Roswellness Connections offers you helpful health tips, while keeping you connected to the latest Roswell Park news and advances. Each issue also features news about the important impact of your generosity to RPCI and its patients. Feedback? Please email Giving@roswellpark.org or call 716-845-1038. Thank you for your continued support through your gifts and participation in fundraisers like The Ride For Roswell, Goin' Bald for Bucks, Team Cure Challenge, Carly's Club activities, The Paint Box Project and more!
Saving your skin
Mark Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month (May) with a spot check—literally—of your loved ones. The American Academy of Dermatology encourages people to screen themselves and their families for skin cancer, checking regularly for suspicious moles. Research shows that involving a partner in the process can improve early detection of skin cancer.
More than one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year and current estimates say one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news: Skin cancer, even melanoma, is highly curable when caught early. Start your spot check by logging onto www.melanomamonday.org to learn how to perform a self-exam, download a body mole map and find where to get a free skin cancer screening. And check the Roswell Park Cancer Institute website for tips on preventing cancer and information about treatment options.
End-of-life conversations help patients
Nobody likes to talk about dying. But when facing advanced cancer, talking with your doctor about your feelings regarding the use of a ventilator or resuscitation, or a desire for comfort care at home or hospice, can lead to better quality of life in your final weeks. In a study of more than 600 people with cancer, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that the 188 patients who had end-of-life conversations with their doctors were less likely to use intensive interventions. Researchers found no difference in survival or psychological distress between the two groups, but those who did talk to their doctors had less physical distress, as reported by their nurses and caregivers.
Jennifer Hydeman, PhD, a medical psychologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, says end-of-life discussions can be difficult for physicians, family members and patients alike, but they "help the dying patient make choices and interact with family members in a way that we rob them of if we don't have these kinds of discussions."
Your gifts at work... Donor-funded expansions to Roswell Park's palliative care program are helping the most vulnerable patients cope in late stages of their disease. Read more about how a designated nurse practitioner has helped ease the burden on patients and their families as they face difficult end-of-life health issues.
Frequent family meals lead to better food habits
Teens who eat meals with their families at least five times a week tend to have healthier diets, consuming more vegetables, calcium, fiber and essential nutrients. Reporting in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers surveyed the eating habits of nearly 680 youths during their pre- and early teen years and again five years later. Although the number of kids eating regular family meals dropped from 60 percent when they were younger to 30 percent at age 17 or 18, those who ate regular family meals at both points in life had a better diet.
Want to have more family meals, but pressed for time? Enlist everyone's help and delegate tasks for planning and preparation. Assign hubby and older kids a night to be the cook. Younger kids can suggest meals, toss a salad, microwave the veggies, set the table, and pour milk.
Should All Boys Be Tested for HPV? RPCI Finds Oral Cancer Connection
Recent research at Roswell Park shows a strong link between a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the occurrence of head and neck cancers, and researchers here are leading a national discussion that encourages the vaccination of both young men and women against the disease.
It is estimated that approximately 70 percent of Americans, both men and women, will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, and current practice encourages only the vaccination of young women. Over the past 10 years, members of RPCI's Head & Neck Department have seen a threefold increase in the number of throat cancers they treat.
In 2007, Roswell Park researchers began testing all head and neck tumors treated there for the presence of HPV DNA, one of few institutions in the country to do so. Data from ongoing testing shows that 50 to 60 percent of patients with head and neck cancers test positive for HPV. To learn more about this discovery, click here.
Roswell Park Nurses Develop Tool to Optimize Delivery of Chemotherapy
Delivering chemotherapy to patients can be a complicated process for even the most experienced nurse. To streamline this process, nurses at Roswell Park recently developed a visual tool to enhance the existing process and guide oncology nurses through the administration of chemotherapy.
Darryl Somayaji, MSN, RN, CCRC, Department of Nursing at RPCI, presented the new method at the Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society in San Antonio, TX.
The new method promotes patient medication safety, allows for the inclusion of care strategies from the nursing staff at the bedside, and provides a useful tool for all nurses at every level of oncology experience as they navigate through either a paper or paperless chemotherapy order system.
Nurse collaborators on this Roswell Park paper were Mary Ann Long, MS, RN, OCN; Katie Newell, RN, BSN; Maeghan Valint, RN, BSN; Regina Barth, RN; and Jeanette Jackson-Rose, RN. Congratulations to our nursing staff on this important achievement in improving patient care! Read more about this development.
What Do Vitamin D Levels Mean to Colorectal Cancer Patients?
Recent research by Roswell Park scientists reveals the importance of vitamin D levels in both preventing and treating colorectal cancer, the most common gastrointestinal cancer diagnosed in the United States. The research, led by Josephia R. Muindi, MD, Department of Medicine, RPCI, was presented at the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver, CO.
RPCI researchers found widespread vitamin D deficiency in colorectal cancer patients and substantial variations of vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study and in follow-up tests after supplementation. Scientists also identified a genetic change in the vitamin D binding protein, which may explain some of the variations in vitamin D deficiency among colorectal cancer patients. While supplements increased vitamin D levels in all patients, the rate of increase was slower in patients on active cancer chemotherapy when compared to patients not on chemotherapy.
"By understanding the genes that regulate vitamin D absorption, we hope to improve patients' response to vitamin D-based prevention programs and treatment regimens," said the study's co-investigator, Marwan Fakih, MD, Department of Medicine.
Discovery by RPCI Researchers Could Help Increase Effectiveness of Cancer Treatment
A significant number of breast and prostate cancers eventually become resistant to current treatment approaches. If specific molecules can be identified that fuel the cancer's ability to resist current treatments, then a new arsenal of drugs directed to those molecules could halt cancer in its tracks.
Despite decades of research, such molecules have remained difficult to identify.
But Roswell Park scientists, under the direction of Ashwani Sood, PhD, Department Immunology, have identified a biomarker that may help predict the severity of breast and prostate cancers and the likelihood of their resistance to certain treatments.
Dr. Sood and colleagues examined a protein known as Prostate-derived Ets Factor (PDEF) to better understand its link to disease stage, aggressiveness, and overall survival of patients. According to this study, in breast cancer, a level of PDEF predicts increased risk of early death from cancer. In prostate cancer, high PDEF expression suggests early disease recurrence.
"These observations suggest that PDEF is highly desirable as a prognostic and therapeutic biomarker," said Dr. Sood. "This study also supports developing novel treatments which can target PDEF in these cancers."
International Conference Highlights RPCI's "Arts in Healthcare" Program
The Society for the Arts in Healthcare hosted their 2009 international conference in Buffalo from April 22-25 and showcased Roswell Park's partnership with the University at Buffalo on an innovative therapeutic program. The "Arts in Healthcare" program brings "artists in residence" to patients and their families and is funded by donations. The conference brought art therapy professionals from across the globe to share hands-on workshops and seminars, including a tour of Roswell Park. Watch our video to learn more!
From Japan to Buffalo: Myeloma Patient Returns Home for Life-saving Care
Father Angelo Siani, a soft-spoken missionary of the Oblate of Mary Immacule, has spent the last 44 years of his life offering hope and leadership to children across Japan. An East Aurora native, his work establishing Montessori programs has helped to improve the education of children in need.
In 2006, severe pain in his hip required immediate medical attention, and was later diagnosed as a result of multiple myeloma.
"I could no longer walk—and they x-rayed it and found tumor cells clustered along my spine," said Siani. "They were going to use radiation immediately. But both the Fathers at Holy Angels and my sister, Adrienne, convinced me to come home for another opinion."
"I was devastated when he called me," his sister shared. "But with Dr. Chanan-Khan and Roswell Park, I knew we would be in the best hands possible." As a clinician-researcher, Dr. Asher Chanan-Khan is respected nationally for investigating and implementing new therapeutic approaches.
While high-dose chemotherapy combined with stem cell transplantation is still the firstline treatment for multiple myeloma at most healthcare institutions, "At my clinic, transplants are no longer the first option," he says. "We have so many new drugs and drug combinations that deliver a better quality of life."
When Father Siani began his RPCI treatments, his blood was already 70-percent infected by cancerous cells. Chanan-Khan placed him on a very aggressive clinical protocol of three newer drugs. The treatment was exhausting, but did the unimaginable—reducing Siani's cancer by 50-percent.
With over 19,000 new cases and almost 11,000 deaths from the disease still occurring annually, patients like Father Angelo Siani are daily examples of why Roswell Park's research momentum must continue.
To his sister, and constant advocate, the extra time her family has been given to share with each other is both a treasured experience, and a reminder of the work still to be done. "At the beginning…we didn't think we'd have him here today," she shares. "We have to keep making progress…and we each need to do whatever we can to help."
Events and Giving Opportunities
Sabres Alumni Association Announces Endowment to Help Prevent Breast Cancer
A recent $200,000 endowment from the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association and their wives will help Roswell Park Cancer Institute prevent breast cancer in high-risk cases. The endowment will provide a secure annual source of revenue to support the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment and Prevention Program. Read more or watch our video to hear Dr. Swati Kulkarni, director of the program, and patient Lisa Laks discuss the gift's importance for women most at-risk.
More than 70 Runners from Lakeview Take on Buffalo Marathon
On Sunday, May 24, more than 70 members of the Pinehurst Elementary School community in Lakeview, NY, ran in the Buffalo Marathon to benefit Roswell Park and honor a late student of the school. Janie Kashino died in 2008 at age six of neuroblastoma. Parents, faculty and other supporters from Pinehurst Elementary have raised more than $30,000 for Roswell Park's Team Cure Challenge in her honor. Read more.
It's Almost Time to Ride!
The Ride For Roswell, presented by Wegmans, is right around the corner! Sign up today or support a rider. To learn more about The Ride and its impact on Roswell Park and cancer patients everywhere, listen to a recent spot on WBEN's Roswellness radio show to hear from Terry Bourgeois, Ride Event Planning Chair, John Hannon, Ride Fundraising Chair, and Harry Slocum, PhD, a leading researcher in the Department of Cancer Biology.
Celebrate Cancer Survivorship
On Sunday, June 7, real-life heroes from throughout Western New York—and across the country—will celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day®.
Many of these courageous men and women who have battled cancer—or are in the fight right now—turn to Roswell Park for their best chance at survival. And thanks to friends like you who have helped fund leading-edge cancer research and treatment programs here, a growing number will win their battle. Give a gift today to honor these heroes—and to support needed research. Then, share your own story! What better way to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day®?
Honor your Dad this Father's Day
Now through Father's Day (June 21) Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Cancer Research Alliance give you an opportunity to honor your father by giving a gift that helps support cancer research and patient care. Visit Shopforcancercures.org to shop at over 600 top online retailers including ProFlowers.com, Nordstrom.com, Apple Store and GiftBaskets.com. Find a gift for Dad while helping Roswell Park find cures.
Business Partner of the Month: Creditors Interchange
"Our sponsorship of Carly's Crossing allows us to support a cause—pediatric cancer research and patient care—that is very meaningful to our staff, and our presence at the event brings our name and brand to a whole new audience. So many of us have been touched by cancer, and supporting Roswell Park is an ideal way for us to honor the life-saving research and care that takes place right here in Western New York." – Brent Henderson, Creditors Interchange