Oncologist Brian Druker on Live Wire Radio: “We’re seeing results we never thought imaginable”

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“Oncologists actually are now optimists. When I started out in this business we were a bunch of pessimists,” Druker told a crowd at Portland’s Alberta Rose Theatre. “We’re seeing results we never thought imaginable.”


For a taping of Live Wire Radio, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D., shared the stage with the indie rock band Blind Pilot, comedian Phoebe Robinson, and Bill Oakley, a writer for “The Simpsons.”

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Making better decisions to prevent colon cancer

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Colorectal cancer mortality rates (per 100,000) are as much as six times higher in red counties than in those colored dark blue. (Source: NCI SEER data 2007-2011)

To prevent deaths from colon cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends no less than eight different screening approaches for average-risk individuals, beginning at age 50.

There is no definitive evidence that one program is superior to another, but they all depend on access to high-quality colonoscopy, which is far from guaranteed, says David Lieberman, M.D., a professor of medicine and head of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Oregon Health & Science University. And some screening programs require adherence to multiple steps to be effective, says Lieberman, co-author of a new review of colon cancer screening in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The writers propose that quality should be monitored closely in any screening program recommended in a primary care setting.

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Instant message to cancer: time to die

Cancer researchers have uncovered a signaling link – like a Snapchat between cells – that could be used to make tumors more vulnerable to therapy.

Dr. Sudarshan Anand (left) and postdoctoral researcher Cristina Espinosa in their lab, November 16, 2016. The early evidence from research by Dr. Sudarshan Anand and his team at OHSU is promising, suggesting there may be a panel of microRNA that can be used as a biomarker for radiation therapy for many types of cancer in the future. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Sudarshan Anand, Ph.D., (left) and Cristina Espinosa, Ph.D., a post doctoral researcher in his lab. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

It is a signaling mode that’s also active in severe autoimmune diseases. In the new study published online Friday in Nature Communications, researchers showed that boosting the signal in a mice with tumors made cancer cells suffer more DNA damage from cancer drugs. It also blocked the growth of new blood vessels needed to sustain tumors and it increased survival of study animals.

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Video series tells the story of OHSU’s new home for healing

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McKenna, an incredibly optimistic 11-year-old, has had 16 surgeries and continues to cope with the after-effects of brain cancer.

Sarah’s doctors have called her recovery from aggressive brain cancer a miracle.

Carolyn, a multiple myeloma patient, and her husband Dennis had to leave their home in Bend for nearly two months for her to receive treatment.

Their stories convey what it means to have a home for healing during times of crisis. They are told in a video series launched this week by the OHSU Foundation to raise support for the Gary & Christine Rood Family Pavilion, a guest house scheduled to open on Portland’s South Waterfront in 2019 that will be funded entirely by private philanthropy.

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Intel pledges crowdfunding for precision oncology at OHSU

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A precision oncology clinical trial in the works at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute gained a $25,000 pledge from Intel Corp. The company said it will contribute the money by means of a fund on Consano, a crowdfunding website that lets individuals donate directly to researchers or institutions.

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Immunotherapy takes a new turn for life-threatening prostate cancer

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At the recent European Society for Medical Oncology meeting, OHSU oncologist Julie Graff, M.D., presented the first evidence of meaningful clinical activity for PD-1 blockade in men with aggressive, advanced-stage prostate cancer. It’s a heartening result given that prior studies of men with metastatic prostate cancer showed no evidence of anti-tumor activity with immune therapies that work by blocking PD-1 signals. In a video interview with ecancertv.org, Graff talked about what the findings could mean for patients.

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Fighting a formidable leukemia with an expansive clinical trial

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The best available treatment for acute myeloid leukemia is a drug combination established more than 30 years ago. And today less than a third of newly diagnosed AML patients survive beyond five years. An ambitious clinical trial announced this week aims to speed up the search for new treatments by matching patients with one of several different drugs selected to block a specific tumor mutation or signaling pathway.

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Wanted: Patients’ perspectives on cancer research

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Five years ago, Betty Booher’s husband was diagnosed with primary cancers in the colon and the pancreas and died at age 57. In the aftermath, she says, “It was important to me to find a way to join the fight against cancer.” Booher found a way by becoming a scientific research advocate at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

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Old cancer drugs, spendy new prices

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Prices of older cancer drugs are rising much more steeply than those of newer drugs, according to a study co-authored by an OHSU oncologist.

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How depression impacts lung cancer survival

cancer-depression-figure-detailNearly half of people with lung cancer experience symptoms of depression. And significant fraction – up to 13 percent – develop a major depressive disorder. A new study suggests it might be possible to improve lung cancer survival by taking action to ameliorate depression.

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Engineering precision in cancer early detection

Engineering precision in cancer early detection

Sadik Esener, Ph.D., is leading a new Center for Early Detection Research at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.