Fighting Cancer, One Molecule At A Time

This Monday and Tuesday, April 11 and 12, the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center is holding its 40th annual Scientific Symposium at the Friday Center, featuring more than a dozen speakers from around the country.

The free symposium is designed for graduate students, fellows, and researchers, but everyone’s invited – and organizers say there will be a lot of useful information even for members of the general public.

Get more information about the symposium here.

This year’s symposium is entitled “Molecularly Targeted Cancer Therapies from Bench to Bedside.” The discussion will center on RAS genes, a primary focus of current research: symposium co-organizer Dr. Al Baldwin says mutated RAS genes are a leading cause of many cancers, particularly pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Baldwin spoke with Aaron Keck on WCHL last week.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/fighting-cancer-on-the-molecular-level

UNC Researchers Turn Skin Cells To Cancer-Killing Stem Cells

UNC pharmacy researchers have successfully turned skin cells into cancer-hunting stem cells that destroy brain tumors known as glioblastom.

“Patients desperately need a better standard of care,” said Shawn Hingtgen, who led the study.

The survival rate beyond two years is 30 percent because even when the brain tumor is removed, it is nearly impossible to get all of the cancerous cells, which will grow back.

After turn the skin cells to stem cells, Hingtgen and his team showed that these neural stem cells have an innate ability to move throughout the brain and home in on and kill any remaining cancer cells.

Depending on the type of tumor, the mice tested had an increased survival time anywhere from 160 to 200 percent.

Hingtgen’s work built upon research that won the Nobel Prize in 2007 and 2012

“We wanted to find out if these induced neural stem cells would home in on cancer cells and whether they could be used to deliver a therapeutic agent,” he said. “This is the first time this direct reprogramming technology has been used to treat cancer.”

The next step is to try to develop human stem cells and testing more effective anti-cancer drugs that can be loaded into the tumor-seeking neural stem cells.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-researchers-turn-skin-cells-to-cancer-killing-stem-cells

Lineberger Endorses HPV Vaccine For Cancer Prevention

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center joins 68 other cancer centers across the country in endorsing the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention.

“HPV vaccine is a cancer prevention vaccine that is seriously underused right now,” said associate professor Noel Brewer. “This is a very straightforward, safe, effective way to prevent cancer and we feel we should be using it. Doctors and other people who take care of cancer patients are mystified as to why we wouldn’t be using this vaccine more widely.”

In order to get the full protection of the vaccine, a patient must get three different doses. In North Carolina, 70 percent of girls get the first dose, but only 50 percent have all three. When it comes to boys, that number drops to just 20 percent.

“When HPV vaccine was first developed and licensed in the United States, they decided to focus on adolescent girls because that’s where the science was,” Brewer said. “They then realized it was important to protect boys as well because the vaccine could prevent cancers in boys including anal, oral and throat cancer.”

The vaccine was originally intended to stop the spread of human papillomavirus, which is a group of 200 viruses, some of which can be spread though sexual contact. Brewer said physicians’ discomfort of talking about sex with parents has caused the rate of vaccination to go down.

“One of the main challenges right now is that physicians are not bringing up HPV vaccines along with other adolescent vaccines,” he said. “Those missed opportunities account for most of the low rate of HPV vaccination.”

He encouraged parents to bring up the vaccine, even if their physician does not.

“It’s a very effective vaccine,” Brewer said. “It does prevent cancer as well as some other things and it’s important that parents get the information they need to protect their children’s health.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/lineberger-endorses-hpv-vaccine-for-cancer-prevention

UNC Researchers Develop New Cancer Drug Delivery Method

UNC researchers have found a way to kill drug resistant lung cancer using 50 times less chemotherapy.

For the first time, researchers have developed a way to package cancer drugs inside naturally occurring particles found in white blood cells, allowing them to freely pass through membranes that would otherwise resist the drug.

Dr. Elena Batrakova at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery and her team discovered this method that allows for more effective cancer treatment.

“My idea was to load the cancer drug into these white blood cells and let them go and let them find the cancer cells in the patient’s body and kill these cancer cells,” said Batrakova.

The key to this process is exosomes, small particles from white blood cells that help the body fight against infection. Batrakova said exosomes are engineered by nature to be perfect delivery vehicles.

“And what we found was amazing. We found that these exosomes loaded with the drug target cancer cells,” said Batrakova.

Loading the exosomes with the cancer drug utilizes the body’s natural process for fighting disease.

“I am absolutely positive that whatever nature created is a thousand times more efficient and better than whatever people can create,” said Batrakova.

Without the exosomes the body blocks some of the cancer medicine, seeing it as foreign object. When the medicine is contained inside the exosomes it is able to work without the body fighting back.

“They work like an invisibility cloak, and they cover this drug, deliver to cancer cells, release it, inject it into the cancer cells and kill them very efficiently,” said Batrakova.

This method has only been tested on mice, but Batrakova believes that it could limit the bad side effects of chemotherapy.

“Now we know we can use even less anti-cancer drug and kill and efficiently eradicate these cancer meta-stages,” said Batrakova.

Batrakova said this method could also be effective in diagnosing cancer because it is so good in finding cancerous cells. If applied to humans, this research could help treatment of many different diseases.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-researchers-develop-new-cancer-delivery-drug-method

Carrboro Wrestler Winning Match Of His Life

The Carrboro High School wrestling team is off to a good start this year. The season is heating up and the state tournament is just around the corner in the start of February.

But take a closer look at those Carrboro wrestlers. On that team, you’ll find one of the most inspiring stories we’ve had the privilege of hearing in a long time.

There’s Dante Veltri. He’s a senior this year at CHS and he’s been been on the wrestling team since he was a freshman. The Veltris are a wrestling family: he and his two brothers David and PJ all started competing when they were toddlers living back in New Jersey.

His coach, DeWitt Driscoll, says Dante’s a pretty special kid. “I think one of the best words is ‘tenacious,’” he says. “He’s one of the most tenacious kids I’ve met. He’s got big goals, he’s got big dreams.”

And last February, wrestling in the 120-pound division, Dante took fourth at the state finals in Greensboro.

Dante Veltri Carrboro Wrestling 4th place state finals

Fittingly, he’s only slightly happy with that finish. (“I really wanted to win,” he says.) But fourth place is big news. A top-four finish at states qualifies you to be able to train at regional training centers – including one at UNC that’s run by Coleman Scott, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. “Dante can go once or twice a week and train with an Olympic medalist,” says Driscoll.

But that is not why you’re going to remember Dante Veltri.

This is.

“I noticed, like, a lump one day. It was really sore.”

The lump was under his arm. It was the fall of 2013. Dante had just begun his sophomore year.

“We went to the doctor to see what it was; they put me on medicine, antibiotics for a couple weeks,” he says. “I didn’t think anything of it, other than it was keeping me off the mat.”

But when the swelling didn’t go away, doctors recommended a biopsy – and the news wasn’t good.

Karen Veltri is Dante’s mother. “The biopsy was October 15,” she says. “And on October 17” – she remembers the date – “they called me at work.”

Dante was only 15 years old. He’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“And I had to go pick him up from school and bring him home,” Karen says, “and tell him he had cancer.”

Listen to Part 1 of WCHL’s story on Dante Veltri.

 

True to form, Karen says when she broke the news, Dante’s first question was:

“What about wrestling?”

“I told him we’re not going to be wrestling for a while,” she says. “We have a much bigger match right now.”

Over at Carrboro High School, DeWitt Driscoll says he’d been worried ever since he first saw the lump on Dante’s arm – but it was still hard news to take.

“It threw me backwards, you know,” he says. “Especially when you have a kid like Dante, that I’ve been so close with for so long – emotionally it was really hard to hold it together.”

But with cancer treatments looming and his wrestling career possibly over, Dante Veltri did what he always did: he got to work.

“Right after I heard, I was upset, I didn’t really want to talk to people,” he says. “And then after like 10 minutes, I just wanted to figure out the plan.”

Dante Veltri received his cancer diagnosis on October 17, 2013. His mom Karen says the treatment began immediately.

“He took everything,” she says. “You don’t know what’s coming at you. Biopsies, scans – they drilled into his hips to check and make sure it wasn’t in his bone marrow. They did a lot of invasive things, and he just took it all in stride.”

Between October of 2013 and January of 2014, Dante went through five rounds of chemo at UNC Hospitals, each lasting several days. Karen Veltri says the last round lasted more than 160 hours.

“Through it all, he was amazing,” she says. “He figured out that walking the hospital floor 16 rounds was a mile, so he would get out there and do that. He stayed active. He went to school, he kept up his grades…

“You know, the treatment is pretty brutal. It not only kills the cancer cells, it just attacks everything…but he did whatever was asked of him and never complained. It wasn’t easy, believe me. Watching him was not easy. But I’m proud of him. He did great.”

While Karen Veltri watched her son go through the biggest fight of his life, through it all, Dante kept his focus.

“I didn’t think much of it,” he says. “The whole time I just wanted to get back to a normal life, get back on the mat.”

Listen to Part 2 of WCHL’s story on Dante Veltri.

 

And in January, after that grueling fifth round of chemo, a PET scan showed Dante was all clear. Three months later, he was cleared to wrestle again – and coach DeWitt Driscoll says that first practice back was special.

“We were at a club facility we go to in Hillsborough,” he says. “It’s kind of an old, dingy beat-up place and it usually has kind of a dark aura to it, because there’s so much darkness in there…but that day, man, I just remember it was bright.”

Dante’s doctor told him it would likely be about a year until he was back to normal, but Driscoll says his wrestler was close to 100 percent after only two months. Of course Dante would have to wait into the later fall for the start of the wrestling season – but in the meantime, he was happy just being a normal kid again.

“Not playing keep-up all year, like in sophomore year, was huge,” he says. “My grades (were) amazing, (and) being on the mat the whole year – it was awesome.”

And when the wrestling season finally began – even after a year of missed practices and biopsies and tests and week-long chemo treatments – it quickly became clear that Dante Veltri hadn’t missed a beat.

And his mom Karen was there every step of the way – all the way to Greensboro, for the state finals last February.

“I’m on the bleachers every match,” she says. (Dante corroborates: “I could hear her from all the way down on the mat in that huge Greensboro Coliseum.”)

He’d faced five rounds of chemo, and in Greensboro he faced five opponents. “It was pretty intense,” says Karen. “One of his matches he wrestled somebody that every time during the season he had beat him, and then it turned into a nailbiter at states, where you’re just shaking because you’re thinking, oh my gosh, he’s never lost to this kid, what’s going on? And then he won.”

Dante Veltri Carrboro wrestling

And when it was all over, Dante Veltri, barely a year removed from intensive cancer treatments, had finished fourth in the state.

“The year before that, he was still dealing with scars on his chest (and) his hair was still all missing,” says Driscoll. “Just to think back to where he was a year prior to being on the podium at states…

“Most people would say he came a long way, but he doesn’t see it that way. He just took the next step in his life.”

Now? Dante Veltri is a senior at Carrboro High School. He’s still on the wrestling team, hoping for even bigger and better results. His fight back from cancer has won statewide recognition: last year, the North Carolina High School Athletics Association honored Dante with the A.J. “Tony” Simeon Courage Award. But for now his goals are pretty straightforward.

“I want to get straight As in school,” he says. “And win my first state title.”

January 8 marked two years since his last chemo treatment. On that day, he pinned his opponent on the wrestling mat to claim his 100th career victory – a significant milestone, even for a wrestler who hadn’t missed an entire season of competition.

DeWitt Driscoll, Dante Veltri, and Karen Veltri.

DeWitt Driscoll, Dante Veltri, and Karen Veltri.

But that’s still not the end of the story – because this isn’t only about one family and one kid. It’s about our community as well.

And while Dante Veltri was in the hospital, his mom Karen says the community came through with incredible support.

“The amount of support that poured out of Carrboro High School, his athletic director, the doctors, the nurses…I can’t even believe how much they did,” she says. “Baskets of stuff would come from school for him with his favorite foods or gift cards…just the amount of support, it was really overwhelming.”

Carrboro High School athletic director April Ross even organized a 5K to raise funds for Dante’s treatment – and now, there are plans to keep that 5K going annually, to raise funds no longer for one family, but for UNC’s entire department of pediatric oncology.

And Karen Veltri went even further. She organized an initiative called “Take Down Cancer” – collecting not money but board games, 100 board games last year alone, to give to kids fighting cancer at UNC Hospitals.

“Being there so much, you’d see these little kids, they’re 4, 5, 6 years old and they don’t know what’s going on, and all of them have a smile on their face most of the time,” she says. “And so we just decided that we were going to do this game drive, and his whole team jumped right on board.”

It’s been more than two years since Dante Veltri was diagnosed with cancer. Today, he’s cancer-free, back on the mat, preparing for a run at a state title, his coach DeWitt Driscoll cheering him on.

“The silver lining from it may be that he gained a little more perspective,” Driscoll says. “Just being on the mat competing is what the fun of it is. The rest is just gravy, whether you’re winning or not.”

The Veltris are still a long way removed from New Jersey – but for Dante’s mom Karen, Chapel Hill is home now, in a way it hadn’t been before.

“When I first moved down here, I kind of felt guilty, taking my kids away from family and friends,” she says. “And it’s kind of strange that it took a cancer diagnosis for me to realize – we are exactly where we need to be. I don’t know that we would have got that (support) anywhere else.”

And as for the teen at the center of it all?

I asked Dante Veltri what he’s learned from this whole experience.

“Don’t give up,” he says. “Even if the odds are against you, don’t give up. Anything is possible.”

His mom Karen, standing by his side, agrees.

“You know, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “There’s help out there. There’s people that care. Just keep pushing. Keep trudging forward.

“You’ll get where you need to be.”

To learn more about the Take Down Cancer drive, or about how you can donate to the UNC Pediatric Oncology clinic, email Karen Veltri at TakeDownCancer2@gmail.com.

http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/carrboro-wrestler-winning-match-of-his-life

Carrboro Wrestler Winning Match Of His Life

The Carrboro High School wrestling team is on the rise. The Jaguars took a big group to states in Greensboro this February and they’re looking forward to bigger and better things next season.

But take a closer look at those Carrboro wrestlers. On that team, you’ll find one of the most inspiring stories we’ve had the privilege of hearing in a long time.

There’s Dante Veltri, just wrapping up his junior year at CHS. He’s been on the team since he was a freshman. The Veltris are a wrestling family: he and his two brothers David and PJ all started competing when they were toddlers living back in New Jersey.

His coach, DeWitt Driscoll, says Dante’s a pretty special kid. “I think one of the best words is ‘tenacious,’” he says. “He’s one of the most tenacious kids I’ve met. He’s got big goals, he’s got big dreams.”

And back in February, wrestling in the 120-pound division, Dante took fourth at the state finals in Greensboro.

Dante Veltri Carrboro Wrestling 4th place state finals

 

Fittingly, he’s only slightly happy with that finish. (“I really wanted to win,” he says.) But fourth place is big news. A top-four finish at states qualifies you to be able to train at regional training centers – including one at UNC that’s run by Coleman Scott, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. “Dante can go once or twice a week and train with an Olympic medalist,” says Driscoll.

But that is not why you’re going to remember Dante Veltri.

This is.

“I noticed, like, a lump one day. It was really sore.”

The lump was under his arm. It was the fall of 2013. Dante had just begun his sophomore year.

“We went to the doctor to see what it was; they put me on medicine, antibiotics for a couple weeks,” he says. “I didn’t think anything of it, other than it was keeping me off the mat.”

But when the swelling didn’t go away, doctors recommended a biopsy – and the news wasn’t good.

Karen Veltri is Dante’s mother. “The biopsy was October 15,” she says. “And on October 17” – she remembers the date – “they called me at work.”

Dante was only 15 years old. He’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“And I had to go pick him up from school and bring him home,” Karen says, “and tell him he had cancer.”

True to form, Karen says when she broke the news, Dante’s first question was:

“What about wrestling?”

“I told him we’re not going to be wrestling for a while,” she says. “We have a much bigger match right now.”

Over at Carrboro High School, DeWitt Driscoll says he’d been worried ever since he first saw the lump on Dante’s arm – but it was still hard news to take.

“It threw me backwards, you know,” he says. “Especially when you have a kid like Dante, that I’ve been so close with for so long – emotionally it was really hard to hold it together.”

But with cancer treatments looming and his wrestling career possibly over, Dante Veltri did what he always did: he got to work.
“Right after I heard, I was upset, I didn’t really want to talk to people,” he says. “And then after like 10 minutes, I just wanted to figure out the plan.”

Dante Veltri received his cancer diagnosis on October 17, 2013. His mom Karen says the treatment began immediately.

“He took everything,” she says. “You don’t know what’s coming at you. Biopsies, scans – they drilled into his hips to check and make sure it wasn’t in his bone marrow. They did a lot of invasive things, and he just took it all in stride.”

Between October of 2013 and January of 2014, Dante went through five rounds of chemo at UNC Hospitals, each lasting several days. Karen Veltri says the last round lasted more than 160 hours.

“Through it all, he was amazing,” she says. “He figured out that walking the hospital floor 16 rounds was a mile, so he would get out there and do that. He stayed active. He went to school, he kept up his grades…

“You know, the treatment is pretty brutal. It not only kills the cancer cells, it just attacks everything…but he did whatever was asked of him and never complained. It wasn’t easy, believe me. Watching him was not easy. But I’m proud of him. He did great.”

While Karen Veltri watched her son go through the biggest fight of his life, through it all, Dante kept his focus.

“I didn’t think much of it,” he says. “The whole time I just wanted to get back to a normal life, get back on the mat.”

And in January, after that grueling fifth round of chemo, a PET scan showed Dante was all clear. Three months later, he was cleared to wrestle again – and coach DeWitt Driscoll says that first practice back was special.

“We were at a club facility we go to in Hillsborough,” he says. “It’s kind of an old, dingy beat-up place and it usually has kind of a dark aura to it, because there’s so much darkness in there…but that day, man, I just remember it was bright.”

Dante’s doctor told him it would likely be about a year until he was back to normal, but Driscoll says his wrestler was close to 100 percent after only two months. Of course Dante would have to wait into the later fall for the start of the wrestling season – but in the meantime, he was happy just being a normal kid again.

“Not playing keep-up all year, like (in) sophomore year, was huge,” he says. “My grades have been amazing, (and) being on the mat the whole year – it was awesome.”

And when the wrestling season finally began – even after a year of missed practices and biopsies and tests and week-long chemo treatments – it quickly became clear that Dante Veltri hadn’t missed a beat.

And his mom Karen was there every step of the way – all the way to Greensboro, for the state finals in February.

“I’m on the bleachers every match,” she says. (Dante corroborates: “I could hear her from all the way down on the mat in that huge Greensboro Coliseum.”)

He’d faced five rounds of chemo, and in Greensboro he faced five opponents. “It was pretty intense,” says Karen. “One of his matches he wrestled somebody that every time during the season he had beat him, and then it turned into a nailbiter at states, where you’re just shaking because you’re thinking, oh my gosh, he’s never lost to this kid, what’s going on? And then he won.”

Dante Veltri Carrboro wrestling

 

And when it was all over, Dante Veltri, barely a year removed from intensive cancer treatments, had finished fourth in the state.

“The year before that, he was still dealing with scars on his chest (and) his hair was still all missing,” says Driscoll. “Just to think back to where he was a year prior to being on the podium at states…

“Most people would say he came a long way, but he doesn’t see it that way. He just took the next step in his life.”

Now? Dante Veltri is about to be a senior at Carrboro High School. He’s still on the wrestling team, hoping for even bigger and better results. His fight back from cancer has won statewide recognition: earlier this year, the North Carolina High School Athletics Association honored Dante with the A.J. “Tony” Simeon Courage Award. But for now his goals are pretty straightforward.

“I want to get straight As in school,” he says. “And win my first state title.”

DeWitt Driscoll, Dante Veltri, and Karen Veltri.

DeWitt Driscoll, Dante Veltri, and Karen Veltri.

 

But that’s still not the end of the story – because this isn’t only about one family and one kid. It’s about our community as well.

And while Dante Veltri was in the hospital, his mom Karen says the community came through with incredible support.

“The amount of support that poured out of Carrboro High School, his athletic director, the doctors, the nurses…I can’t even believe how much they did,” she says. “Baskets of stuff would come from school for him with his favorite foods or gift cards…just the amount of support, it was really overwhelming.”

Carrboro High School athletic director April Ross even organized a 5K to raise funds for Dante’s treatment – and now, there are plans to keep that 5K going annually, to raise funds no longer for one family, but for UNC’s entire department of pediatric oncology.

And Karen Veltri went even further. She organized an initiative called “Take Down Cancer” – collecting not money but board games, to give to kids fighting cancer at UNC Hospitals.

“Being there so much, you’d see these little kids, they’re 4, 5, 6 years old and they don’t know what’s going on, and all of them have a smile on their face most of the time,” she says. “And so we just decided that we were going to do this game drive, and his whole team jumped right on board.”

It’s been two years since Dante Veltri was diagnosed with cancer. Today, he’s cancer-free, back on the mat, preparing for a run at a state title, his coach DeWitt Driscoll cheering him on.

“The silver lining from it may be that he gained a little more perspective,” Driscoll says. “Just being on the mat competing is what the fun of it is. The rest is just gravy, whether you’re winning or not.”

The Veltris are still a long way removed from New Jersey – but for Dante’s mom Karen, Chapel Hill is home now, in a way it hadn’t been before.

“When I first moved down here, I kind of felt guilty, taking my kids away from family and friends,” she says. “And it’s kind of strange that it took a cancer diagnosis for me to realize – we are exactly where we need to be. I don’t know that we would have got that (support) anywhere else.”

And as for the teen at the center of it all?

I asked Dante Veltri what he’s learned from this whole experience.

“Don’t give up,” he says. “Even if the odds are against you, don’t give up. Anything is possible.”

His mom Karen, standing by his side, agrees.

“You know, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “There’s help out there. There’s people that care. Just keep pushing. Keep trudging forward.

“You’ll get where you need to be.”

To learn more about the Take Down Cancer drive, or about how you can donate to the UNC Pediatric Oncology clinic, email Karen Veltri at TakeDownCancer2@gmail.com.

http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/carrboro-wrestler-winning-fight-for-his-life

Vs. Cancer Raises Close To One Million Dollars In 2015

Vs. Cancer, a nonprofit started by former UNC baseball player Chase Jones, has raised nearly $1 million in the past year.

“When I was diagnosed I promised to fight this disease as long as I could,” Jones said. “Point blank, we will continue to fight this disease. This year we are one million dollars closer to the bold and radical idea that we will truly end child cancer.”

As a college freshman in 2006, Jones was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Nine years later, and cancer free, Jones is still making an impact with his Vs. Cancer foundation.

The Vs. Cancer Foundation has partnered with 64 different colleges, 7 professional baseball teams and a number of youth teams to raise awareness and funds to fight child cancer.

One of its partners is UNC Athletics, specifically baseball and lacrosse.

UNC teams raised over $30,000 during homecoming weekend in the fall.

“I didn’t play with any of these guys, which makes it even more significant that year after year both of these teams consistantly buy in,” he said.

Over the past three years, Jones said UNC baseball and lacrosse have raised over $100,000.

“This has become far more than just a feel good story for UNC athletics,” he said. “They’re providing funds that are game changing.”

That money has gone towards funding a child life specialist at UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center, a position that was part time, but thanks to Vs. Cancer, is now full time.

“It’s kind of a liaison between doctors, nurses, families and patients,” Jones said. “They coordinate all kinds of healing programs such as music therapy to art therapy to retreats, really helping kids feel like kids while they go through the process.”

For anyone who wants to donate or know more about the Vs. Cancer Foundation, click here to visit their website.

At the moment, an anonymous community member is matching all donations up to $5,000.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/vs-cancer-raises-close-to-one-million-dollars-in-2015

Web Survey Helps Doctors Connect With Cancer Patients

A new web system has been linked to a greater quality of life for cancer patients, according to research done by UNC Dr. Ethan Basch.

“We looked at a number of different clinical outcomes,” he said. “One of them was trips to the emergency room, another one of them was quality of life and another one was survival. Surprisingly, there was a very substantial and significant impact on all of those outcomes.”

The system gave patients the ability to enter their symptoms online daily. Doctors would be automatically emailed if symptoms were severe or worsening.

“There were fewer emergency room visits,” he said. “People’s quality of life improved and stayed good for a longer period of time and people actually lived longer and the quality of their life improved.”

Basch evaluated outcomes for 766 patients. The study showed 75 percent of patients who used the system were alive after one year, compared to 69 percent who did not take the survey.

He said part of the reason for the success is because doctors don’t always know what their patients are feeling.

“When people come in to see their cancer doctor or cancer nurse, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot to talk about,” he said. “For better or worse, often discussion of how people were feeling could get lost in the shuffle.”

Patty Spears, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, said getting in touch with doctors can be intimidating.

“All of us have been though the treatment process,” she said. “My treatment was every three weeks, so you would have a whole three weeks where you would have symptoms and things pop up and the patient is always like ‘is that important enough to call?'”

While she was undergoing treatment, Spears said one time she had a rash on her face, which she didn’t go see a doctor for.

“It wasn’t horrible so I didn’t think it was worth a visit,” she said. “You’re feeling bad anyhow so you don’t want to get in a car and go somewhere. When I told them about it they said ‘when was it’ and ‘maybe we should have looked at it.'”

Because of the system, nurses acted upon the information three quarters of the time. A change in medication resulted from 12 percent of email alerts and referrals to the emergency room resulted from eight percent of alerts.

Basch said this system helps mend the communication breakdown between doctors and patients, which can make it difficult for doctors.

“There are numerous different reasons for a communication breakdown,” Basch said. “What we know is that by using these systematic questionnaires we bypass a lot of those barriers and we get the pure, unfiltered information we need.”

Spears said the online survey makes it easier for them to share exactly what they are feeling.

“They feel like oh (the doctors) want to know this information,” she said. “It gives a sense of value to it.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/web-survey-helps-doctors-connect-with-cancer-patients

“Holly Jolly Jog” Will Help Make Bucket List Wishes Come True

On Sunday, December 6, an organization called the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation will host a fun run called the Holly Jolly Jog, from 4-9 pm at Southern Village. The run begins at 5 pm with registration starting at 4; activities will include a one-mile dash and a 5K run, plus an auction, food, music and a tree lighting.

The event will benefit the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation, a local nonprofit that got its start just a year ago in August of 2014. Its mission: to help adult cancer patients “fill their bucket lists” by giving them the opportunity to experience the things they’ve always wanted to do.

Executive director Peggy Carroll says she was inspired to start the foundation from her own personal experience. She says she originally hoped to help two people a year – but in the first 12 months, the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation was able to help eight people, and she’s hoping for even more growth in the future. Carroll says most of the people she works with have simple requests – some want to travel or have big adventures, but many simply want the chance to spend more time with distant relatives.

Peggy Carroll spoke this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

 

Everyone’s invited to participate in Sunday’s event.  Get more information here, including a link to register.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town/holly-jolly-jog-will-help-make-bucket-list-wishes-come-true

Lineberger Center Addresses “Cancer And Older Adults”

Cancer rates tend to increase as people get older, and cancer poses special challenges for older patients as well as caregivers. In addition, while doctors once fought cancer much the same way in every patient, researchers now are discovering that every individual requires a unique treatment strategy.

With those concerns and more in mind, the UNC Lineberger Center is inviting residents, older adults, cancer patients, caregivers – and anyone else with interest – to a symposium on “Cancer and Older Adults” Thursday, November 19, from noon to 5 pm at the Friday Center.

It’s a free public forum, featuring some of the Lineberger Center’s leading doctors and researchers, with talks and workshops highlighting the latest research and offering tools and tips for caregivers and patients fighting cancer. UNC women’s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell – herself a cancer survivor – is scheduled to be among the speakers.

Dr. Trevor Jolly is a geriatric oncologist at the Lineberger Center and one of the forum’s featured speakers. He stopped by WCHL this week and discussed the event with Aaron Keck.

 

For more information on the forum, including a full agenda and a link to register, visit this link. 

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/lineberger-center-addresses-cancer-and-older-adults