Connections - February 2014

Thu, 02/27/2014
Roswellness Connections
A Message from the President
Dr. Donald Trump

Gold-Medal Recognition for a Deserving Physician and Field Leader

Dr. Michael Kuettel, the Chair of the RPCI Department of Radiation Medicine, has been recognized by the American College of Radiation Oncology as “one of the nation’s leading radiation oncologists.” Dr. Kuettel will receive the 2014 ACRO gold medal at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., today.

This recognition acknowledges Dr. Kuettel’s work in highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary cancer care and how it fits into the mission-driven care we’re committed to at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Kuettel, the Barbara C. and George H. Hyde Chair in Radiation Medicine, has been in practice since 1985, and joined RPCI as Chair of Radiation Medicine and Professor of Oncology in 1999. Dr. Kuettel also serves as Chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Radiation Medicine.

The field of radiation oncology has undergone changes that amount to a revolution during these very years, with rapid advances in technology underscoring the need for outstanding staff development and constant commitment to quality control. One of the key developments in radiation medicine — and all of oncology — over the last quarter-century has been the adoption of national guidelines: documented best practices compiled and refined by the most accomplished practitioners in the field in order to inform care providers and protect patients. Dr. Kuettel has been one of the national leaders of these practice-changing conversations, and continues to serve on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network panel that develops the Prostate Cancer Practice Guidelines.

Radiation medicine is one of several pillars of our multidisciplinary care model, which means we bring the entire care team to the table to consult openly and without bias about a patient’s diagnosis and care plan. We could not deliver the care we do without strength across all areas.

Dr. Kuettel has overseen the evolution of our radiation services into a true Center of Excellence. Our Radiation Medicine Department is the most technologically advanced and comprehensively equipped radiation facility in Upstate New York, supported by a world-class team of faculty and staff who are dedicated solely to treating cancer. He and his team continue to be national and international leaders in research into new and better ways of incorporating radiation therapy into cancer treatments. That commitment to evidence-based medicine means radiation oncologists — not only at RPCI, but at cancer centers everywhere —have a stronger basis on which to establish their care recommendations when presenting patients with treatment options.

Colleagues describe Dr. Kuettel as someone who openly shares his knowledge and expertise with others. As technologies have evolved and innovation keeps leading to new treatment approaches — for example, image-guided radiation, brachytherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery — medical providers and insurers have turned to Roswell Park for guidance on these things, and Dr. Kuettel has time and again been a go-to resource for our community.  

Patient-centered focus, evidence-based care, clinical guidelines, the multidisciplinary approach and effective use of technology — all these important goals come together in the work of a talented physician like Dr. Kuettel.

I’m proud to recognize Dr. Kuettel’s accomplishments — proud most of all because I see these accolades translate to outstanding care and ever-improving treatment options for our patients.

– Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP
President & CEO


Institute News

Researchers Awarded $500,000 to Pursue Diverse Array of Innovative Projects

The latest round of competitive grants awarded to Roswell Park researchers includes an award to Ravindra K. Pandey, PhD, to develop a new way to deliver chemotherapy to pancreatic tumors. Other projects awarded funds will investigate a novel vaccine approach for targeting kidney tumor cells; explore strategies for targeting two proteins associated with prostate cancer; and look at the role of dietary antioxidant levels in predicting prostate cancer aggressiveness.

Experts Present Findings on E-Cigarettes, Effectiveness of Tobacco Marketing

Two Department of Health Behavior researchers shared the findings of recent research at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, led research into the nicotine content of electronic cigarettes and the “thirdhand” nicotine exposure the devices may cause. Maansi Bansal-Travers, PhD, learned through mobile eye tracking that convenience-store shoppers focus their gaze on “power walls” of tobacco marketing.

RPCI Research Helps Explain Role of 2 Key Genes in Cancer Metastasis

Writing in the prestigious journal Cancer Research, a team led by Irwin H. Gelman, PhD, reports that aggressive prostate cancers in humans typically turn off or delete two major regulatory genes. “This current research is important in that it addresses specific mechanisms of cancer metastasis,” Dr. Gelman notes, “with the result that genetic tests and therapies derived from such studies will have a higher chance of affecting cancer patient survival.” 


Guest Message

In Support of Expanding Paid Medical Family Leave
By Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

At some point in our lives, almost everyone will have to make a choice between their career and their family. It could be a newborn baby, a sick family member or a dying parent. But every one of us will have that moment, wanting to do everything in your power to care for your family, but also keep your job. Choosing between your loved ones and your career and your future is a choice no one should have to make, but it happens every day. 

In Albany, I met Sheila Woodcock whose son Mark was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia at the age of 13.  At the time, she had three part time jobs.  While her employers were aware of her personal situation, they refused to allow her to leave work to take her child to cancer treatment.  They informed her that any time taken off would be without compensation. Her child passed away after a seven-month fight. She told me this story, hoping to give a voice to parents in this same situation. Can you even imagine having to choose between paying their bills and caring for their dying child?
On Long Island, my good friend Geri Barish told me about her son Michael’s 12-year battle with cancer. Michael died in 1986 at the age of 25. During this treatment, she and her husband had to take turns taking off of work to care for him. Neither received paid leave nor could they afford to quit their jobs. Later in life, Geri was diagnosed, treated and survived three incidents of breast cancer. Her husband had to take time off to care for her during each of these periods. When families face these tough periods, paid leave would have made all the difference getting through them.

The current Family and Medical Leave Act provides unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health events. But only about half of the workforce qualifies for this unpaid leave, and many more can’t afford to take unpaid time off. In fact, only 12 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40 percent of workers have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.  

But Congress can and should do more to support them and strengthen our economy by expanding Paid Family Medical Leave. Under the FAMILY Act – Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act – we would create a self-funded, paid family medical leave insurance program, without adding one dime to the deficit. Not one.

This is an earned benefit that would make paid leave available to every worker in America – no matter how big a company you work for, whether you’re part-time, or self-employed – for about the cost of a cup of coffee a week.
So let’s tell the rest of Congress: support this commonsense legislation that addresses the single most important reason that people cannot take the time they need when serious family and medical needs arise- the financial impossibility of taking unpaid time away from their jobs.

Donor Dollars at Work

Are E-Cigarettes Safe(r)?

Is an e-cigarette really safe, or just safer, than a traditional cigarette? That’s what one Roswell Park Cancer Institute researcher wants to find out.

The electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, is a battery-powered device that contains a nicotine-based liquid, often flavored, which is vaporized and inhaled. Many are designed to simulate a cigarette or cigar in their use and appearance. Since the e-cigarette is not regulated, it can be smoked anywhere, including public places. Some studies have shown that the e-cigarette produces fewer toxins than a tobacco cigarette.

But Maciej Goniewicz, PharmD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park isn’t sold. Thanks to generous donations, Dr. Goniewicz, an expert in both clinical and community-based research, and his team are investigating how effective electronic cigarettes actually are in reducing exposure to dangerous toxins.

He’s currently developing a research study to compare levels of nicotine, cancer causing chemicals, and various toxicants in traditional smokers, e-cigarette users, people who use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes and non-smokers. Dr. Goniewicz and his team will collect data from study participants that will provide important information about the use of nicotine-containing products. The study’s results may help inform e-cigarette users about safety of the devices.

Dr. Goniewicz is currently recruiting 180 participants for the study, and suggests anyone interested call 716-845-4916 and ask for the ECTE study. Participants will be compensated for their time. 

To learn more about Dr. Goniewicz, view his bio here.


The Cancer Experts

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

Dr. Helen Cappuccino to Medscape: “We are in the business of caring for patients, not populations. Mammography can help to detect earlier, smaller breast cancers, which are hopefully more readily treatable for cure.”

Dr. Peter Frederick to MedPage Today: “Patients who are at risk for getting diagnosed (with cervical cancer) at an advanced stage are patients who do not undergo regular screening with Pap tests and have some other risk factors. Patients who are at risk for recurrent disease are those patients who are diagnosed at a more advanced stage initially.”

Dr. Mary Reid to MedPage Today: “2014 is going to be a big year for lung cancer, and I think there’s a variety of reasons. The biggest one from my perspective is that lung cancer screening will actually begin to be implemented in people outside research settings.”


Sponsor Spotlight

Univera Healthcare

Univera Healthcare is all about great coverage, outstanding value and a personal touch. They believe in the health of Western New York.

Univera is also a company that strongly values diversity and is committed to building an inclusive culture that recognizes and values each person. They have a corporate diversity philosophy based on embracing every human being's uniqueness. 

This commitment ties directly into their new support of Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Univera is a long-time supporter of RPCI, having sponsored All Star Night for more than 10 years. They will now expand their generosity to the Institute’s program Esperanza y Vida (Hope and Life).

“We are proud to support Roswell Park’s Esperanza y Vida program to educate and provide health screenings for Hispanic women in our community,” said Art Wingerter, president, Univera Healthcare.

Esperanza y Vida, run through RPCI’s Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research (OCHDR), provides awareness of cancer and health screening among Western New York’s Hispanic population. The program specifically promotes issues around breast cancer, cervical cancer and diabetes. Through this program, and their support of RPCI, Univera will help provide more people in our community the opportunity to live cancer-free lives.

Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that is part of a family of companies financing and delivering health services for more than 1.8 million upstate New Yorkers. Based in Buffalo, the health plan serves more than 145,000 members across the eight counties that comprise Western New York.


Events and Promotions

Join Bald for Bucks!

Looking for a low-maintenance hair cut? How about Goin' Bald? Goin' Bald for Bucks is a fun and easy way to help raise critically needed funds for research and patient care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Participants raise funds to shave or cut their hair, in a sign of solidarity for patients going through cancer. Sign up today and learn more at

The Ride For Roswell is Open

Register today for The Ride For Roswell 2014 to get the route you want before it sells out!

Your participation in The Ride For Roswell helps Roswell Park’s ability to find cancer cures and save lives. Register to ride or volunteer today.

“Cups for Roswell” Coupon Books

The Dunkin' Donuts "Cups for Roswell" coupon books are now available in three-month packs. These booklets come with 93 coupons for free coffee, iced coffee or tea – fifteen of which can be used at the RPCI Dunkin location in the main lobby.

The three-month supply of coupons is $45 and can only be purchased in the Gift Shop at Roswell Park. One year packs are still available in the Gift Shop and online here.

Embrace the Difference collection

Shop the Embrace the Difference collection at Reeds/Jenss to support Roswell Park. The collection includes notecards, paintings, jewelry and accessories.

Browse the collection here.


RPCI in the News
See more RPCI headlines at
You Should Know

What you Need to Know About E-cigarettes

The increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes is raising many questions and concerns about their safety. As experts continue to study their impact on health, you should know these facts:

  • E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into a vapor, which is then inhaled by the user, a process called “vaping” rather than “smoking.”
  • Most of the nicotine gets into the bloodstream through the soft tissues of the cheeks, rather than the lungs, making a slower trip to the brain.
  • Secondhand nicotine exposure is on average 10 times less than from tobacco smoke, according to research conducted at RPCI
  • E-cigarettes expose users to other chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.

“E-cigarettes likely pose less hazard to the individual smoker than tobacco cigarettes and might help smokers quit smoking or reduce harm by smoking fewer tobacco cigarettes,” says RPCI tobacco researcher Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Oncology, Department of Health Behavior.

“On the other hand, we still don’t know their long-term impact, such as promoting and renormalizing cigarette smoking behaviors. Many scientists and public health advocates believe there is urgent need for product regulation. This regulation requires scientific-based evidence and subsequent weighing of individual benefit vs. population risk.”


Legislative Update

The Need for Sensible Tobacco-Control Policies

It was 50 years ago when the United States Surgeon General released the first report on Smoking and Health.  As groundbreaking and controversial as that report was in 1964, the issue of tobacco control today is no less provocative.  The development of public policies to curb tobacco use and second hand exposure continue to be debated. 

New York State recently enacted laws that restrict tobacco usage at playgrounds, subway platforms and on hospital grounds.  There are, currently pending in the New York State Legislature, initiatives to ban flavored cigarettes and to make it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor passenger. 

Eliminating exposure to second hand smoke is a high priority and policies are being implemented to limit smoking in outdoor venues such as stadiums and in building doorways as well as inside multi-dwelling housing facilities.

Another pending New York State bill would ban pharmacies from selling tobacco products.  The recent decision by CVS-Caremark to voluntarily stop selling tobacco products will no doubt give renewed life to this proposal which has failed to make it to the floor of either house for a vote in the last few years.  

On the federal level, Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut is pushing the FDA to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace.  Additionally he led the charge and introduced a Senate Resolution along with Senators Durbin and Harkin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report. 

The resolution noted, “That tremendous progress has been made to drastically reduce tobacco use in the last fifty years.”  In fact, the prevalence of smoking among American adults decreased from 42 percent in 1965 to 18 percent in 2012.  However, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable and premature disease and death in the United States.

The enactment and implementation of sensible tobacco-control policies is essential and continued funding for policy development and grassroots cessation activities is critical if we hope to eliminate one of the leading causes of cancer and other diseases.