Groundbreaking Penn Cancer Therapy Gets FDA Approval

In what the FDA is a calling a “historic action,” the federal administration on Wednesday approved the country’s first gene therapy treatment that can be used to fight cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and CHOP have been developing the therapy, called CAR T, for years. It’s been deemed the next frontier of cancer treatment because it uses patients’ own genetically immune cells to attack the disease. Standard immunotherapies have involved injections of synthetic substances intended to create various cancer-attacking reactions in the immune system.  Read more »

Why People Who Do Everything Right Still Get Cancer, According to New Study

Yesterday, my friend and I were texting back and forth about how Grey’s Anatomy is our personal version of comfort food. I turn to the show whenever I am feeling down/bored/restless — literally whenever I am feeling anything aside from occupied.

I mention this because on that show, the heroes (those would be the surgeons, of course) manage to survive plane crashes and lion-in-the-city encounters and gunmen loose in the hospital, but one thing they are constantly stumped by — much like us, here in the real world — is cancer. And the question of, Why did this person get cancer? And now, a new study out of Johns Hopkins, published in the journal Science, places the spotlight on why even those who drink all the green juice in the world and get well over 10,000 steps a day in and wouldn’t touch a cigarette with a 10-foot pole can still be struck with news of the C-word.

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What Sex Toys Have to Do With Breast Cancer Recovery (Yes, Sex Toys

Let’s face it: For many of us, sex toys are an embarrassing topic of conversation — even six margaritas deep with our BFFs. But somewhat unexpectedly, when it comes to breast cancer — the most commonly diagnosed cancer among America women besides skin cancer — sex toys are something we should be talking about when we talk about recovery. To wit: Bala Cynwyd-based nonprofit Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Shop-to-Support store boasts a full line of CalExotics sex toys designed specifically for women who are going through or have been through breast cancer treatment.

But we get it: putting two and two together — as in why, exactly, a breast cancer nonprofit is promoting sex toys — can be a bit difficult to grasp. That’s precisely why I, being the ever-nosy human I am, talked to Doylestown-based psychologist Dr. Pamela Ginsberg, who specializes in women’s health and working with women who have cancer, and who also works with LBBC, to answer the question: WTF do sex toys have to do with breast cancer recovery? Turns out, a vibrator (or a silicone dilator kit, or a breast massager) can play a pretty big role.

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Bucks Couple Vindicated by Report on Dangerous Medical Device

Amy, Hooman and their kids. Photograph by Jennifer Capozzola.

Amy Reed, Hooman Noorchashm, and their children. Photograph by Jennifer Capozzola.

It’s been more than three years since Amy Reed went into a hospital in Boston for a simple operation to remove her uterine fibroid. But there was nothing simple about what happened to her next: Her surgeon used a medical device that spread an undiagnosed cancer throughout Reed’s body. The Bucks County mother of six — a physician married to a physician — has been battling ever since to discredit the FDA process used to approve that medical device, known as a laparoscopic power morcellator. On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that agreed: The FDA system failed. Read more »

The Checkup: This Is the Exact Time When Fitness Studios Are Most Crowded

• Hate filing into an overcrowded fitness class and being forced to rub (very sweaty) shoulders with complete strangers? (Understandable.) Well, ClassPass rounded up tons of their data and figured out the most popular times to work out, based on region. In the northeast, that time is 6:30 p.m. In other words, if you hate super-crowded fitness classes, you should probably rearrange your schedule. [Women’s Health]

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Report: New Jersey, Pennsylvania Aren’t Doing Enough to Prevent Cancer

Photo: iStock/Robert Herhold

Photo: iStock/Robert Herhold

A new study from the American Cancer Society found that New Jersey is the only state in the country that spends zero dollars on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

The report, which was released today, focuses on cancer prevention, tobacco control, access to healthcare and patient quality of life. It suggests that both New Jersey and Pennsylvania aren’t putting enough resources toward combatting cancer. Read more »

The Checkup: Why You Should Stop Drinking Your Coffee Piping Hot, Stat

• Good news, coffee addicts of the world: Yesterday, the World Health Organization officially took coffee off of its list of possible carcinogens, which it’s been on since 1991, and said that drinking coffee could actually protect against a number of cancers. That said, researchers did note that, surprisingly, drinking coffee—or any beverage, for that matter—when it’s super hot could contribute to esophageal cancer, so make sure to let your java cool before you sip! [New York Times] Read more »

CHOP Doc Gets $1 Million to Further Pediatric Cancer Research

The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania at UPENN.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia | Photo by Jeff Fusco

It’s the end of the workweek and we could all use a good, stress-relieving happy cry, couldn’t we? Well, here we go: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Dr. Richard Aplenc, who has been working with pediatric blood cancer at CHOP since 2000, was just awarded a $1 million grant by Hyundai Hope on Wheels to further pediatric cancer research and hopefully take a step toward transforming the way acute myeloid leukemia, which currently has a cure rate of between 50 and 60 percent, is treated. As he says, “We are very, very excited. This gives us resources to do something we wouldn’t be able to do before.”

If you are tearing up right now (because money to help sick kids!), feel no shame: I might’ve teared up as I was talking to Dr. Aplenc, which is significantly more embarrassing. Read more »

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