DiversityNursing Blog

Doctors Test Tumor Paint In People

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 12:03 PM

JOE PALCA

www.npr.org 

glowing vial wide eec83b26dc18b2e1a1c559733c0e90c07dcf839b s800 c85 resized 600A promising technique for making brain tumors glow so they'll be easier for surgeons to remove is now being tested in cancer patients.

Eighteen months ago, Shots first told readers about tumor paint, an experimental substance derived from scorpion venom. Inject tumor paint into a patient's vein, and it will actually cross the blood-brain barrier and find its way to a brain tumor. Shine near-infrared light on a tumor coated with tumor paint, and the tumor will glow.

The main architect of the tumor paint idea is a pediatric oncologist named Dr. Jim Olson. As a physician who treats kids with brain cancer, Olson knows that removing a tumor is tricky.

"The surgeons right now use their eyes and their fingers and their thumbs to distinguish cancer from normal brain," says Olson. But poking around in someone's brain with only those tools, it's inevitable surgeons will sometimes miss bits of tumor or, just as bad, damage healthy brain cells.

So Olson and his colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle came up with tumor paint. They handed off commercial development of the compound to Blaze Bioscience.

After initial studies in dogs showed promise, the company won approval to try tumor paint on human subjects. Those trials are taking place at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Dr. Chirag Patil is one of those surgeons. He says it's remarkable that you can inject tumor paint into a vein in a patient's arm, have it go to the brain and attach to a tumor, and only a tumor. "That's a concept that neurosurgeons have probably been dreaming about for 50 years," he says.

Patil says they've now used tumor paint on a about a half dozen patients with brain tumors. They use a special camera to see if the tumor is glowing.

"The first case we did was a deep tumor," says Patil. "So with the camera, we couldn't really shine it into this deep small cavity. But when we took that first piece out and we put it on the table. And the question was, 'Does it glow?' And when we saw that it glows, it was just one of those moments ...'Wow, this works.' "

In this first study of tumor paint in humans, the goal is just to prove that it's reaching the tumor. Future studies will see if it actually helps surgeons remove tumors and, even more importantly, if it results in a better outcome for the patient.

That won't be quick or easy. Just getting to this point has been a long slog, and there are bound to be hurdles ahead.

And even if tumor paint does exactly what it's designed to do, Dr. Keith Black, who directs neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, says it probably isn't the long-term solution to brain cancer. "Because surgery is still a very crude technique," he says.

Even in the best of circumstances, Black says, surgery is traumatic for the patients, and tracking down every last cell of a tumor is probably impossible. Plus, it's inevitable that some healthy brain tissue will be damaged in removing the tumor.

"Ultimately, we want to eliminate the need to do surgery," says Black. A start in that direction will be to use a compound like tumor paint to deliver not just a dye, but an anti-cancer drug directly to a tumor. That's a goal several research groups, including Jim Olson's, are working on.

Topics: surgery, surgeons, technology, health, healthcare, doctors, cancer, hospital, tumor, glow paint, operating

Gotta Dance

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

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Moments after Jacob "Jake" Boddie woke from surgery to remove a tumor in his pelvis, his father, Kyle Boddie, said to his 2-year old son, "Hey, Jake, bust a move!" Although he was still groggy, the toddler smiled. One tiny shoulder, then the other, wiggled in time to a beat. 

Kyle and Jake's mother, Ashley McIntyre, say Jake started dancing long before he could walk. "And now that's all he does," Kyle said. "He loves it. You can't stop him."

During his yearlong treatment for a rare cancer, Jake danced with his nurses, child life specialists and doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital. He boogied in his hospital room, in the hallways, and even on the way to the operating room. His parents say dance helped Jake recover from his treatments and surgery. It helped them cope with their son's illness. 

"Even though Jake went through so much, he uplifted us," Ashley said. "We thought, if he can have fun through all of this, why can't we?"

Kyle and Ashley knew something was wrong when Jake wasn't acting like himself at a Fourth of July picnic in 2013. Agitated and restless, the toddler wasn't his "silly self" and refused to dance or play with the other children. A few days later he began limping. An ultrasound performed in the emergency room at Comer Children's Hospital showed a large mass resting in the lower part of his abdomen and reaching into his pelvis.

A biopsy revealed the mass to be a sarcoma, a fast-growing cancer. "The tumor was 4 inches in diameter, about the size of a small grapefruit," said pediatric oncologist Navin Pinto, MD, an expert on sarcoma treatment. In addition to his clinical work, Pinto leads a personalized medicine initiative at Comer Children's Hospital that is sequencing the genetic makeup of pediatric tumors from every patient to help guide treatment.

For Jake, several rounds of chemotherapy were needed to shrink the tumor to half its original size. It was then small enough to be removed, but Jake's surgery would be complicated. The tumor was wrapped around critical blood vessels as well as the right ureter, a tube that brings urine from the kidney to the bladder. 

On the morning of the surgery in January 2014, Ashley and Kyle danced with Jake to the song "Happy" as they headed toward the operating room doors; there they turned him over to the surgical team. "Jake knew something was going on," Ashley recalled, "but I think it made him feel better to see us laughing and dancing."

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Pediatric urologist Mohan Gundeti, MD, and pediatric surgeon Grace Mak, MD, worked together in the surgical suite. First, Gundeti used an endoscopic approach, placing a stent in the ureter to mark its location and keep the fragile tube open. Mak then surgically removed as much of the tumor as possible, meticulously separating it from the vessels and ureter while avoiding nearby nerves. 

"Jacob recovered beautifully and bounced back quickly after the operation," Mak said, adding, "he was eating -- and doing his moves -- a few days later."

Completing Jake's treatment required both chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate any lingering cancer cells. In addition, the lower section of the right ureter had narrowed, leading to pressure on the right kidney, and needed attention before it became completely obstructed. 

Gundeti performed reconstructive surgery, moving the right kidney down a few centimeters and making a new tube for the ureter using a flap from the bladder. Again, Jake recovered quickly from an extensive surgery.

Today, the 3-year-old visits Comer Children's Hospital regularly for follow-up care with the nurses and doctors who cared for him. 

"He feels comfortable at the hospital; he's always laughing and having a good time," Kyle said. "Everyone knows him now. And everyone dances with him."

Source: www.uchicagokidshospital.org

Topics: surgery, toddler, biopsy, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, doctors, health care, medical, cancer, hospital, medicine, treatment, physicians, tumor

My Right To Death With Dignity At 29

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 08, 2014 @ 11:18 AM

By Brittany Maynard

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Editor's note: Brittany Maynard is a volunteer advocate for the nation's leading end-of-life choice organization, Compassion and Choices. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Dan Diaz, and mother, Debbie Ziegler. Watch Brittany and her family tell her story at www.thebrittanyfund.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- On New Year's Day, after months of suffering from debilitating headaches, I learned that I had brain cancer.

I was 29 years old. I'd been married for just over a year. My husband and I were trying for a family.

Our lives devolved into hospital stays, doctor consultations and medical research. Nine days after my initial diagnoses, I had a partial craniotomy and a partial resection of my temporal lobe. Both surgeries were an effort to stop the growth of my tumor.

In April, I learned that not only had my tumor come back, but it was more aggressive. Doctors gave me a prognosis of six months to live.

Because my tumor is so large, doctors prescribed full brain radiation. I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone.

After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.

I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind.

Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.

I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity. It is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable.

I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family.

We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized.

I met the criteria for death with dignity in Oregon, but establishing residency in the state to make use of the law required a monumental number of changes. I had to find new physicians, establish residency in Portland, search for a new home, obtain a new driver's license, change my voter registration and enlist people to take care of our animals, and my husband, Dan, had to take a leave of absence from his job. The vast majority of families do not have the flexibility, resources and time to make all these changes.

I've had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.

I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?

Now that I've had the prescription filled and it's in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief. And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it.

Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.

Now, I'm able to move forward in my remaining days or weeks I have on this beautiful Earth, to seek joy and love and to spend time traveling to outdoor wonders of nature with those I love. And I know that I have a safety net.

I hope for the sake of my fellow American citizens that I'll never meet that this option is available to you. If you ever find yourself walking a mile in my shoes, I hope that you would at least be given the same choice and that no one tries to take it from you.

When my suffering becomes too great, I can say to all those I love, "I love you; come be by my side, and come say goodbye as I pass into whatever's next." I will die upstairs in my bedroom with my husband, mother, stepfather and best friend by my side and pass peacefully. I can't imagine trying to rob anyone else of that choice.

What are your thoughts about "death with dignity"?

Source: CNN

Topics: life, choice, nursing, health, nurses, health care, medical, cancer, hospital, terminally ill, brain cancer, medicine, patient, death, tumor

Breakthrough Technique Images Breast Tumors in 3-D With Great Clarity, Reduced Radiation

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 @ 02:59 PM

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2012) — Like cleaning the lenses of a foggy pair of glasses, scientists are now able to use a technique developed by UCLA researchers and their European colleagues to produce three-dimensional images of breast tissue that are two to three times sharper than those made using current CT scanners at hospitals. The technique also uses a lower dose of X-ray radiation than a mammogram.

These higher-quality images could allow breast tumors to be detected earlier and with much greater accuracy. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

The research is published the week of Oct. 22 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

describe the imageThe most common breast cancer screening method used today is called dual-view digital mammography, but it isn't always successful in identifying tumors, said Jianwei (John) Miao, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and researcher with the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

"While commonly used, the limitation is that it provides only two images of the breast tissue, which can explain why 10 to 20 percent of breast tumors are not detectable on mammograms," Miao said. "A three-dimensional view of the breast can be generated by a CT scan, but this is not frequently used clinically, as it requires a larger dose of radiation than a mammogram. It is very important to keep the dose low to prevent damage to this sensitive tissue during screening."

Recognizing these limitations, the scientists went in a new direction. In collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France and Germany's Ludwig Maximilians University, Miao's international colleagues used a special detection method known as phase contrast tomography to X-ray a human breast from multiple angles.

They then applied equally sloped tomography, or EST -- a breakthrough computing algorithm developed by Miao's UCLA team that enables high-quality image-reconstruction -- to 512 of these images to produce 3-D images of the breast at a higher resolution than ever before. The process required less radiation than a mammogram.

In a blind evaluation, five independent radiologists from Ludwig Maximilians University ranked these images as having a higher sharpness, contrast and overall image quality than 3-D images of breast tissue created using other standard methods.

"Even small details of the breast tumor can be seen using this technique," said Maximilian Reiser, director of the radiology department at Ludwig Maximilians University, who contributed his medical expertise to the research.

The technology commonly used today for mammograms or imaging a patient's bones measures the difference in an X-ray's intensity before and after it passes through the body. But the phase contrast X-ray tomography used in this study measures the difference in the way an X-ray oscillates through normal tissue rather than through slightly denser tissue like a tumor or bone. While a very small breast tumor might not absorb many X-rays, the way it changes the oscillation of an X-ray can be quite large, Miao said. Phase contrast tomography captures this difference in oscillation, and each image made using this technique contributes to the overall 3-D picture.

The computational algorithm EST developed by Miao's UCLA team is a primary driver of this advance. Three-dimensional reconstructions, like the ones created in this research, are produced using sophisticated software and a powerful computer to combine many images into one 3-D image, much like various slices of an orange can be combined to form the whole. By rethinking the mathematic equations of the software in use today, Miao's group developed a more powerful algorithm that requires fewer "slices" to get a clearer overall 3-D picture.

"The technology used in mammogram screenings has been around for more than 100 years," said Paola Coan, a professor of X-ray imaging at Ludwig Maximilians University. "We want to see the difference between healthy tissue and the cancer using X-rays, and that difference can be very difficult to see, particularly in the breast, using standard techniques. The idea we used here was to combine phase contrast tomography with EST, and this combination is what gave us much higher quality 3-D images than ever before."

While this new technology is like a key in a lock, the door will only swing open -- bringing high-resolution 3-D imaging from the synchrotron facility to the clinic -- with further technological advances, said Alberto Bravin, managing physicist of the biomedical research laboratory at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. He added that the technology is still in the research phase and will not be available to patients for some time.

"A high-quality X-ray source is an absolute requirement for this technique," Bravin said. "While we can demonstrate the power of our technology, the X-ray source must come from a small enough device for it to become commonly used for breast cancer screening. Many research groups are actively working to develop this smaller X-ray source. Once this hurdle is cleared, our research is poised to make a big impact on society."

These results represent the collaborative efforts of senior authors Miao, Bravin and Coan. Significant contributions were provided by co-first authors Yunzhe Zhao, a recent UCLA doctoral graduate in Miao's laboratory, and Emmanuel Brun, a scientist working with Bravin and Coan. Other co-authors included Zhifeng Huang of UCLA and Aniko Sztrókay, Paul Claude Diemoz, Susanne Liebhardt, Alberto Mittone and Sergei Gasilov of Ludwig Maximilians University.

The research was funded by UC Discovery/Tomosoft Technologies; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health; and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft-Cluster of Excellence Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics.

Topics: technology, breast cancer, radiation, 3D, tumor

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