Tomorrow: Virtual Grands Rounds Covers Hormones and Cancer

stika.cfmTomorrow, June 27th, we are excited to be hosting Catherine Stika, MD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, for our Virtual Grand Rounds (VGR) at 10 AM CDT, entitled, “Hormonal impact of cancer treatment and management of hormonal symptoms in female cancer survivors.” Dr. Stika will discuss hormonal changes with follicle depletion, menopausal symptoms and their physiological changes, hormonal replacement options, and symptom relief for breast cancer patients. Dr. Stika will also present options for complimentary and alternative medical options to treat hormonal symptoms in cancer survivors. Click HERE to watch Dr. Stika present her Virtual Grand Rounds, tomorrow at 10 AM CDT.

Our LIVE Virtual Grand Rounds provide researchers, clinicians, and others the opportunity to hear emerging research findings in cancer and fertility from anywhere across the globe and participate through a live video chat. Virtual and in-person attendees to the rounds can receive free continuing medical education (CME) credits by following the instructions HERE.  Participants can also receive free CME’s by watching a recorded version of the Virtual Grand Rounds which can be found on our website HERE. To read more about receiving education credits from the Oncofertility Consortium, read about the Oncofertility Online program. In addition, we would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you may have on topics relevant to cancer and fertility for future Virtual Grand Rounds. Visit our Virtual Grand Rounds webpage to submit your ideas.

Get Empowered, A New Video Series for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Cancer survivorship starts at the time of disease diagnosis and continues throughout the rest of the patient’s life. Many survivors experience physical, emotional and day-to-day challenges after cancer treatment is done making survivorship a life-long journey. As a result, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center launched a new educational video series entitled, Get Empowered: Life, Living, and Follow-Up Care After Childhood Cancer, aimed at supporting childhood cancer survivors with life after treatment. Get Empowered features videos with seven childhood cancer survivors and five healthcare professionals discussing issues that survivors face once their treatment ends. Topics in the videos are comprehensive and cover subjects such as compromised fertility as a result of cancer treatment.

The five educational videos available for viewing are as follows:

Introduction to Childhood Cancer and it’s Impact on Adult Survivors, with Aarati Didwania, MD, 
Medical Director and *STAR Program Coordinator, Karen Kinahan, RN, APN, 
Clinical Nurse Specialist and STAR Program Coordinator, and Lynne Wagner, PhD, 
Clinical Health Psychologist.

Transitioning to Adult Health Care with Karen Kinahan, RN, APN, 
Clinical Nurse Specialist and STAR Program Coordinator

Cardiac Risk Factors, Prevention, and Late Effects with Vera Rigolin, MD, 

Fertility with Kristin Smith, Oncofertility Patient Navigator

Finding a “New Normal” and the Emotional Side of Survivorship with Lynne Wagner, PhD, 
Clinical Health Psychologist

The goal of the video series is to:

  • Enhance awareness of long term follow-up care recommended for adult survivors of childhood cancer
  • Learn from other survivors’ experiences with long term follow-up care
  • Help survivors anticipate and manage common medical and psychosocial issues that may arise after treatment
  • Share resources available to help survivors take an active role in their long term follow-up care plan
  • Empower current childhood cancer patients and long term survivors to embrace life as a survivor and take control of their medical and psychosocial care

Once cancer treatment ends, a new chapter in life begins. Knowing how to plan for and get the best possible post-treatment follow-up care can significantly impact your quality of life. For more information

 about the Get Empowered video series or the 
STAR Program, please contact
 Karen Kinahan at 312.695.4979.

*The STAR Program (Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility) is a comprehensive long-term follow-up program for adult survivors of pediatric cancer. The STAR Program follows survivors through adulthood focusing on their special medical and psychological needs.

Preventing Eggs’ Death from Chemotherapy

Scientists discover cause of immature eggs’ death from cancer drug and how to prevent it

MEDIA CONTACT: Marla Paul at (312) 503-8928 or

CHICAGO — Young women who have cancer treatment often lose their fertility because chemotherapy and radiation can damage or kill their immature ovarian eggs, called oocytes. Now, Northwestern Medicine® scientists have found the molecular pathway that can prevent the death of immature ovarian eggs due to chemotherapy, potentially preserving fertility and endocrine function.

Scientists achieved this in female mice by adding a currently approved chemotherapy drug, imatinib mesylate, to another chemotherapy drug cisplatin.

The results will be presented Monday, June 17, at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

“This research advances the efforts to find a medical treatment to protect the fertility and hormone health of girls and young women during cancer treatment, “ said So-Youn Kim, the lead investigator and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Adding imatinib mesylate to the drug cisplatin blocks the action of a protein that triggers a cascade of events resulting in death of the immature eggs. Kim discovered the protein that triggers the oocyte’s ultimate death is Tap63.

Previous research suggested that imatinib is a fertility-protecting drug against cisplatin, but reports of the drug’s effectiveness have been contradictory, Kim said. Her research confirms its effectiveness in an animal model.

She is currently testing imatinib with other chemotherapy agents to see if it also protects fertility in combination with them.

To demonstrate that imatinib protects oocytes against cisplatin, Kim and colleagues cultured ovaries (containing the immature eggs) from five-day-old mice with imatinib and cisplatin for 96 hours. The ovaries were then placed in a kidney capsule in the host mice to keep the ovaries alive. Two weeks later, the immature eggs were still alive. The imatinib did not block cisplatin-induced DNA damage, but Kim believes the eggs may recover and repair the damage over time.

“Previous reports have shown that chemotherapy and radiation-treated oocytes are able to recover from DNA damage,” Kim said.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, grant U54 HD076188.


New Study Aims to Better Understand the Cause of “Chemo Brain”

Below is a guest post by Anthony J. Ryals, PhD, discussing a new study underway at Northwestern University looking at the effect chemotherapy and hormone depletion have on memory and cognition in cancer survivors. 

By Anthony J. Ryals, PhD

Prior research has indicated that up to 90% of chemotherapy recipients also receiving hormone depletion therapy (such as Tamoxifen) report disruptions in cognition including memory, attention, and planning. This type of disruption, sometimes termed “chemo fog” or “chemo brain”, has recently gained recognition as a problem by many clinicians, yet there is a clear lack of understanding regarding how or why it occurs. Our research study, Examining the Effects of Chemotherapy and Hormone Depletion on Memory and Cognition, is aimed at understanding how chemotherapy and hormone depletion affect memory and cognition in breast cancer survivors.

The purpose of this study is to help find out what specifically happens to the brain that leads to these disruptions. By learning more about how chemotherapy and hormone depletion therapy affect cognition, we hope that our research can be used to improve quality of life outcomes for cancer survivors as well as to help clinicians and caregivers better understand the condition.

This research will utilize a method known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record the activity of the brain. MRI is very safe. It is a completely non-invasive procedure, which means that no needles, chemicals, or radiation are used in the procedure. Participants will be asked to perform basic tasks, which may require them to respond to visual stimuli presented on a computer screen.

Eligibility criteria for participation:

  • You cannot currently be pregnant
  • You must be right handed
  • You must be between 18 and 45 years of age
  • You must have received chemotherapy treatment with (or without) hormone depletion therapy in the last 6-12 months
  • You cannot have certain implants or devices that are metallic in your body. MRI machines use a strong magnetic field, and metallic objects may be hazardous and/or interfere with the procedure.

This study will take approximately two hours, and it will take place at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. You will receive $60.00 for your participation and be reimbursed for travel expenses. If interested, please email Alyssa at or call the Northwestern University lab for human neuroscience at 312-503-5613.

TOMORROW: Virtual Grand Rounds Talks Sexuality After Cancer

murthy.cfmTomorrow, June 13th, we are excited to be hosting Kamaljeet Murthy, MD, Instructor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, for our Virtual Grand Rounds (VGR) at 10 AM CDT, entitled, “Sexual Side Effects from the Treatment of Gynecologic Cancer.” Treatment for certain cancers can affect sexuality, causing a range of signs and symptoms that may have an impact on your sex life. The many physical and emotional changes that follow a cancer diagnosis can also affect sex and intimacy.  Knowing more about different cancers and their impact on sexuality, may provide solutions if problems develop. Click HERE to watch Dr. Murthy present her Virtual Grand Rounds, tomorrow at 10 AM CDT.

Our LIVE Virtual Grand Rounds provide researchers, clinicians, and others the opportunity to hear emerging research findings in cancer and fertility from anywhere across the globe and participate through a live video chat. Virtual and in-person attendees to the rounds can receive free continuing medical education (CME) credits by following the instructions HERE.  Participants can also receive free CME’s by watching a recorded version of the Virtual Grand Rounds which can be found on our website HERE. To read more about receiving education credits from the Oncofertility Consortium, read about the Oncofertility Online program. In addition, we would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you may have on topics relevant to cancer and fertility for future Virtual Grand Rounds. Visit our Virtual Grand Rounds webpage to submit your ideas.

California Bill AB 912, Mandated Fertility Preservation, Moves On to the Senate

On Wednesday, May 29th, the California Assembly passed Bill AB 912. On July 10th, it will be addressed by the California Senate Health Committee. For those of you who are unfamiliar with California Bill AB 912, it is a bill that would require a health care service plan and a health insurer to provide, on a group and individual basis, coverage for medically necessary expenses for standard fertility preservation services when a necessary medical treatment may directly or indirectly cause iatrogenic infertility. The bill was first introduced in February of this year, and has made its way through the Assembly and will now move on to the Senate. We encourage you to support CA Bill AB 912 by contacting your Senate Health and Appropriations Committees and telling them to vote YES for CA Bill AB 912 this July. For more information about CA Bill AB 912, please read our  post about it HERE.

Registration is Now OPEN for the 2013 Oncofertility Conference, September 9 & 10

GlobeWe have exciting news to share – registration for the 7th annual Oncofertility Conference: Cancer and Fertility Around the Globe is now open! Please visit the conference webpage to view the agenda, speaker biographies,  submit an abstract for the poster session, and to REGISTER.  This year’s highlights will include; small group courses on oncofertility lab and clinical tools, insights from the International Society for Fertility Preservation, mitigating fertility loss in cancer patients, and a new fertility preservation decision tool for young patients.

The first day of the conference centers around a series of presentations from leaders in the field of oncofertility, including breakout sessions over lunch and an evening cocktail reception/poster exhibit. Our keynote speakers this year include Samuel Kim, MD, from the International Society for Fertility Preservation, and Nao Suzuki, PhD, from the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kanagawa, Japan. Throughout the day and evening, invited speakers from across the globe will present cutting-edge information to attendees that is not to be missed.

The second day of the conference, the Oncofertility Consortium will be hosting a set of popular courses for basic scientists and healthcare professionals to help improve their research and clinical skills. The first course offered, Clinic 101: Building a Fertility Preservation and National Physicians Cooperative (NPC) Program, is a one-day, small-group training course to give health care providers the tools necessary to develop their own fertility preservation program or strengthen their existing program. The training includes the following:

  • Overview of the Key Pieces in a Fertility Preservation Program
  • The Ins and Outs of Setting Up a Local Oncofertility Community
  • Timing, Turnaround, and Practical Considerations
  • Discussing Fertility Preservation with Patients
  • Pediatric Fertility Preservation
  • Engaging the nursing community
  • The Oncologist’s Perspective

The second course offered, Oncofertility 101: Training in Follicle Techniques, provides one-day, small-group training courses to provide researchers with the tools to study follicle growth in vitro. The training includes the following:

  • Laboratory Exercise Part I: Follicle Isolation & Manipulation
  • Laboratory Exercise Part II: Follicle Encapsulation in Alginate
  • The Evolution of Biomaterials in Follicle Culture
  • The Ins and Outs of Setting Up a Follicle Culture Laboratory
  • Laboratory Exercise Part III: Follicle Imaging & Quality Analysis

These courses run concurrently so participants may only register for one. They fill up quickly so be sure to register at your earliest convenience.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to meet and network with renowned Oncofertility specialists from across the globe! CNE credit will be available for healthcare professionals, and for those that cannot attend in person, there will be a LIVE broadcast of the first day of the conference (9th). REGISTER TODAY. We look forward to seeing you in September!

**This activity is being submitted to the Oncology Nursing Society for approval to award contact hours. ONS is accredited as an approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s COA.**


The Annual National Women’s Survivors Convention – August 22-24, 2013!

logoThere are nearly 7 million women survivors in the United States, 54.7% of all cancer survivors. These facts highlight the need to move survivorship education into the forefront of the conversation about cancer and thus, the Women Survivors Alliance (WSA) was born – created by women survivors, for women survivors. The WSA is an all-volunteer Nashville-based, non-profit organization founded in 2011, providing survivorship support to women who have moved beyond treatment. The WSA helps women transition into survivorship by helping them restore a sense of control, and by providing the tools necessary to take care of the whole person so that they can achieve true survivorship with a fulfilling, promising, and cancer-free life.

The WSA has undertaken a national call to action to relieve the burdens of survivorship issues on women, their families, and by extension, society as a whole. The alliance was created to establish a network where women affected by cancer can find their voice, improve their quality of life, embrace their new normal, and help others. Survivorship, and the recognition of the many challenges survivors face following treatment, is becoming an important issue in the world of cancer.

As many of our readers know, survivorship touches all aspects of a person’s life – from physical, financial, career and insurance related issues to emotional, self-esteem/self worth concerns, and family dynamics. To address these issues, the WSA hosts the annual National Women’s Survivors Convention (NWSC). The only national women survivors’ celebration of its kind, the NWSC works in partnership with cancer organizations from all over the country to bring the best information and programs available to women survivors and their co-survivors. Women from across the country and around the world will come together to celebrate their survivorship by connecting, convening, sharing, learning, and thriving.

This year, the NWSC will be held in Nashville, TN, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, Thursday, August 22, through Sunday, August 24.  It is a three-day, one-of-a kind experience for women survivors of all types of cancer, offering a high energy, entertaining, and content-rich experience. This event is comprised of interactive educational workshops, spa makeovers, the latest in clinical research for women’s cancer treatments, and inspirational cancer survivor keynotes. Our very own, Dr. Teresa Woodruff, will be leading an empowerment session at the Convention entitled, “High Risk Cancer,” that is not to be missed!

The cost to attend this fun and informative event is $139. That includes the main stage presentations, panels, Empowerment Sessions, the Red Carpet Live! Pajama Party, the Survivor Chef Challenge, and “Heeling” for Survivors Fashion Show. The Saturday night Salute to Survivors All Star Concert being held at the Grand Ole Opry is an additional $36. For more information and to REGISTER for the NWSC, please click HERE.

Join Us for the 20th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration & Walk on June 2nd!

2012 (19th Annual) Cancer Survivors' Celebration & WalkCancer survivors, their families and friends, and the Northwestern community that supports them
, will come together on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 2nd, to walk and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center’s signature event, the Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration & Walk. The event brings people affected by cancer together in Grant Park to honor cancer survivors and celebrate the strides being made in treatment and research. Come out and join us for this memorable event in Chicago celebrating survivors with a picnic, kids’ corner, t-shirts, music, entertainment, the Dedication Wall, and more.

The Walk is about three miles, but registrants can walk any distance they’d like and return to Grant Park whenever they choose to. In fact, you don’t even have to walk, you can just come out and enjoy the picnic, entertainment, and help celebrate! In commemoration of its 20th year, the Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration & Walk has added an optional timed 5K Run along the lake to mark the occasion. The 5K Run is limited to 500 participants, so make sure you get over to registration and secure your spot! Use discount code NURUN and save $15 when you register for the 5K before May 29th!

Donations are not required to take part in this community awareness event honoring cancer survivors; however, contributions to support research and education at the Lurie Cancer Center are optional, and can be made here. Registration is $15 per person in advance and $25 on the day of the Walk, beginning at 7 a.m. There is no charge for children under 2 years old. Registration for the 5K Run is $50 per person, which includes the Walk Fee (see 5K Run page for details).

We hope you’ll join us in Grant Park on June 2nd as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the nation’s largest National Cancer Survivors Day celebration with more than 3,500 survivors, families, and friends. See you there!

Celebrating National Women’s Health Week

This week is National Women’s Health Week. In honor of this important health awareness week, the Women’s Health Research Institute recently hosted the third annual Celebrating National Women’s Health Week event at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. Activities included keynote speaker, Holly Herrington, MS, RD, LDN, from the Center for Lifestyle Medicine, a poster session featuring current research in women’s health, and exhibitors from in and around Chicago promoting women’s health through advocacy, research, and/or education. Approximately 400 people attended this event, making this year the most successful turnout yet!

Anxious to take part in this fantastic event bringing awareness to gender specific health issues and organizations, we signed up to participate alongside two dozen other groups promoting women’s health. Exhibiting next to us was a local organization called SHINE, which provides infertility group support in Chicago for men and women experiencing fertility struggles. Together, we proved to be a popular stop for health care professionals, specifically nurses, eager to bring fertility preservation information back to their patients. Recognizing fertility as a critical component of patient care, they expressed their gratitude for the Consortium’s efforts to educate clinicians about the value of discussing reproductive health outcomes with newly diagnosed pediatric, adolescent, and young adult cancer patients, and their parents when appropriate.

While perusing the exhibit tables, attendees were also exposed to a poster session displaying the latest in women’s health research. Woodruff Lab members presented their research to captivated audiences eager to learn more about the future of women’s reproductive health. Another Woodruff Enterprise making its mark at the poster session was the Women’s Health Science Program (WHSP), providing science education programs to females from underserved communities. WHSP targets young women who are considering careers in science and medicine and prepares them with valuable knowledge and skills to successfully become the next generation of women science leaders.

At noon, keynote speaker, Holly Herrington, RD, LDN, a Registered Dietitian in the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, took the stage to discuss how women should be eating to maintain optimal health at every age. Holly’s presentation centered on helping attendees understand how nutritional needs for women evolve across their lifespan, and how they change based on different health and disease states. She provided information on nutrients, vitamins, and the evidence behind dietary recommendations, which can protect against or contribute to the development of chronic health issues, such as obesity, osteoporosis, and other diseases. The takeaway message from her presentation was to eat a healthy diet mainly comprised of superfoods in an effort to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, improve mood and keep your weight in check. Sounds like good medicine to us!

To read more about Celebrating Women’s Health Week, please visit the Women’s Health Research Institute website.

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