Cancer and Blood Disorders

All Articles in the Category ‘Cancer and Blood Disorders’

Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Top Accomplishments of 2014

Hendricks Headshot 2

Now that the halls have been decked and the most wonderful time of the year is over, Dr. Jim Hendricks, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, took down the holiday tinsel from his work station and spent a moment reflecting on the research institute’s greatest accomplishments of 2014.

There were so many exciting developments over the past year that it’s impossible to fit them all in one short list, but here are some outstanding achievements that come to mind.

  • Our investigators had an incredibly successful year when it comes to funding, including government, nonprofit and industry sources. Our total funding increased from $76 million in fiscal year 2013 to nearly $92 million in fiscal year 2014, which represents a 21% increase. This success is a testament to the talent of our investigators considering that the competition for federal grants has increased steadily as the available federal funding has decreased. This funding will help us get closer to finding more treatments and cures for pediatric diseases.
  • We continued our first T cell cancer immunotherapy clinical trial this year and opened enrollment for two additional trials. This ground-breaking therapy reprograms the body’s infection-fighting T cells to find and destroy cancer cells with minimal side effects. While our first trial, PLAT-01, continues treating patients with relapsed leukemia, a second trial treating leukemia patients with T cell immunotherapy has had great success thus far. Additionally, a new trial opened in November to treat neuroblastoma using immunotherapy.

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A Year in Review, Looking Back at the Top Posts of 2014

New YearIn honor of the New Year, we’re taking a look back at some of our most popular and memorable blog posts from 2014. Below is a list of our top 10 posts. Here’s to another great year of health news to come. Happy New Year!

Lung Liquid Similar to One Used in Movie “The Abyss” Saves Infant’s Life, Doctors Encourage FDA Approval of Clinical Trials

Two doctors at Seattle Children’s went the extra mile to save Tatiana, one of the sickest babies they’ve ever seen. They got ‪FDA‬ approval to use a long-forgotten drug and are now inspired to help make this drug available to save more lives.

Visit with Macklemore Helps 6-Year-Old Heart Patient Recover

AJ Hwangbo was a happy-go-lucky 6-year-old without a worry in the world until mid-November when he developed a life-threatening heart condition. While specialists at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped AJ heal physically, the young boy struggled to bounce back emotionally. But, AJ’s joyful spirit returned after hospital staff arranged for him to meet his hero – local artist Macklemore. Read full post »

Families Find Hope in Success of Cancer Immunotherapy

 

Greta Oberhofer with her parents Andy and Maggie and her sister Charlotte.

Greta Oberhofer with her parents Andy and Maggie and her sister Charlotte.

In 2014, Andy and Maggie Oberhofer, of Portland, Ore., faced the most difficult dilemma of their lives. Their baby daughter, Greta, was dying. She had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was just three months old and standard treatments were not working. Her family prepared for the worst.

“Greta had barely survived chemotherapy and a transplant,” Andy Oberhofer said. “We didn’t want her to suffer any more if she couldn’t be cured. We found ourselves considering end-of-life care for our 1-year-old daughter.”

But then, Greta’s family found hope. Greta qualified for a cancer immunotherapy trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital designed to treat leukemia patients who have relapsed after a transplant. This innovative technology reprograms the body’s T cells and reintroduces them into the immune system, where they hunt down and destroy cancer cells.

“Immunotherapy just made sense to us,” said Oberhofer. “We believed it could work.” Read full post »

Is Thank You Enough?

You may remember Kat Tiscornia from September of last year when she shared her experience of battling Ewing sarcoma and becoming “Titanium Girl.” Kat, now a sophomore at Mercer Island High School, asked On the Pulse if she could share an important message with those who cared for her at Seattle Children’s. We think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did.

Thank you. It’s just two simple words. In some languages it’s just one, gracias or merci for example. I was brought up to say thank you all the time. Thank you to my teachers, my coaches, my bus driver and the store clerk behind the counter. Are these two words really enough though? What if it’s a big thank you? What if the people you want to thank are the reason you are standing here today?

In March 2013 I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. I was at Seattle Children’s Hospital when I first met my oncologist, Dr. Doug Hawkins. I will never forget that day. He had to deliver the worst news of my life. However, as he told me that I had a cancerous tumor in my leg, his voice was full of compassion, patience and honesty. He was honest about how hard this journey I was about to embark on was going to be. I remember being very scared that day, but I never felt hopeless. He had a plan for me and I trusted him. Thank you, Dr. Hawkins. Read full post »

The Softer Side of Surgery, Doctor Designs Personalized Dressings for Patients

Cameron Star Bandage

Cameron shows off his star bandage alongside his stuffed animal’s matching bandage.

No kid wants to have surgery. It’s not a fun experience – but Dr. Kimberly Riehle, an attending surgeon at Seattle Children’s Hospital, does her best to help reassure patients and families that everything will be okay by creating custom bandages shaped like hearts, trains and even fish.

A personalized touch

“I think the designs make the kids feel special,” said Riehle. “When we see kids, typically something unexpected has happened to them. They are seemingly healthy and then something happens that causes them to need surgery. These situations can be really stressful for parents and families. Personalizing the dressings is just one way I can help to make the experience better for them.”

Each year, Seattle Children’s surgical teams – from craniofacial to orthopedics – perform about 13,000 surgeries, double the number of any other institution in the region. But for Riehle it’s about more than the sheer number of surgeries she performs; it’s about caring for each individual patient.

The personalized bandages are one way Riehle can help children who need surgery – and their families – cope with the experience. Read full post »

Studies Aim to Improve Survival Rates for Kids with Adult Cancers

research_fileWhen speaking about breast and colorectal cancers, typically you wouldn’t think of children. These cancers are considered adult conditions and rarely occur in individuals under the age of 21. But according to two new studies from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), although these diseases are rare in kids, they do still occur.

“The thought that kids even face these diseases is surprising,” said Dr. Morgan Richards, research fellow in the division of general surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “But that’s why it’s important to study such diseases.”

According to investigators at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Maine Medical Center, who presented this week at the 2014 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, the studies highlight the need for an increased awareness among pediatric clinicians that these cancers do occur in children and a stronger collaboration between adult clinicians and pediatric care providers to increase survival rates. Read full post »

Conquering Childhood Cancer: An Inside Look at Seattle Children’s Cancer Care Unit

In the video above, take an inside look at Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Care Unit and meet the individuals at Seattle Children’s dedicated to helping children and teens conquer childhood cancer, the second leading cause of death in children ages 5-14.

Tour the country’s first adolescent and young adult cancer unit thanks to a guide who knows the unit all too well, a former patient. See first-hand the cutting-edge research that is saving and enhancing the lives of children and adolescents – from using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer to a relatively new form of radiation therapy that offers hope to children with recurrent neuroblastoma. Read full post »

Clinical Research: What Would You Do if it Were Your Child?

Dr. Abby Rosenberg is the medical leader of Seattle Children's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program

Dr. Abby Rosenberg is the medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program

After a child has been diagnosed with cancer, one of the first conversations we have with families is about clinical research. In fact, almost all children with cancer have the opportunity to participate in research, and many parents are asked to make decisions about enrollment early in their child’s cancer experience. The question we as researchers have to ask ourselves: Is this unfair? Parents are already struggling with the nearly impossible tasks of accepting their child’s cancer, assimilating huge amounts of new (perhaps confusing) medical information, and uprooting their lives to meet the demands of illness. Can they also make educated decisions about enrolling their child in clinical research?

Many ask, “What would you do if it were your child?” The question is not surprising; parents often make cancer-treatment decisions by “trusting staff.”1 Unfortunately, the answer is often, “I don’t know.” And that answer is true.

We don’t know how it feels to walk in your shoes, with your family’s values, perspectives and relationships. We also come from a different perspective, one where research is embedded in our training and guides almost all of our medical decision-making. We believe in research, but we don’t want to bias you with that belief. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure that all of my training and perspective would be forgotten if it were my own child, and I would ask the very same question of my medical providers. Like you, my single goal would be to do the right thing for my child.)

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New Radiation Therapy Gives Hope to Children with Neuroblastoma

Rene Soto Taylor has done his best, and has put in his all to overcome cancer. At only 8 years old, he’s been through countless treatments to try to rid his body of the most common and most difficult type of solid tumor to treat in children – neuroblastoma. Today, Rene is hoping doctors have finally found the treatment that will conquer his disease: I-131-MIBG therapy.

A relatively new form of therapy, I-131-MIBG therapy delivers radiation directly to tumors, killing the cancer cells. This type of therapy concentrates the radiation at the site of the cancer, which means fewer long-term risks for patients. Read full post »

Teen Preserves Dreams of Motherhood After Cancer Relapse

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Shannon Keating, 16, before cancer diagnosis.

Shannon Keating always imagined that she would be a mom some day, but she didn’t expect she’d be treated at a fertility clinic at age 17. Shannon was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma as a high school sophomore, was successfully treated and then relapsed nine months later. As she prepared to fight for her life a second time, experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped her preserve her dream of being a parent one day.

A devastating diagnosis

Shannon was first diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in March 2013, after she discovered a lump on her neck. The treatment was six months of less-aggressive chemotherapy that oncologists did not believe would affect her fertility.

“I was relived that this therapy was less toxic, but when it was finished I didn’t feel like I was done,” Shannon said. “I had this feeling hanging over my head. I believed my cancer would come back.”

Unfortunately, Shannon was right. That December, her cancer relapsed. Facing a life-threatening illness once again, she learned her second round of treatment would be more aggressive and could cause infertility. Doctors offered her the opportunity to freeze her eggs so that she might later become pregnant using in-vitro fertilization, but Shannon was initially overwhelmed. Read full post »