January 11, 2015 |
Radiation is a powerful cancer treatment, but protecting healthy tissue from the scatter of damaging rays is challenging. As a result, women who get radiation for cancer in their left breast - which overlaps the heart - have been found to be at increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer. A new study by Thomas Jefferson University researchers confirms that such women can significantly reduce the incidental radiation dose to their hearts with a simple technique: holding their breath.
December 21, 2014 |
Most U.S. women who opt for lumpectomy and radiation to treat early-stage breast cancer get irradiated for twice as many weeks as necessary, adding to the cost and inconvenience of the therapy, according to a University of Pennsylvania analysis. High-qual-ity studies have shown that just three weeks of a newer, higher-dose type of radiation are as safe and effective as six to seven weeks of conventional radiation. In 2011, radiation oncology guidelines endorsed the shorter course of "hypofractionated" therapy for lumpectomy patients over age 50. Yet only about a third of such women got it in 2013 - up from about 11 percent in 2008, the researchers found using insurance claims from health plans covering 9 million women.
October 30, 2014 |
Debra Copit, Generosa Grana, and Marisa Weiss have much in common: all mothers, all Main Line residents, all doctors - all breast cancer specialists. And they all have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Their similar stories are both coincidence and cautionary tale - illustrations of breast cancer's indiscriminate nature but also its complexity, storming into the lives of patients with individual and unique markers. Yet at least in one way, cancer has imparted a shared lesson to these women, all of whom are now in excellent health: Getting a diagnosis will change your life.
October 8, 2014 |
More than a decade after prostate cancer became the economic driver behind proton beam therapy in the U.S., it still isn't clear that men treated with the technology do better than those who get less costly radiation treatments. That's why expert groups have recently advised against insurance coverage of proton therapy for prostate cancer - and why some private plans are refusing to pay for it. The Catch-22 is that this pullback is hampering a clinical trial co-led by the University of Pennsylvania that would finally settle the question of superiority.
August 11, 2014 |
Sam Rennix could be forgiven for assuming that the worst was behind him after triple-bypass surgery in 2010. Then, last summer, his throat became sore, like something was stuck in it. Unlike many men, Rennix, who lives in Springfield, Delaware County, and is manager of Wolfe Pool Supply in Narberth, doesn't hesitate to see a doctor when something's amiss with his health. Perhaps it's because he's married to an intensive-care nurse and knows all too well that procrastinating can turn a curable problem into a death sentence.
December 5, 2013 |
The family of a University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist who died of brain cancer sued the university Tuesday, alleging that the school bore responsibility for his death by failing to protect him from laboratory radiation. The family of Jeffrey H. Ware further alleged that Penn physicians enrolled him in a study without proper consent, treating his gliosarcoma with still more radiation, thereby subjecting him to painful side effects long after there was any hope of recovery. Ware, who died in October 2011 at age 47, lived in Haddonfield.
October 17, 2013 |
Patients enduring the excruciating pain of cancer that has spread to the bones are often given multiple doses of radiation. There is strong evidence, however, that one dose controls pain as effectively as 10 or more. In addition, one treatment is cheaper and far more convenient for patients who already have plenty on their minds. Yet a new study by University of Pennsylvania researchers has found that only 3.3 percent of Medicare patients receiving radiation for prostate cancer that had metastasized to the bone received a "single-fraction" treatment.
September 27, 2013 |
Imagine Radiohead without the self-importance, and . . . well, that's more or less impossible. But it's one way to approach the music of Atoms for Peace, which teams Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and percussionist Mauro Refosco. Drummer Joey Waronker, most regularly of R.E.M., rounds out the quintet. Yorke and Godrich started Tuesday's show at the Liacouras Center with guitars at the ready, picking out the clipped rhythms of "Before Your Very Eyes . . . ". But stagehands soon took the guitars away, and Godrich retired to a bank of keyboards - musical and computer - while Yorke concentrated on his dance moves.
September 8, 2013 |
In very rare cases, using radiation to kill the primary tumor of a patient with metastatic cancer leads to the disappearance of tumors throughout the body. Scientists can't explain this amazing collateral effect, but it seems to activate an antitumor immune response. Mohan Doss, a medical physicist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, believes the distant tumors melt away because of incidental low-dose rays emanating from the high-dose therapy. And that bolsters a theory he has researched for years: radiation at or slightly above natural background levels can stimulate the body's disease-fighting defenses.
July 28, 2013 |
Like her patients at the University of Pennsylvania, radiation oncologist Neha Vapiwala applauded the recent approval of a new drug for men with late-stage prostate cancer that has spread to their bones. But Vapiwala was also excited by the big picture. The debut of Bayer Pharmaceuticals' Xofigo, a form of radium, is a legacy of the work of Marie and Pierre Curie, who isolated the element from uranium 115 years ago. The novel drug opens the door to a new class of radiation-emitting therapies with "great potential" to treat other cancers, and perhaps nonmalignant conditions that affect bones, Vapiwala said.