University of Pennsylvania Health System

Focus on Cancer

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Join Penn at the Race for the Cure 5/10

The 25th Annual Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure® is a Mother’s Day tradition benefiting breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

The Penn Medicine Breast Health Initiative (PMBHI) was recently awarded $100,000 from the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia Community Grants Program to provide screening and diagnostic services to an additional 600 women this year.

Twenty-five percent of the funds raised by Komen Philadelphia supports the Komen national research program--a peer reviewed cancer research program offering grants in areas such as diagnosis, treatment, public health, survivorship and prevention. The remainder of the funds raised are invested locally in programs like the PMBHI, which help provide access to care and education in our community – both enriching and saving lives.

These are just a few good reasons to come out and join the Penn Medicine Team.

25th Annual Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure®
Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015
Eakins Oval/Philadelphia Museum of Art
5K Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Walk
Join us and help make a difference.v

Interested in joining our team?

To join the official Penn Medicine Team, patients, friends and family are welcome to visit the official registration page online and follow the instructions.

Race for the Cure Schedule:
7:00 AM: Opening Ceremony: 25th Celebration Extravaganza
8:15 AM: 5K Run Start
8:25 AM: 5K Walk / 1-Mile Fun Walk Start

Other ways to show your support.

Can’t make it on Mothers' Day? You can still support Penn Medicine’s team by making a donation to the team.

If you have questions about joining or would like to tell us why you walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, please email Amy Kleger or visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cauliflower is the Comeback Kid of 2015

Carly Roop, RD, is a registered dietitian at the Joan Karnell Supportive Care Services (JKSCS). She provides nutrition education and support to patients while addressing nutrition-related side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Dietitians at JKSCS provide educational nutrition programs that are open to patients as well as the community.

Move over kale, this year cauliflower is taking over menus everywhere. And the cauliflower appearing on menus at some of the top restaurants in the United States is not the same steamed cauliflower you once pushed around your plate.

Dietitians everywhere are thrilled about this comeback because cauliflower is full of cancer and disease fighting properties. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cabbage; it belongs to the cabbage family. These sulfur-containing vegetables may have a pungent smell but they also contain phytochemicals such as Sulforaphane and Indole-3-carbinol which aid the liver in production of enzymes that block cancer-causing chemicals from damaging the body and help enhance the immune system.

This vegetable is low in calories while still being rich in vitamin C, fiber and B vitamins such as biotin, which contributes to healthy hair and nails. Cauliflower is more than crudité, there are a variety of ways one can prepare this vegetable, it can be coated with a spicy yogurt and baked tandoori style, pureed into a creamy soup, roasted with a touch of melted Parmesan, tossed in sauce for vegetarian Buffalo wings and it can even be prepared to have a couscous- like texture.

The year has just begun but I predict there is a lot more culinary fun to come with cauliflower.

Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower 

Serves 6 

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 1 head of cauliflower 
  • 1 ½ cups of plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced 
  • 1-2 tbsp. chili powder 
  • 1 tbsp. cumin 
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp curry powder 
  • 2 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. 
  2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder and pepper. 
  4. Dunk the cauliflower in the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade on evenly over its surface (Extra marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days). 
  5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned 35-45 minutes.
  6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges and serving alongside a big green salad
Nutrition per serving: 65 calories; < 1 gm of total fat; 7 gram of carbohydrates; 2 gm of dietary fiber; 7.5 gm of protein

Monday, March 16, 2015

Colon Cancer Prevention and Screening Web Chat This Thursday - March 19, 2015

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about screening, symptoms, treatments and the latest research, we’re teaming up with 6ABC for a live, streaming web chat at

Colorectal Cancer - Did you know?

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

You may be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer as you get older, but with education and screening, you can help reduce your risk.

Screening Can Save Lives

For those 50 years and older, getting a colorectal cancer screening can be life saving.

Symptoms like the appearance of polyps in the colon or rectum, persistent stomach aches and pains, rapid weight loss and bloody bowel movements may be key indicators.

While these symptoms may be indicative of other ailments, colorectal cancer screenings can help you take the right next steps.

This March, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, be sure to ask the right questions, and get the facts.

Our Experts Answering Your Questions

Patients and loved ones can submit questions ahead of time and also watch the chat in full after our broadcast.

Want to know more about:
  • Colorectal cancer screening?
  • Risk evaluation?
  • Hereditary risk?
  • Cutting-edge treatment potions?
  • New breakthrough clinical trials?
  • Survivorship?

Please join Penn experts Gregory G. Ginsberg, MD, Timothy C. Hoops, MD and Joshua I.S. Bleier, MD on Thursday, March 19 at 4pm. 

To submit your questions and set up an email reminder for the live web chat,
please visit

Friday, March 13, 2015

Biannual Amyloidosis Support Group Comes to Penn Medicine on March 28

In partnership with the Amyloidosis Support Group, Penn Medicine's Amyloidosis Program will be hosting this year's biannual Amyloidosis Support Group event and complimentary lunch.

The event will feature guest speaker Frederick Ruberg, MD, of the Boston Medical Center as well as Penn Medicine doctors and staff of the Abramson Cancer Center Amyloidosis Program. Additional time will also be dedicated to questions and answers you might have.

Topics to be discussed throughout the event include:
  • Announcements of new clinical trials and treatments
  • Questions read and answered by Amyloidosis Support Group doctors
  • Health insurance options for people with amyloidosis
  • An informal discussion over lunch with speakers and participants
  • Breakout groups for caregivers and loved ones
  • How to raise awareness and ways to help 
Please RSVP for the event, Saturday March 28, 2015
from 9 am to 2:30 pm

Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
3400 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Main Lobby of the Translational Research Center
Parking in the Perelman Garage is free and will be validated

Monday, March 9, 2015

“If I can save one person from being where I was, that makes me happy.” - Michele

Penn Medicine recognizes March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Follow us all month for information on screening and prevention tips. 

Michele on her 2-year "cancerversary."
At 50, Michele was feeling great. She’d done everything she was supposed to do to take care of her health.

Annual physical exam? Check.
Mammogram? Yup.
Echocardiogram? Done.
Skin check for moles and skin cancer? No problem.
Bone density scan? Of course.

But the one thing she’d put off was getting a colonoscopy.

“It was the only thing I hadn’t done, and I really didn’t think much of it,” remembers Michele. “I felt great; there wasn’t a reason to get one other than I was 50 and it was recommended I get one at 50.”

Two months before her 51st birthday, on Valentine’s Day, Michele had her colonoscopy in central New Jersey close to her home.

Her doctor found cancer. That colonoscopy saved her life.

“He told me he found lesions, and that I needed to see a specialist surgeon,” says Michele. “I left there dazed and confused.”

One week later, Michele met with Dr. Najjia Mahmoud, MD, Chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Penn Medicine.

“Dr. Mahmoud had a calming effect,” says Michele. “She spoke to me in a way I could understand the process for my situation, she actually made it sound easy – and that put me at ease.”

It was stage 3 colon cancer, and after her surgery at Penn, Michele had 12 rounds of chemotherapy under the care of Ursina Teitelbaum, MD, medical oncologist at the Abramson Cancer Center.

“I was so impressed with Dr. Teitelbaum,” says Michele. “I walked into that first visit with two pages of questions, and she went through and answered each and every one.”

Michele got through those chemotherapy treatments, but it wasn’t an easy road.

“Chemotherapy was tough, but I got through it with the support of my friends and family, and the determination I had to get through it,” says Michele. “I walked every day – even if it was slow – because I knew that’s what I had to do.”

Today, Michele is cancer-free and is an advocate for colon cancer awareness. She’s participated in the Undy 5000 race, numerous awareness events, and supports multiple organizations through volunteer work. This year again, she had Governor Christie proclaim March, 2014, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in New Jersey.

“If I can save one person from being where I was, that makes me happy,” says Michele. “It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people are not up to date with their screenings, and that 1 in 20 will be diagnosed with colon cancer. Those numbers alone should alarm people to take action.”

Michele reminds us she had no symptoms of colon cancer – no pain, no blood in her stool, and her annual blood work was normal.

“I probably had colon cancer for years before I went for a screening,” she says, “but without the screening, I probably would have found out too late.”

If you or a loved one are at risk for colorectal cancer and would like to learn more, visit for scheduling and a free downloadable guide.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Show Us Your Blue on Friday 3/6

The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) is a community that provides hope and support to patients and their families, while saving lives through screening, access, awareness, advocacy and research.

Why should you wear blue? That’s the question the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) wants communities, businesses and individuals across the country (and even the world) to answer during its Dress in Blue Day program on Friday, March 6th 2015.

The Alliance's National Dress in Blue Day takes place every year on the first Friday in March, as the official kickoff to National Colorectal Cancer Month.

The program promotes awareness of colon cancer, encourages people to get their colon checked and ultimately, is working to put an end to this often preventable disease. On this special day, thousands of people throughout the United States will be showing their support by dressing in blue and talking to people about colon cancer and screening.

Show Us Your Blue

Look for photos on our @PennCancer Facebook page and share your own. Together we can help raise awareness for Colorectal Cancer.

Facts About Colorectal Cancer

Currently, colorectal cancer affects about 1 in 20 people - with some at greater risk due to age, race, and diabetes.

More than 143,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year and 51,690 people will lose their battle with the disease.

But there is good news: Colon cancer is often beatable when detected and treated in its early stages or can be prevented altogether when polyps are removed before they develop into cancer.

Dress in Blue Day works to make sure everyone knows this – encouraging local communities, businesses and the general public to support awareness of colon cancer by dressing in blue and hosting educational events.

This March, help us spread colon cancer awareness – it could save someone’s life!

If you or a loved one are at risk for colorectal cancer and would like to learn more call 215-615-2580 or visit for scheduling and a free downloadable guide.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TREATMiNT Box: Gifting Cancer Patients with Comfort and Inspiration

In 2011, Kimberly Fink was treated at the Abramson Cancer Center for uterine cancer. Once her treatment ended, Kimberly came up with the idea for TREATMiNT Box: a subscription based gift box for supporting patients during and after treatment.

Four years ago, Kimberly Fink traveled to Alabama to help her family clean up and rebuild after tornadoes had ripped apart her hometown.

She hadn't been feeling well, and had spent the previous months getting tests, visiting doctors and asking for second opinions to figure out what was wrong.

But it was on this trip when her symptoms couldn’t be silenced.

“I was admitted to the emergency room, and they performed a battery of tests,” remembers Fink. The diagnosis was uterine cancer. At the time, she was only 33 years old.

“I asked the physician if he could recommend a cancer treatment center in Philadelphia, and he said that the Abramson Cancer Center was the best place to go,” says Fink. “He was right. As soon as I walked through the doors, I felt a sense of relief. I knew I was in the right place.”

Over the next full year, Fink received treatment, which included radiation and chemotherapy.

“Cancer treatment is a very isolating experience. Even though you are always surrounded by so many people, you can still feel very alone.”

Fink says that many people with cancer receive a lot of support and encouragement in the beginning of their treatment or when they are first diagnosed. But as weeks and months pass, support can wane – even though loved ones and friends have the best intentions.

It was this realization that inspired Fink to create TREATMiNT Box three years later.

Gifts that Keep On Giving

TREATMiNT Box is a subscription gift box service for both people with cancer, as well as survivors,” says Fink. It is the first-ever subscription service specifically designed with this population in mind.

Each gift box is covered in inspirational messages and is sturdy enough to keep and hold mementos, cards or anything else. The boxes include a mix of practical gifts and inspirational items: gorgeous art prints, all-natural beauty products, cozy socks, organic scarves, tech goodies and fine paper products. There are boxes with separate gifts in mind for men as well as women, with gift boxes for boys and girls coming soon.

You can purchase a one-time gift box delivery or a monthly subscription for three, six or 12 months.

“TREATMiNT Box is a way you can send support love to someone with cancer and know they will be treated to special products to both comfort and inspire,” she says. “We want to provide a rock-solid way for friends and family to show their support and stay connected when it’s hard to relate.”

TREATMiNT Box is young – not even a year old - but has almost 300 subscribers so far. Fink says she plans to expand her services to include TREATMiNT boxes for kids and caregivers, as well as introduce a “Buy a box, donate a box” service. For every box purchased, Fink hopes to donate a box to someone in treatment.

“I want to continue to create a community of patients and survivors that help us curate products for our boxes,” says Fink. “Connecting with patients and survivors can be an extraordinary healing experience.”

Fink adds her own encouragement for those currently undergoing cancer treatment and therapy: “Stop Googling your cancer type and focusing on survival rates. Instead, focus on what you can do today to stay positive. Take things one day at a time.”

Hear Fink talk about TREATMiNT Box in the short video below.

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