused and moving forward with a healthy body and a motivated mind, from creative cooking classes to yoga and Tai Chi.  All are designed to enkindle a healthy attitude towards treatment, recovery, and life, and all are available free of charge to any Georgia resident who needs that extra encouragement to stay motivated during treatment.

Carolyn Helmer, manager of Cancer Wellness, says that the program strives to nurture the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of patients.  The offerings are designed to reduce stress, to allow patients to “exhale” and “find hope”, and to provide opportunities to socialize with other cancer patients.   The hope is to enable participants to recover that joie de vivre that Keasha was able to demonstrate and express throughout her inspiring and courageous battle with lung cancer. Respond and Donate