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IN THE NEWS . . .
(October 10, 2014) David I Lee, MD, associate professor of Urology, discusses prostate health with Inside Golfat the Jay Sigel Invitational benefit for prostate cancer research at the Abramson Cancer Center. "Going to your physician, getting it checked out, and getting informed about it is key," said Lee. 
Philadelphia Inquirer(October 5, 2014) A clinical trial underway at Penn Medicine is investigating the use of vitamin D in combination with chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. This first in-human trial stems from a recent preclinical study published in the journal Cell, co-authored by Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, chair of Surgery, and Peter O’Dwyer, MD, professor of Medicine, which found that the combo increased the lifespan of animals by 50 percent compared to chemotherapy alone.
(October 3, 2014) The Delaware County Daily Times covered lung cancer patient, Francie Howat’s recent trip to Los Angeles to appear on an episode of the CBS medical talk show, “The Doctors.” Francie, a Delaware County resident, underwent surgery at Penn in July on a clinical trial led by Sunil Singhal, MD, assistant professor of surgery and director of Penn Medicine’s Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory whereby infrared imaging is used to make tumors glow for better visibility during surgery.
Philadelphia Inquirer(September 21, 2014) A Philadelphia Inquirer article looks at the shortage of kidneys and livers available for thousands of people on transplant waiting lists in the region. "I have a hundred patients I'd love to transplant today, but we don't have the organs," said Abraham Shaked, MD, PhD, director of the Penn Transplant Institute.
CBS Philly(September 17, 2014) A new technique developed by Penn Medicine and Vet researchers is helping surgeons spot invisible lung cancer cells during surgery by making tumors glow green, reports CBS3. Lung cancer is often surgically removed, but about 30 percent of the time cells are missed. Using a contrast dye indocyanine green and near-infrared imaging, surgeons can see the entire tumor, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.  “It’s going to change the field.  It’s a paradigm shift for surgeons to be able to see things that we never did before.  It’s exciting,” said Sunil Singhal, MD, assistant professor of Thoracic Surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The August 2014 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine discusses five celebrities who have had cosmetic surgery and the emergence of stars opening up about their procedures. Louis Bucky, MD, chief of Plastic Surgery, and Jesse Taylor, MD, associate professor of Plastic Surgery, comment on medical uses and potential long-term effects of everything from liposuction and butt implants to rhinoplasty and breast enhancement.
philly.com logoThe Philadelphia Inquirerannounced that Ronald M. Fairman, MD, chief of the division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, has been elected vice president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, an international medical society. He also is the Clyde F. Barker-William Maul Measey professor of surgery.
CBS Philly(September 2, 2014) Carla Fisher, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery, spoke with CBS3 about a new JAMA study that found more women are opting for double mastectomies. “There’s a definite fear of recurrence, fear of death from breast cancer. Patients feel undergoing bilateral mastectomy may decrease those chances,” Fisher said, although the study also showed that the procedure offered no benefit over less invasive treatments. “Surgery is one important component of breast cancer; there are lots of other therapies that are just as good,  if not better,” Fisher said.
An Annals of Surgery study found using saltier saline, and less of it, reduced complications by 25 percent in pancreatic cancer treatment cases. Jeffrey Drebin, MD, chair of Surgery, who was not involved in the research, suspects the key element is lower fluid volume rather than change in saltiness. "I think lower volume is important," Drebin said. "We and others have shown that you can use less volume without making it saltier." (link)
(July 15, 2014) A front page article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer reports on two new prostate cancer studies in JAMA Internal Medicine finding that many low-risk patients receive more treatment than is needed or helpful - racking up millions of dollars in excess costs and, potentially, causing more physical harm than good. One example is hormone therapy, or ADT, as the main treatment in patients in which cancer cells have not spread. "It really is not a benign treatment," said Alan J. Wein, MD, Founders Professor and chief of Urology, who was not involved in the studies. "Androgen-deprivation therapy is palliative, not curative." For patients with advanced disease, it can be very effective in relieving symptoms and shrinking the cancer. "But ADT also has been associated with thinning of the bones, weight gain, decreased muscle tone, the appearance of diabetes, and perhaps deep venous thrombosis," Wein said.
Philadelphia Inquirer(July 13, 2014) A war on pancreas cancer is underway right here at the Abramson Cancer Center. A story in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer featured the work of Jeffrey Drebin, MD, chair of Surgery and the John Rhea Barton Professor of Surgery, and Robert Vonderheide, MD,  the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research in the ACC. Drebin and Vonderheide—both co-leads on Stand up to Cancer Dream Teams—are investigating new targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and more, to better the understand and treat the disease, which is projected to become this country's second-leading cancer killer. "We absolutely need to figure it out," said Vonderheide. "It's a medical emergency." Ongoing studies at the ACC have shed light on tumor biology and shown success with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.  "We're not declaring victory,” Drebin told the Inquirer. “We're declaring progress.”
(July 7, 2014) A feature article from Executive Insight discusses the importance of communication among OR teams, and how new technologies are affecting communication. "Effective team communication and real-time access to patient data are important functions in operating rooms," said Jim Mullen, MD, associate executive director in the department of Surgery. "Adding new technology to our existing resources that will keep everyone on the same page is an invaluable asset."
USA Today logo(March 31, 2014) Obesity surgery is an effective treatment for uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and helps people who aren't morbidly obese, according to a new three-year study presented at the 2014 American College of Cardiology meeting.  The trial, known by the acronym STAMPEDE, also showed the two types of surgery -- gastric bypass or gastric sleeve -- had fairly similar benefits, which was somewhat unexpected because gastric bypass has been around longer and was believed to be better. Noel Williams, MD, director, Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program, told USA Today he's seeing the same thing in his patients. Mariell Jessup, MD, professor of Medicine and president of the AHA, told Bloomberg Businessweek that she has seen the benefits of surgery even in her sickest patients with heart failure, saying “it’s unbelievable how quickly they improve.” The weight-loss procedure has other advantages, including making people feel better, allowing them to exercise more and helping manage their blood pressure and fluid volume, she said.
(March 15, 2014) Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, assistant professor in Plastic Surgery, is featured on a SciFi channel show, "Futurescape" with James Woods, discussing the role of sirtuin proteins in the aging process. Percec is using adipose tissue to search the human genome to find out where sirtuins are interacting with other genes. She’s finding huge differences between the cells of the young and the old. “In young cells, the red, there is sirtuin 7 binding in areas where there are not many genes. And in this same area, this protein is depleted in older patients. So it's lost in those regions, and this is true across all of the chromosomes that we've looked at,” said Percec.
FOX 29 News logo(February 25, 2014) Brian J. Czerniecki, MD, PhD, professor in Surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, along with two patients, were featured in a FOX29 story about his ongoing, breast cancer vaccine trials for women with DCIS, a noninvasive cancer found inside the milk duct of the breasts that may lead to more aggressive cancers. The personalized vaccines are made from a patient's own white blood cells to fight the cancer. In the first two trials, the results were dramatic. "We can actually see tumors dying…You can actually see in about 22 percent of patients there's actually no disease that we can even see, as a result of vaccination," said Czerniecki.
Philadelphia Inquirer logo(February 24, 2014) Not so long ago, repairing a life-threatening bulge in the aorta - the body's largest blood vessel - meant a huge operation. Surgeons would cut open the patient's torso, spread the breastbone, then replace the weakened wall of the aorta with a polyester tube. After a week in the hospital, the patient would need a month or two of convalescence at home. No more. For the majority of patients with aortic aneurysms, the fix is a minimally invasive procedure and one night in the hospital, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The FDA approved the first stent graft in 1999. Now, a mere 15 years later, the benefits of endovascular repair are well-established. And patients prefer it. "Humans don't want to have a big incision," said Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, who does complex aortic operations and endovascular treatments. "They will accept a bit less effectiveness for less invasiveness."
FOX 29 News logo(January 30, 2014) Fox29 reports on Penn patient Lauren Naccarelli, 28, who yesterday underwent surgery to surrender a perfectly healthy kidney to someone she doesn't know and may never meet. Peter Abt, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant Surgery and Lauren's surgeon, says only about a hundred people a year donate to a stranger, an act known as "altruistic donation." "This is a very rare circumstance. These are very special individuals. They're unbelievably giving and caring and thoughtful," Abt said, adding that some 90,000 Americans will wait up to five years on average, for a new, functioning kidney. Lauren, like most folks, can live a perfectly normal life with her one remaining kidney.
(January 29, 2014) As part of Prevention magazine's feature on how to improve sleep, Ariana Smith, MD, assistant professor of Urology, offers advice on how to minimize trips to the bathroom. "Patients often tell me, 'When I was a college student, I could drink fluids up until I went to sleep, and now all of a sudden it's a problem,'" said Smith. This may be because vasopressin, a hormone that suppresses urine production, declines as we age. Suggestions include using the toilet before going to bed, avoiding beverages within 2 to 3 hours of bedtime, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics. If these tips don't help prevent more than one bathroom trip nightly, seeing a doctor is recommended.
Main Line Times logo(January 27, 2014) There’s a cutting-edge new treatment for patients with aortic stenosis, Main Line Today magazine reports. It’s called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and it’s less invasive than conventional surgical procedures. TAVR’s integral component is a heart valve made of cow tissue, which is attached to a stainless-steel mesh frame that’s wrapped in polyester and inserted via catheter. As one of the first centers in the U.S. to use the device, doctors in the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center have done close to 700 procedures in seven years, making Penn’s the largest program in the area. Joseph Bavaria, MD, professor of Surgery and vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and Howard Herrmann, MD, professor of Medicine and Director, Interventional Cardiology Program, are both featured experts in the article.
(January 8, 2014) The "Grinch" effect may be curbing survival rates in some heart transplant patients who receive hearts that are too small for their bodies, a new study suggests. Scientists said it may be due to the way donors and recipients are matched up -- by weight -- and they propose that that height and sex should play a bigger role in the selection process.  In an interview with HealthDay regarding the new study, Michael Acker, MD, chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and director of the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center, said he and colleagues look at dozens of factors when seeking a donor for a particular patient. These include age, height, weight and sex of the donor; how well the donor heart is functioning; the donor's mode of death and if there was trauma to the heart or evidence of infection. "You have to do a risk-benefit analysis every time you accept or decline a donor," Acker said.
Philadelphia Inquirer(January 8, 2014) In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Philadelphia Police Department has issued 5,000 tourniquets to officers to help them assist penetrating trauma victims in the field, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Each district sent officers to the department's training session, a four-hour, hands-on clinic. Police officers are already saying they have been able to save lives with them. "With all the data out of the Middle East, it's clear that tourniquets are a great way to stop bleeding in an austere environment, which can also include an isolated urban block," said Daniel Holena, MD, assistant professor of Surgery, Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery. "The bottom line is that this is a great application in Philly, where penetrating trauma is common," he said. "I've already seen here that tourniquets have saved lives, and I support the department's decision 100 percent."
(December 17, 2013) Ivona Percec, MD, assistant professor in Plastic Surgery, speaks with Fox29 about opportunities to rejuvenate the appearance of aging hands.
(December 11, 2013) WWTV in Northern Michigan reports that for some patients suffering from type-1 diabetes, their only alternative to taking several injections of insulin every day or wearing a pump is a pancreas transplant. Now, a new technique is giving these patients their lives back without the need for insulin. Ali Naji, MD, PhD, surgical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, says purified and rested donor islet cells are injected into the patient's liver, where they settle and begin producing insulin. "Then, they start to sense the blood glucose level of the recipient and they just precisely produce the right amount of insulin needed," he explains. The report follows Penn patient Rick Cataldi who has been off of insulin injections for more than two years. Under the new technique the donor islet cells are rested for three days prior to transplant to optimize their function and the chances for a successful transplant.
(November 26, 2013) The New York Times “Be Well” blog answers a reader’s question about whether waking to urinate three times a night is normal for a 67- year-old woman. The response mentions a recent review of studies suggesting a link between nocturia and depression, though it is unknown whether there is a causal relationship between the two. “Treating one may improve the other,” said Ariana L. Smith, MD, assistant professor of Urology. Typically during sleep, our bodies produce a hormone called vasopressin that slows urine production. Some people produce low amounts of this hormone, increasing nocturnal urine. If you’re awakened by a tiny amount of urine, prescription drugs can “allow you to store more urine before you feel the need to go,” said Smith.
(November 18, 2013) In a new study presented at the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, there was no difference in left ventricular reverse modeling or survival at 12 months between patients who underwent mitral valve repair or mitral valve replacement. Replacement, however, was associated with more durable correction of mitral regurgitation, researchers reported at AHA 2013. Michael Acker, MD, chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and director, Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center, said "Our findings contradict much of the published literature on this topic, which reports several advantages to mitral valve repair over replacement, including lower operative mortality, improved left ventricular function, and higher rates of long-term survival," in a Medscape article. The findings have also been published online in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the AHA late-breaking clinical-trials session. Cardiology Today and Cardiovascular Business also covered the new research.
The Philadelphia Inquier logo(November 10, 2013) The Philadelphia Inquirer asks "What can we see in a face?" Those are the sorts of questions that occupied a multidisciplinary group of experts - surgeons, psychologists, ethicists, lawyers, even an English professor - last weekend during what was thought to be the first U.S. academic meeting on appearance and identity. The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Human Appearance, which studies how the way we look affects everything else, hosted the two-day event. Linton Whitaker, MD, director of the Center for Human Appearance and professor of Plastic Surgery, David Sarwer, PhD, professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Surgery, and Jesse Taylor, MD, assistant professor in Plastic Surgery, are quoted.
cbcnews logo(November 6, 2013) Lung transplant recipients, doctors and nurses are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the world's first successful lung transplant in Toronto. In 1983, Tom Hall was the 45th patient in the world to receive a single lung at what was then Toronto General Hospital. Hall lived more than six years — the first to survive for more than days or weeks after receiving the organ. "I said, Tom, there have been about 44 attempts thus far and no one has survived. Are you sure you want to go ahead with it?" said Joel Cooper, MD, professor of Surgery, who performed this first successful lung transplant surgery and is known as a pioneer in the field. "He said, 'I am grateful to be number 45.' That is exactly what he said. He was an upbeat person," Cooper said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The Daily Pennsylvanian logo(October 29, 2013) This weekend, doctors from all over the country will gather at Penn to discuss appearance and its effect on identity at a symposium that is the first of its kind. On Nov. 2 and 3, the Center for Human Appearance will be hosting the Appearance and Identity Conference, an interdisciplinary conference featuring lectures and panels from doctors across the country to discuss issues relating to how appearances shape human identity. The symposium this weekend is unique as, ”[this] is the first in the country that focuses on the idea of appearance and its effect on our identity and everything we do,” said Linton Whitaker, MD, founder and director of the Center for Human Appearance. This conference is a chance to “cross-pollinate ideas for how we can work together to highlight human appearance as it relates to identity,” said Jesse Taylor, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and co-chair of the event.

(October 28, 2013) Tests May Someday Show Which Breast Cancers Will Turn Aggressive Marina Guvakova, PhD, director of the Surgical Oncology Research Laboratory in the division of Endocrine & Oncologic Surgery, was quoted in a U.S. News & World Report article (via HealthDay News ) about an abstract she presented at the International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research showing that the presence of a protein called Vav2 in breast tissue might indicate whether a precancerous condition called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, will develop into invasive breast cancer. (link)

(October 28, 2013) For the first time, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have shown the predictive power of a group of overlooked lymph nodes--known as the posterior intercostal lymph nodes--that could serve as a better tool to stage and ultimately treat patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The findings were presented October 28 at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer. Physicians look to lymph nodes to stage essentially all cancers, including mesothelioma. The presence or absence of metastatic cancer cells in lymph nodes affects prognosis and also typically dictates the optimal treatment strategy. But posterior intercostal lymph nodes, which are located between the ribs near the spine, have not been previously used to stage or guide treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma or any other cancer. In a retrospective study of 48 Penn Medicine patients undergoing radical pleurectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma, Joseph S. Friedberg, MD, Chief of the Section of Thoracic Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Co-Director of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program, and colleagues found that over half the patients had cancer metastatic to these lymph nodes and that, in some of these patients, those were the only lymph nodes containing metastatic cancer.
Philadephia Inquirer logo(October 27, 2013) For some, having 3-D areolas and nipples tattooed to her reconstructed breasts goes much deeper. It's part of a quest to put bilateral mastectomy, chemo, and radiation firmly in the rear-view mirror. The Philadelphia Inquirer follows one local woman as she has her reconstructed breasts tattooed by Mandy Sauler. Many call on Sauler's skills, including plastic surgeons and dermatologists from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Her services include 3-D nipples, areola enhancement, and eyebrow replacements to fill in spots made sparse by chemotherapy treatments. "Mandy is that wonderful combination of a health care professional and artist, whose skill makes a profound difference in the lives of our breast cancer patients," says  Joseph M. Serletti, MD, FACS, chief of Plastic Surgery and head of HUP's breast reconstruction team. "For many patients, it is the nipple reconstruction and Mandy's skill that makes an important difference in how they view and accept their reconstruction."
Philadelphia Inqirer logo(October 27, 2013) An article from the Philadelphia Inquirer reporters on the increasing opportunity for kidney transplants between spouses. Ali Naji, MD, Surgical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, says that "the love and affection between the spouses adds tremendous positive gratification." "A lot of spouses see it as not just doing something for the other person, but as doing something for the relationship," says Penn social worker Carolyn Cristofalo, MSW, LCSW. "People want to move on with their lives together." While blood relatives may often be the most compatible match, advances in immunosuppression drugs have dramatically increased success rates for transplants between unrelated persons. "It's harder to say no to a spouse who's trying to donate," says Donna Collins, RN, MSN, transplant coordinator. "If they get turned down, it can be devastating to them." The article profiles three pairs of spousal donors/recipients from Penn's transplant program.
(October 1, 2013) In the first of a series of articles in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,  the Delaware County Daily Times reports on the ever-changing landscape of breast cancer research and treatment. “It’s a whole new world,” said Ari D. Brooks, MD, director of the Division of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery and director of the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital who is featured throughout the article. “It used to be, ‘You have breast cancer.’ And, that was it.” Referring to the American Cancer Society statistics, Brooks said the number of deaths from breast cancer peaked in the early 1990s, when the rate was 36 deaths per 100,000 diagnoses. In 2010, that  number decreased to 22 per 100,000. “It’s gone down by a third,” said Brooks, adding that survivors are living longer after diagnosis and treatment. “Over 80 percent of our breast cancer patients are going to be surviving for the long term, 10, 12 years at least,” Brooks said. “If you think of baseball, if your team hits the ball 82 percent of the time, your team would always be going to the World Series.” Brooks goes on to explain the benefits of Penn’s multi-disciplinary approach to patient care.
CBS 3 logo(October 1, 2013) CBS3 reports on a new procedure performed by Suhail Kanchwala, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in Plastic Surgery - a vascularized lymph node transfer, a new approach to treating lymphedema in the US. The complex, microvascular surgery entails relocating healthy lymph nodes to a region where lymph nodes were removed due to previous cancer surgery. "When you remove lymph nodes, fluid backs up in the extremities," Kanchwala said. Lymphedema can increase the risk of infection, as well. One of the first 18 patients to have the procedure, a neonatologist whose career was threatened by the swelling of her hands impacting her ability to care for tiny infants, told CBS3 that "I'm amazed by the pioneers that constantly are bringing new therapies forward. This has given me optimism for the future."
(September 28, 2013) An article in The Lancet highlights the outstanding clinical care and research work by C. William Schwab, MD, chief, Trauma Network, director, Firearm Injury Center at Penn and Physician-in-Chief, PennSTAR. “He's perhaps best known as one of the chief architects of the damage control approach to treating life-threatening injuries that first came to prominence in the 1990s, and which has now become a mainstay of trauma care around the world,” the Lancet writes. “But he's equally respected for his long and steadfast campaign to reduce the toll of gun-related violence in the USA. And he traces everything back to those years in the 1970s with the US Navy.” “Being with surgeons that had become so expert at trauma surgery and the types of wounds and care that very few civilian surgeons knew anything about, it was a unique and wonderful experience, and I think that more than anything it stimulated my interest and my life's work,” Schwab says.
The Wall Street Journal logo(September 30, 2013) A Wall Street Journal article highlights ongoing research at Penn Medicine looking at a new way to use ventricular assist devices (VADs) for heart failure patients. An LVAD takes over most of the heart’s main pumping function and was designed initially to enable patients to survive until a donor heart became available for transplant. But doctors have discovered to their surprise that the heart can get better on the pump. When they remove it later to perform a transplant, the heart is sometimes dramatically improved. “An LVAD is like putting the heart on the disabled list,” says Y. Joseph Woo, MD, associate professor of Surgery and director, Cardiac Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program. As with sidelined athletes, taking the heart out of the game to ease its workload appears to enable it to recover. Now doctors at Penn and other sites are mounting a multicenter clinical trial to see if using the device as a “bridge to recovery” might eventually become a viable new option for some of the thousands of patients with advanced heart failure. Based on a small number of patients who have already tried the approach, the heart can get “almost back but not quite back to normal,” says J. Eduardo Rame, MD, assistant professor of Medicine and medical director, Ventricular Assist Device Program. The article also profiles two Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular patients.
Philadelphia Inquirer logo(August 11, 2013) Although John Furdyna and Gerard Rozycki haven’t talked since graduating high school in 1979, Furdyna recently found out through Facebook that Rozycki needed a kidney. While their blood types are incompatible, they joined a kidney chain, in which Furdyna donated a kidney to a patient in Wisconsin and a local patient donated a life saving kidney to Rozycki at HUP in return, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The article cites a paper showing that 30 percent of patients with a living donor are unable to accept that donor’s kidneys. “It’s not just about spending less time on dialysis or on the wait list, but about improving survival,” said Peter Abt, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant Surgery, who performed one of the surgeries. Paige Porrett, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant Surgery, performed Rozycki’s surgery. Porrett estimates Penn has been involved in 20 kidney chains and expects more people to sign up to be altruistic donors.
Time Magazine coverThe cover story (April 1, 2013) of TIME magazine explores the emerging team science approach that's necessary to advance in the complex field of cancer research. The article focuses on Stand Up to Cancer, the partnership between the entertainment industry and cancer scientists that has put millions of dollars behind a group of multi-institution "dream teams" tasked with working together on some of the toughest issues in cancer. Jeffrey Drebin, MD, PhD, the John Rhea Barton Professor and Chairman of the department of Surgery, is featured in the article for his role as a leader of the pancreatic cancer dream team, which is focused on better understanding the metabolic changes that characterize pancreatic cells. The article describes a tumor tissue study in which pieces of pancreatic cancer removed from patients undergoing surgery at Penn is divided into small pieces and sent to researchers from several other institutions on the team, each of whom study different aspects of the cells. Their individual findings have combined to produce a new combination drug strategy that has, in just two years, been tested in more than 800 advanced pancreatic cancer patients, with results showing that the new combo therapy stabilized the disease in 48 percent of patients.
Philadelphia Inquirer logo(Febraury 21, 2013) Using robots to perform mitral-repair surgery is becoming a popular option in the world of cardiovascular surgery. Y. Joseph Woo, MD, associate professor of Surgery, is cited in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.
6ABC(February 5, 2013) 6ABC reports that Penn Medicine plastic surgeons have an effective new procedure to treat a condition called lymphedema. Jeannette Aspden's right arm is a constant reminder of her battle with breast cancer four years ago. "When [lymph nodes are] disrupted, fluid builds up in the arm or the leg or wherever the lymph nodes were removed from," said Suhail Kanchwala, MD, assistant professor in Plastic Surgery. Kanchwala decided to bring a procedure developed in France to Philadelphia. It's a transplant, moving lymph nodes from an unaffected area of the body to the area where the lymph nodes were removed. In Jeannette's case surgeons transplanted lymph nodes from her abdomen up to her underarm. "Taking them from just underneath the skin and putting them in another area just underneath the skin," Kanchwala said. Most patients will get fewer infections and more mobility. "This is treating patients' quality of life," Kanchwala said.
Philadelphia Inquirer logo(January 21, 2013) As reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, in an era when people talk about just about anything, fecal incontinence is one of the few medical conditions that is so embarrassing, so disturbing, that people don't even tell their doctors about it. Sadly, if only sufferers were not ashamed to talk about it, they'd find out how common their problem is and learn that new help is available. PAH colorectal surgeon Joshua Bleier, MD, is featured in the article discussing his successful use of sacral nerve stimulation to treat patients with bowel incontinence. The device, which is very similar to a heart pacemaker, improves the function of pelvic floor muscles and is much less invasive and painful - and often more effective - than surgery. "I am amazed and so gratified by the fact that these people whose lives have just been hijacked and destroyed by their incontinence…they're just rescued by this," said Bleier. "It's the best feeling in the world."
CBS Philly logo(January 9, 2013) In continuing coverage, KYW Newsradio reports that Penn Medicine is among an elite group testing a revolutionary technique for preserving and even improving lungs donated for transplant. The lungs are the most delicate of transplantable organs, says Penn transplant surgeon Edward Cantu, MD, interim director, Lung Transplantation Program. When brain death occurs, lung tissue can become damaged, rendering many donated organs unsuitable for transplant. “Currently we use organs from about 15 to 20 percent of potential donors," said Cantu. "If we can increase that number to 50 to 80 percent, somewhere between two to four times as many organs will be available with the same outcome.” To achieve that, this technique uses profusion and ventilation, which first runs a special fluid though blood vessels to dry the lungs and then basically “breathes” the lungs prior to implant. Cantu says this allows the lungs to heal themselves of the damage.
Philadelphia Inquirer logoA front page article in the Sunday (January 6, 2013) edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer details a new clinical trial underway at Penn Medicine testing technology aimed at improving the pool of available lungs for transplantation. Lung transplantation remains daunting almost 30 years after the first successful operations in Toronto by transplant pioneer Joel Cooper, MD, professor of Surgery. More than any other vital organ offered for transplant, the lung is susceptible to injury that is difficult to prevent, detect, and predict. To err on the side of caution, 80 percent of organ donors' lungs are rejected as unsuitable, a waste lamented by doctors and patients alike. The new trial is testing a process that involves cleaning and refurbishing donor lungs while the organ "breathes" in a specially designed machine. Lungs that would normally be discarded can be tuned up, evaluated, and, in many cases, reused. In a recently published clinical study in Canada, 86 percent of risky lungs became acceptable for transplant. Penn transplant surgeon Edward Cantu, MD, interim director, Lung Transplantation Program, believes the advance, could save thousands of lives a year. "We could reduce the number of people who die waiting for lungs, and reduce the number who die" because their new lungs fail soon after surgery, he said.  
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