Cancer Care: The Next Generation

cancer-care-the-next-generationOn Saturday, September 17th, tune in or set your DVR for a thirty-minute special airing on ABC7 at 7:30pm.

It’s your ticket to unparalleled access to the cancer experts and research labs from a wide-range of specialties throughout the New York Presbyterian Medical Center.

Cancer research and breakthroughs seem to be everywhere in the news lately. Hear about how the fight against cancer is evolving from those on the front lines. Additionally, learn about the latest hi-tech tools and most cutting-edge approaches to fighting cancer, and how integrative mind-body therapies can help with managing the side effects of treatment.

Learn more about this special and be sure to tune in!

NewYork-Presbyterian has been voted by the U.S. News and World Report as New York’s number one hospital for 16 straight years.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Ranked as New York Best Hospital

Earlier this week the U.S. News and World Report released their annual survey of “Best Hospitals”. NewYork Presbyterian one of the country’s largest and most comprehensive hospitals was ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th year in a row, and No. 6 ranked hospital in all of the United States. Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine commented,

“Our esteemed physicians and scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine always put patients first, providing them with the finest, most comprehensive care so that they can live their healthiest lives. Together we create one of the top academic medical centers in the United States, motivated by a shared commitment: to drive excellence in healthcare and truly make a difference in New York and beyond.”

This commitment is shared by the physicians, researchers, and staff in the Weill Cornell Breast Program.

Dr. Linda Vahdat on Gelmbatumumab Vedotin as a Treatment in Triple Negative Breast Cancer

“With antibody drug conjugates, generally speaking is that you can deliver a much higher dose of drug to the tumor than you normally would be able to. The hope is that if you can deliver the drug to the tumor that you can kill more cancer cells.” – Linda Vahdat, M.D. 
Linda Vahdat, MD, professor of Medicine, director of the Breast Cancer Research Program, chief of the Solid Tumor Service, Weill Cornell Medical, discusses the antibody drug conjugate glembatumumab vedotin being used in the treatment of women with triple negative breast cancer who have a high expression of gpNMB. Vahdat says the purpose of the drug conjugate is to target gpNMB, also known as osteoactivan, which is important for cell migration and invasion.

Vahdat says the hope among oncologists for glembatumumab vedotin is that the treatment can deliver a much higher dose of drug to the tumor than you normally would be able to, and directly into the tumor cell.

How cryotherapy prevents hair loss from chemo

For women getting chemotherapy to treat breast cancer, there’s a new device that could help them keep their hair.

Hair loss with chemotherapy is a hallmark side effect of the treatment. And until now, most women undergoing chemo had to accept it as part of the unavoidable price to pay for the potentially life-saving therapy.

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved a new cooling cap that some women have already been using to prevent hair loss when being treated. The device, made by Swedish company Dignitana, has been available in Europe but is now approved for marketing in the U.S.

“Hair loss from chemo is probably ranked among the most dreaded side effects of chemotherapy,” says Dr. Tessa Cigler, assistant professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Breast Center, which tested the cap on some of its patients. “I think this will make such a difference in so many women’s lives.”

The device, called DigniCap, has an inner layer that circulates very cooled liquid at 37 degrees F around the scalp; another layer essentially holds that cap in place and insulates the cold. The cold temperature chills the hair follicles, making the cells divide less frequently, and therefore making them less attractive as a target for the chemotherapy agent, which homes in on rapidly dividing cells like those in tumors. The cold also constricts blood vessels in the scalp, making it harder for the chemo drug to reach the hair follicles.

In a study that the FDA considered in its review, of 101 breast cancer patients at five centers in the U.S. who used the cold cap, the device prevented hair loss in 70% of the women. Without the cap, say doctors, the chemotherapy regimens the women received lead to hair loss in nearly 100% of cases.

Women don DigniCap about 30 minutes before starting their chemotherapy, wear it throughout the treatment and for another 30 to 60 minutes afterward.

The Weill Cornell Breast Center study involved women with early-stage breast cancer receiving the most common chemo regimens, so Cigler says that more studies are needed to see if it will work for other chemo combinations for other types of cancer and for later stage patients. Certain chemo regimens may simply be too harsh for the cryotherpy to work, for example.

Some doctors also raised the concern that for cancers that might spread to the brain, the chilling effect of the cap might prevent chemotherapy from working on stray cancer cells there. More studies will also reveal more about this potential danger as well.

In the meantime, the cap represents a huge improvement over the current cold cap technology, which involves rotating ice packs that have been frozen in dry ice, on the head every 30 minutes. Dignicap automates the cooling process and makes it less cumbersome for patients.

This article first appeared in TIME. Read the full story here.

Additional coverage on ABC News.