141 Days Until Obliteride

ObliterideLogoToday is officially the first day of spring, which also means there are only 141 days left until this year’s Obliteride, a bike ride benefitting our partner organization Fred Hutch. Take advantage of the season’s increasing daylight, warmer temperatures, and blooming flowers by grabbing a bike, getting outside, and preparing for this year’s ride, which will take place August 8-10.

Last year was the first year of Obliteride, and the inaugural event raised $1,923,008, every dollar of which went to cancer research at Fred Hutch. This year’s ride features some scenic new routes, ranging from a single-day ride along Lake Washington to a two-day ride that tours the Kitsap peninsula.

Between the 25-mile, 50-mile, 100-mile, and two-day 150-mile routes, everyone from a beginning rider to a seasoned racer can find a distance that suits their abilities. Expert tips and training plans for each distance are available on the Obliteride website. This year’s event will also include a 1-mile route for kids so the whole family can get in on the fun. If you’re not able to ride this year, you can still get involved by volunteering or fundraising as a “virtual rider.”

trainingwheelsSo, what are you waiting for? Welcome the start of spring by marking your calendars for the weekend of August 8-10, choosing a distance to ride, registering either as an individual or part of a team, checking out the fundraising tips, and heading outdoors with your bike to get ready for this year’s Obliteride.

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    IPCR Symposium Coming April 12

    ipcr-logoThe Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR) is once again holding its annual patient education symposium on April 12, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Pelton Auditorium over at the Hutchinson Center. The IPCR is a collaboration between Fred Hutch and UW Medicine and its mission is to understand the causes of prostate cancer and its progression, develop new prevention strategies, devise innovative diagnostics, and improve survival and quality of life. This year’s symposium is divided into three sessions–Prostate Cancer Risk and Prevention in 2014; Advances in Managing Localized Prostate Cancer; and Advances in Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer–and will feature physicians/researchers from UW Medicine, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Fred Hutch.

    The event is free to the public, but you need to RSVP by April 1 to attend. Last year’s event was standing-room only, so don’t delay. The easiest way to register is online. You can also email nklemfus@seattlecca.org or call (206) 288-6630.

    If you’d like a sample of what to expect at this year’s event, check out this post with links to videos from last year’s symposium, including one from Fred Hutch researcher Dr. Marni Stott-Miller that addresses the link between fried foods and a heightened risk for developing prostate cancer.

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      Dr. Patel to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to Help Build Cancer Center in Tanzania

      dr-patel-climberThis Sunday, March 16, SCCA’s Dr. Shilpen Patel  will embark on a seven-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of a fundraising effort to build a cancer center in the surrounding community of Moshi, Tanzania. The hospital in Moshi, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, serves 11 million people, but that region of Tanzania does not currently have a cancer center.

      Dr. Patel will climb with Radiating Hope, an organization dedicated to improving cancer care, specifically radiation oncology care, around the globe. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Africa, killing more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Most people living in developing nations do not have access to radiation therapy, a vital part of treatment for many cancer types, due to the lack of radiation equipment.

      Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, at 19, 341 feet, and Dr. Patel raised more than $11,000 in donations in support of his climb, all of which will go toward the new cancer center at the mountain’s base. Dr. Patel and the rest of the team will carry prayer flags to fly at the summit inscribed with the names of individuals who have faced the struggle of cancer head on.

      We wish Dr. Patel the best of luck on his climb!

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        The Phyting Irish: Of Cabbages and Kings

        St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, when many Americans become Irish for a day and embrace the wearing—and eating and drinking— of the green. On this day, many people consume a meal of corned beef and cabbage, believing that this is what the Irish are eating to celebrate their patron saint.

        cabbage-halfHowever, it’s much more likely that people in Ireland will be sitting down to a meal of pork, fish, or chicken and a plate full of vegetables. Historically, beef was enjoyed only by kings or the very wealthy. Cattle were kept for their milk, and sheep for their wool. For the average person, it was hens that were too old to lay or pigs that provided meat for meals. Most of the food came from the garden and frequently included not just potatoes, but another staple favorite: cabbage. This cold-hardy vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C and likely helped to prevent scurvy during the winter months. But it’s the impressive content of cancer-fighting phytonutrients that make cabbage worthy of a deeper look.

        In fact, cancer prevention tops the list of the numerous health benefits provided by this often overlooked cruciferous vegetable. Researchers have published nearly 500 studies about the impact of cabbage on cancer. These studies have identified three main categories of phytonutrients that are responsible for cabbage’s cancer-fighting properties: antioxidants, inflammation inhibitors, and a versatile group of substances called glucosinolates.

        Phyto Facts

        Glucosinolates: Just the abundance of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in cabbage would be enough to make it an anti-cancer star. But cabbage contains another extremely potent anti-cancer substance–glucosinolates. After cabbage has been broken down–through slicing, shredding, chopping, or chewing–an enzyme called myrosinase becomes active and converts glucosinolates into isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates help prevent a variety of cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. They work by regulating inflammation and by the potent induction of Phase II enzymes, which enhance how the body’s detoxification system works. In addition, isothiocyanates have been shown to reduce cell proliferation as well as stimulate apoptosis (cell death) in human tumor cells.

        cabbage-quarteredAntioxidants and Inflammation Inhibitors: The wealth of antioxidant compounds in cabbage is partly responsible for its cancer-prevention benefits. Antioxidants clean up the unavoidable byproducts of normal oxygen metabolism. Without this clean up, oxidants can build up and create a metabolic problem called oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress is an independent risk factor for cancer. While the vitamin C in cabbage acts as an antioxidant, the majority of the antioxidant clout of cabbage comes from a family of phytonutrients called polyphenols. Even white cabbage, a very lightly colored form of green cabbage, provides about 50 milligrams of polyphenols in a half-cup serving.

        Red cabbage, also known as purple cabbage, is even more powerful. Its deep rich color signals the presence of red pigment polyphenols called anthocyanins. These act not only as antioxidants, but have powerful anti-inflammatory effects as well, making red cabbage an outstanding cancer-phyting food. A recent study showed that a three-ounce serving of raw red cabbage delivers 196.5 mg of polyphenols versus only 45 mg in the same amount of green cabbage. That three ounces of red cabbage yielded over 28.3 mg of anthocyanins compared with a tiny .01 mg in green cabbage. The total antioxidant capacity of red cabbage is up to eight times higher than that of green cabbage. So this St. Patrick’s Day, consider the wearing of the red as well as the green by using red cabbage as part of your celebration meal!

        Phyt Bite

        Proper preparation and cooking are essential to getting the most out of cabbage. Preservation of myrosinase activity is the goal, as it’s needed to convert glucosinolates to cancer-protective isothiocyanates. For maximum preservation slice, shred, or chop raw cabbage and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking; this will allow myrosinase to perform its magic. Don’t microwave cabbage as it can deactivate a significant amount of myrosinase. Short steaming, light braising or stir frying is a much better method for preserving myrosinase..

        The following St. Patrick’s Day menu is not only an authentic Irish meal but is much healthier than the familiar but calorie, fat and salt-laden corned beef centered meal. The Irish bacon called for is nothing like American bacon: It is a lean, smoked pork loin more like Canadian bacon. Be sure to check with your local butcher, and if you’re unable to find Irish bacon, then use a two or three pound slab of corned beef instead—just be sure to cut off all visible fat before cooking. You can also order Irish bacon online from specialty retailers such as Tommy Moloney’s.

        Irish Bacon, Carrots, and Cabbage with Mustard Sauce


        • cabbage-chopped2 pounds Irish boiling bacon
        • 12 cups water, divided
        • 12 ounces small red potatoes
        • 4 medium carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
        • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
        • 1 small onion, finely chopped
        • 1 garlic clove, minced
        • 2/3 cup dry white wine (nonalcoholic or regular)
        • 2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
        • 1 1/4 cups 1% or 2% milk
        • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
        • 1/8 teaspoon salt
        • 1 (3-pound) red cabbage, trimmed, cored, and cut into 8 wedges (let sit for 10 minutes before cooking)


        1. Place bacon in a large, heavy pot; cover with 8 cups water. (If using corned beef, trim all visible fat before cooking.) Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours, skimming foam from liquid as necessary.
        2. Remove bacon from pan; wrap well in foil, cover and keep warm. Remove 1 1/4 cups cooking liquid from pan; reserve for mustard sauce. Discard the remaining cooking liquid.
        3. Add red potatoes and carrots to pot; cover with the remaining 4 cups water. Bring to a boil.
        4. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender; remove from liquid with slotted spoon keep warm.
        5. Bring water back to a simmer. Place cabbage wedges in a steamer basket or colander and place in pot. Cover and steam for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.
        6. Prepare the mustard sauce while potatoes and carrots are cooking: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine and mustard; cook 2 minutes. Add reserved 1 1/4 cups bacon cooking liquid and milk. Bring to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups, stirring frequently. Stir in black pepper and salt.
        7. To serve: Cut bacon into 8 slices; serve with vegetables and mustard sauce.

        Kim Jordan is the Manager of Medical Nutrition Therapy Services at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. 

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          An Update on TIL Therapy at SCCA

          Last week we caught up with Dr. Sylvia Lee for an update on SCCA’s newly launched TIL therapy program. TIL therapy (TIL is short for tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes) is a type of treatment that’s currently being evaluated in a clinical trial at SCCA for patients with advanced melanoma.

          dr-sylvia-leeTumor-infiltrating lymphocytes are T-cells that surround the melanoma cells and are part of the body’s immune system that can recognize and attack cancer. However, melanoma creates an immunosuppressive environment that turns TIL cells off before they can eradicate the tumor. TIL therapy begins with surgically removing a portion of the melanoma tumor to extract the TIL that are growing within the tumor mass. Then, at a laboratory over at the Hutch, the cells are switched back on using IL-2 (Interleukin 2) and grown for 3-5 weeks. At this point, the lab tests the cells against the patients’ preserved tumor, and selects the TIL cells that are best at recognizing and attacking the tumor. These selected TIL are then grown out into the billions and infused back into the patient.

          Dr. Lee, a medical oncologist and researcher, is the principal investigator for SCCA’s TIL trial. She says that the response rates for TIL therapy at other centers is about 50%—a rate that she characterizes as “pretty high.” The complete response rate—in which all the cancer has disappeared on a CT scan—has been observed at 12% in early trials. The majority of patients with a complete response have not relapsed, with follow up as long as 8 years. That’s significantly better than the responses for other FDA-approved melanoma treatments, including ipilimumab and vemurafenib, and it’s especially encouraging since patients who go on TIL have often failed these other therapies.

          TIL generation typically takes 6-7 weeks from start to finish, and TIL cells can be frozen at a midway point, for future use if the patient is not quite ready for treatment. Says Dr. Lee, “It’s complicated, and not just the TIL generation, but lining everything up, finding patients who need treatment but are healthy enough to participate in the clinical trial, making sure we have insurance approval for their trial participation, planning the timing of TIL infusion in the context of the patient’s clinical picture.”

          SCCA is one of four centers in the United States that’s offering TIL. Other centers include the NIH/NCI in Maryland, MD Anderson in Texas, and Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida. Dr. Lee’s program started late last summer and so far has recruited six patients, all at various points in the treatment process. She hopes to start seeing early results by this summer. See the SCCA website for information about TIL and other immunotherapies that are being offered for melanoma patients at SCCA. See also SCCA’s TIL clinical trial page, which lists eligibility criteria for prospective patients. Finally, this NCI Cancer Bulletin includes even more information about TIL therapy.

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