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!
E-cigarettes Deliver Candy-Flavored Toxins
They’re marketed as a “safe” alternative to cigarettes that you can “smoke” anywhere. Invented in China, electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) look like their tobacco-filled cousins but use a battery-operated heating element to vaporize nicotine so the “smoker” can inhale it. While e-cigarettes don’t produce smoke, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that they do deliver carcinogens and other toxins to your lungs—including some of the same deadly chemicals found in antifreeze. “Novel products like these need to be regulated and tested rigorously before coming on the market; we have no idea what their short- and long-term health risks might be,” cautions Richard O’Connor, PhD, Director of the Tobacco Research Laboratory, Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes may be appealing to young people, with nicotine in flavors ranging from bubble gum to chocolate chip cookies—some with added “energy” ingredients and vitamin supplements. E-cigarette ads, especially on the Internet, are hitting the mark: annual sales have ballooned from $10 million to $100 million—big profits for a product that carries unknown risks.
Extra Pounds, Early Menopause Linked to Uterine Disease
“There is no doubt that obesity resulting in excessive estrogen production leads to endometrial cancer,” says Shashikant Lele, MD, Chair of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park. Those extra pounds also complicate treatment, he adds: “Surgery in patients who are obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 30) is always challenging; we have to deviate from standard care in morbidly obese patients.” Those patients also tend to experience significant medical problems following surgery.
Now a report in Obstetrics & Gynecology indicates that the risk of developing endometrial cancer is even greater for obese women who go through menopause early. Researchers evaluated 421 women ages 20-54 who had endometrial cancer and compared them to a control group of more than 3,000 women. They found that women who were younger than 45 when they had their last period and were overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, were six times more likely than their normal-weight peers to develop endometrial cancer. Those with a BMI greater than 35 were 22 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer. By comparison, obese women older than 45 at the time of their last period were 3.7 times more likely than normal-weight women to face endometrial cancer.
New Cancer Test Offers Hope for Early Detection
A new way of testing a stool sample may one day lead to early detection of many digestive tract cancers, such as those of the colon, stomach, pancreas, bile duct and esophagus. The test looks for cancer cells’ DNA or genetic material that’s shed from the surface of cancer cells. Experts tested stool samples of 70 patients with digestive tract cancers and 70 healthy subjects, and detected approximately 70 percent of all cancers and 100 percent of stomach and colorectal cancers. The test was equally accurate in detecting early- and late-stage cancers. The experts hope the test may soon lead to routine screenings for digestive tract cancers, many of which have high mortality rates.
Until then, screening colonoscopy is your best defense against colon cancer. When—and how—should you be screened? Roswell Park Cancer Institute has the answers.
A New Approach to Treating Advanced Lung Cancer
One of the greatest challenges in cancer therapy is finding the right balance between delivering a serious hit to cancer cells and protecting healthy cells nearby. Researchers at Roswell Park hope to achieve that balance in a clinical trial designed to benefit patients who cannot undergo traditional curative surgery for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) because the tumor has progressed to a more advanced stage.
Led by Todd Demmy, MD, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at RPCI, the team is using the chemotherapy drug cisplatin to treat lung tumors. But rather than circulating the drug throughout the patient’s entire body, the researchers use it to temporarily replace blood just in the main artery of the lung, thus limiting the exposure of healthy, non-cancerous tissue. When the 30-minute infusion is complete, the cisplatin is flushed out, and normal blood flow resumes.
Initial results, to be published in the August 2009 issue of Annals of Thoracic Surgery, have been encouraging, showing significant reductions in the targeted tumor volumes. If this research continues to show promise, it may be expanded to cover patients with other tumor types, different classes of drugs, and patients with earlier stages of cancer.
Carly’s Crossing Raises Over $90,000!
Many thanks to the hundreds of swimmers, volunteers and supporters who made Carly's Crossing 2009, presented by Creditors Interchange, another successful event! More than 300 swimmers turned out to Gallagher Beach on Sunday, August 16, to dive in and show their support for Carly’s Club—supporting pediatric cancer research and patient care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Special thanks to Olympic swimmer Kara Lynn Joyce (pictured: second from right), who swam in the 600-yard course with our top fundraisers and cheered on our swimmers! We offer special thanks to Speedo for sponsoring Kara Lynn’s visit.
Hey, Guys: Check Out the Prostate Club Kickoff!
Roswell Park will launch the Prostate Club for Men at the Walden Galleria Mall over the Labor Day weekend. The Prostate Club is a six-month initiative aimed at increasing early detection of prostate cancer. Our partners for the program are WGRZ-TV/Channel 2, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and WBEN Radio, 930 AM.
The kickoff event will run all weekend, Saturday, September 5, and Sunday, September 6, inside the mall near Lord & Taylor. The mall is located at One Walden Galleria, Buffalo, NY, 14225.
Other highlights of the event include:
- Interactive demonstrations of the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System
- Presentations on the latest cancer treatments and promising new therapies
- Representatives from local advocacy groups, including Women Against Prostate Cancer and Us TOO, as well as professionals from Roswell Park, BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York, WGRZ-TV and WBEN radio.
- Interactive prostate cancer quiz game
- Sabretooth, the Buffalo Sabres mascot, will make an appearance Saturday, September 5. Bring your kids for a photo!
More details about the event and the program will be available on www.ProstatePros.com.
Volunteers are still needed! If you're interested in lending a hand with a table that weekend, please call Heidi Ofinowicz at 845-1784.
Patients Share Their Experiences
If you can’t make it to the Prostate Club for Men launch on Labor Day weekend (see more information in Roswell Roundup), learn more about experiencing prostate cancer and treatment at Roswell Park by watching video testimonials from prostate cancer patients, like Mike Ameroso (shown at right) and their loved ones, informational public service announcements and much more.
Hot on the Trail of Personalized Medicine
Investigators Adopt Forensic Lab Techniques
Breast-cancer therapy that is customized for each patient’s personal genetic makeup is one step closer to reality thanks to your gifts and a new use for crime-lab technology being pioneered at Roswell Park.
A team led by Petr Starostik, MD, chief of Roswell Park’s Clinical Molecular Diagnostics lab, is using CSI-type methods to multiply the reliability of testing that predicts whether a given patient will benefit from a first-line chemotherapy drug, or should avoid it and its harsh side effects.
According to Dr. Starostik, better testing is one of the keys to “personalized medicine,” the long-sought solution to the problem that many drugs turn out to be ineffective for up to 50 percent of those who take them. “So far, we know that personal genetic variations in tumors affect each patient’s response,” he says.
The Starostik team’s innovation is a reliable, automated test for abnormal activity in the tumor-cell gene HER2, which marks patients who are unlikely to respond to the tumor-inhibiting compound Trastuzumab. Today’s HER2 tests often yield ambiguous results, he says, partly because they rely on manual lab work and subjective visual analysis.
The new approach employs multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. PCR technology is widely used in applications ranging from the diagnosis of hereditary diseases to the forensic identification of “genetic fingerprints”. Multiplex PCR is faster, more sensitive, easier to perform, and less costly than manual HER2 testing.
Read more about this innovative new development.
Events and Giving Opportunities
Donate Blood or Platelets for the Chance to Win a “Game of Life” Bills Package!
When you help save the life of a cancer patient with a donation of blood or platelets at RPCI from now through August 31, you will have a chance to win a “Game of Life” gift package. The package includes four tickets to the Buffalo Bills game against the Miami Dolphins on November 29; free roundtrip limo service, compliments of Status Limousine; an autographed Bills jersey; and a free tailgate party hosted by 97 Rock, "the voice of the Buffalo Bills."
Donors also will be entered into weekly drawings for VIP training camp tickets, which include complimentary lunch and special autograph signings. View the “Game of Life” commercial at www.roswellpark.org/donorcenter.
The RPCI Blood Donor Center is open six days per week, with flexible daily hours of operation. To donate, you must be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 845-8275 or visit the Donor Center online.
Walk to Support Breast Cancer Patients
Join us on September 19, 2009 for the 15th annual Bosom Buddies walk to support the WNY Breast Resource Center at Roswell Park. Choose from 1.5-, 3-, or 5-mile routes through historic East Aurora. Register today at www.BosomBuddiesWalk.org!
Founded in 1993 as a breast cancer support group, the Bosom Buddies event has raised more than $600,000 for the WNY Breast Resource Center since the first walk in 1995. The WNY Breast Resource Center, established in 1997, provides support for breast cancer patients and their families as they experience diagnosis and treatment.
Team Cure Events – Coming to Your Neighborhood This September!
Throughout the year, generous community supporters host their own Team Cure events to raise funds for Roswell Park. Whether you’re looking for a fun athletic challenge or a glamorous black-tie affair, you’ll have your chance this fall to do your part for cancer research and patient care. Look for Saddle Up for Roswell, the Lebros 5K Run for Carly’s Club, ViVA for Life and much more! Check out the Team Cure event calendar to find an event near you.
A Hall of Famer Shines at All Star Night
The 19th annual All Star Night, a white-tie gala in support of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, will be held on Saturday, October 24th, at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. All Star Night, presented by HSBC, offers guests a silent auction, cocktails, dinner, fabulous live auction items, and prestigious award presentations to Roswell Park scientists and volunteers. This year's All Star Night will feature special honoree NFL Hall of Famer Mike Haynes, a cancer survivor and advocate. On this special evening, we also will raise funds for the Western New York Robotic Surgical Center at Roswell Park. For more information, call (716) 845-8788 or read more here.
Business Partner of the Month: Hebeler Corporation
Many thanks to Hebeler Corporation for their recent gift of a new mural to be displayed in Roswell Park’s phlebotomy department. The mural, featuring a colorful aquatic design, was dedicated on August 6, 2009. Hebeler Corporation, a Town of Tonawanda metal fabricator, worked with GE Energy in Schenectady to choose Roswell Park as the recipient of the mural with help from the Foundation for Hospital Art and the Roswell Park Alliance Art Committee. This latest acquisition is one of more than 600 diverse original works of art that have been secured through donations to benefit cancer patients, family members and visitors at Roswell Park. Pictured: representatives from Hebeler and GE Energy dedicate the new mural with Dr. Judy Smith, Medical Director, RPCI.