CureTalks@UCSFCancer Research Interviews

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CureTalks invites a diverse group of doctors, nutritionists, professors, researchers, patients, parents and health professionals from around the world to discuss a wide range of medical, health and wellness issues. 

Latest Episode:

Beyond CAR-T: Re-engineering Cells into Life-saving Therapies

December 2022. Our cells have the innate ability to protect us. The idea of using cells as medicine emerged with bone marrow transplants, and then CAR-T therapy for blood cancers. Now, scientists are beginning to engineer much more complex living therapeutics by tapping into the capabilities of living cells to treat a growing list of diseases. Dr. Lawrence Fong, Efim Guzik Distinguished Professor in Cancer Biology and Cancer Immunotherapy Program lead at UCSF discusses treatments and disease area focus, advantages of harnessing the power of cellular therapy, challenges faced, new initiatives and global awareness of these programs.

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Previous Podcasts:

Enhancing Diversity in Cancer Clinical Trials

October 2022. For decades, there has been an alarming lack of diversity in cancer clinical trials. Why does this happen, what can we do about it and how can we increase minority representation in these potentially life-saving trials are some of the questions we are trying to answer in this discussion. Dr. Hala Borno from UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center discusses her innovative approaches to tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion in cancer clinical trials. Joining Dr. Borno is patient advocate Tiffany Williams to bring in the patient perspective.

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Impact of Climate Change on Cancer Burden

August 2022. The impact of climate change on human health has come to focus in recent years, however very little is known about the effect of climate change on chronic diseases like cancer. We are discussing climate change, the exposures it generates relevant to cancer, the challenges faced to measure this impact and the potential disruption to health systems that are essential for cancer control, with eminent epidemiologist Dr. Robert Hiatt from UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and joining us on the patient panel is melanoma advocate, author, and teacher David Stanley.

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Understanding Head and Neck Cancers

May 2022. The global incidence of head and neck cancers have increased considerably over the past decade. Men have been found to be more at risk compared to women. The major risk factors include tobacco and alcohol consumption, however, HPV – the human papilloma virus has emerged as a novel risk factor for these cancers. Join Dr. Patrick Ha, Chief of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at UCSF, and patient advocate and head and neck cancer warrior Sean Breininger to get an in-depth understanding of head and neck cancers, the current standard of care, and differences in prognosis & treatment of HPV positive and HPV negative patients

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Cancer Therapies and Your Heart

March 2022. Cancer therapies have increased the survival of cancer patients, however certain cancer treatments can damage the heart and the cardiovascular system. Hear from UCSF Dr. Javid Moslehi on nuances of what cardio-oncology care and management of patients whose cardiovascular health has been affected by cancer entails. Joining us on the panel to bring in the patient perspective are Heidi Floyd and Dr. John Antonucci.

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Early Age Onset Colorectal Cancer – Trends and Challenges

February 2022.Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence in the United States is declining rapidly overall but, curiously, is increasing among young adults. In fact, 11% and 18% of colon and rectal cancer diagnoses, respectively, occur in those under 50. CureTalks discusses the rising incidence of colorectal cancer occurring in adults younger than age 50, risk factors, symptoms, treatments with Dr. Michael Potter and Dr. Ma Somsouk from UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and patient advocates Curt Pesmen and Danielle Ripley-Burgess.

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Understanding the approach to integrative oncology

January 2022. Integrative oncology is a patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. Integrative oncology aims to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before, during, and beyond cancer treatment. Join internationally renowned integrative oncologists Dr. Donald Abrams and Dr. Kavita Mishra to understand the approach used as well as when and how best to include integrative oncology into one’s cancer care.

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Lung Cancer Mutations and Treatment Advances

October, 2021.  Lung cancer, the most common cancer type with the highest mortality, can largely be categorized by the genetic mutations that cause it. By targeting the specific genetic mutation behind a patient’s cancer, targeted therapies have enabled increasing numbers of patients to experience fewer toxic side effects and, often, live free of disease following their treatment. KRAS mutations, which are found in about one-quarter of solid tumors are the leading cause of lung cancer driving the growth of about 25,000 new lung cancers each year. However, in spite of being discovered four decades ago, they were deemed ‘undruggable’, until earlier this year when FDA approved the first targeted therapy for lung cancer caused due to the KRAS mutation. Dr. Kevan Shokat and Dr. Trever Bivona on lung cancer mutations, new treatments, trials and more. Lung cancer patient advocates Terri Conneran and Lisa Goldman joins the panel to bring in the patient perspectives.

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Redefining Cancer Palliative Care

June, 2020. Palliative care is the active holistic care of people across all ages living with a life-limiting illness to live as well as possible, for as long as possible — supporting their physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. It also aims to improve the lives of the patient’s families and their caregivers. Palliative care initially and historically focused on alleviating the relief of suffering at the end of life. However, it is now considered best practice and is increasingly implemented earlier in the trajectory of life-threatening health conditions.. Existing research suggests that palliative care is both effective in reducing symptom burden and improving quality of life, cost-effective and is synonymous with quality of care. We are talking to director of the Symptom Management Service at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate director of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center Dr. Mike Rabow about the evolution of cancer palliative care, misconceptions, symptoms management and the multidisciplinary approach that it entails today.

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New Findings in Gastrointestinal Cancers

April, 2020. Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide amounting to 4.5 million global deaths per year. According to the American Cancer Society statistics, GI cancers collectively have the highest incidence and account for 20% of estimated new cancer cases. GI cancers include esophageal, gastric, hepatocellular, pancreatic, small bowel, bile duct, anal, colorectal and gallbladder cancers. GI cancer expert Dr. Alan Venook discusses novel agents and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers and how new trial findings might affect treatment of these cancers in the future. 

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Managing your Mental Health During COVID-19

May 2020. As the new practice of social distancing or reducing close physical proximity with others contributing to another deadly epidemic, that of social isolation and loneliness? As the world grapples with COVID-19, the population worldwide is escalating into negative psychological reactions like stress, adjustment disorder and depression. Feeling under pressure is quite normal in the current situation. We understand that managing mental health and psychological well-being during this time is as important as managing physical health. We are talking to Dr. Dianne Shumay on psychosocial support for cancer patients, caregivers, family members and how you can protect yourself and be supportive of others too.

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Latest in Brain Tumor Treatments and Trials

March 2020. Brain tumors can be among the most challenging cancers to treat. The blood-brain barrier, a natural defense mechanism that shields the brain from harm can also prevent cancer treatments from reaching tumors. However, immunotherapy, precision medicine, and the other new approaches to treatments have been able to get through these barriers and effectively reach tumors. Listen for a discussion in the latest in brain tumor research and treatment with neuro-oncologist Dr. Nancy Bush from UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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New Developments in Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment

October 2019 Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (although men can get it too). Some breast cancers are driven by inherited mutations while most are sporadic, driven by unknown causes or by environmental or behavioral factors like obesity, lack of exercise, or alcohol use. Breast cancer screening aims to reduce the number of women who die from the disease and the statistics tell us that even though the rates of breast cancer now are greater than they were in the early 1980s, fewer women are dying from the disease. However, the scientific evidence backing screening's benefits is mixed. Listen to a discussion with Dr. Esserman of UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center about developments in breast cancer screening and new treatments.

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Will Precision Medicine work for me? Advances and Challenges in Cancer Research

August 2019. Precision medicine is an emerging approach in cancer treatment and prevention. Its central principle revolves around the ability to identify personal gene characteristics and match them to specific treatment options. The advances and challenges of precision medicine in cancer care were discussed with Dr. Luke Gilbert and Dr. Eric Collisson of UCSFs Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and patient advocates Heidi Floyd and Adam Hayden.

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Conquering Cancer from Within: Immunotherapy, the New Hope

April 2019. Dr. Larry Fong, leader of the HDFCCC Cancer Immunotherapy Program, was featured in April 2019 on the CureTalks podcast for a live discussion of the latest in cancer immunotherapy research, clinical trials, and treatments.

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. Several types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer. These treatments either re-engineer the immune cells or empower them to launch an attack on the cancer directly. Immunotherapy has led to remarkable results for some cancers, eradicating difficult-to-treat tumors and, in some cases, causing complete remission of disease.  

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