NYU Cancer Institute Experts To Discuss Latest Cancer News

Released: 4/4/2008 1:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: NYU Langone Medical Center
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Newswise — Nearly 1.5 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2008. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, where the disease accounts for 1 of every 4 deaths in the U.S. Only heart disease kills more people.

Despite these grim statistics, much progress is being made on multiple fronts. Leading NYU Cancer Institute experts are available to discuss the latest advances in the treatment and early detection of skin, lung, and brain cancers.

Although the vast majority of skin cancers are curable if caught early, skin cancer is a significant and growing public health threat, with more than one million new cases each year in the U.S. alone. One in 5 Americans and 1 in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.

Despite improvements in early detection, the incidence of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is on the rise. More troubling, many thousands of melanomas are detected after the disease is already well established. Once it metastasizes—spreads to other organs—melanoma is usually fatal.

NYU Cancer Institute is an internationally acclaimed center for the treatment of skin cancer. Members of the Medical Center's acclaimed Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group (IMCG), which is led by Dr. Iman Osman, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Urology, and Medicine, are available to speak to the press. Its mission is to advance the care of melanoma patients through a coordinated approach that combines basic science, translational research, and clinical care. Since 2002, the IMCG has enrolled nearly 900 patients, who agreed to donate their blood and tumor tissues for research purposes.

IMCG member David Polsky, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist and Associate Director of NYU Department of Pigmented Lesions Section, and his NYU colleagues recently expanded the alphabetic list of warning signs for melanoma to include the letter "E." He can discuss the ABCDE rule for detecting melanomas, and why these rules help physicians, as well as patients, identify melanomas.

Anna Pavlick, DO, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine (oncology) and Dermatology, who treats many melanoma patients and leads clinical trials of experimental treatments for the cancer, can discuss the latest trends in treatment and research. Richard Shapiro, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery, can discuss surgical approaches for managing melanoma.

For more information about melanoma and other cancers visit the NYU Cancer Institute Web site, www.nyuci.org

Brain Cancer

A clinical trial evaluating a brain cancer vaccine in patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer has begun at NYU Medical Center, which is the only site in the New York-metropolitan area enrolling patients in the trial. The study will evaluate the addition of the vaccine following standard therapy with surgery and chemotherapy in patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The vaccine, called DCVax-Brain, incorporates proteins found in patients' tumors and is designed to attack cancer cells containing these proteins. The study underway at NYU Medical Center is an expansion of an earlier phase I trial of the vaccine.

Patrick J. Kelly, M.D., the Joseph Ransohoff Professor of Neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine, is leading the trial with neuro-oncologist Michael Gruber, M.D. They believe the vaccine is a promising immunotherapy.

Despite surgery and chemotherapy, patients with glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer typically survive only 15 months. Even if only a small number of tumor cells are left in the brain, that is enough for these fast growing and aggressive tumors to grow back.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 20,500 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord will be diagnosed in adults this year in the United States. About 13,000 people will die from these malignant tumors.

Lung Cancer

More than 160,390 Americans died of lung cancer in 2007—more than one-quarter of all cancer deaths—according to the National Institutes of Health. The best chance of curing this cancer is to detect it early, but right now there is no reliable early screening test for the disease. Harvey I. Pass, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at NYU Medical Center, is conducting studies to establish a workable protocol for early screening. He is evaluating such potential screens as breath and blood tests, CT scanning, fluorescence bronchoscopy, and a new technology combining video, fiber optics and ultrasound. Dr. Pass is available to speak to the press about the promises and limitations of these techniques.



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