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Comprehensive Supports Kick Butts Day and Quitting Smoking

Comprehensive Joins Kick Butts Day and Supports Quitting Smoking

The team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada is committed to helping our community stop smoking. We want people to lead healthier lives while reducing their risk of lung cancer.

Every year we launch the IQuitFor campaign, in collaboration with UNLV that encourages people to quit smoking during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. This March, we’re adding to our efforts by helping spread awareness of National Kick Butts Day.

#KickButtsDay empowers youth to stand out and speak up about smoking. The event is expecting to hold more than 1,000 events in schools and communities across the United States and around the world to help raise awareness. Learn more here.

While treating patients for lung cancer, we’ve learned that many of them started smoking when they were young, and regret first starting to smoke, as well as not quitting while they were younger.

Here are a few reasons why smoking is such an unhealthy activity for those looking for encouragement to not start smoking, or to quit smoking entirely.

  • Smoking is Bad for Your Blood
    Smoking makes your blood thicker and increases risk of clots, while also increasing blood pressure. It reduces the amount of oxygen rich blood in your body which increases your risk for stroke, heart disease and lung cancers.
  • Smoking is Bad for Your Stomach
    Smoking increases reflux and the odds of getting stomach cancer and/or ulcers. Smoking adds significant risk for developing kidney cancer, as well; with the more you smoke, the greater the risk.
  • Smoking is Bad for Your Skin
    Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin making it age quickly, while looking grey and dull. The toxins in cigarette smoke also causes cellulite.
  • Smoking Is Bad for Your Smile and Taste Buds
    Smoking causes bad breath and stained teeth, and can also cause gum disease and can damage your sense of taste.
  • Smoking is Bad for Having Kids
    Smoking can cause male impotence and can reduce fertility in women. One study found that smokers were over three times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than one year to conceive. The study estimated that the fertility of smoking women was 72 percent that of non-smokers.

While that’s some of the bad news about smoking, the good news is that your body can rebound quickly once you quit. Within two years of quitting smoking, risk of stroke is reduced to half that of a non-smoker and within five years it will be the same as a non-smoker. Other risk factors from smoking can reduce over time, as well.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada recognizes that quitting smoking can be a difficult process. Young people and people of all ages inspired by Kick Butts Day are encouraged to take advantage of the Nevada Tobacco Quitline’s resources by visiting Nevada Tobacco Quitline or calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).

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What to Ask Your Doctor About Colorectal Cancer Exams

What to Ask Your Doctor about Colorectal Cancer Exams

With National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month here again, it’s a good time to include colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer screenings to health check up regimens starting at age 50. To ensure the best screenings, the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada recommend that the following questions be used as guidelines when meeting with physicians for these exams:

When Should I Start to Get Tested for Colon Cancer?
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should ask their doctor to start testing for polyps and colon or rectal cancers. Screening may need to be integrated into your testing protocols at an earlier age, based on your personal health as well as your family history. Learn more about colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer symptoms here.

What Kind of Test Do I Need?
Colorectal cancer screenings are done to discover polyps and/or cancer. There are also tests focused entirely on finding cancer specifically. It’s critical that doctors know everything including any past health issues, and family history, so they have a complete picture to schedule the screening that is right for you.

What Happens During Colon Cancer Testing and When Does it Happen?
Tests for polyps and cancer include a colonoscopy, which is recommended every ten years. Every five years, patients should get a CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), and flexible sigmoidoscopy and double-contrast barium enemas. If you have a history of cancer, or family history or cancer, doctors may recommend shorter periods between these screenings.

Tests to screen for colorectal cancer specifically include fecal immunochemical test (FIT), guaiac-based fecal occult blood test, (gFOBT) which can be given every year, and a stool DNA test, which is recommended every three years. Again, timeframes may vary depending on colorectal risk factors including personal and family health histories.

As a Woman, Do I Need Testing, Too?
Yes. Many women believe the colon cancer is a man’s health issue, and one they don’t need to be concerned about. The numbers tell another story. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women. Learn more about colon cancer risks and warning signs here.

How Do I Know if a Health Problem is Worth Reporting?
Many patients ignore potential problems after seeing symptoms such as blood in their stools. DO NOT DO THIS. We urge you to take everything with your health very seriously. Successful treatment outcomes are more likely when issues are detected early.

How Can I Properly Prepare for Colorectal Cancer Screenings?
If you may have a screening procedure scheduled, your physician will help you with the necessary steps to be prepared. This may include adjustments to diet and medications. Make sure you get all of those details accounted for (make a list and check it twice) to help your doctor achieve the best results possible for your screening.

How Can I Reduce Risks for Colorectal Cancer?
Perhaps the most important question you can ask your doctor is how best to reduce risks for cancer. Recommendations may include getting more exercise; watching your weight, reducing your consumption of alcohol and processed foods, as well as to stop smoking.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Can Help
Should your physician refer you for more tests, or treatment for colon cancer, Comprehensive can help. Treatment options are different for each person, but some may require surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Our team of physicians and nursing staff provide state-of-the-art treatment and technologies for patients with colon cancer in Nevada, including CyberKnife and Clinical Research. To schedule an appointment, call 702-952-3350.

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Reducing Cancer Risks at Home

Reducing Cancer Risks in the Home

There are many ways to reduce the risk of cancer including eating healthier foods, getting more exercise, and regularly wearing sunscreen. There are also other ways to reduce risk that involve more carefully monitoring what you do in your home and how you work with chemicals.

The following are chemicals to either avoid entirely, or use with extreme caution, while in the home. While certain risk factors related to causing cancer are still debated, being smart with chemicals is an easy way to reduce potential risks for cancers and other health issues.

  • Cigarette Smoke: If you’re still working on quitting smoking, make sure you don’t smoke indoors. This holds true for both smokers and those they live with, as second-hand smoke contains thousands of dangerous chemicals. There’s also third-hand smoke that comes from fumes found from smoke that contaminated furniture, drapery and carpets that causes health issues.
  • Pesticides: Avoiding pesticides can be challenging while living in Southern Nevada, due to these chemicals being used inside homes to keep bugs away. The challenge with these chemicals is not necessarily found in their use, but rather how sprays are used. If you do use indoor pesticides, make sure to avoid breathing in the spray by keeping fumes far away from your face (and the faces of your loved ones) when applying the chemicals. Also, keep the spray away from anything you may eat or drink.
  • Cleaning/Painting Supplies: Similar to pesticides, using cleaning and painting supplies on their own isn’t necessarily dangerous, but misapplying them and breathing them can cause health problems. Exercise caution when applying sprays and other chemicals to surfaces in your home. Using masks can be helpful if you have existing respiratory conditions. Always have windows open while using these chemicals.
  • Household Dust: Dust can contain chemicals shed from electrical products, beauty supplies, flame retardants and the previously mentioned cleaning products and pesticides. Mopping floors and washing hands after completing these tasks is recommended to keep your home clean.
  • Cosmetics: Makeup, and hair products may contain formaldehyde, phenol, benzene and toluene, which can cause cancer. When selecting these products, check ingredient lists as some that are marketed as organic still may contain these chemicals.
  • Pots & Pans: Teflon and aluminum cookware may cause health issues, especially if the pots and pans are overworked and flaking/chipping occurs. It is recommended that you use stainless steel, glass/Pyrex or cast iron, if possible.
  • Clean Air: Opening windows and doors occasionally is recommended to keep a home’s air fresh and provide airflow to remove toxins in the home (only10 minutes of open widow time is necessary to make a difference). To keep your air clean, you should also empty vacuum bags/containers outside, change your air filter regularly and add some houseplants to each of your rooms.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada wants to keep you and your family well informed on how to reduce your cancer risk. For more helpful insights on healthy living and eating, check our blog.

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Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Clinical Research

How Comprehensive Cancer Centers Selects Clinical Research Therapies

How Comprehensive Cancer Centers Selects Clinical Research Therapies

For Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, clinical research is a critical component in our efforts to expand treatment options for people with all types of cancer. Research studies we conduct offer patients an alternative treatment option for their specific cancer type. Getting a new drug or therapy approved is a long process that’s managed by our team of research physicians and scientists. The team shared a few insights into the process:

  1. How Do You Select Therapies for Research?
    The selection process depends on several factors: competing trials, potential accruals (number of patients that may participate), primary investigator (research physicians running a particular research study) interests, operational feasibilities, patient population, study design and current standard of care treatment.
  2. What Sources Do You Regularly Check to Learn about New Options?
    The team always checks the NCI website and about information on clinical trial(s). The research team also meets with medical science liaisons (MSL) and scientists from pharmaceutical companies to learn about new treatments being researched. Additionally, our research investigators attend conferences to connect with the scientists and to learn the new trends.
  3. What Research Do You See Coming Up That Has You Excited?
    CART-T trials and the personalized therapy make us sharp and active. CART-T is type of treatment in which a patient’s T cells (a type of immune system cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will attack cancer cells. T cells are taken from a patient’s blood. Then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient’s cancer cells is added in the laboratory.
  4. How Important Are Partners to Your Efforts?
    We can work with any partners who have more promising clinical trials pipelines including UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and The US Oncology Network (The Network). For UCLA, we’re part of their TRIO (Translational Research In Oncology) clinical research organization. Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada is also part of the US Oncology Network, giving us access to therapies.

Participate in Clinical Research

There are many different factors and moving parts that make clinical research challenging. Each new possible treatment goes through several trial phases before being approved by the FDA. Taking part in a clinical research study or trial can give you quicker access to these therapies, which could potentially be better than current treatment options. Learn more about these opportunities by clicking here.

For more information about the research program we offer at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, or to see what trials are currently open, visit our website. To schedule an appointment call 702-952-3350

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Comprehensive Cancer Celebrates International Women’s Day

Comprehensive Cancer Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day and Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada is proud to celebrate the event and the mission of the 2018 campaign: #PressforProgress.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. At Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, we have a team of incredibly talented, passionate and acclaimed women who #PressforProgress every day on behalf of their patients. This is done through providing compassionate care to those in need, and advancing treatment to bring new cures to the world through clinical research.

A few of our physicians shared their stories and quotes about why they became physicians.

Comprehensive Cancer Celebrates International Women’s Day Josette E. Spotts, MD FACS is a breast surgeon at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada. Dr. Spotts earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from Michigan State University and then received her Doctor of Medicine from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Spotts shared her story, which began with the goal of becoming a veterinarian and evolved into becoming a breast surgeon:

“I originally wanted to be a veterinarian, as my father was one and I spent many hours working in his office growing up. My favorite part of helping animals were the surgeries on Saturdays, thus my desire to become a surgeon. When I went to college I changed course (that proverbial fork in the road) and ended up in medical school instead. Throughout medical school rotations it became clear to me that surgery was my calling. I chose general surgery, which included breast surgery. I enjoyed all aspects of general surgery and practiced that for 13 years, at which time nearly 85 percent of my referrals were breast patients so it was an easy decision to evolve my focus into breast surgery.”

Comprehensive Cancer Celebrates International Women’s DayAnu Thummala, MD is a medical oncologist at Comprehensive. She received her medical degree from Andhra University, India. During medical school she received several academic awards, honors, university ranks and was adjudged “the best outgoing student” in her class. Dr. Thummala joined the Mount Sinai-Elmhurst Hospital Residency program in New York, where she was the best resident for two consecutive years and also served as the Chief Resident in the Department of Medicine, prior to joining Comprehensive Cancer Center of Nevada. Dr. Thummala shared some of her perspectives on becoming an oncologist, some of them through the words of those she’s helped:

“I am a survivor,” said Jane.

“I have my life back,” said Anna.

“I thought we lost him, but you have given him so much time that we cherish every minute, said Ms. Williams.

“You make a difference,” many patients.

“Those powerful words, including the final four I shared just keep me going. Cancer is like a powerful dynamite which explodes in every organ within our body, controls our mind, function, finances, pleasures in fact; whole life. It shows its power by chipping away life, minute-by-minute, and breath-by-breath. I want to conquer this power, I want to ease the pain, I want to nurture and give hope, enable quality of life through treatment and yes – I want to make a difference.

It’s an exciting time in oncology with immune-based therapy replacing chemotherapy. It has less toxicity, higher response rates and is more tolerable. Conquering “no hair day” despite cancer treatment, will be a dream come true. Clinical research is integrated into my practice which helps me to contribute to developing new, less toxic and more effective treatment options, improving survival, quality of life and contributing to science. There is immense dedication, sincerity, passion, discipline that goes into this profession; it means a world to me to make a difference.”

Comprehensive Cancer Celebrates International Women’s DaySouzan El-Eid, MD, FACS received her medical degree in 1990 from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha. Dr. El-Eid completed her internship at Yale New Haven Hospital Saint Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut, her general surgery residency at Nassau University in Long Island, New York and a Critical Care fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. El-Eid is another is breast surgeon at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada who shared her career path that started in Lebanon and lead to Las Vegas, NV:

“I was born in Beirut and grew up in war. I saw many people die and wanted to help. My parents sent me abroad to both France and United States to study, after the American Embassy of Beirut was bombed.

I finished high school in Saint Famille where nuns were our teachers. I wanted to make them proud, so I didn’t fool around! So here I am now, after completing a fellowship in trauma and critical care, I am now a breast surgeon helping my patients recover and get back to living their lives.”

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, and the women that drive it forward, are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day. We, too, hear the call to #PressforProgress that’s motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and encourage other women to reach their fullest potential.

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Tree Nuts and Colorectal Cancer

Tree Nuts Increase Survival Rates In Colon Cancer

Tree Nuts Increase Survival Rates in Colon Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada advocates healthy eating for those we’re treating, and those looking to help lower their risk of cancer. We constantly monitor research, trends and insights provided by reputable sources to offer helpful dietary recommendations. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently shared a study regarding tree nuts and their benefits to reducing colon cancer risk.

In an observational study of 826 patients with stage III colon cancer, those who consumed two ounces or more (roughly 48 almonds or 36 cashews) of nuts per week had a 42 percent lower chance of colon cancer recurrence and 57 percent lower chance of fatality than those who did not eat nuts.

A secondary analysis of the study revealed the benefit of nut consumption was limited to tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, among others. The study also examined peanuts and peanut butter, and found no associated reduction in cancer recurrence. This was important to examine, as peanuts are the most widely eaten nuts in the United States. Researchers believe that being legumes, peanuts have a different metabolic composition that tree nuts.

Researchers were particularly interested in nut consumption because it has been linked to lower incidence of obesity, type II diabetes, and reduction in insulin resistance. These health conditions represent a state of excess energy and are each associated with a higher risk of recurrence of colon cancer. The complete findings of the study will be presented at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

There are many ways to consume more tree nuts in your diet. Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada offers healthy, cancer fighting recipes, such as Vegetable and Cashew Lasagna that contain tree nuts and other cancer-fighting ingredients. Other recipes for healthy eating include Baked Cod with Lentils and Salsa and Veggie Stuffed Pork Chops. Find more recipes and ideas on healthy eating on our blog.

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Lung scan

EBUS: Detecting Lung Cancer and Diseases with a New, Minimally-Invasive Technique

Minimally invasive techniques are becoming more available to patients for the discovery and treatment of a variety of cancers and diseases. Now, there is a new, efficient procedure being utilized to diagnose lung cancer, other lung diseases and infections. The endrobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is available for patients at Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 234,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. This number includes more than 1,300 new lung and bronchus cancer diagnoses in Nevada in 2018. With accuracy, efficiency and speed, the EBUS procedure is a valuable tool for physicians to use in detecting existing conditions and prospective issues.

EBUS Procedure at Lung Center of Nevada

The EBUS procedure allows physicians to obtain tissue samples from the lung and adjacent areas without any incision using the transbronchial needle aspiration technique (TBNA). The samples extracted from these areas are used for identifying lung diseases as well as detecting lung cancer.

The instrument used during an EBUS procedure is a specialized bronchoscope, which is a slim and malleable tube that can easily travel through a patient’s mouth and trachea. An ultrasound miniature probe is located at the end of the tube to obtain imagery of any pertinent tissues. This is different from traditional surgery – known as a mediastinoscopy – where an incision must be made in the neck to access the lungs and ultimately obtain tissue.

In addition to not needing an incision, there are numerous benefits for patients that opt for the EBUS procedure rather than a traditional procedure.

Benefits of EBUS

  • Real-Time Results: the technique allows a physician to view images of the lung and surrounding areas in real-time. This means there’s fewer chances of complications with the procedure.
  • Better Quality Images: the images from an EBUS procedure are typically more in-depth and higher quality, as the needle can travel to difficult-to-reach areas.
  • No Hospital Stay: since the procedure is minimally-invasive, the majority of patients typically go home within a matter of hours after undergoing an EBUS procedure.
  • Moderate Sedation: EBUS is a routine outpatient procedure so it will be conducted under moderate sedation, lasting less than one hour. Side effects, while rare, may include mild throat agitation and cough.

To learn more about EBUS and Comprehensive’s treatment options pertaining to lung cancer and related diseases, visit or call 702-952-3350.

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Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang Honored By US Oncology Research Program

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang Honored By US Oncology for Cancer Research Program

Nicholas J. Vogelzang, MD, FASCO, FACP, medical oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada was recently honored for the impact he made as former Chair of the US Oncology Research GU (genitourinary) Program. Dr. Vogelzang was presented with a framed copy of “Genitourinary Oncology,” a book by Mark Fleming, MD, to mark the occasion.

Dr. Vogelzang , who joined Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in 2009 from Nevada Cancer Institute, is a world-renowned medical oncologist and cancer researcher who has authored/coauthored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and abstracts and has given hundreds of lectures and presentations to his peers worldwide.

He applies his experience and expertise in clinical research and its advancements in cancer treatment therapies, alongside a remarkable bedside manner and compassionate care that’s greatly appreciated by his patients.

Dr. Vogelzang leads cutting-edge clinical trials in genitourinary malignancies and mesothelioma and is involved in new therapies for patients with metastatic kidney, bladder and prostate cancer. Dr. Vogelzang has written and contributed to hundreds of articles in mesothelioma, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and phase I research. He was a critical proponent in the 2010 FDA approval of the prostate cancer-fighting drug PROVENGE. He conducted early testing of PROVENGE in Illinois and also administered the drug’s first treatment in Nevada. Dr. Vogelzang and Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada were also instrumental in the research phase of Xofigo in 2011. Las Vegas was one of two cities in the United States treating patients during the research study which led to FDA approval in 2013.

In 2014, Dr. Vogelzang was published in Nature for research on an anti-PD-L1 treatment for metastatic bladder cancer called atezolizumab, commercially known as TECENTRIQ. Widely quoted across scientific literature, the paper has led to dozens of major clinical trials. Upon FDA approval in 2016, Dr. Vogelzang administered TECENTRIQ to the first patient in the world at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.

A seasoned, top-enrolling investigator in SWOG, pharma and The US Oncology Network, Dr. Vogelzang has also led research for autologous cellular immunotherapies such as Zytiga and mitoxantrone. He continues to study the treatment of kidney cancer and prostate cancer by utilizing new agents, old agents and combinations of exiting treatments for advanced stage disease. More recently, Dr. Vogelzang is participating in the study of apalutamide, which will help delay the spread of prostate cancer by two years as well as phase I research of the p53 gene agent which has been shown to display anticancer activity.

Dr. Vogelzang has helped the practice develop one of the largest Phase I clinical research programs in Nevada. Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical research studies each year, and we’ve helped to develop more than 60 FDA approved cancer therapies. If you’re interested in learning more about our clinical research, click here.

Learn more about Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang and about Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada’s Clinical Research efforts.

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Treating Patients with Cancer at Age 50

Adults at age 50 and older are more at-risk for developing cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Facts & Figures,” 87 percent of all cancers in the United States are diagnosed in people 50 years of age or older.

The most common cancers impacting this age group are breast, cervical, head and neck, prostate and skin cancer.

The likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer increases with age. But, this likelihood doesn’t just have to do with turning a particular age, but it also pertains to routines and habits developed over time.

Staying Ahead of Cancer (At Any Age)

Genes and unique genetic mutations can impact the likelihood of developing cancer. For example, women who have a close relative (such as a mother or sister) are twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those without a family tie.

While genetics can play a major role for developing many cancers, lifestyle choices and environmental factors can also impact the likelihood of cancer.

Examples of healthy habits to reduce your cancer risk include:

  • Diet and Exercise. People who are overweight are more likely to have the cancers that impact older Americans: prostate, colon and ovary, among others. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help reduce your risk.
  • Sun Safety. Whether it’s the summer or winter, it’s important to prioritize skin safety. Wearing appropriate clothing and reapplying sunscreen as needed is a few ways to keep your sun protected. For more ways on how you can protect yourself, visit our website.
  • Avoid Tobacco. Tobacco usage and frequent inhalation causes cancer. Lung cancer accounts for more than any other cancer death in the United States each year. The benefits of quitting smoking can begin within 12 hours. Learn more about how you can quit smoking here.
  • Routine Visits to the Doctor. The majority of health issues that impact the older population are typically discovered during routine visits to their primary care physician. Simple issues for a relatively healthy 30 year-old could be a precursor for a major issue with an older adult.

Not only can changing the habits above help prevent cancer for those 50-and-older (and any age, for that matter), but they can also lead to an overall healthy lifestyle. And remember, it’s never too late to make a change.

The 55-Plus Treatment Plan

Treating Patients with Cancer at Age 50Beyond age, genetics and habits, there is still one big factor that impacts cancer diagnoses, care and treatment: An individual’s unique health status.

Each person is unique. In the world of cancer, each cancer is unique. The type of genetic makeup an individual has and the type of cancer they develop will be a determining factor in their treatment and care.

Americans over the age of 50 who- have other health conditions that can be more serious than their underlying cancer, may affect their treatment plan.

For example, if there is a 75 year-old patient in excellent health, he/she will almost always be treated as aggressively as their younger counterparts. However, if a patient is 60 but has more medical problems, such as heart attacks, stroke and kidney dialysis, among others, it can interfere with an aggressive treatment plan which will impact the standard of care.

Whenever a traditional form of cancer therapy is utilized – such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery – on older patients, there’s more of a risk that it will put stress on the patients’ immune systems and make them more prone to infections.

While standard treatment may need a different approach for those over the age of 50, one promising and effective option is often overlooked by many adult patients: clinical research.

Clinical Research

There are several misconceptions pertaining to clinical trials. Some believe that they are receiving a lesser treatment regimen or that they are inherently less effective than traditional methods.

In reality, patients who enroll in a clinical trial receive either the best known treatment or a new and potentially more effective cancer therapy.

Through research, groundbreaking treatments are being developed more rapidly than ever before, many of which can greatly benefit the 50-plus population. The advantages for older patients to participate in clinical trials typically outweigh the cons as they are well tolerated with minimal side effects.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical research studies each year and has played a role in developing more than 60 FDA-approved cancer therapies. In 2017, Comprehensive participated in four research studies that received FDA approval. This robust research program has enabled Comprehensive to be one of only a few research sites in the country to participate in certain trials. For more information about our research program, visit our website.

If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with cancer and would like to schedule an appointment, call 702-952-3350.

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Pinpointing Tumors by Using NETSPOT

More than 180,000 patients live with advanced stage neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). NETs develop in the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas and are unique because of their slow growing nature. Patients with NET’s live for many years, but require numerous treatments that don’t always respond well to chemotherapy and radiation. Nearly 22,000 Americans are diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors each year. This number is rising with the enhancement of screening and imaging technology.

Physicians and researchers are always looking for ways to identify harmful tumors early and new technology to treat them. Among the latest in imaging technology that is shaping the way cancer is treated is NETSPOT.

The Food and Drug Administration approved NETSPOT in June 2016 and it was first utilized at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in August 2017.

What exactly is NETSPOT?

NETSPOT is a radioactive probe that helps track down and pinpoint NETs. This happens via the positron emission of a gallium 68 dotatate injection, an active agent for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

Tumors that are pinpointed may be cancerous and develop in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system. The cells are most commonly found in the intestines, stomach, lungs and pancreas, though they may be found in other areas of the body.

How It Works

The NETs have somatostatin receptors. Somatostatin is a hormone used for regulating the endocrine system, produced in the pancreas and the brain, among other locales. NETs are covered with somatostatin receptors, overproducing them compared to the rest of the body.

When the gallium 68 dotatate is injected in the body, it mimics somatostatin and travels to the tumors which are covered in somatostatin receptors. From there, the dotatate can tell us the number of tumors, the size and where they might have metastasized.

Gallium 68 is produced by germanium 68 / gallium 68 generators, which are approximately about the size of a large trashcan. As the FDA approved NETSPOT, select sites throughout the country were approved to have germanium 68/gallium 68 generators on-site, including Cardinal Health Pharmacy in Las Vegas.

Once the generator produces the gallium 68, it has a 68-minute half-life. This means that everyone involved –the pharmacy attaching the dotatate molecule, the PET department and the patient – must be incredibly efficient and implement the gallium 68 essentially within minutes of the ordered time.

The only tool used for identifying such tumors prior to NETSPOT was an octreotide scan, which is similar but uses a gamma camera for imaging instead of a PET. NETSPOT provides a much clearer image and, compared to octreotide scans, is cheaper for most patients.

Benefits of NETSPOT

There are no serious side effects related to NETSPOT because the body creates a certain level of somatostatin already. With the gallium 68 mimicking a low dosage of somatostatin, the risks are minimal to zero.

Studies have shown that the NETSPOT imaging ultimately resulted in refined and improved treatment regimens.

Currently, treatment is used to slow the growth of NETs and decrease the secretory properties of such diseases. Radiopharmaceuticals, such as NETSPOT, have shown impressive impact on survival in various studies. The challenge has been improving the screening and imaging process, which pinpoints the presence of disease beyond the original tumor. With NETSPOT, the imaging has led to increased clarity in terms of the specific tumors being treated, resulting in a change of treatment in 35 to 71 percent of cases.

There has never been a more accurate mode for pinpointing NETs until NETSPOT.

At Comprehensive and throughout Nevada, the patient-base for neuroendocrine tumors is requesting NETSPOT more and more. A new radioisotope therapy drug called lutetium Lu 177 dotatate, commercially knowns as LUTATHERA®, has just been approved by the FDA. Patients with NET’s are excited to have another weapon in their cancer-fighting arsenal that equates to precision and peace of mind.

For more information about NETSPOT, call 702-952-3350.

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