UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

June 2011

Early this month, I had the pleasure of traveling with many of my UPCI/UPMC CancerCenter colleagues to Chicago to attend the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. This meeting brings together physician-researchers from around the world to present the latest clinical and translational cancer research. As always, our team was well-represented. It's inspiring to attend an international conference and be able to witness all of the determination and dedication being poured into the search for improved cancer treatments and cures — it is even more exciting to see so much passion and progress coming from UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter!

This year we introduced a cancer video blog on UPMCPhysicianResources.com as a way to share relevant clinical and research information about our work with our oncology colleagues. Our current posts feature our physicians and researchers discussing their ASCO presentations. Noted below are just some highlights of our presentations – visit the blog for fuller coverage.

Photo of Ellen Beckjord, Ph.D.

Ellen Beckjord, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, UPCI Behavioral Medicine, and her colleagues found cancer patients are eager to share their electronic health information to improve quality of care. The researchers analyzed two data sources to determine patient perspectives on electronic health information—a 2010 survey of more than 7,400 cancer patients conducted by LIVESTRONG and the results from the National Cancer Institute's 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey providing the same perspectives from the American public. See Dr. Beckjord discuss this research here.

Photo of Adam Brufsky, M.D.Adam Brufsky, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and associate director of clinical investigation at UPCI, and his colleagues analyzed data from a subset of patients in a larger trial called RIBBON-2, which added bevacizumab, also known as Avastin, to chemotherapy regimens for second-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer. They found that, among the 159 patients with triple-negative breast cancers, meaning the tumors do not carry estrogen, progesterone or human epidermal growth factor 2 receptors, adding bevacizumab lengthened progression-free survival, improved treatment response rate, and potentially increased overall survival by nearly 6 months. Dr. Brufsky talks about his research here.

Photo of Hideho Okada, M.D.Hideho Okada, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, and his colleagues tested a novel brain cancer vaccine for safety and ability to generate an immune response in patients with recurrent malignant gliomas. The vaccine was well-tolerated; the most common side effects were skin reactions at the injection site and transient fever and chills. About 80 percent of the participants developed an immune response against the tumor antigens. We are especially excited about this vaccine which was developed in UPCI labs and entered its first testing in people in our UPMC CancerCenter! Learn more about Dr. Okada's research here.

I hope you enjoy these vignettes by our researchers, talking about their work at the forefront of cancer research and care. And check back on the website often to hear more about how we at UPCI/UPMC CancerCenter continue to pursue our goal of a future without cancer.