Read the latest issue of Thrive

The latest issue of Thrive, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, is now available online.

Check out our cover story about options available to women who would like to start a family after cancer treatment has impaired their fertility. The issue also features stories about helping children cope with their parents’ cancer diagnoses and 10 ways to make better decisions about cancer care. Our dietitians weigh in on popular supplements, and our art therapist discusses the benefits of spending time on creative projects.

Visit Thrive online at mCancer.org/thrive. Take time to browse our archive, too.

Check out U-M Cancer Center events

Jan. 13

Bandito’s Supports the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Bandito’s Restaurant, 216 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor

Mention the words “Cancer Center” when you place your order at Bandito’s, and the restaurant will donate 30 percent of your bill the the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Support Services Program. This offer is available for dine-in, carry-out or delivery orders. To learn more, call the restaurant at 734-996-0234.

Jan. 18

Acrylic Painting: Interpreting the Emotion of Color
11 a.m.-1 p.m. or 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Level 1, U-M Cancer Center

This month’s Art Studio will focus on working with monochromatic color palettes. Participants will create a painting that is an exploration of one emotion. Additional materials will be available for creating multimedia paintings. This program, which is part of the donor-supported Art Therapy Program, is available free of charge to U-M cancer patients and their families. Space is limited, and registration is required. Please call 1-877-408-7377.

Jan. 21

Free Cervical Cancer Screening
1 p.m.-4 p.m.
U-M Livonia Health Center, 20321 Farmington Road

Cervical cancer will kill more than 4,000 American women this year, but proper screening can save lives. More than half of all cervical cancer cases affect women ages 30 to 55. Hispanic and African-American women are at highest risk. This free screening is open to any woman older than 21 who has not had a Pap test in the past two years and who does not have medical insurance that covers a Pap test. Call the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 1-800-865-1125 to schedule an appointment.

Jan. 28

Tim O’Brien Trivia Night
O’Kelly Knights of Columbus, Dearborn

Compete for prizes at Tim O’Brien Trivia Night. Proceeds from the event–which will feature appetizers and pizza along with drawings–will support the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Cost is $20. For more information or to register, email nmo1268@comcast.net.

Do you have a cancer-related event you’d like to promote? Let us know!


Researchers find first major gene mutation associated with hereditary prostate cancer risk

After a 20-year quest to find a genetic driver for prostate cancer that strikes men at younger ages and runs in families, researchers have identified a rare, inherited mutation linked to a significantly higher risk of the disease.

Kathleen Cooney, M.D.

Kathleen Cooney, M.D.

A report on the discovery, published in the January 12, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by investigators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Michigan Health System. The research team found that men who inherit this mutation have a 10 to 20 times higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

While accounting for only a small fraction of all prostate cancer cases, the discovery may provide important clues about how this common cancer develops and help to identify a subset of men who might benefit from additional or earlier screening. This year, an estimated 240,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“This is the first major genetic variant associated with inherited prostate cancer,” says Kathleen A. Cooney, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology at the U-M Medical School, one of the study’s two senior authors. Continue reading

U-M Cancer Center research included in ASCO’s annual honor roll

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently highlighted research by Maha Hussain, M.D., associate director for clinical research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, as one of the top advances in cancer of the year. It was featured in the “Clinical Cancer Advances 2011: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer,” which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Maha Hussain, M.D.

The report is an annual, independent review of advances in cancer research that have had the greatest impact on patient care. Clinical Cancer Advances 2011 includes 54 significant studies, including 12 that the report’s editors consider major advances.

Hussain’s study, “Cabozantinib (XL184) in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC): Results from a phase II randomized discontinuation trial,” showed early promise for the drug Cabozantinib in treating prostate cancer, particularly in cases where tumors had spread to  bone.

Read more about the study’s findings at mCancer.org. Or download the ASCO report at Cancer.net.

U-M Cancer Center’s Phase 1 clinical trials offer hope for new treatments

The ultimate goal in cancer research is to speed promising therapies from the laboratory to the clinic — where all patients may eventually benefit. That’s at the core of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Ravitz Foundation Phase I/Translational Research Center. An integral part of this this highly innovative program is that it offers new opportunities to patients who have no other treatment options.

Moshe Talpaz, M.D.

Phase I clinical trials are the first step in testing a potential new therapy in people. They focus on determining the right dose and method for delivering a drug. The ultimate question Phase I trials seek to answer is: Can this new drug slow down or stop cancer growth in a dose patients can tolerate?

Patients are monitored very closely to ensure their safety. As cancer research has evolved, drugs have become much less toxic, lowering patients’ risk significantly, said Moshe Talpaz, M.D., associate director of translational research at the U-M Cancer Center.

“Traditionally, when we looked at chemotherapy, we looked at how much we could give a person, assuming that more is better. We know now from Gleevec and other drugs that more is not always better. Now we’re looking for the optimal biologic dose and the biological changes associated with response,” he said. “It probably provides a better chance of benefit than in the past because we have become more systematic in our research.”

The Ravitz Center is unique in that it focuses solely on targeted therapies. In this approach to cancer treatment, researchers try to develop medications that interrupt the signals that cause cancer cells to reproduce.

Because targeted therapies are focused on cancer cells specifically, they tend to cause fewer side effects. Continue reading

U-M and MedImmune join forces to accelerate search for new therapies

Leaders from the University of Michigan Medical School and MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, have signed a new agreement to work together on a broad range of projects.

Max Wicha, M.D.

Max Wicha, M.D.

The three-year strategic collaboration will bring scientists from one of the nation’s top medical research institutions together with scientists from one of the world’s leading developers of biologic therapies.

“We are thrilled to partner with MedImmune in a collaborative and creative way to bring new innovations to market,” says Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the U-M Medical School and Endowed Professor of Pathology Research. “This strategic partnership, one of the first of its kind for our institution, speaks to our desire to collaborate with industry to accelerate translation of U-M’s cutting-edge research to impact patients.”

The partnership will initially focus on oncology,  leveraging the strength of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. U-M cancer scientists, led by center director Max Wicha, M.D., have won more research grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute than researchers at any other academic medical center.

“Working with MedImmune to explore new ways to target treatments is a natural progression of the basic scientific discoveries that our teams have made in the last decade,” says Wicha, who is also the Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School.

UMMS and MedImmune scientists will cooperate on studies that aim to translate scientific discoveries from the laboratory into new candidates for treating cancer as well as heart disease, digestive disease, lung disease and diseases caused by inflammation. Continue reading