Doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) are discovering some treatments that work for one type of cancer may also work for another, if it has similar mutations, or genetic changes. Genetic changes, or mutations, change some normal cells in the body into cancer cells which can grow and multiply. There are more than 100 types of cancer, which means many different ways to treat cancer are needed. Most cancers are named for the part of the body where they started.
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Cancer isn’t the first hardship dealt to Carrie Grindle-Lyons. In 2008, she delivered a baby boy at 22 weeks. He was stillborn. Her doctor asked her not to try getting pregnant again right away because she had fibroids in her uterus. They were removed with surgery that left her uterus in place. A year after she lost her baby, Carrie went in for a checkup. What doctors found devastated her. “The fibroids grew back, and they found out I had endometrial cancer,” she says.
To say Annie Budhathoki, DAOM, L.Ac., was skeptical of acupuncture would be an understatement. “I thought acupuncture was the devil’s work,” she says. Then she was in a horrific accident. After more than two years of surgeries and recovery, she still had to walk with a cane. She turned to acupuncture as a last resort to relieve the pain in her leg, and quickly became a believer. After three sessions she was able to walk, cane-free.
Thousands of lives could be saved by a simple vaccination to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Yet only 51% of teens receive the vaccine each year. Every year more than four thousand people die from cancers related to HPV. It's upsetting, it's really upsetting,” says Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, a population scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). “If you ask any cancer survivor whether they would have taken an opportunity to get a vaccine that prevented their cancer, they would say yes.”
More than 1,000 young women have helped Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) researchers with a study to pinpoint factors that affect the risk of breast cancer.
Surgery is part of cancer treatment plans in many cases. While surgery is an important part of treatment, recovery from surgery has a major impact on overall health. Strong for Surgery is a program that focuses on making small changes in health before surgery. Making these changes, even just before surgery, can make a big difference in recovery.
Every week, a special visitor appears at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). His job? To cheer up patients fighting cancer and their family members. His name is Misio, and he’s a therapy dog with Intermountain Therapy Animals. Kathy McNulty, a volunteer with the organization, is Misio’s escort. Kathy says Misio has only been coming to HCI for a few months, but she can already see the difference he’s making for patients and their families. “Over and over, I’ve seen tears turn to smiles,” she says. “Misio takes their minds off the procedures.”
Individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) have a nearly 100 percent chance of developing colon cancer and often undergo surgery to remove the colon so cancer can’t develop there. A new medication being tested in a clinical trial lead by Jewel Samadder, MD, has shown promising results. The first round of testing shows that in less than six months, half of the patients who received medication saw a nearly 70% regression of polyps. For some, polyps disappeared completely.
P53 – one gene that may hold the key. Humans have two copies, but some people are missing a copy. For individuals with only one working copy of P53, their lifetime risk of cancer is nearly 100 percent. Elephants, after 55 million years of evolution, have 40 copies of the P53 gene. Those extra copies protect elephant’s cells from cancer by eliminating cells that develops any type of mutation that could go on to become cancer.
Eduardo Ayala was 17 years old when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He is fluent in English and Spanish, but his parents speak only Spanish. Eduardo and his family came to HCI from Nevada for his treatments. It is one of the five Mountain West states at the core of HCI’s service area. Cancer has a language all its own and it’s that much harder if English is not your first language. That’s where Guadalupe Tovar, a health educator and patient navigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), comes in. She helps Hispanic families navigate their cancer care.
They call themselves “The Generation to End Cancer.” Sigma Chi fraternity brothers from across the United States sharing one goal – to raise $10 million for cancer research at HCI. For many Sigma Chi brothers, this fight against cancer is personal. Dan Shaver, chairman of the Sigma Chi Philanthropy Committee says, ,”We rarely come across someone whose family isn’t directly or indirectly affected by cancer. I just don’t think we’ll ever rest until we find the cure.” Sigma Chi fraternities raised $1.3 million during the 2015-2016 school year. 29 schools each raised more than $20 thousand dollars and traveled to Salt Lake to be inducted into the 20k club.
At Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), researchers are using the power of Big Data to help prevent cancer. HCI is home of the Utah Population Database (UPDB), a shared data resource that tracks family medical history through many generations. The UPDB is the only database of its kind in the United States and one of few such resources in the world. The UPDB has contributed to important gene discoveries including those for colon cancer (APC), breast cancer (BRCA1), melanoma (p16), and others. Utilizing the UPDB, researchers are able to identify families that have higher than normal rates of certain cancers.
In the United States, someone is diagnosed with a blood-related cancer every three minutes. For many of them, a blood or marrow transplant is the only hope for a cure. More than two-thirds of these patients, however, don’t have a matched marrow donor in the family. Donor registries offer them the best hope for finding a match.
You don't smoke. You wear sunscreen. You exercise regularly. But your breakfast usually consists of a donut or store-bought muffin as you run out the door, lunch is something from the vending machine, and dinner is grabbed at the drive-thru. These decisions about what you eat may be doing more harm to your health than you think.
That little phrase, a common conversation starter, takes on new meaning at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). There, a program called Your Story gives cancer patients the chance to reflect on and share their life stories.
Patients at the Hunstman Cancer Institute are getting a new chance for treatment through art therapy. A new artist in residence program allows cancer patients bring some color back to their lives by expressing themselves through art.
When dealing with cancer treatments and side effects, exercising usually isn’t at the top of a patient’s to-do list. One program at HCI is helping patients understand the importance of physical fitness: Personal Optimism with Exercise Recovery (POWER). Studies show that exercising during and after treatment reduces recurrence rates and improves overall health and survival. At HCI’s Wellness Center, cancer exercise specialists meet with patients to create exercise prescriptions. This consists of an initial visit to look at things like balance, flexibility, range of motion, and strength. Then the patient is walked through their exercise prescription, including what to do both at the Wellness Center and at home, and can participate in fitness classes based on their abilities. Doctors and exercise specialists at HCI hope to help patients not just get through cancer, but take control of their health for years to come.
Melanoma is the most deadly of all skin cancers. If melanoma is found early, it is easier to treat. Researchers at the University of Utah and Texas Tech University have identified a new approach for finding suspicious moles that could be melanoma: mole crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing refers to using crowds of people, often recruited online, to accomplish tasks. An individual performing a skin self-exam can miss about half of melanomas. But with mole crowdsourcing, one example showed if at least 19 out of 100 people think a mole is suspicious, then a doctor should examine it. Researchers are developing a cell phone application that will allow people to take a photo of a mole and have that image evaluated by other users. Learn more in The Scope Radio podcast about mole crowdsourcing, or about our Melanoma Program and the services it offers to diagnose and treat this disease.
With so much information about cancer that is readily available, those impacted by a cancer diagnosis often experience a feeling of information overload. The Cancer Learning Center (CLC) at HCI provides a welcoming environment where patients, families, and the general public can get answers to their questions about cancer. Trained health educators help visitors and callers navigate the potential for information overload and provide current, accurate information about treatment, side effects, and coping strategies. This resource is free for anyone with questions about cancer. Learn more about the G. Mitchell Morris Cancer Learning Center and how it began in our 2010 Annual Report, and other Education and Outreach programs at HCI.
Alison Elliot, a nurse, knows her health is important. So when her fiftieth birthday rolled around, she scheduled a mammogram. She was called back for a second appointment, where they performed a biopsy on her breast.
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