Connections - December 2014

Thu, 12/04/2014


An Update from Roswell Park Cancer Institute

New Endoscopy Center A Major Step Forward for Earlier Detection and Treatment

Good health-care organizations constantly evolve and grow in many ways — in their physical facilities, equipment and technologies, the capabilities of staff and philosophies of care. Roswell Park’s new Endoscopy Center is a great example of such growth, and how those elements can intersect to improve our patients’ outcomes while moving cancer care forward.

Candace S. Johnson, PhD Interim President & CEO and Cancer Center Director, RPCI

Endoscopy and bronchoscopy are highly specialized imaging procedures that help us to diagnose, stage and treat both cancerous and benign conditions. This beautiful and efficient new center — twice the size of the facility it replaces — was custom-designed to meet the growing demand for minimally invasive endoscopic services, which are frequently used in the care of patients with lung and gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.

“When it was initially created, endoscopy was purely a diagnostic test, so you could go inside the body with a camera and see if there was a cancer or a tumor. But there really wasn’t much you could do about it,” Dr. Andrew Bain, Co-Chief of Endoscopy, explained at a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this week. “Over the years, as endoscopy has evolved, it has turned into a therapeutic and an interventional medical practice. If you see a polyp or a tumor, you can remove it. As a result, it’s really become an important part of cancer care.”

In many cases, these minimally invasive procedures can eliminate the need for more extensive surgeries. “Rather than have a big operation with more risks, you can do a simple outpatient procedure where you pass a camera down into the GI tract (or airways) and take some biopsies, and the patient goes home the same day,” noted Dr. Bain.

This new center is staffed by fellowship-trained interventional pulmonologists and advanced GI endoscopists who treat tumors of the lung, bronchus, trachea, mediastinum, pleural cavity, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, bile duct, gallbladder and pancreas, as well as noncancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus. Several features and capabilities make it a unique asset in Western New York.

One of the key tools that set our program apart is autofluorescence bronchoscopy, or real-time digital imaging of the lungs. We have more experience than any other center in the region with advanced procedures such as endoscopic ultrasound and navigational bronchoscopy, a sort of medical GPS system that allows us to access areas of the lungs that often cannot be biopsied using other methods.

RPCI’s is the only endoscopy facility in the region with onsite pathology services, enabling immediate, mid-procedure case review and diagnosis so that any treatment or action can proceed right away, without the need to bring a patient back for an additional procedure.

And we’re the only center in the region offering PDT, or photodynamic therapy — an approach that was pioneered at Roswell Park and is an important option for many thoracic and pulmonary cancers. It’s one of a number of advanced therapeutic options that we can take advantage of as soon as a lesion or tumor is detected.

“The most advanced technologies that are available, we have it,” noted Dr. Samjot Dhillon, also Co-Chief of Endoscopy, who leads our interventional pulmonology program. “We have a vast armamentarium of things that we can use to burn or remove the tumors, like lasers, cryotherapies, brachytherapies and photodynamic therapy.”

And when cancer does progress and patients are experiencing symptoms — for example, difficulty breathing or a GI blockage — we can use endoscopic procedures to relieve and address those issues, making our patients more comfortable and, often, allowing their therapy to proceed as planned.

These various tools and approaches will enable earlier, more accurate diagnosis and staging of cancer, precancerous lesions and benign conditions. They give our clinical teams better intelligence about these tumors and conditions, pointing the way to the most effective and appropriate therapies. And in many cases they will replace more invasive procedures, leading to a better quality of life for our patients by allowing for quicker recovery times, less pain and fewer side effects.

This intersection of technology, talent and innovation is health care at its best. These are enormous steps forward, and we anticipate dramatic advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to result.

– Candace S. Johnson, PhD
President & CEO
Cancer Center Director
Wallace Family Chair in Translational Research
Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Candace Johnson, PhD, CEO and Cancer Center Director, center, with Drs. Andrew Bain, left, and Samjot Dhillon, Co-Chiefs of Endoscopy, at the Nov. 13 ribbon-cutting for RPCI's new Endoscopy Center.

Institute News

Roswell Park Acquires Breast Care of Western New York, Soniwala Hematology Oncology

Roswell Park’s acquisition of two established Western New York physician practices that are well regarded by both patients and the medical community will bring increased convenience and choice for those with cancer.

RPCI Team Uncovers Potential Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers

In two separate studies, Dr. Kevin Eng and colleagues have demonstrated that the expression of a class of tumor antigens and the presence of key receptors may help to identify those patients with ovarian cancer who are most likely to benefit from targeted therapies.

Minimally Invasive Surgery to Remove Lung a Safe, Effective Option, RPCI Study Shows

RPCI researchers led by Dr. Todd Demmy have shown that thoracoscopic pneumonectomy, or removal of the entire lung through a minimally invasive endoscopic approach, appears to extend survival and is associated with reduced pain following surgery.

Donor Dollars at Work

A Novel Study: Fighting Melanoma by Interfering with Metabolism

Metastatic melanoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer. Although surgical removal of lesions often results in a positive outcome, lifetime risk and mortality rates for metastatic melanoma have been steadily increasing for decades.

Significant progress has been made in recent years, but the disease remains resistant to many available treatments and the median survival time of metastatic melanoma patients is only 8 ½ months. The molecular mechanisms and markers of this disease remain largely unknown, and there is a need to better understand melanoma so that it can be better treated.

Thanks to donations to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Mikhail Nikiforov, a Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cell Stress Biology, has launched a new study that could lead to innovative therapies for metastatic melanoma patients.

The project, which is funded by a grant from the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, investigates an unexplored connection between metabolism and melanoma. The study will analyze the guanine monophosphate synthetase (GMPS) enzyme, which has been found to be overexpressed in patients with metastatic melanoma.

Dr. Nikiforov’s project will investigate how GMPS contributes to the spread of melanoma. The study will also determine whether a drug could inhibit the enzyme by deactivating it — and if that drug could slow the spread of the disease. The study will also assess whether metabolic enzymes can be an indicator of how far a patient’s melanoma has progressed.

This study could lead to the creation of innovative therapies for tumors that are resistant to treatment, as well as the development of a much-needed method for assessing a patient’s prognosis.

How You Can Help

Lift Our Patients' Spirits this Holiday Season

This holiday season, share a message of hope with patients at Roswell Park.

Every year, we decorate the hospital with snowflakes that contain messages of encouragement for our patients. The snowflake is a symbol of hope and comfort, and the project has become a treasured tradition.

You can share your own uplifting message with our patients by contributing to our 2014 Holiday Fund Drive. When you make a gift at, you’ll have a chance to include a personalized note to be inscribed on one of our beautiful snowflakes.

Your gift will ensure that we will have donations in place to fund the most promising research initiatives in 2015. And you’ll also be helping patients through our quality-of-life programs, which provide emotional and spiritual support.

Watch this video to see what you can share with our patients when you make a donation.


The Cancer Experts

Roswell Park faculty members regularly share their expertise with major national media outlets and oncology publications. Some recent examples:

Dr. Hongbin Chen to Targeted Oncology, on potential false-positive results from lung screening: “You need to have someone with experience to identify these abnormalities, or suspected abnormalities, then from there you can move forward with what to do, such as a biopsy. There will still be false-positives, but the point is, if we do [screening] as prescribed, then the outcomes should be better in terms of reducing the lung cancer mortality.”

Dr. Sarah Holstein to MedPage Today: “It is clear that many of these patients (with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma) could benefit from a second transplant. Unfortunately, however, there is a lack of prospective data for this .... What is urgently needed is new prospective data to really completely address this question.”

Pamela McLaughlin, BSN, RN, to Oncology Nursing Advisor: “The CAUTI (catheter-associated urinary-tract infection) bundle has allowed for improved patient outcomes … the care required for CAUTI will decrease due to the absence of infections from urinary catheters (and) prevention of infections corresponds to shorter hospital stays for our patients.”

The LoVullo Family

Cancer affects us all, and the LoVullo family is no exception. In 1990, the patriarch of the family, Leonard S. LoVullo, was diagnosed with leukemia and lost his battle shortly afterward. The LoVullos were so grateful for the care given to Leonard that they wanted to give back to Roswell Park.

Sisters Elizabeth LoVullo Bouskill and Colleen LoVullo Burns, along with their cousin Steve LoVullo, joined the Alliance Community Advisory Board 20 years ago and have since helped with many fundraisers. The family also comes together each year to host the Leonard S. LoVullo Memorial Golf Tournament, which benefits leukemia research at Roswell Park. More than 150 golfers took part in the 2014 tournament, held in May. The golf outing has raised more than $350,000 over the past 24 years.

And this past November, the LoVullo family chaired All Star Night, an annual black tie gala benefiting Roswell Park. Colleen LoVullo Burns, Leonard T. LoVullo, Elizabeth LoVullo Bouskill, Kevin LoVullo, Paul LoVullo and David Pietrowski all pitched in to help put on the event.

“Volunteering for something that you feel passionate about is like having the best, warmest, sweetest 'group hug’ you could ever imagine,” said Elizabeth. “There is a peace and a warmth that comes from helping others that is an unmatched emotional high.”

The LoVullo family generously donated their time and talent to make All Star Night a success. Thanks to the family’s dedication, the carnival-themed event raised a record amount — more than $500,000. Thank you, LoVullos, for all that you do!

The LoVullo family with Vince Papale, cancer survivor and celebrity guest, at this year’s All Star Night.

Events and Promotions

Get Your Season's Greetings Ready

Send a message to your loved ones this holiday season with a card from The Paint Box Project. Young cancer patients design all the artwork for The Paint Box Project cards, gifts and tableware. The initiative allows children the chance to escape from anxiety and raises funds for Roswell Park’s patient-care programs. This year’s holiday line features 17 new designs, with everything from Buffalo themes to winter scenes and religious items.

Grab a Cup of Joe and Help Roswell Park

Dunkin’ Donuts coupon books are back just in time for the holiday season. Available in the Roswell Park gift shop for $12.50, the Cups for Roswell coupon books contain 30 coupons for free coffee, tea or iced coffee. Coupon books are also available online at, with a minimum purchase of six books. All proceeds support patient-care programs and groundbreaking research at Roswell Park.

Come Light Up the Night Sky

Bring your family and friends to our annual Tree of Hope Lighting from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 at Roswell Park’s Kaminski Park & Gardens. The event will feature a dazzling display of nearly 75,000 animated lights orchestrated to holiday music, as well as a gingerbread house contest, carriage rides, face painting, holiday snacks and a visit with Santa. RSVP by Dec. 8 by calling 1-877-ASK-RPCI or online at

Sip and Support Roswell Park

You can impress your friends and family with high-quality wine this holiday season and help Roswell Park at the same time. When you’re shopping for wine, buy Arrowhead Spring Vineyard’s Reserve Meritage or Reserve Syrah. The Lockport winery is donating $1 from each sale back to Roswell Park. The wine is available at your local liquor store and at the winery during tasting hours. Pick some up this weekend!

Be One of Santa's Helpers

Fulfill the wishes of pediatric patients by giving them a gift this holiday season. Your gift, which will be given out at the Carly’s Club annual holiday party, will help put a smile on the face of a young cancer patient. The children’s requests have been compiled and their Wish List contains hundreds of ideas ranging from gift cards to electronics and books. Click here to browse the Wish List and for more information on how to donate.

Give A Gift That Gives Back

Buy a special stuffed animal for the little one on your gift-giving list this holiday season! The limited edition 2014 Holiday Aflac Duck, which was designed by a pediatric patient, will be on sale until the end of January. The duck is available in a large size for $15 and a small size for $10, and proceeds will benefit the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Outpatient Center, a joint partnership with the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. Click here to get your Aflac duck online, or visit Macy’s in the McKinley Mall.


RPCI In the News

Roswell Park Endoscopy Center Provides Niche ServicesBuffalo Business First
Graphic Labels are Seen as Key to Anti-Smoking CampaignThe Buffalo News
Roswell Park Opens Newly Expanded Endoscopy CenterWBFO 88.7
Teens Get Real-World Experience at Roswell Park Cancer InstituteThe Buffalo News
Robotic Surgery Simulator Draws World To Roswell ParkWGRZ-TV Channel 2
Is It Time To Get Personal About Cancer?The Buffalo News

See more RPCI headlines at

You Should Know

Colon and Rectal Cancers Increase Among Younger Americans

While colorectal cancer rates have declined in recent decades thanks to screening and prevention measures, the incidence of colorectal cancer among Americans younger than 50 reflects an alarming upward trend.

For a study published recently in JAMA Surgery, researchers analyzed National Cancer Institute data from 1975 to 2010 and found that colorectal cancer rates increased most dramatically among adults ages 20 to 34. Incidence of colon and rectal cancer among this age group is expected to increase by about 38% and 50%, respectively, by 2020. Although the reasons for the increase remain unclear, experts suggest factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity and a Western diet play a role.

Colorectal cancer remains the fourth most common cancer among men and women and the second leading cause of cancer death. Current recommendations for the general public call for screening beginning at age 50; however, people with risk factors should begin screening earlier. “The findings underline the importance of seeing your primary physician regularly to discuss any risk factors or symptoms that should be investigated,” says Roswell Park Cancer Institute surgical oncologist Steven Nurkin, MD, FACS. “This is even more important in patients under 50, for whom colorectal cancer isn’t commonly considered.” Risk factors for colon and rectal cancer include:

· Family history of colon or rectal cancer

· Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease

· Genetic conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch Syndrome

· Drinking alcohol (three or more drinks a day)

· Cigarette smoking

· Obesity

Legislative Update

Takeaways from November's Midterm Elections

On Nov. 4, citizens headed to the polls and cast their ballots. The next day pundits, observers and reporters speculated about the impact of the results. Now, after much of the dust has settled, here is what the landscape looks like.

In New York state, the three incumbent statewide officeholders were re-elected, and although there will likely be staff changes in those offices, broad philosophical changes are not expected. We will get the first glimpse of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s agenda for the year and the term during the State of the State address in early January, and in his proposed budget, or Executive Budget, which is due by Feb. 1. The debate during this budget cycle will be about how to spend surplus funds — a decidedly different issue from the governor’s first term, when the debate was about closing a deficit.

The governor will be working with a split government, as the Democrats control the Assembly, while the Republicans won the majority in the Senate.

On the national level, Republicans will now control both houses of government. Since the Senate flipped from Democratic to Republican control, all committee chairs will change, and many assignments will also change due to the relatively large number of retirements and electoral changes. In the House, substantial changes in committee leadership and membership are also expected.

Speculation continues about activities in the new Congress. While many have discussed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the president will not approve it. Therefore, a more targeted approach may be employed, and opponents of the ACA may attempt to eliminate the medical device tax, create a very high-deductible plan or change the Meaningful Use rules.

There will be no shortage of issues next year, but one thing is certain — there will be many new faces.