As news of our NCI Cancer Center designation was making headlines this year, you may have heard about Markey Cancer Center's track record and progress fighting cancer in Appalachia.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2014) – As part of a weeklong tour across the state, the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition will be making a stop at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center today at 11 a.m. to promote better health for Kentuckians through smoke-free policies. The event at Markey is one of several stops across the state as it heads to western Kentucky for the annual Fancy Farm Picnic.
At each stop, the Smoke-Free Coalition is rallying supporters and reaching out to legislators, urging them to join 24 other states in passing a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law that covers all indoor workplaces and public places, including bars and restaurants. The goal of the tour is to get all Kentuckians, around the state, active and engaged in supporting smoke-free policy as the campaign gears up for the 2015 legislative session.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, almost 70 of which are known to cause cancer, and is proven to cause heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory illnesses and even premature death. In fact, studies indicate that secondhand smoke exposure causes about 1,000 deaths a year in Kentucky.
To find out more information about how smoke-free policies are good for health and businesses visit: www.smokefreekentucky.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2014) — The phrase "we caught it early" is possibly the best news a patient can hear in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. Combating cancer in its earliest stages, when the disease is localized to a certain part of the body, gives patients the best chances of survival.
Screenings for breast, skin, colon, prostate and other forms of cancer are touted for saving lives through early detection. Many health care providers recommend cancer screenings as a precautionary measure, especially for high-risk patients. But in the case of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, the patient's decision to undergo a screening process is more complex.
According to University of Kentucky psychologist Dr. Jamie Studts, lung cancer screening is an algorithm, not an event. Patients aren't always aware of the physical and psychological consequences of the lung cancer screening process, which can lead to false positive results, invasive biopsy procedures, harmful radiation exposure and anxiety caused by an ongoing process.
Studts, a researcher in the UK Department of Behavioral Science and the Cancer Prevention and Control Program of the Markey Cancer Center, is working to develop an online tool that will help individuals at high risk for lung cancer navigate the lung cancer screening decision-making process. He said the decision to undergo lung cancer screening should be well-informed and aligned with the patient's personal values. Studts is collaborating with Dr. Margaret Byrne, a health economist and medical decision-making researcher at the University of Miami, on this project, which is funded by a grant awarded from the National Cancer Institute.
"Screening is for asymptomatic, healthy people to find out there's something wrong," Studts said. "You are committing to a series of events that will lead to either learning you don’t have cancer, or detecting and treating it."
A number of factors, including the Affordable Care Act's provision of accessibility to cancer screening services and results from a 2011 National Lung Screening Trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute, have reinvigorated the public's interest in lung cancer screening. The National Lung Screening Trial reported a 20 percent relative reduction in mortality for high-risk individuals who received a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans. But the report also identified substantial risks and limitations to lung cancer screenings, which included overdiagnosis and relatively high false positive rates. The rate of false positive occurrence in the study of a high-risk population was 39 percent. With high rates of false positive scans and ongoing follow-up treatment, Studts said widespread lung cancer screening could be a costly burden for government-funded health care but could also prevent very expensive treatments for late stage lung cancer.
Studts and his fellow researchers have proposed a decision-making aid that is designed to accomplish three objectives: disperse knowledge, empower the patient and clarify individual's values. The aid will present accurate information about the screening process and calculate feedback that's tailored to the individual. The tool will also empower the individual to discuss the decision with their health care provider by providing a prompt list of potential questions. Finally, the values clarification component of the tool will explore the patient's personal preferences regarding the lung cancer screening process. For instance, if a patient is ultimately unwilling to undergo surgery for a lung biopsy, the tool can determine that they will likely experience minimal benefit from a screening.
"The goal is to help people interpret what they learn in the context of what’s important to them regarding their goals in health," Studts said. "They will learn about lung cancer screening options, benefits, harms and uncertainties associated with the modality.”
To develop the provider education program, Studts has collaborated with a team of University of Kentucky experts, including Dr. Eric Bendsadoun, a pulmonologist and director of the lung cancer screening program; Dr. Susanne Arnold, a medical oncologist who is part of the multidisciplinary lung cancer screening program; Dr. Michael Brooks, a cardiothoracic radiologist; Dr. Mark Dignan, a cancer prevention and control researcher; Dr. Eric Durbin, a cancer research informatics expert; and Dr. Brent Shelton, a cancer biostatistician.
The next step in their research will be conducting a clinical trial to test the decision-making aid among high-risk individuals, or high pack-year smokers, in Florida and Kentucky. Recently, Studts, along with Dr. Tim Mullet, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK, received funding from the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program to develop an online continuing education program geared toward educating health care providers about lung cancer screening and how to discuss the lung cancer screening question with their patients. Eventually, he envisions dispersing a comprehensive educational toolkit on lung cancer screening to clinics and hospitals.
Studts said the current research suggests that lung cancer screening has minimal benefits for individuals younger than 55. Still, many Americans with a history of high pack-year smoking will face the decision of whether to be screened for cancer in their lifetime. Studts believes it will be helpful to implement an online tool that will help guide members of the high-risk population through a decision-making process.
"We’re interested in delivering high quality patient centered care – helping people be engaged in their health care choices and helping health care providers engage in these choices too."
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 28, 2014) – The Louisville Ironman – a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim in the Ohio River, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run – is a competition that would test even the toughest of wills.
But for University of Kentucky radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Feddock, the competition is about more than achieving a personal goal – Feddock, an accomplished triathlete, is using his athletic talents to help provide better care for the cancer patients he treats. When he competes in the Aug. 24 Ironman, he'll be doing so to raise money to pay for renovations and updates to the brachytherapy program at the UK Markey Cancer Center.
Brachytherapy is a specific form of radiation treatment where radiation sources are placed inside or close to the area requiring treatment.
”The main benefit to using brachytherapy for the treatment of cancer is that this is the only method of radiation treatment where we can make radiation appear exactly where we want to," said Feddock. "If your goal is to treat a tumor with curative doses of radiation and not treat the normal parts of the body immediately next to it, then brachytherapy is the best option.”
The total estimated cost for the brachytherapy project is approximately $1.2 million dollars, and Feddock has a specific goal to reach – he is trying to raise $200,000, with the remaining $1 million to be matched through the University, independent philanthropists, and department funds. The proposed changes would consolidate all areas involving brachytherapy, including moving the implant procedure room and the radiation treatment room into a combined space, and upgrading the current brachytherapy equipment.
Brachytherapy treatment is commonly used to treat most gynecologic cancers, as well as malignancies of the breast, prostate, and skin. Under Feddock’s leadership, the radiation medicine department has developed a niche practice that uses brachytherapy for recurrent tumors in patients who have previously received radiation. As a result, UK sees patients from all over the country.
Unfortunately, Kentucky holds the distinction of having some of the highest cancer rates in the country – including being No. 8 in the U.S. for cervical cancer incidence. The availability of brachytherapy in the state is limited, and as a result, Markey provides brachytherapy services for essentially all patients coming from central, eastern and southern Kentucky.
Currently, Markey patients receive their brachytherapy implants in the Ben F. Roach Building, but have to be transported down a long hallway to the radiation treatment room in the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Because the radiation therapy treatment and recovery rooms require a shielded vault, consolidation is not an easy process.
However, Feddock points out, the renovations will improve staff efficiency and the overall patient experience, in addition to allowing his team to see even more patients per day.
"Currently, the setup and logistics of brachytherapy treatment limit me to no more than two cases a day," Feddock said. "As our patient population grows, there's a real need to streamline the process so we can see more patients. I believe the proposed changes would allow me to treat three to four patients a day."
Feddock is determined to reach his goal, and he's even implemented a clever strategy to bring in donations. After speaking with members of the World Triathlon Corporation, he has been given special permission to begin the Ironman in Louisville this year in last place – and he's encouraging donors to "bet against him" by pledging a small amount for every single person he passes in the race. With close to 3,000 competitors ahead of him, that's a lot of potential donations.
The plan becomes more impressive when you look at his track record: in 2011, Feddock finished 30th in the Ironman; in 2013, he finished 17th.
”While I'm approaching some corporate sponsors and individual philanthropists about making larger donations, I think crowdfunding is the key here," Feddock said. "Every single dollar helps, and if a lot of different people contribute just a small amount, it will add up. By pledging even a small donation, you'll be making a huge impact on cancer care for women and men across Kentucky."
Dr. Marcus Randall, chair of the Department of Radiation Medicine, says his team fully supports Feddock's undertaking.
“Dr. Feddock’s commitment to his patients and to UK HealthCare is inspirational to us all," Randall said. "The department is strongly supporting Dr. Feddock, which shows that we truly have 'skin in the game' when it comes to giving our patients the best treatment possible.”
To support Feddock's mission and improve patient care at the UK Markey Cancer Center, visit his personal fundraising page, Ironcology.net for details on how to donate. All donations are processed through the Markey Cancer Foundation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 24, 2014) – Eastern Kentucky faces some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the nation, but two hospitals in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) system are stepping up the fight against cancer. Williamson ARH Hospital in South Williamson, Ky. and Harlan ARH Hospital have announced a new affiliation with the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, the state's first and only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
"ARH is consistently working to build a new level of health care for the people we serve in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia by providing our communities local access to some of the most advanced health care services," said ARH President and CEO Joe Grossman. "This affiliation with the UK Markey Cancer Center will further enhance the services provided in Williamson and Harlan and will help us ensure our residents receive only the best oncology care right here at home in conjunction with a team of nationally recognized medical professionals."
"We are so pleased to announce our affiliation with the Markey Cancer Center, and we believe this new relationship will allow us to provide better care for our patients," said Dr. Walid Baz, medical director of hematology and oncology services for Williamson ARH Hospital. "Most cancer patients require multimodal therapy including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and psychosocial therapy. Working together will enable the medical staff to leverage their collective experience, and that experience combined with Markey's specialized treatment, technology and clinical trial opportunities will help us take cancer care to the next level. This is great news for cancer patients and their families in our community."
The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region, and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care, and access to research.
The ARH hospital system is the largest provider of health care in southeastern Kentucky. By joining the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, Williamson ARH Hospital and Harlan ARH Hospital will be able to offer their patients access to additional specialty and subspecialty physicians and care, including clinical trials and advanced technology, while allowing them to stay in southeastern Kentucky for most treatments. The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network supports UK HealthCare's overall mission of ensuring no Kentuckian will have to leave the state to get access to top-of-the-line health care.
"UK HealthCare doesn't just serve Lexington and Central Kentucky – our mission is to provide all Kentuckians with the best possible care right here in the state," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. "The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network allows us to collaborate with community hospitals to provide top-notch cancer care much closer to home -- saving both travel expenses and time for the patients, in addition to keeping them close to their personal support system."
Markey is one of only 68 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.
Moving forward, the Markey Cancer Center is working toward the next tier of designation – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently, 41 of the 68 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status. The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network will play a large role in bringing that next level of cancer funding to Kentucky. Maintaining and increasing focus on cancer prevention, care, and research in Appalachian Kentucky will remain a top priority for the cancer center.
"The burden of cancer in Kentucky is huge, particularly in Eastern Kentucky," said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "That's why I am thrilled to have Williamson and Harlan join the Markey Affiliate Network. By working together, we have the potential to make a serious impact on cancer care in the part of the state that needs it the most."
The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network began in 2006 and includes 11 hospitals across the state of Kentucky:
Evaluations are under way for four other hospitals, including two more outside the state of Kentucky, extending Markey's reach and establishing it as the destination cancer center for the region.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 23, 2014) — Good nutrition is critical during cancer treatment, but side effects of chemotherapy and radiation can often cause patients to lose their appetites at a time when they need sustenance the most.
As a registered dietitian at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Rachel Miller does all she can to help patients get the nutrition and calories they need.
"A lot of patients have trouble with weight loss and decreased appetite while they're going through various treatments," Miller said. "One of the things that's hardest to do when you don't feel like eating is getting that nutrition you need."
Much of Miller's time at Markey involves one-on-one counseling. She sees patients throughout the process of their treatment, provides them with nutrition education, and in some cases, assists patients with setting up their tube feeding.
In addition to the individual consults, Miller also tries to provide a more tangible example of healthy eating during cancer treatment. On the fourth Wednesday of each month, she hosts a smoothie demonstration in the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. The demonstrations are open to everyone at Markey, including patients, families and medical providers.
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Smoothies are an ideal way to boost nutritional value in a small volume of food, Miller said. Adding in healthy fats (for example, coconut milk) serves to improve the taste of the drink as well as pack in much-needed extra calories.
"Sometimes it's difficult to eat a full meal," Miller said. "So trying to fortify what you're eating, although it's a small amount, is one of the things I think is helpful to teach patients to do at home."
During the monthly demonstration, Miller tries to incorporate a variety of foods into the smoothies, testing out different tastes and textures. A common side effect of chemotherapy is a change in taste — many patients report a "metallic" taste in the mouth — so using strong flavors can be helpful in making the meal more appealing. As she prepares the drink, Miller talks her audience through the process, explaining the health and taste benefits of each ingredient.
Though she has regular medical staff who attend, her audience is often filled with families and friends of patients who are waiting for their loved one to complete an appointment or treatment. In addition to giving them information that will help them provide for their loved ones at home, Miller hopes the demonstrations also add a little levity to their day.
"I think the demonstrations have been very helpful," Miller said. "People have a lot of questions. It's easier to see and watch someone else do it, and then be able to implement that in your own home. I think it's also convenient, because a lot of patients have long days here so it can be a fun little break while you're waiting."
Smoothie demonstrations are offered on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. in the Psych-Oncology Services office, third floor, Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Miller also periodically partners with local chefs to host food demonstrations for patients and families.
For more information on good nutrition during cancer treatment, visit Miller's blog: the Markey Menu.
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