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Friday, September 28, 2012

Prostate Cancer Surgery at Penn

Surgery may be an option for many men with prostate cancer. In some prostate cancer cases, a radical prostatectomy, removal of the prostate gland, is needed.

Penn is a national leader in surgical treatment of prostate cancer and its surgeons are at the forefront of developing and using new minimally invasive surgical techniques. Benefits of minimally invasive surgical techniques include:

  • Smaller incisions/less scarring
  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Faster return to normal daily activities

Radical prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy is complete removal of the prostate gland, surrounding tissue and seminal vesicles. A prostatectomy can be performed via traditional surgery, or robotic-assisted surgery.

Traditional prostatectomy

Traditional prostatectomy involves removing the prostate and surrounding tissues through an incision in the body. Nearby lymph nodes may be removed at the same time.

The surgical incision can be made either though the abdomen or through the perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus.

Robotic-assisted prostatectomy

One of the most innovative treatments for prostate cancer is robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy – removal of the prostate gland via computer-assisted surgery.

Laparoscopic robotic-assisted prostatectomy is the complete removal of the prostate using long, narrow instruments that are introduced through very small skin incisions. To perform the procedure, six tiny incisions are made in the patient's abdomen and the laparoscopic instruments are carefully inserted and attached to the robot.

Robotic prostatectomy offers similar and sometimes better outcomes than traditional prostate cancer surgery. The margins obtained around the prostate are just as precise, if not more so, than with open surgery. This leads to cancer cure rates equal to traditional surgery. Better precision also means better nerve sparing, thereby maximizing the chances of preserving sexual and urinary function.

While these technological advantages are significant, a surgeon's skill and experience remain the most important elements for achieving good outcomes. Penn has one of the most experienced robotic-assisted surgery teams in the world, with full-time surgeons dedicated to robotic-assisted prostatectomies. It’s their experience, understanding of the body and prostate cancer, and dexterity of the robot’s tools that helped rank Penn’s urology the highest in the Philadelphia region, and among the nation’s best.

Most men who have robotic-assisted prostatectomies return to work in two to three weeks and can resume activities such as golf and weightlifting in about three weeks.

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is a treatment currently offered through clinical trial studies. Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to destroy tumors and cancer cells. Cryosurgery may be an option to treat prostate cancer if other treatment options are not successful.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options.

Our team will:
  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

Or, learn more about prostate cancer treatment, side effects of prostate cancer, and other prostate cancer information by watching a five-part video series about prostate cancer.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Celebrate Breast Cancer Research at Penn Medicine

This week is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week. The Basser Center for BRCA Research is learning new ways to improve options for those with BRCA gene mutations that can elevate risk for ovarian and breast cancer. 

Join Penn Medicine on October 8 to celebrate the $25 million gift from Mindy and Jon Gray that established the Basser Research Center for BRCA.

What are BRCA1 and BRCA2?


BRCA1 and BRCA2 stand for breast cancer 1 and breast cancer 2 genes. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are present in all individuals. Everyone has two copies of each of these genes - one from each parent.

A gene mutation is like a spelling error in the genetic code of a gene. Those who have a gene mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene are at higher than average risk for developing certain cancers.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are responsible for the repair of certain types of DNA errors that may occur each time a human cell makes a copy of itself. Without a gene mutation, functional BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes help ensure the stability of cell's genetic material, or DNA, and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth.

Having an inherited gene mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 does not mean a person is guaranteed to develop cancer, but the chances are significantly higher than for someone who does not have a gene mutation.

Women and men who choose to learn if they have a gene mutation may make other health care decisions based on that knowledge. For example, someone with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation may choose specialized follow-up care that may dramatically decrease their chances of developing certain cancers.

About the Basser Research Center for BRCA and BRCA

A $25 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray has established The Basser Research Center for BRCA, a center focused solely on the prevention and treatment of cancers that are associated with heritable BRCA mutations.

The Basser Research Center for BRCA is part of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. Basser physicians and researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the center support research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, mutated forms of which are associated with greatly increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer development. The center is named in honor of Mindy Gray's family, the Bassers.

The goal is to learn from today's patients to decrease risk among BRCA carriers and to impact care for generations of cancer patients to come.

The Basser Research Center infuses powerful resources to support cancer care and research at every stage of the cancer diagnosis:

  • Communication
  • Outreach & Risk Assessment
  • Prevention
  • Early Detection
  • Treatment
  • Survivorship

Celebrate With Penn Medicine

This celebration is open to the public, and registration is encouraged.

The event will include welcoming remarks from University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, and Penn Medicine leadership, videos about the center, and a celebratory reception.

Whether you are a donor, friend of the Abramson Cancer Center, faculty, BRCA carrier, or are at risk for the BRCA mutation, please join us for this evening's event.

Date: October 8, 2012
Time: 6 to 7:30 pm ET
Location: Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
Register: www.pennmedicine.org/basserphila

Learn more about the Basser Research Center for BRCA.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Celebrate Previvor Day: BRCA “Previvor” and Advocate for BRCA


This week is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and today is Previvor Day

All week, we are featuring information about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer as well as information about Penn's Basser Research Center for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.

“I grew up with breast cancer,” says Sandy Cohen. “My grandmother died of breast cancer in her thirties, and consequently, my mother became obsessed with breast cancer, and worried she’d develop the disease herself.”

When Sandy’s mother developed breast cancer at 50, and passed away 4 years later, the cycle continued as Sandy became what she called “obsessed” with breast cancer herself.

She also became determined not to let fear of breast cancer rule her own life, and the lives of her two young children and family.

Sandy with her children.
“Genetic testing for BRCA had just come out,” recalls Sandy. “And I decided to have the genetic testing after a lot of hesitation because I didn’t want to imagine my children going through life without a mother.”

Sandy tested positive for BRCA1, the genetic mutation that increases a woman’s lifetime risk for breast cancer up to 80%, and also carries with in an elevated risk  for ovarian cancer of up to 45%.

“I was shocked,” says Sandy. “I sort of expected it because breast cancer affected my family, but I was still hopeful I wouldn’t have the gene mutation.”

Sandy is a Previvor.

What is a Previvor?

A previvor is a survivor of a predisposition to cancer. Previvors have unique needs from people with cancer such as active surveillance and screening tests and often need to make treatment decisions based on their risk for inherited cancer.

In 2010, Congress declared the first-ever National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week and National Previvor Day.

The goal of HBOC Week and Previvor Day is to raise awareness about hereditary cancer. HBOC Week marks the transition between National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and recognizes anyone affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, including women and men with BRCA mutations, people with a family history of cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survivors, and previvors, individuals who carry a strong predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

Sandy is the Philadelphia group founder of the national organizaion, FORCE, which stands for “Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.” She founded the group after she tested positive for BRCA1and wanted to create a resource in the Philadelphia area for other women who were BRCA positive and needs education and support.

Knowing Risk = Empowerment

“When I first found out about my BRCA status, I felt like a walking time bomb,” says Sandy. “Yet, knowing my own risk for breast and ovarian cancer became very empowering for me. I became educated about my options for early treatment and surveillance, and I could take actions to lower my risk.”

Sandy underwent a double mastectomy, completely removing and reconstructing her breasts, which lowered her risk of breast cancer by approximately 90%. She also underwent an oophorectomy, removal of her ovaries, which further reduced her risk of breast cancer and lowered her risk of ovarian cancer by approximately 70%.

“These decisions were not easy for me, and they are not easy for any woman,” says Sandy. “But today, being a Previvor is a lucky status for me. I feel lucky that I could make informed decisions that could lower my risk for breast and ovarian cancer.”

The Basser Research Center for BRCA at Penn Focuses on BRCA1 and BRCA2

The Basser Research Center for BRCA supports research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, harmful forms of which are linked to greatly increased risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The Center is named in honor of Mindy Gray’s sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44.

The Basser Research Center for BRCA was established with a $25 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray.

Emphasizing outreach, prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, the Basser Research Center for BRCA will contribute to all stages of research and clinical care relevant to BRCA-related cancers.

Learn more about the Basser Research Center.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What is a Previvor?


This week is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week. To celebrate and bring awareness, we will be featuring information about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk, the Basser Research Center for BRCA1 and BRCA2 and stories from "previvors."

The term “cancer pre-vivor” arose in 2000 from a challenge on the website, FORCE, which stands for “Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.”

Founded by Sue Friedman in 1999, FORCE acts under the principle that nobody should face hereditary cancer alone.

“FORCE’s goal has always been to include all who have been affected by hereditary cancer,” says Friedman. “This includes those with cancer and those without, those with a known mutation and those with cancer in the family even if no BRCA mutation has been found.

This particular challenge was posed by a FORCE website regular who posted on the site, “I need a label!” She expressed how she had lost her mother to breast cancer at a young age, she lost her breasts, ovaries, and fertility to the risk of cancer, but she did not have cancer. At that time the medical community used the term “unaffected carrier” to describe those who have a gene mutation but have not had cancer.

The term applies from a medical perspective, but can be dismissive for people who face the fears, stress, and difficult choices that accompany an increased risk for cancer,” says Friedman. “As a result, FORCE developed and promoted the term ‘cancer previvor’ for ‘survivor of a predisposition to cancer.’”

Previvors have unique needs from people with cancer such as active surveillance, testing and often need to make treatment decisions based on their risk for inherited cancer.

Now, more than a decade later, as we commemorate National Previvor Day, we celebrate the fact that previvorship has grown into more than a label, but an actual movement of real people who are empowered to take charge of their health.

The goal of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC)Week and Previvor Day is to raise awareness about hereditary cancer. HBOC Week marks the transition between National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and recognizes anyone affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, including women and men with BRCA mutations, people with a family history of cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survivors, and previvors, individuals who carry a strong predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

The Basser Research Center at Penn Focuses on BRCA1 and BRCA2

The Basser Research Center for BRCA1 and BRCA 2 supports research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, harmful forms of which are linked to greatly increased risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The Center is named in honor of Mindy Gray’s sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44.

The Basser Research Center was established with a $25 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray.

Emphasizing outreach, prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, the Basser Research Center will contribute to all stages of research and clinical care related to BRCA-related cancers.

Learn more about the Basser Research Center.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What is the BRCA Gene Mutation?



This week is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Risk Awareness Week.

The goal of HBOC Week is to raise awareness about hereditary cancer. HBOC Week marks the transition between National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and recognizes anyone affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, including women and men with BRCA mutations, people with a family history of cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survivors, and previvors, individuals who carry a strong predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

Women with breast cancer or ovarian cancer may want to ask their physicians if their cancer has a genetic link.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 and breast cancer susceptibility gene 2, are genes with several roles. One important role is to repair certain types of DNA errors that may occur each time a cell makes a copy of itself. Without a gene mutation, functional BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes help ensure the stability of the cell’s genetic material, or DNA, and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth. Mutations of these genes have been linked to an increased genetic risk for multiple forms of cancer, but most notably breast and ovarian cancer.

The lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased for women who inherit a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. These women have an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an earlier than average age and may have multiple, close family members who have been diagnosed with these conditions.

Mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 may also increase the risk for pancreatic cancer and melanoma in both women and men. Men also have a higher chance to develop an earlier onset prostate cancer if a BRCA2 gene mutation is present. Men with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations also have an increased risk of male breast cancer.

Should you get tested for a BRCA gene mutation?


In a family with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, the first step may be to test a family member who has had breast or ovarian cancer. If that person is found to have a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, then other family members can be tested to see if they also have the mutation.

The Mariann and Robert MacDonald Women's Cancer Risk Evaluation Center provides genetic counseling to help people identify their genetic risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other cancers.

The center assists patients with cancer as well as those individuals who may be at an increased risk for cancer.

The program is designed to:

  • Help people understand their genetic risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other cancers.
  • Obtain and assess detailed family history information for possible inherited cancer conditions.
  • Provide expert genetic counseling and the option of genetic testing.
  • Arrange genetic testing and provide consultation regarding results.
  • Provide a clinical breast examination.
  • Provide tailored medical recommendations.
  • Review outside genetic testing results and make recommendations for follow-up.
  • Coordinate screening and long-term, follow-up care for those with a known inherited genetic risk for cancer.
  • Review medical history and lifestyle risk factors.
  • Provide a written summary of a genetic consultation.
  • Evaluate eligibility for participation in research studies.

The Mariann and Robert MacDonald Women's Cancer Risk Evaluation Center also provides information for those who have been diagnosed with cancer and are interested in learning about the role of genetics in their disease.

Some people are interested in obtaining this information for the benefit of their siblings, children and grandchildren. The center also holds education and support programs periodically throughout the year for individuals at high risk for developing cancer.

*Some of this information was adapted from the National Cancer Institute.

Watch the Abramson Cancer Center’s Focus On Your Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer Conference to learn more about cancer genetics and risk assessment.

The Basser Research Center to Focus on BRCA1 and BRCA2

The Basser Research Center — BRC for BRCA — supports research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, harmful forms of which are linked to greatly increased risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The Center is named in honor of Mindy Gray’s sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44.

The Basser Research Center was established with a $25 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray.

Emphasizing outreach, prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, the Basser Research Center will contribute to all stages of research and clinical care related to BRCA-related cancers.

Learn more about the Basser Research Center.

Jill Stopfer, MS, is a certified genetic counselor at the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Women’s Cancer Risk Evaluation Center at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. In this blog post, she explained genetic risk due to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer at Penn

When Frank McKee was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he wanted to find the best possible treatment to fight his disease. Frank did extensive research about prostate cancer treatments and learned about proton therapy for prostate cancer, the world’s most advanced form of radiation therapy.

"For me, I wanted to treat the cancer. I wanted to be done with it," Frank said. "And, I wanted to be done with it in a way that had a minimum amount of side effects and affect my life the least."

"That’s why I picked proton therapy."

In this video, Frank discusses his diagnosis, and why he chose proton therapy at Penn Medicine.




Learn more about prostate cancer treatment at Penn including proton therapy for prostate cancer. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What is a PSA Test for Prostate Cancer?

The prostate gland produces a protein called prostate-stimulating antigen, or PSA.

Often, PSA levels will begin to rise before there are any symptoms of prostate cancer. Sometimes, an abnormal digital rectal exam may be the only sign of prostate cancer (even if the PSA is normal). If you have an elevated PSA, your doctor may have recommended a biopsy to tell if you have prostate cancer.

Many men who come to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center have already received a biopsy result that is positive for prostate cancer. However, before a personalized treatment plan is developed, our team provides a thorough evaluation to ensure the most accurate diagnosis. This may include an endorectal coil MRI of the prostate gland and pelvis, an advanced diagnostic technique developed at Penn Medicine,  that currently represents the optimal method for visualizing the local anatomy and assessing the extent of the disease.

The Gleason Grade and Gleason Score

The biopsy results are reported using what is called a Gleason grade and a Gleason score.

The Gleason grade tells you how fast the cancer might spread. It grades tumors on a scale of 1 to 5. You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample.

The two main grades are added together. This gives you the Gleason score. The higher your Gleason score, the more likely the cancer is to have spread past the prostate.

The chart below shows diagnoses for different Gleason scores.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options.

Our team will:
  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

Or, learn more about prostate cancer treatment, side effects of prostate cancer, and other prostate cancer information by watching a five-part video series about prostate cancer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Robotic Surgery for Ovarian Cancer Got Susan Home the Next Day

When Susan Cramer’s mother had gynecologic surgery back in 1973, she was in the hospital for nine days and spent two months recovering. When Cramer, 54, had a robotic-assisted radical hysterectomy for ovarian cancer this January, she was out of the hospital the next day and back to her routine as soon as she got home.

“I couldn’t believe the results,” says Cramer, who traveled from West Virginia to have her surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. “I didn’t even need pain medication after 48 hours. It really was a miracle.”

Diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer, Cramer researched her options and found Thomas Randall, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at Pennsylvania Hospital. She met with Dr. Randall, and was so impressed with the team at Penn Medicine, that she chose to have her surgery in Philadelphia – more than 250 miles away from her home in West Virginia.

“Surgery for gynecologic cancer used to mean open surgery with more risk for complications and a longer recovery time,” says Dr. Randall. “Today, with the technology and experience we have at Penn, we can often remove the cancer with a less invasive surgery so women can move forward with their treatment plans sooner.”

More surgical options for ovarian cancer at Penn

Robotic-assisted surgery is like other minimally invasive surgery in that instruments and cameras are inserted through small incisions in the body. In robotic surgery, however, the surgeon sits at a console next to the patient. Looking through a viewfinder in the console, he or she uses hand and foot controls to move the surgical “arms.”

“We can see more with the robot because it allows us to go deeper into the body without compromising control or sight,” says Dr. Randall. “We use 3-D binoculars while we operate that actually allow us to see more clearly than if we were performing traditional surgery.”

Robotic-assisted surgery also requires smaller incisions, so there is less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay. It is an ideal option for women with a lot of scar tissue or who are obese. “Most women I see are candidates for robotic-assisted surgery,” says Dr. Randall. “This type of surgery can actually reduce the amount of scar tissue and adhesions from surgery.”

Dr. Randall says most robotic surgeries he performs are for endometrial and cervical cancer. While using robotic surgery to treat ovarian cancer is a recent development, Dr. Randall says the efforts of the Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center (OCRC) has helped provide women with ovarian cancer more innovative treatment options.

The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center’s major initiative, immunotherapy, uses a patient’s own tumor tissue to develop cancer vaccines and therapeutic lymphocytes. The Center collects, transports, processes and stores the tumor tissue of both Penn and non-Penn patients — offering women with ovarian cancer the opportunity to access personalized tumor vaccine services.

The OCRC brings together scientists and clinicians to develop innovative approaches to treating ovarian cancer, with the goal of improving survival and the quality of life for women with this disease

Experience driving technology

Penn is home to eight da Vinci Surgical Systems, making it one of the largest robotic-assisted surgical programs in the United States. However, the experience of the surgical team is what really makes Penn’s program stand out.

Dr. Randall is a national expert in robotic-assisted gynecologic surgery, and has performed more than 800 robotic-assisted surgeries since 2007.“Everyone on our surgical team is an early adopter of technology,” says Dr. Randall.

Gynecologic oncologists at Pennsylvania Hospital are also part of a multidisciplinary team of cancer treatment specialists that work together to create a tailored treatment plan for every patient.

For Susan Cramer, the physician experience combined with advanced technology meant more than just a few tiny incisions; it meant getting valuable time back thanks to a quicker recovery.

Get the Facts About Ovarian Cancer

Learn more about ovarian cancer, and ovarian cancer treatment at Penn.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Radiation Treatment at Penn for Prostate Cancer

At Penn, men with prostate cancer have access to new and advanced treatment options and ongoing clinical trials in radiation therapy including proton therapy. As part of Penn Medicine's commitment to advancing cancer care in patients, radiation oncologists are also researching how radiation treatment affects the quality of life for cancer patients.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses frequent imaging during a course of radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of the delivery the radiation treatment.

In IGRT, the linear accelerator (machine that delivers radiation) is equipped with imaging technology that take pictures of the tumor immediately before or during the time radiation is delivered.

Specialized computer software compares these images of the tumor to the images taken during the simulation to establish the treatment plan. Necessary adjustments can then be made to the patient's position and/or the radiation beams to more precisely target radiation at the cancer and avoid exposure to the healthy surrounding tissue.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

Radiation oncologists at Penn Medicine use intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to treat prostate cancer. This advanced mode of high-precision radiotherapy utilizes computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to tumors or specific areas within the tumors.

Radiation therapy, including IMRT, stops cancer cells from dividing and growing, thus slowing or stopping tumor growth. In many cases, radiation therapy is capable of killing all of the cancer cells.

Using 3-D computed tomography (CT) images in conjunction with computerized dose calculations, IMRT allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor by controlling, or modulating the intensity of the radiation beam in multiple small volumes. The therapy allows higher radiation doses to be focused on regions within the tumor while minimizing the dose to surrounding normal critical structures

Cyberknife®

CyberKnife is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the prostate. The treatment delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy.

CyberKnife therapy is pain free, non-invasive and can be done as an outpatient procedure. CyberKnife can treat hard to reach tumors, and requires no anesthesia during treatment. Penn’s CyberKnife is located at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Proton therapy

Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is the largest and most advanced facility in the world for this precise form of cancer radiation. At Penn Medicine, patients have access to one of the most sophisticated weapons against cancer, seamlessly integrated with the full range of oncology services available at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor. The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Proton therapy, like all forms of radiation therapy, works by aiming the energized particles, in this case protons, onto the target tumor. These particles damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death.

Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

Read a patient testimonial about proton therapy for prostate cancer here. 

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options.

Our team will:
  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

Or, learn more about prostate cancer treatment, side effects of prostate cancer, and other prostate cancer information by watching a five-part video series about prostate cancer. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

What is Prostate Cancer?


The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system located just below the bladder. The prostate is small, about the size of a walnut, and it produces fluid found in semen.

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancerous (malignant) cells form in the tissues of the prostate.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in men over 75. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 50.

Prostate Cancer Risk and Prevention

Men who develop prostate cancer are more likely than other men to have certain risk factors for the disease. A risk factor is something that increases the chance of developing a disease.

There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Although the exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, certain factors can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer:

  • Age. Prostate cancer is rare in men under the age of 50. The risk for prostate cancer increases as men get older .
  • Family history of prostate cancer. Men who have a brother or father with prostate cancer have a higher risk for prostate cancer.
  • Race. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than white men, and it occurs at an earlier age in African American men.

This does not mean men who have one or more of these factors will develop prostate cancer, but they should speak with a physician about their risk.

Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment

Men who have conditions that put them at risk for prostate cancer may benefit from consulting with their physician to determine their risk. If they are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, they may consider getting screened for prostate cancer.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options.

Our team will:
  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

Or, learn more about prostate cancer treatment, side effects of prostate cancer, and other prostate cancer information by watching a five-part video series about prostate cancer.

An Open Letter to the Newly Diagnosed Prostate Cancer Survivor

Bill Barbour
LIVESTRONG Challenge, 2012
Bill Barbour, 64, of New York, is an avid cyclist who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May, 2011. Always active, Bill didn’t let treatment for prostate cancer slow down his life, or his participation in his favorite activity, cycling. Bill chose to have proton therapy for prostate cancer at Penn in February, 2012, and today he is cancer free. Bill recently completed riding for the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center cycling team in the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG challenge.

Watch Bill tell his story about before and after cancer treatment.

Dear New Prostate Cancer Patient:

I know that you must be in shock now and that your immediate reaction is to have your cancer removed just as soon as possible.  That was my reaction back in May, 2011. 

You may be aware that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among men, which creates an even greater sense of urgency for you and your family members.

I am here to tell you to breathe.

I would have undergone treatment - any treatment - the very next day after my diagnosis, if it was possible.  I live in New York and I thought about getting the same treatment that the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, underwent.  Maybe I could try the same treatment as former manager of the NY Yankees, Joe Torre?  Both of them are well now.       

My doctor calmly told me that while indeed my diagnosis was a serious matter, it wasn’t the immediate emergency that I created in my mind.  He explained some of the treatment strategies to me and asked me to return in a few months for a check up. I was still in shock, but the good news was that we had detected it early and I had no symptoms.

Having time to collect my thoughts was the best thing that could have happened, and I would advise you to do the same. Regardless if you have days, weeks or months to make a decision about your treatment, it’s so important to breathe. Collect your thoughts. Allow yourself time to deal with this new diagnosis.  

During the summer of 2011, I immersed myself in my favorite activity, which is cycling.  I realized that I was already a “survivor” in that I was now living with cancer.  I forgot about the cancer on most days.

When I did think about prostate cancer, I felt a great comfort in thinking of myself as a survivor.  I began thinking in terms of my “survivorship” and what I wanted my life to be like after my prostate cancer treatment.   I immediately thought of our cherished family bike outings. I also wanted to
continue my cycling in as normal a manner as possible.

I sorted through the many treatment methods available and concluded that most of them could give me a good chance at becoming cancer free.  But which method was for me?  I found that each method varies in the changes made to one’s body.  This was the most important insight that I needed to choose a treatment that matched my own vision of survivorship.  For me, that was proton therapy for prostate cancer at Penn Medicine.

I conferred with a number of former prostate cancer patients who willingly and candidly shared their treatment experiences with me.  As I made my treatment decision, I realized that it would have been a huge mistake for me to copy either Rudy Giuliani’s or Joe Torre’s treatment choice as I originally considered doing months before. 

I am writing this for you as it is now my turn to help.  I want you to know you can shape your own treatment decision by laying claim to your survivorship now. Learn all you can about your treatment options before you make any decisions. That knowledge will help you immensely in following the signposts to living your life after prostate cancer.

Learn more about proton therapy for prostate cancer in Philadelphia, or connect with others who’ve had proton therapy at Penn on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shaping the Future of Ovarian Cancer Treatment at Penn

Terri Loring of Philadelphia is an ovarian cancer survivor.

One in 57 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and most women have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis because ovarian cancer may have no symptoms in its early stages.

The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center is working to establish an Ovarian Cancer Tumor Center to facilitate the procurement of ovarian tumor tissue at the time of surgery. Cells from the tumor issue can then be used to develop personalized vaccine therapies, which could eventually lead to improved survival and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

In this video, Terri shares her story of survivorship, and George Coukos, MD, PhD, of the The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center talks about research at Penn that is shaping the future of ovarian cancer treatment.

Learn more about ovarian cancer treatment at the Abramson Cancer Center.






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Learn about Prostate Cancer Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment in South Jersey

Men older than 18 and their family members can learn more about prostate cancer – risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options – at a special free program on September 19, 2012 at the Kennedy Cancer Center in Washington Township, NJ.

The program, “What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer: It Could Save Your Life,” is sponsored by the Kennedy Health System, a member of the Penn Cancer Network, in conjunction with Penn Radiation Oncology.

The Facts About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in America, and about one man in every six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. While more than 240,000 cases will diagnosed this year, more than 2.5 million American men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Learn more about this disease -- prostate cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment -- at this free event.

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Time: 6 to 7 pm
Location: Kennedy Cancer Center, 900 Medical Center Drive, Suite 207, in Sewell, NJ.
Speakers: John R. Glassburn, MD, FACR, clinical professor of radiation oncology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Curtiland Deville, Jr., MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Light refreshments will be served. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Please call (856) 218-5591 to register for this event.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Stand Up 2 Cancer Special on Tonight


Tonight, celebrities, and musicians will come together to build awareness for cancer and raise money for cancer research through the Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) telethon. 100 percent of all public donations from the special will go to cancer research.

Watch the Stand Up 2 Cancer Special

The Stand Up 2 Cancer Special airs TONIGHT from 8 to 9 pm ET.

The SU2C Special will air on all major networks without commercial interruption. Networks include ABC, NBC, CBS as well as BIO, E!, HBO, MLB Network, Palladia, Showtime TBS, VH1 and STARZ.

About SU2C

Founded in 2008, SU2C has raised more than $180 million for innovative cancer research. Since its inception, SU2C has made grants to seven multi-disciplinary “Dream Teams” of researchers as well as to 26 young innovative scientists who are undertaking high-risk, potentially high-reward projects to end the reign of cancer as a leading cause of death in the world today.

Eighty-five institutions are currently involved, including Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center.

Watch SU2C and Join the Conversation

Watch Stand Up to Cancer on Friday, September 7 at 8 pm ET, and join Penn Medicine on Twitter as we discuss pancreatic cancer and its treatment at Penn Medicine, and how researchers and clinicians on the SU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team are changing the way cancer is treated today.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stand Up 2 Cancer Special Returns to Prime Time


On Friday, September 7 at 8 pm ET, celebrities and musicians will come together to build awareness for cancer and raise money for cancer research through the Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) telethon.

100 percent of all public donations from the special will go to cancer research.

Watch the Stand Up 2 Cancer Special

The Stand Up to Cancer Special airs Friday, September 7 from 8 to 9 pm ET.

The Stand Up to Cancer Special will air on all major networks without commercial interruption. Networks include ABC, NBC, CBS as well as BIO, E!, HBO, MLB Network, Palladia, Showtime TBS, VH1 and STARZ.

About Stand Up 2 Cancer

Founded in 2008, SU2C has raised more than $180 million for innovative cancer research. Since its inception, SU2C has made grants to seven multi-disciplinary “Dream Teams” of researchers as well as to 26 young innovative scientists who are undertaking potentially high-reward projects to end the reign of cancer as a leading cause of death in the world today.

Eighty-five institutions are currently involved, including Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center.

The Penn Medicine SU2C Dream Team

As the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer. More than 90 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements have had little impact, and a new approach is desperately needed.

The SU2C Dream Team at Penn is actively researching better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer. Together, members of the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team working to translate scientific breakthroughs into new treatment options faster than ever before. Their research focuses on developing tests using advanced imaging technology to understand pancreatic cancer cells and developing new, personalized pancreatic cancer treatments based on their research.

Members of the Pancreatic Cancer SU2C Dream Team at Penn Medicine

Pancreatic cancer researchers at Penn Medicine are at the forefront of developing new, personalized approaches to pancreatic cancer treatment.

These Penn clinicians and researchers are part of the SU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team.

Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology
Director, Abramson Cancer Center
Director, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute

Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, FACS
John Rhea Barton Professor of Surgery
Chairman, Department of Surgery

Hank Kung, PhD
Professor of Radiology and Pharmacology
Department of Radiology
Perelman School of Medicine

Peter J. O’Dwyer, MBBCh, MD
Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology
Perelman School of Medicine

Watch Stand Up 2 Cancer and Join the Conversation

Watch Stand Up to Cancer on Friday, September 7 at 8 pm ET, and join Penn Medicine on Twitter as we discuss pancreatic cancer and its treatment at Penn Medicine, and how researchers and clinicians on the SU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team are changing the way cancer is treated today.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facts About Ovarian Cancer

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).

While there is no cure for ovarian cancer yet, Penn Medicine is at the forefront of discovering new treatments for ovarian cancer, and learning about a woman's risk for developing ovarian cancer through research at the Basser Research Center for BRCA 1 and 2.

 

Facts About Ovarian Cancer

  • 1 in 57 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer.
  • Over 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the Unites States this year.
  • Two-thirds of women with ovarian cancer are age 55 or older at the time of diagnosis.
  • 10 to15 percent of ovarian cancers are inherited, and women with a family history are at an increased risk.
  • Ovarian cancer is the deadliest cancer among women and is the 5th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.
  • Most women have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis because ovarian cancer may have no symptoms in its early stages.
  • The majority of women with ovarian cancer fail conventional chemotherapy.
  • Personalized immunotherapy using the patient's tumor to derive cancer vaccines and cell–based therapeutics is a promising new approach to treat ovarian cancer.
  • The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center is working to establish an Ovarian Cancer Tumor Center to facilitate the procurement of ovarian tumor tissue at the time of surgery. Cells from the tumor issue can then be used to develop personalized vaccine therapies, which could eventually lead to improved survival and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Learn more about ovarian cancer at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Do you know your risk for ovarian cancer?

The lifetime risk of developing certain types of cancer is greatly increased for women and men who inherit a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Men and women can learn if they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation by getting evaluated at the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center. There, men and women receive expert genetic counseling and education about their results, and the impact those results may have on their family.

This multidisciplinary program also provides long term care from medical oncologists with genetics expertise.

Learn more about ovarian cancer risk through research at the Basser Research Center for BRCA 1 and 2.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Focus On Brain Cancer: For Parents of Children with Brain Cancer

The Focus On Brain Cancer - Discovery to Recovery for Parents of Children with Brain Cancer is a free educational conference presented by the Abramson Cancer Center in conjunction with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The conference is being held in conjunction with the Focus On Brain Cancer: Discovery to Recovery for Adults with Brain Cancer.

The Focus On Brain Cancer conference is for parents of children who are in treatment or survivors of brain cancer. It is also for adult survivors of brain cancer. The conference gives patients and their families the knowledge they need to take action with important information from expert Penn faculty.

Who Should Attend?

  • Parents of children who are newly diagnosed, currently in treatment
  • Long-term brain cancer survivors
  • Adult survivors of childhood brain cancer

Brain Tumor Conference Details

Date: Friday, September 21, 2012
Time: 8 am - 4 pm EDT
Location: Hilton Hotel, 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Register for the conference here.

About Penn's Brain Tumor Center

Penn's Brain Tumor Center exists to develop the cures, deliver the treatments, and offer the hope of a life fulfilled.

Treatments are quickly brought to the bedside by world-class physicians who team with researchers to advance medical science. Cutting-edge technology provides patients with the most-accurate diagnoses, while state-of-the-art facilities create a patient-friendly, healing environment.

Learn more about brain cancer treatment in Philadelphia.
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