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Owensboro Health joins Markey Affiliate Network

Owensboro Health has joined the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, enhancing cancer care available to patients in Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana and allowing them to stay closer to home and their support systems for most treatments.

Markey is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Kentucky.

“Owensboro Health exists to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities we serve,” said Owensboro Health President and CEO Greg Strahan. “When it comes to offering national-quality, outstanding cancer care, we are proud to team up with the UK Markey Cancer Center, which is recognized as one of the foremost cancer care and research centers in the nation.”

Owensboro Health’s Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center (MMCC) serves the health system’s coverage area, a population of nearly 400,000 people across 14 counties in Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana. More than 1,000 patients are treated at the center annually. Last year, Owensboro Health also joined Markey’s Research Network, which allows MMCC to run many of Markey’s clinical trials on-site.

“As a native of Owensboro, it is a great honor to welcome Owensboro Health as our newest UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate,” said Dr. Mark Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “These relationships are very important to both of our institutions and most significantly to the care of patients throughout the region and the Commonwealth. We look forward to continuing to work with the outstanding team at Owensboro to provide the highest level of cancer treatment and prevention measures.”

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care, and access to research. The affiliate network is especially important for Kentucky, where cancer rates are the highest in the nation.

“Kentucky is home to some of the worst cancer rates in the country,” said Dr. Tim Mullett, medical director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. “Collaborating with our affiliate hospitals across the state will enable us to make a positive impact on the dire cancer rates here in the Commonwealth.”

Markey is one of only 69 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.

Moving forward, the UK Markey Cancer Center is working toward the next tier of designation – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently, 45 of the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status. The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network will play a large role in bringing that next level of cancer funding to Kentucky.

The affiliate network was created in 2006 and is made up of 20 hospitals across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Next steps:

  • Markey is Kentucky’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
  • Markey’s new state-of-the-art cancer care floor will allow our care teams to treat more patients with complex cancer diagnoses in an environment specifically designed for healing.

New year, new goals for UK grad student and cancer survivor

Meg Gravil has a few major goals for 2018. She wants to continue to build her level of fitness, and she plans to finish her dissertation by the end of the year.

But most importantly, Gravil wants to remain cancer-free.

As a UK College of Education graduate student studying interdisciplinary early childhood education, Gravil finished her qualifying exams in spring 2015 and began working on her dissertation. But just a few months later, her life ground to a halt.

After a regular annual exam, she was called back for a diagnostic mammogram and then a biopsy. Shortly after, she got a phone call from the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Diagnosis and recurrence

“I was sitting home on a Friday afternoon, and I had just five minutes to walk to go get my daughter from school,” Gravil said. “The phone rang. It was a nurse at Markey, and she said, ‘The results are positive. You have cancer.’”

The news came as a shock to Gravil, who was only 43 years old at the time and had no family history of breast cancer. She chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, performed in separate surgeries by UK’s Dr. Patrick McGrath and Dr. Brian Rinker.

“For peace of mind, I thought, take it all,” Gravil said.

Although the entire breast is removed during a mastectomy, the surgery isn’t a guarantee that the patient will remain cancer-free. Breast cancer can still return to the chest wall or nearby lymph nodes, known as locoregional recurrence, and an estimated 5 to 10 percent of women who undergo a mastectomy will experience a recurrence.

For Gravil, all was well at first. But just a few months later, she noticed a nodule that continued to get larger and redder. After having several doctors examine it, she received the bad news: The breast cancer had returned.

“I was absolutely stunned,” she said. “It was worrisome, because the recurrence was so soon after my initial diagnosis. The biggest part of that was thinking about my daughter – what if something happens to me? What effect will that have on my daughter’s life?”

Just one year after her initial surgery, Gravil was back in the operating room for surgery to remove the new tumor and install a port for chemotherapy. Chemo came next, and then radiation. The second time around, Gravil said, she was determined to do whatever it took to beat the disease. When her hair began falling out, she hosted a head-shaving party in her backyard with family and friends.

“The first time I was diagnosed, I was worried about losing my hair,” she said. “The second time, that was an afterthought – it was just, ‘I’ll do whatever I need to do to kick this thing.’”

Aiding recovery with exercise

While undergoing treatment at Markey, Gravil chose to participate in several programs at the UK Integrative Medicine & Health Clinic, including jin shin jyutsu and narrative medicine. Through Integrative Medicine & Health, she learned about LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a free 12-week exercise program offered to cancer survivors. While attending Markey’s Expressions of Courage survivorship event last June, Gravil spoke with Corey Donohoo, director of community health at the Y, and decided to start the program in July.

Some of the most common side effects of cancer treatment include fatigue and weakness. Through the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, the certified trainers help survivors build up their strength and endurance based on their individual assessment and goals.

“At the beginning and end of the program, we do functional assessments, and we’re likely to see improvement,” Donohoo said. “But what’s really rewarding is to hear the stories of what these participants are able to do because of the program, like playing with their kids or grandkids, getting up and down, running errands, and more.”

Although Gravil is relatively active – she enjoys being outdoors and hiking – she hadn’t participated in any regular exercise routine in decades. Through the program, she got the opportunity to try a number of new fitness modalities, from learning to use the equipment on the floor of the gym, to TRX, yoga and Pilates Reformer.

And last September, she discovered that she was stronger than she realized, when she scaled a rock wall during a mother-daughter retreat at Life Adventure Center in Versailles. However, her newfound strength isn’t the only thing she’s gained.

“The big component wasn’t just feeling physically stronger and getting stamina back,” Gravil said. “The mental health and psychological benefits were really great for me.”

Regular exercise (and by extension, weight management) plays a significant role in maintaining the well-being of cancer survivors, according to Gravil’s oncologist at Markey, Dr. Aju Mathew. During treatment, it can help patients better tolerate their therapy. After completion of their treatment, it will improve functional capacity and promote healing.

Additionally, Mathew says, exercise may offer some protective benefits for survivors.

“There is increasing evidence that regular exercise can reduce the risk for cancer recurrence, as well,” Mathew said. “Overall, exercise and fitness training is a win-win for persons with a history of cancer.”

Looking forward

Throughout her journey, she says she’s been happy and confident in the care she received from her Markey physicians, nurses and staff.

“I was really impressed with the time that they took with me during my appointments,” she said. “I never felt like I was being rushed off – they answered all my questions to my satisfaction.”

With life more settled, Gravil already has momentum for her first two 2018 goals. She continues to go to the YMCA (Pilates Reformer is now her favorite class), and has begun the research and writing for her dissertation. If she finishes in December, she can walk to receive her PhD in special education next May.

And with her treatments at Markey complete – she finished her last dose of Herceptin in December – Gravil is looking forward to maintaining that most important goal of all.


Next steps:

  • Markey is Kentucky’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
  • Watch our Making the Rounds post featuring breast cancer specialist Dr. Aju Mathew, where he tells us about his newest hobby and which historical figure he most admires.

Markey earns Outstanding Achievement Award from Commission on Cancer

The UK Markey Cancer Center is one of 16 accredited cancer programs nationwide to receive the 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC).

Established in 2004, the award was created to “recognize cancer programs that strive for excellence in demonstrating compliance with the Commission on Cancer standards and are committed to high-quality cancer care,” according to the organization.

“I’m incredibly proud of the efforts our physicians, nurses, and other medical staff put in on a daily basis,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of Markey. “This latest national award is another recognition of the hard work that goes on here, and the top-tier care we’re able to offer patients from the Commonwealth and beyond.”

The purpose of the award is to encourage cancer programs to raise the bar on quality cancer care, with the ultimate goal of increasing awareness about high quality, patient-centered care. In addition, the award:

  • Recognizes those cancer programs that achieve excellence meeting the CoC Standards.
  • Motivates other cancer programs to work toward improving their level of quality cancer care.
  • Facilitates dialogue between award recipients and healthcare professionals at other cancer facilities for the purpose of sharing best practices.
  • Encourages honorees to serve as quality care resources to other cancer programs.

Markey’s cancer program was evaluated on 34 program standards categorized within five cancer program activity areas: program management, clinical services, continuum of care services, patient outcomes and data quality. The cancer program was further evaluated on seven commendation standards. To be eligible, all award recipients must have received commendation ratings in all seven commendation standards, in addition to receiving a compliance rating for each of the 27 other standards.

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report named Markey one of the top 50 cancer programs in the nation. Additionally, Markey received a prestigious National Cancer Institute designation in 2013 and is up for renewal of this designation in 2018.


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UK collaboration working to provide more effective treatment for lung cancer

Newly published findings from UK faculty reveal a novel cell signaling interaction that may prevent a key step in lung cancer progression.

Kentucky continues to lead the nation in incidence and death rates from lung cancer, and the UK College of Pharmacy is committed to reducing these numbers.

Lung cancers are often diagnosed in later stages, with very few treatment options available. Patients often develop a resistance to a targeted therapy, resulting in a need for a variety of therapies that can be administered in stages or coupled together.

A collaboration between the UK College of Pharmacy and the Department of Statistics in the UK College of Arts and Sciences is working to address this problem. The project is the work of Madeline Krentz Gober, a recent graduate of the UK College of Pharmacy’s graduate program in the lab of pharmacy faculty member Penni Black. Staff scientist James Collard and UK College of Arts and Sciences faculty member Katherine Thompson also contributed to the findings.

Previous work from the group established that a collection of microRNAs – small RNA that plays a role in regulating biological process like growth and proliferation – could predict sensitivity of non-small cell lung cancer cells to erlotinib, a drug that is effective in treating lung cancer in certain patients.

Further investigation into this collection of microRNA genes revealed a previously unknown relationship between the role of transforming growth factor TGFβ in initiating metastasis and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling non-small cell lung cancers.

Essentially, microRNA molecules that alter TGFβ activity may prevent a key step in metastasis for cancer progression known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and this interaction may also require the activity of EGFR, perhaps unappreciated in the initiation of metastasis.

“Getting the right drugs in the right patients is critical to improving cancer outcomes,” said Jill Kolesar, co-director of the Molecular Tumor Board at the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Dr. Black’s work is an important step in predicting which patients benefit most from erlotinib treatment.”

Ongoing work in Professor Black’s lab seeks to uncover biomarkers of response and toxicity to new immunotherapeutic agents used in the fight against lung cancer.


Next steps:

National network gives Markey patients greater access to personalized care

The UK Markey Cancer Center has joined the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN), a unique research partnership among North America’s top cancer centers that recognize collaboration and access to data are the keys to cancer discovery. Membership will allow Markey’s physicians and researchers to improve patient access to personalized medicine – cancer treatments targeted to the patient’s particular cancer mutation. Markey is the latest addition to this 17-member research partnership.

“It takes teamwork to make great progress in cancer treatments,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center.

“Markey has always subscribed to this idea, utilizing the resources from a variety of experts across UK’s clinical and academic campuses to treat our patients. This new partnership with ORIEN will allow us to collaborate with some of the best cancer centers across the country, exchanging vital information back and forth that will ultimately lead to new, improved treatments becoming available for Kentuckians.”

Personalized cancer treatment

As cancer care becomes more based on genetics versus tumor types, researchers are discovering specific, often-rare mutations that lead to the disease. To develop personalized clinical trials that can target these mutations, ORIEN members pool their resources and contribute to a shared databank.

Much of their work will focus on patients with advanced primary or metastatic disease, those with limited treatment options, and patients who are likely to develop progressive disease.

ORIEN members follow the Total Cancer Care Protocol, a well-organized, collaborative approach to studying patients throughout their lifetime. Total Cancer Care provides a standard system for tracking patient data and follows the patient throughout his or her lifetime.

This gives clinicians and researchers access to a searchable, growing database of medical information from respected peers that can help them match patients to targeted treatments. This database represents one of the world’s largest clinically annotated cancer tissue repositories, comprising data from more than 200,000 participating patients.

“ORIEN will benefit Kentucky patients with cancer by matching them to clinical trials with drugs targeted to the individual molecular profile of their tumor,” said Jill Kolesar, PharmD, director of the Precision Medicine Clinic at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

“Combined with our National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials, patients at Markey will have access to a large menu of precision medicine clinical trials.”


Next steps:

Clark Regional Medical Center

Markey extends cancer network to Winchester

Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester has announced a new affiliation with the UK Markey Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

By becoming a Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network member, Clark Regional Medical Center will be able to offer more patients in Central and Eastern Kentucky access to specialty and subspecialty cancer care, including clinical trials and advanced technology, while allowing them to stay closer to home for most treatments.

“Clark Regional Medical Center is proud to join the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network,” said Robert Parker, president of LifePoint’s Central Kentucky East market and CEO of Clark Regional Medical Center. “Our mission is ‘Making Communities Healthier,’ and this affiliation is further evidence of our commitment to providing high-quality care for our patients close to home.”

Clark Regional is a 79-bed community hospital that has served the residents of East Central Kentucky since 1917. A Commission on Cancer-accredited facility, Clark Regional takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary approach to cancer care results in improved care for patients.

The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care, and access to research. The affiliate network is especially important in Eastern Kentucky, where cancer rates are disproportionately high.

“We see 50 percent of our patients coming from Eastern Kentucky, which has some of the highest rates of cancer in the country, particularly lung and colon cancers,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the Markey Cancer Center. “The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network allows us to collaborate with community hospitals to provide top-notch cancer care for these patients much closer to home – saving both travel expenses and time for the patients, in addition to keeping them close to their personal support system.”

Markey is one of only 69 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.

Moving forward, Markey is working toward the next tier of designation – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently, 45 of the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status. The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network will play a significant role in bringing that next level of cancer funding to Kentucky.

“Kentucky is home to some of the worst cancer rates in the country,” said Dr. Tim Mullett, medical director of the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. “Collaborating with our affiliate hospitals across the state will enable us to make a positive impact on the dire cancer rates here in the Commonwealth.”


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, which gives people across Kentucky access to high-quality cancer services and programs through collaboration with community hospitals.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.

Research featuring UK scientists shows promise in treating cancer

A new study published in Nature Chemical Biology featuring UK research highlights a promising new way to address lung cancer and other deadly diseases.

Lung cancer accounts for 25 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S., and one out of every two patients diagnosed with lung cancer won’t survive more than one year. The problem is at its worst in Kentucky, where the state continues to lead the nation in lung cancer incidence and death.

The new research brings together scientists from the UK College of Pharmacy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and reveals a new way to treat lung cancer by blocking cancer-causing proteins on a cellular level. The study involves a compound developed by UK College of Pharmacy Dean Kip Guy’s lab.

The foundation for research

The groundwork for the study began more than 10 years ago when Dr. Bhuvanesh Singh, a physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, identified that an increase of a protein called DCN1 led to more malignant lung cancers and shorter life spans for his patients. Of the patients he studied, those with high levels of DCN1 succumbed to the disease more quickly than those with normal levels.

Frustrated by their findings, Singh’s team set out to study the specifics of DCN1. While DCN1 is a normally occurring protein, his team found that too much of it leads directly to cancer formation. Simply put, a malignant tumor was formed when the amount of DCN1 in a cell was increased. Thus, patients with more DCN1 got sick more quickly and died faster than their counterparts.

Efforts in Brenda Schulman’s lab at St. Jude, led by biochemist Daniel Scott, established how DCN1 interacts with other proteins and controls cellular processes. Their key discovery used X-ray crystallography to show that a small modification of the partner protein to DCN1, known as UBE2M, was required for DCN1 to work. This common modification, N-terminal acetylation, had not previously been shown to be critical to controlling activity of this specific protein. Recognizing the potential for targeting this modification, Shulman reached out to form a collaboration between the three laboratories.

Their goal: to develop a way to stop DCN1 from killing patients.

‘Jamming the lock’

Understanding the behavior and function of DCN1 was far more ambitious than running simple tests. It was a significant step forward in understanding how proteins within a cell work.

Building upon the science from Shulman’s team, Jared Hammill from Guy’s lab and Danny Scott from Schulman’s lab worked to stop the interactions of DCN1 altogether. If DCN1’s activity depended on this interaction, then it stood to reason they could create a compound to intervene and stop the interaction from happening.

Guy describes the interaction as a “lock and key model.” Scientists have a blank key – which is UBE2M – and a lock, which is DCN1. The key wants to fit into the lock, so it’s modified until it fits. This modification process is N-terminal acetylation.

“What’s the significance?” Guy said. “Well, we’re the first people to show that protein interaction controlled by N-terminal acetylation can be blocked. We’re essentially jamming the lock with a compound so the key won’t fit.”

The items jamming that lock are a series of small molecules created in the lab. When the molecules were tested directly in cancer cells, they worked. They effectively blocked DCN1 from binding to UB2EM. After decades of collaborative research, there was finally a barrier between lock and key.

What it means for patients

The impact of these findings for healthcare and lung cancer patients specifically could be profound.

“We are excited about the implications of this research, which offer us a meaningful solution for addressing diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and infection,” Shulman said. “It’s exciting to collaborate with so many complementary groups of expertise and to watch how Dr. Scott and Dr. Hammill led the team. This research opens many new doors for us.”

The collaboration between these three labs could mean relief to many of those suffering from a variety of diseases.

“To have spent decades on this research and have such promising results is truly exhilarating,” Singh said. “At the end of the day, what matters most is improving health outcomes for our patients. This work represents a very important step towards developing a new approach to treat the most difficult of cancers and hopefully increase cure rates.”

This research was funded in part by National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.


Next steps:

Markey extends cancer network to Prestonsburg

Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg, Ky., has announced a new affiliation with the UK Markey Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

By becoming a UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network member, Highlands Regional Medical Center will now be able to offer more patients in Eastern Kentucky access to additional specialty and subspecialty care, including clinical trials and advanced technology, while allowing them to stay in their region for most treatments.

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network supports UK HealthCare’s overall mission of ensuring no Kentuckian will have to leave the state to get access to top-of-the-line healthcare.

“UK HealthCare doesn’t just serve Lexington and Central Kentucky – our mission is to provide all Kentuckians with the best possible care right here in the state,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network allows us to collaborate with community hospitals to provide top-notch cancer care much closer to home – saving both travel expenses and time for the patients, in addition to keeping them close to their personal support system.”

Highlands Regional Medical Center is a not-for-profit, community-owned and operated hospital established to serve Floyd, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin counties by providing high-quality health services and other community resources that will develop a healthier community.

“Affiliating with the UK Markey Cancer Center opens the door to numerous resources for our hospital and community,” said Harold C. Warman Jr., president and chief executive officer at Highlands Regional Medical Center. “Our staff will benefit from continued education opportunities, our community will benefit from health promotion and access to the most recent community-based cancer care, and our doctors will have access to the latest in cancer care professional education. Markey is a national leader in cancer research and care, and we are grateful for our association.”

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region, and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care and access to research.

“Navigating cancer treatment can be challenging for patients and their families,” said Dr. Swaty Arora, medical oncologist/hematologist at Highlands Regional Medical Center. “At Highlands, our goal is to provide standard-of-care treatment in a timely and cost-effective manner. This affiliation validates our intention to provide quality care and affords access to resources to optimize patient care.”

The UK Markey Cancer Center is one of only 69 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.

Moving forward, the UK Markey Cancer Center is working toward the next tier of designation – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently, 45 of the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status. The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network will play a large role in bringing that next level of cancer funding to Kentucky.

“Kentucky is home to some of the worst cancer rates in the country,” said Dr. Timothy Mullett, medical director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. “Collaborating with our affiliate hospitals across the state will enable us to make a positive impact on the dire cancer rates here in the Commonwealth.”

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network began in 2006 and comprises 17 hospitals across the state of Kentucky. Learn more.

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Next steps:

  • Learn more about the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, which gives people across Kentucky access to high-quality cancer services and programs through collaboration with community hospitals.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
Annette Osborne, a cancer patient with not much time to live, was referred to a Markey physician. His innovative treatment allowed Osborne to keep living.

After grim prognosis, Winchester woman finds answers at Markey

For Annette Osborne, a cancer patient from Winchester, the prognosis was not good. Her oncologist had given up. “Enjoy the time you have left with your family, there’s nothing more we can do,” he told her.

But Osborne wasn’t ready to die, at least not without a fight. She wasn’t ready to give up on being there for her husband and children or watching her grandchildren grow up.

Initially, Osborne had ignored the symptoms that turned out to be cancer. She’d been caring for her ailing father, so it was easy to overlook her own aches and pains.

When she noticed abnormal bleeding, she saw her gynecologist, who said it was likely nothing to be concerned about, that it was probably a small tear that would heal on its own. When that didn’t happen, she went back for more tests. That was when she learned she had vaginal cancer.

After her oncologist told her to prepare to die, Osborne pushed back, and the doctor offered one more sliver of hope.

Dr. Jonathan Feddock at the UK Markey Cancer Center was doing some innovative treatment. Osborne seized her chance, and in early 2016, she met with Feddock to see if he could help her.

An uncommon approach

Feddock, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine, was the only physician in the area providing a brachytherapy treatment known as permanent interstitial implants. Brachytherapy, a type of internal radiation therapy, uses radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. While brachytherapy is a common treatment option, the use of permanent seeds which, in Osborne’s case, were placed free-handed inside the vagina, were not.

According to Feddock, the general opinion among most oncologists is that once a patient develops a recurrence of their cancer and it is in a part of their body that has been radiated before, there is no curative treatment other than radical surgery. But access to an NCI-designated cancer center and physicians who conduct research on new treatment options is part of the reason Osborne is alive today.

And she is doing better than she could have ever imagined. She’s been able to watch one of her daughters become a mother and attend sleepovers with her granddaughter. “It’s the small things that I appreciate, like a beautiful spring day and the chance to enjoy the sun. This disease has taken so many people that I know; I take the chance to enjoy anything I can,” Osborne said.

Feddock has a positive outlook on her prognosis as well. “Our own results suggest that if there is no sign of cancer coming back after six months, then most women tend to do well,” he said. It’s been more than a year since Osborne’s treatment, Feddock continued, “so in her case, I am hopeful that this cancer is behind her.”

Looking toward the future

Osborne is excited for what the future could hold for her. A nurse by training, she’s interested in working with cancer patients when she returns to work. “I’ve been thinking about going back to the healthcare field; there may be more schooling in my future,” she said. Her experience as a patient who was told the end was near is something Osborne believes will make her a more empathetic healthcare provider.

Osborne has been back at the gym and preparing for her healthier life. She’s even excited to be training for her first 5K.

A referral to Dr. Feddock and an unwillingness to give up are what she credits for having the chance to enjoy the rest of her life, and that’s exactly what she plans to do.


Next steps:

  • Caring physicians, clinical trials and the power of advanced medicine all come together at the UK Markey Cancer Center to give patients the best treatment possible.
  • For many women, getting regular Pap smears could be the difference between catching cervical cancer early or discovering it late.
From soothing headaches to muscle aches, aspirin can be helpful for many. Now, a new study shows that regular aspiring use may reduce your risk for cancer.

Can regular aspirin use reduce your risk for cancer?

Written by Jill Kolesar, clinical pharmacologist and co-director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Molecular Tumor Board.

Jill Kolesar, PharmD, MS

Most of us have likely taken aspirin at some point in our lives for a common minor ailment like a headache, fever or muscle cramp. Research has also shown this drug to be an effective part of treatment for heart attacks and strokes.

But more recent research on aspirin suggests it may be beneficial in yet another way – by reducing the risk of developing and dying from several types of cancer, including colorectal, lung, breast and prostate cancers.

A new study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting analyzed aspirin use and cancer risk from more than 86,000 women over 32 years and nearly 44,000 men over 26 years. Ultimately, the study showed taking low dose (81 mg) aspirin for six or more years – from less than two tablets per week up to a tablet a day – was associated with a significant decrease in cancer risk, especially in colorectal cancers, where the reduction was 31 percent in women and 30 percent for men.

While this data is promising, we should keep in mind it is observational. That means this data does not prove aspirin reduces cancer risk, since it’s possible that people who took aspirin just had healthier habits overall.

But how does this simple, everyday medication work? It fights inflammation, the immune system’s response to disease or injury. Inflammation can destroy the “bad” bacteria or eliminate injured cells, and is usually temporary. Think about the redness and localized swelling that happens when we get a small cut or abrasion on our skin: that’s the result of the body responding to the threat of foreign bacteria and sending white blood cells to the injury to take care of the potential problem.

But when inflammation is chronic, lasting for months or even years due to injury or disease, it can become a perfect environment for many types of cancer cells to develop and thrive. By blocking the body’s ability to increase inflammation in the body, aspirin may help lower cancer risk or the spread of the disease.

Before you start taking aspirin, be aware that like any medication, using it comes with risks. The most common risks of regular aspirin use include an upset stomach, stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding. The risk for these side effects increases if you are older, drink alcohol regularly or take certain other medications.

In short, while regular aspirin use shows promise for reducing cancer risk, it may not be appropriate for everyone. If you’re concerned about your risk and wondering if you should try a regular aspirin regimen, speak with your doctor first. He or she can help you assess whether the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks in your case.


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