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


“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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Immunotherapy takes a new turn for life-threatening prostate cancer


At the recent European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Denmark, 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


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


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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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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Sizing up the FDA’s revolving door with industry

When reviewers with the Food and Drug Administration weigh the evidence for a drug company’s experimental treatment, how many are thinking: I may someday work for that company? It’s a difficult question to answer but research by two OHSU physicians provides some of the first hard data.


Among FDA oncology drug reviewers who left the agency, more than half jumped to employment in the biopharmaceutical industry, according to a new research letter in the British Medical Journal.

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Jay Leno talks with Brian Druker and other cancer experts about the promise of early detection


The inaugural Sondland-Durant Early Detection of Cancer Conference featured an appearance by comedian and television host Jay Leno. He led a discussion with Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive officer of Cancer Research UK, and Sanjiv Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

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How a formidable leukemia subverts blood stem cells


New findings open a path for developing desperately needed therapies for the most frequently diagnosed leukemia in adults.

Leukemia paves the way for its deadly advance by manipulating the micro-environment within the bone marrow, triggering changes that suppress healthy, blood-forming stem cells while favoring the growth of cancer. The loss of hematopoietic stem cells results in bleeding, shortness of breath, fatigue, and infections.

Researchers led by OHSU’s Peter Kurre, M.D., now have uncovered one of the specialized weapons deployed by acute myeloid leukemia to subvert hematopoietic stem cells. The cancer cells secrete membrane-bound vesicles, or exosomes, that are loaded with microRNA molecules that target and disrupt a pivotal control system in the blood-forming stem cells.

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The promise of early detection

Drawings of human vaginal smearsNearly a century ago, a Greek immigrant physician in New York City began refining microscopy techniques for examining cells gently scraped from the female reproductive tract. The results were profound. George Papanicolaou’s Pap smear test gave the world a minimally invasive means to screen healthy women to reveal abnormally growing cervical cells that could be removed before any turned cancerous. And with it came the realization that cancer truly might be defeated by early detection.1

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After breast-conserving surgery, how much radiation therapy is enough?


Clinical trials have long since proved that breast-conserving surgery combined with radiation therapy is an effective alternative to mastectomy. But uncertainty persists about the required doses of radiation, and whether some breast cancer patients can forego “boost” doses to the tumor bed after whole-breast radiotherapy.

OHSU’s Charlotte Dai Kubicky, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine, brings some clarity to the issue in an editorial in JAMA Oncology co-authored with Laurie Cuttino, M.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University.

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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.