Dr. Mark Evers

Video: Markey hosts inaugural Precision Medicine Symposium

The UK Markey Cancer Center on Wednesday hosted its inaugural Precision Medicine Symposium, aimed at teaching oncology healthcare providers how to implement precision medicine into their clinical practice.

Precision medicine in cancer treatment focuses on understanding genetic mutations and using those mutations to select the best therapy for patients. Precision medicine is one of the recommendations highlighted by the White House Cancer Moonshot’s Blue Ribbon Panel. Presentations at Wednesday’s symposium included discussions about oncogenomic testing, Markey’s new Molecular Tumor Board, clinical trials and more.

Attending the symposium were more than 190 providers, including oncologists, hematologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, researchers, pharmacists, genetic counselors, and cancer center administrators and leaders representing more than 20 different medical centers and healthcare entities across the region.

Breakout sessions allowed providers to meet in smaller groups with presenters and ask questions about precision-medicine issues, such as payment and reimbursement for Molecular Tumor Board recommendations.

The symposium concluded with a keynote speech from Dr. Shridar Ganesan, chief of molecular oncology at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

“This event is so important because we want to bring precision medicine to all patients with cancer in Kentucky,” said Jill Kolesar, PhD, co-director of the Markey’s Molecular Tumor Board. “We’re bringing together clinicians and scientists to bring initiatives from the Markey Cancer Center to the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Watch a video below for more highlights from this exciting event.


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After experiencing a life-changing car accident, Baylee Booth underwent a miraculous recovery, allowing her to return to cheerleading.

Ky. high school cheerleader honored by UK Sports Medicine

A high school cheerleader who, in 2014, was severely injured in a car crash, has been named the UK Sports Medicine Comeback Athlete of the Year.

In June 2014, Baylee Booth, now a senior at Russell Independent High School in Greenup County, was in a car accident that changed her life. The accident left her with head trauma and multiple skull and facial fractures. She was in a coma for almost a week. The Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to a student-athlete who has overcome adversity that affected their ability to participate in Kentucky High School Athletic Association-sanctioned sports.

After the crash, Booth had to relearn how to walk, speak and feed herself. In the fall of 2014, Booth was able to return to the sport she loved – cheerleading. During the 2015-16 cheer season, Booth participated in competitions and was on the sideline cheering for her team at every game, including the girls state basketball tournament. She’s even back to stunting and tumbling practice twice a week.

“I would like to dedicate this award to people that have supported me since my TBI [traumatic brain injury]. Without my coaches, teachers, teammates, family, friends and countless medical professionals, I would not be here today,” Booth said. “They never gave up on me, and I would like to thank each and every one.”


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To increase the number of preventive colorectal screenings, the UK Markey Cancer Center will follow a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative.

Markey joins national colorectal cancer screening initiative

The UK Markey Cancer Center is joining a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative aimed at improving colorectal cancer screening rates among men and women aged 50 and older from racially, ethnically and geographically diverse communities.

The national Screen to Save (S2S) Colorectal Cancer Outreach and Screening Initiative is led by the NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined. Kentucky’s mortality rate is among the highest in the country, and more than 800 people in the state die from the disease each year.

Markey’s Mindy Rogers, a community health educator, will collaborate with state and regional organizations and community stakeholders throughout Appalachian Kentucky to conduct the initiative’s culturally tailored education and outreach.

“Colorectal cancer is a screenable cancer. The earlier we can find the disease, the better the chances of survival,” Rogers said. “The intent of this initiative is to provide additional community and regional resources to aid our efforts to improve cancer screening rates and save lives. The S2S effort complements many of our existing colorectal cancer outreach programs conducted by colleagues at Markey and its affiliates, the Kentucky Cancer Program and our local health departments.”

S2S stems from research recommendations from the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel and will be supported by the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program Region 1 North, led by Dr. Mark Dignan, the co-leader of Markey Cancer Prevention and Control.


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Empowering those in our community affected by Down syndrome

Written by Traci Brewer, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK). UK HealthCare is proud to support DSACK and many other community organizations.

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Why? Because it’s 3/21, and people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. That means they have 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46, so we like to say they have a little something extra.

A lot has changed over the years for people with Down syndrome and for those who help care for them. As recently as the 1980s, individuals with Down syndrome had an average life expectancy of 25. Today, thanks to better medical treatments and screening, people with Down syndrome can live well into their 60s.

Education has also changed dramatically. As recently as the 1980s, families were told to institutionalize their loved ones with Down syndrome because they would never be able to read, write, talk, or contribute anything of value to their family or society. Today, right here in Kentucky, people with Down syndrome are attending college, working in meaningful jobs, driving, dating, volunteering in their communities and living productive, meaningful lives.

Organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky provide support for new families and empower self-advocates and their families by providing important information such as early math and literacy learning, financial planning, Individualized Education Plans consulting, career planning, and much more. One of our most exciting initiatives is We Work!, a multiphase program for students age 15 and older that teaches job skills, leadership skills, how to explore career opportunities and how to serve as peer mentors.

Recently someone said that DSACK has a great story to tell and many more chapters to be written. We still have more milestones to reach, more bridges to cross and many more chapters to write. You can learn more about us by visiting our website at www.dsack.org and by visiting our Facebook page, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky.


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6 tips to poison-proof your home

It’s not uncommon for kids to get their hands on potentially dangerous stuff around the house. From makeup and personal care products to pesticides and art supplies, many common household items represent a threat to children, especially if they’re ingested. In fact, nine out of 10 poisonings in children occur in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and the perfect time to learn how you can poison-proof your home and prevent accidental poisonings.

Poison-proof your home

  1. Store all household products and cleaning solutions out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  2. Store poisonous items out of reach or use safety locks on cabinets within reach. These items also include liquid packets for the laundry and dishwasher.
  3. Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids. Dangerous household items include health and beauty products, plants, cleaning and gardening supplies, lead, alcohol, and carbon monoxide.
  4. Make sure that all medications, including vitamins and adult medicines, are stored out of reach and out of sight for children.
  5. Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (800-222-1222) in your home and cellphones. You should also post it near your home phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter.
  6. Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

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Dr. Kim Kaiser not only serves patients in the UK Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine clinic, she’s also the team physician fora number of sports at UK.

Listen: UK team physician discusses working with student-athletes

Each year, college athletes flip, dunk and swim their way to wins and national titles. Working behind the scenes are countless staff members keeping these student-athletes healthy and in shape before, during and after their competitions.

UK’s Dr. Kim Kaiser is one of these specialists. She not only treats patients at the UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine clinic, she’s also the team physician for UK gymnastics, cheerleading, women’s soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball and the sideline physician for women’s basketball.

In the latest episode of UK’s podcast Behind the Blue, Kaiser discusses how she works with athletes to ensure they’re in shape and feeling healthy for class and at game time. She also provides insights into how research being done at UK might help reduce and prevent the long-term effects of repeated head injury and concussion.


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A new study led by the UK Markey Cancer researchers establishes a novel link between cell polarity and cancer-associated inflammation.

UK study reveals insights into cancer-associated inflammation

A new study led by UK Markey Cancer Center researchers and published in the Journal of Cell Science establishes a novel link between cell polarity and cancer-associated inflammation.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are reactive molecules and free radicals derived from molecular oxygen. ROS molecules are part of the immune system’s “killing response” against microbial invasion. Using a 3-D co-culture model of breast cancer cells and monocytes, Markey researchers Ren Xu and Linzhang Li found that disruption of cell polarity is accompanied by increased ROS production, leading to increased inflammation in these cells. The increased ROS production controls monocyte/macrophage infiltration by inducing the NF-kB pathway in mammary epithelial cells. Loss of cell polarity and inflammation are hallmarks of breast cancer development.

Cancer is like a wound that never heals, characterized by the disruption of normal tissue structure and inflammation. However, it is unclear whether and how the loss of tissue organization causes inflammation. Moving forward, figuring out ways to reduce ROS levels in mammary epithelial cells is a potential strategy to limit cancer-associated inflammation and prevent cancer development and progression.

This research was funded through the American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Defense.


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For some young athletes, breathing issues might be caused by a lesser-known vocal cord disorder known as Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion, or PVFM.

For athletes, difficulty breathing may be caused by vocal cord disorder

JoAnna E. Sloggy, MA, CCC-SLP

Written by JoAnna Sloggy, a speech-language pathologist and singing-voice specialist at the UK Voice & Swallow Clinic.

Feeling like you can’t breathe is frightening, and it can trigger anxiety and panic for you and those around you. For some young athletes, asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasms often cause these breathing issues. But a lesser-known vocal cord disorder called paradoxical vocal fold motion, or PVFM, may be the problem.

PVFM is also called vocal cord dysfunction and is a disorder of the upper airway where the vocal folds (vocal cords) and surrounding muscles tighten during breathing. It often flares up in the late winter and early spring.

PVFM is a relatively uncommon problem for athletes and is often mistaken for asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasms. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing (described as difficulty getting taking a breath).
  • Tightness of the throat.
  • Noisy breathing at the level of the throat.
  • A sense of panic and anxiety.
  • Nonresponsiveness to typical asthma treatment.

What causes PVFM?

PVFM is thought to be caused by repeated exposure to a throat irritant which, over time, triggers PVFM episodes. The average time from symptom onset to diagnosis is around four years. This can be very frustrating for athletes as they try to continue their sport while their symptoms continue to worsen.

Breathing difficulty related to PVFM is not the same as feeling like you need to stop and catch your breath. Instead, an affected athlete feels like the airway is blocked, making inhalation difficult. PVFM can occur in sports such as running, basketball, swimming or dance. The acute breathing problem typically resolves once the athlete stops the physical activity that triggered it.

In severe cases, athletes with PVFM may be brought to the emergency room for further evaluation due to breathing complaints. Respiratory tests will have normal results when PVFM is the cause. Because other diagnoses can be the cause of breathing problems, it is essential that an evaluation including visualization of the vocal folds is performed. PVFM should be assessed through a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist who specializes in the evaluation of voice and upper airway disorders and a physician who treats upper airway disorders such as an ear, nose and throat physician (ENT) or a pulmonologist.

Proper treatment is critical

A pulmonologist will treat asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasms, which may occur in conjunction with PVFM. Patients may also be treated for acid reflux irritation if this is a contributing factor. The ENT physician will visualize the vocal folds to determine if inappropriate closure is the cause of the symptoms. The speech-language pathologist will provide therapy, teaching breathing strategies for PVFM.

Inspiratory muscle strength training, abdominal breathing and vocal fold muscle rebalancing exercises will also be introduced to decrease the hypersensitivity in the throat. These exercises are then incorporated with physical movement that is adapted to the patient’s sport.

If you think you or someone you know suffers from PVFM, we recommend a referral to an ENT physician and/or a pulmonologist along with a speech-language pathologist trained in voice and upper airway disorders. This will help determine the cause and appropriate treatments.


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UK’s Hispanic dental students create connection with Spanish-speaking patients at clinic

Shared language and cultural experiences can help alleviate anxieties and help create a deeper connection between provider and patient. Students in the UK College of Dentistry’s Hispanic Student Dental Association, who serve the increasingly diverse patient population at the Mission Lexington Dental Clinic, demonstrate this by providing care to predominantly Spanish-speaking patients every month.

At the Mission Lexington Clinic, members of the Hispanic Student Dental Association and three College of Dentistry faculty provide cleanings, extractions and a variety of dental services to patients who are typically uninsured and who only speak Spanish. Having a physician who speaks Spanish is beneficial to both the patient and physician.

“For the patients, having a Spanish-speaking attending is important. They feel understood and cared for, they can express their concerns, and they can understand the instructions given,” said Dr. Rodrigo Fuentealba, a provider at UK Dentistry and faculty adviser for Hispanic association.

Care instructions after a medical procedure are important to understand because they help lower the risk of infection and enable a smooth recovery. By removing an interpreter, who is not a dental provider, misunderstandings and miscommunication are reduced.

Jenny Alas, the president of the Hispanic Student Dental Association, cited a similar benefit to having Spanish-speaking dentists in the clinic.

“They can ask us anything and know they’ll be understood,” she said.

Alas, a native of Honduras, came to the College of Dentistry four years ago to attend dental school. She says working in the clinic provides an opportunity for students to learn how to work with patients, and it provides patients with a chance to receive care that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Alas said the student group has nearly doubled in membership since she started and is now at about 60 members. She attributes that to an increasingly diverse student body at UK, and she believes this will soon be reflected in the diversity of dental providers available to the community.

“From what I see at UK, we are moving toward having more diverse dental providers who can understand and relate to patients,” she said.


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UK Markey Cancer Center and the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network will host the 2017 Neuroendocrine Cancer Patient Conference on Saturday, April 22.

Markey to host major conference on neuroendocrine cancer

For the 120,000 patients in the U.S. already living with neuroendocrine cancer, the sudden flushing or recurring stomach aches aren’t symptoms of common ailments. Sometimes they are indications of the rarely-understood neuroendocrine cancer. The UK Markey Cancer Center, in conjunction with the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network (NCAN), will host the 2017 Neuroendocrine Cancer Patient Conference on Saturday, April 22, in order to provide support and information for those dealing with this disease.

Centered around educating neuroendocrine cancer patients, family members and caretakers, the conference features presentations on recently published information by Markey specialists Dr. Lowell Anthony, Dr. Riham El Khouli and Dr. Aman Chauhan, as well as nationally known neuroendocrine expert Dr. Larry Kvols.

“Because neuroendocrine cancers are relatively rare, many cases of neuroendocrine cancer are misdiagnosed or incorrectly treated,” Anthony said. “It’s our goal to help patients across the country dealing with this disease. This conference is designed specifically for them, with useful information they can use to be an advocate for their own healthcare.”

Specific points of discussion will include the recently FDA-approved drug telotristat ethyl (Xermelo) along with other emerging therapeutics options for managing neuroendorcine tumors and cardinomas. Afternoon sessions include personal presentations from patients on their experiences with the disease, as well as a support group session.

For NCAN president Maryann Wahmann, the conference also provides an opportunity to show patients dealing with neuroendocrine cancers that they’re not alone in their battle.

“Doctors are taught, ‘when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras,’ ” said Wahmann. “But more than 12,000 times a year in the U.S., the diagnosis proves that those hooves belong to a zebra.”

The conference runs 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on April 22 at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa in Lexington, Ky. To purchase tickets, visit the NCAN registration page.


Next steps:

  • Thanks to our world-class treatment, research and providers, the UK Markey Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky.
  • In his Making the Rounds interview, Dr. Anthony told us that working at Markey is incredibly rewarding due to its multidisciplinary approach and patient care. Read the full interview.