Continence Confidence: Prostatectomy Patients Reporting ‘Startling’ Success After Robotic Retzius-Sparing Surgery

For healthcare industry executive Sean Hawkins, prostate cancer runs in the family. After his own diagnosis last year, the then 49-year-old already knew the potential challenges of treatment -- including losing control of his bladder. However, a breakthrough method of prostate surgery known as Retzius-sparing is now eliminating continence issues for many men treated at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

MedStar Georgetown Patient Sean Hawkins“You go through all sorts of mental gymnastics when you’re confronted with cancer,” he says. “My main concern was the ability to get back to normal.”

After consulting with MedStar Georgetown urological surgeon Keith Kowalczyk, MD, Hawkins learned that he was a candidate for radical prostatectomy – or removal of his entire prostate. Despite the possibility of temporary (and sometimes permanent) continence issues, Hawkins was willing to make difficult sacrifices for another chance at a cancer-free life.

“The first thing people do is go to the store and buy the 300-count diapers,” he says. “I had diapers under my desk and meetings were spaced out to allow for bathroom breaks. I built in contingencies to anticipate a lot more frequency. I was also sort of budgeting coffee and fluid intake.”

After a successful surgery, Hawkins returned to work only 2 weeks later. He sat through his first round of meetings without a continence problem.

“I didn’t really have any major issues. I kept waiting and wearing the diapers and pads as a precaution. I worried about getting up or sneezing,” he says. “I was tempted to text Dr. Kowalczyk and ask if there was something going on, because I wasn’t having the control problems I anticipated. It was startling for sure.”

During his prostatectomy, Hawkins was one of the first patients to undergo the new Retzius-sparing approach; a more technically advanced, robotically-assisted technique. Kowalczyk, who specializes in robotic surgery, learned the approach from urological surgeons in Italy. He says Retizus-sparing removes the prostate by way of an alternate route, preserving attachments to the bladder and urethra that may play a key role in continence preservation. He is part of a small group of urological surgeons in the United States now performing the procedure on a regular basis.

“The big advantage is that these patients become continent much earlier, sometimes immediately” says Dr. Kowalczyk. “Patients getting the standard approach do well -- but it tends to be a much slower process, sometimes up to a year, in regaining their continence.  This is likely due to the need to cut through crucial suspension ligaments that seem to be important in maintaining continence.”

Kowalczyk says traditionally, prostatectomy patients can wait from 6 months up to a year to regain continence, if it comes back at all. In patients who have undergone the Retzius-sparing surgery at MedStar Georgetown, 96% of patients regained adequate urinary continence after only 6 weeks, with only 23% wearing one “safety” pad just for reassurance even if not needed.

Hawkins with his Family“I can really confidently tell my patients now that this should not be a problem,” Kowalczyk says. “They’ve just been doing astonishingly well.”

For some patients, like Hawkins, incontinence is never a problem at all. Aside from a healing incision scar, he reports no other side effects or complaints from the surgery. Considering all possible outcomes, Hawkins says his journey from the prostate cancer diagnosis to recovery has been a smooth one.

“I’m very fortunate and thankful. From the minute I walked into the hospital to the minute I was wheeled out, I couldn’t have asked for faster, better treatment. To be able to say that out loud in an affirmative manner is very important to me.”

Watch the video below as Dr. Kowalczyk answers commonly asked question about prostate cancer and the use of robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer. 

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Personalized Medicine Clinical Trial Underway for Type of Incontinence Common in Women

WASHINGTON D.C. – A novel clinical trial aims to study a treatment for a common problem among older women––accidental urine leakage––by using a patient’s own muscle cells. The study, now underway in the Washington area, is for women with stress urinary incontinence that has not been addressed by conservative treatment such as behavior modifications and pelvic-floor muscle exercises.

Stress urinary incontinence, or SUI, often occurs when the tissues that support the bladder and/or the muscles that regulate the release of urine weaken, and can have a negative impact on a woman’s quality of life. The condition is especially common after childbirth. For patients with SUI, leakage can be triggered by physical activity or stressors such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or heavy lifting.

In the new study, conducted by Georgetown University at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, researchers will examine the safety and effectiveness of an investigational product (autologous muscle derived cells for urinary sphincter repair or AMDC-USR) derived from a woman’s own muscle cells that are collected, processed, and then injected into the tissues of the urinary passage.

“Being able to use a woman’s own cells as a treatment for stress urinary incontinence holds promise, and we’ll know more about whether this treatment is safe and effective for these women after this clinical trial is completed,” says the study’s principal investigator, Elizabeth Timbrook Brown, MD, MPH, assistant professor of urology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and a specialist in the medical and surgical management of urinary incontinence at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

The clinical study lasts two and a half years and participation includes approximately 8 to 11 office visits and 3 to 5 scheduled phone calls. The study will consist of a screening period, which may last up to 8 weeks to determine eligibility.

If eligible, Brown will perform a biopsy to collect muscle tissue from the thigh. Local anesthesia will be used for the office procedure.

“The muscle tissue is then grown in a laboratory until there are enough cells to be injected into the urinary passage as a second office procedure,” Brown explains. “It is believed the cells will become part of the tissue where they have been injected. In theory, we think this may help women have more control over urine storage and urination and may decrease urinary leakage.” Current conservative treatment options are available for women with SUI and include external collection devices (diapers and pads) and pelvic floor exercises. Some examples of surgical treatments include injection of bulking agents into or around the urethra, a synthetic mesh midurethral sling, or creation of a sling using a woman’s own tissues, as well as other surgical procedures.

Women ages 50 to 75 with SUI are invited to volunteer in this phase 3, randomized, double blinded, placebo-controlled study. Participants will be “randomized” into one of two study groups––half will receive AMDC-USR (injections with cells) and the other half will receive a placebo (injections that look and feel exactly the same but will have no cells). Randomization, is done by computer. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers will know what group you are in (double blinded). If the participant receives the placebo injection, the participant will still have the option of receiving a second injection with their own cells (the AMDC-USR product) after 12 months.

Based on information from similar clinical studies using AMDC therapy, urinary tract infections are very common. Other less common risks will be explained to each participant. Up to 320 subjects at 25 study centers across three countries will take part in this study; approximately 15 subjects per year will participate at Georgetown. There are no study-related charges for the participants.

Cook MyoSite, Incorporated is the sponsor of this study. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is being paid by Cook MyoSite, Incorporated, to conduct this study. Brown reports having no personal financial interests related to the study.

To learn more about this clinical trial, please click here. Women who are interested in volunteering for the clinical trial should call Kelsey Morgan, BSN, RN at 202-444-7513 or email her at [email protected].

 

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Georgetown-Led Study Leads to First FDA-Approved Drug in Decades to Improve Survival in Small Cell Lung Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval today of atezolizumab (Tecentriq®, Genentech) in combination with chemotherapy for the initial treatment of extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) marks the end of numerous failed attempts to improve survival for people with the deadly disease.

“This is monumental for lung cancer patients,” says Stephen Liu, MD, an oncologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital who specializes in treating lung cancer and co-led the clinical trial leading to today’s approval through the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Atezolizumab allowed us to achieve what for we thought for decades was beyond reach: an improvement in survival for these patients.”

Small cell lung cancer makes up about 10 to 15 percent of all lung cancers in the United States.  Almost all people who develop small cell lung cancer have a history of smoking, and, according to the American Cancer Society only about six percent of people with the disease survive five years or more.

“Since the 1980s, our standard treatment for small cell lung cancer has been platinum-based chemotherapy. This regimen reliably provides an initial response that is often dramatic, but almost always short-lived,” says Liu.

The regimen of carboplatin, etoposide and atezolizumab was first explored in an investigator-initiated trial at Georgetown Lombardi in 2016. It soon gave way to the global phase III IMpower 133 trial. Liu and Leora Horn, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, served as co-principal investigators of the study.

Results were first presented by Liu at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in September 2018 and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, compared standard chemotherapy alone or given concurrently with atezolizumab, an anti-PD-L1 antibody. The addition of atezolizumab extended overall survival for a median of 10.3 months to 12.3 months without notably increasing side effects. As of now, there has only been about one year of follow-up so the full potential of atezolizumab is not yet known, Liu says.

“In the context of over 40 failed phase III clinical trials, the improvement in survival seen with atezolizumab represents an important achievement,” Liu says.  

 “As SCLC is an unforgiving disease,” says Liu, “our first attempt at treatment is often our only chance to impact the natural history of this highly lethal cancer.”

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has added atezolizumab to its treatment guidelines as the preferred treatment for extensive stage SCLC.

 “With the addition of atezolizumab to chemotherapy, we have finally moved the needle in SCLC,” says Liu. “It is now our charge to build upon these results and ensure that the next major advance is not another 20 years away.”

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Disclosure: Liu reports having received advisory board/consulting fees Apollomics, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Genentech, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron, Taiho, Takeda.


Click the video below to watch Dr. Stephen Liu talk about cancer of the lung, head & neck and explain why getting involved in clinical trials for these conditions can be of great benefit for some patients, regardless of the stage of their disease.

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Researchers Decode How Cancer Drug Works in Brains of Parkinson’s Disease Patients

WASHINGTON  — Laboratory analysis from the first arm of a phase II clinical trial testing the use of nilotinib in patients with Parkinson’s disease demonstrates precisely how the agent increases levels of dopamine in the brains of study participants, says a research team at Georgetown University Medical Center. Symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as motor dysfunction, are a result of a dopamine loss.

In the journal Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, investigators report that a single low dose of the leukemia drug, nilotinib (Tasigna® by Novartis), reduces levels of a toxic protein that prevents the brain from utilizing dopamine that is stored in tiny vesicles, or pockets, in brain areas that may control movement.

The researchers say nilotinib appears to rev up the ability of immune cells within the brain to reduce the constant flow of the misshapen alpha-synuclein protein produced by damaged neurons, allowing normal alpha-synuclein to facilitate release of stored dopamine. 

“We detect the drug in the brain producing multiple effects, including improving dopamine metabolism reducing both inflammation and toxic alpha-synuclein. This is unprecedented for any drug now used to treat Parkinson’s disease,” says the study’s senior author, Charbel Moussa, MBBS, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Dementia and Parkinsonism, and scientific and clinical research director of the Translational Neurotherapeutics Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.

The research team examined cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and plasma collected from patients participating in the clinical trial to examine Parkinson’s disease biomarkers. The CSF was collected after a single dose of nilotinib or placebo was administered.

Researchers examined levels of dopamine breakdown products, 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA) in the CSF that bathes the brain and spinal cord of patients, after nilotinib or placebo. They also looked at levels of TREM-2, which reflects the immune response to inflammation.

Without nilotinib treatment, DOPAC and HVA were at low levels in the CSF of all patients. These molecules are produced when dopamine is broken down, or metabolized. A low level suggests a low level of dopamine is being used in the brain.

Investigators divided participants into five groups to test different drug levels (150, 200, 300 or 400 mg.) or a placebo. After a single dose of nilotinib, they found DOPAC and HVA were elevated in patients who received nilotinib compared to placebo, suggesting the brain was utilizing substantially more dopamine. The optimal dose of nilotinib for elevating DOPAC and HVA, they found, was 200 mg.

“When the drug is used, levels of these breakdown molecules quickly rise. This is what we also found in our preclinical studies and proof of concept clinical trial,” says Moussa. “This is exciting because this kind of potential treatment for Parkinson’s could increase use of a patient’s own dopamine instead of using or periodically increasing drugs that mimic dopamine.”

They also found 150 mgs dose of nilotinib treatment led to a significant reduction of alpha-synuclein in the blood, outside of the CSF. Alpha-synuclein is typically very high, and may be toxic, in the blood of Parkinson’s disease patients.

In addition, the single dose of nilotinib (200 mg.) significantly increased the CSF level of TREM-2 in patients. “This suggests an elevated beneficial immune activity that targets misfolded alpha-synuclein for destruction.

“The TREM-2 findings fit neatly with DOPAC and HVA findings,” Moussa says.

He explains that under normal circumstances, the brain stores as much dopamine neurotransmitter as it can and uses it regularly to transmit messages across neurons. Research suggests that normal alpha-synuclein helps maintain the vesicles that dopamine is stored in and helps release the neurotransmitter when needed. But in Parkinson’s disease, dopamine-secreting neurons produce alpha-synuclein that is folded up (misfolded), and so cannot mediate dopamine re-cycling and breakdown. Eventually, more and more dopamine-secreting neurons emit the tangled protein and die.

In preclinical studies, Moussa says nilotinib appears to trigger brain cells (including immune cells and neurons) to attack the misfolded protein that is being produced, allowing normal alpha-synuclein to access and release dopamine from storage vesicles. Hence the increase in TREM-2 and dopamine breakdown chemicals in the central spinal fluid, Moussa says. Dopamine produced in the brain is then recycled, stored in vesicles and available for future use. The cycle repeats itself over and over.

Dr. Fernando Pagan
Dr. Fernando Pagan

Fernando Pagan, MD, principal investigator of the clinical trial and first author of the paper says the scientific evaluation of nilotinib’s effect suggest it can reduce toxic alpha-synuclein and brain inflammation, while protecting dopamine and dopamine-secreting neurons. Pagan is medical director of Georgetown’s Translational Neurotherapeutics Program and director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

 “Whether or not, or how much, the drug demonstrates improved clinical outcomes will be determined when the phase II clinical trial results are in,” he says.

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Additional study authors included Michaeline L, Hebron, MS, Barbara Wilmarth, CRNP, Yasar Torres-Yaghi, MD, Abigail Lawler, MD, Elizabeth E Mundel, MD, Nadia Yusuf, MD, Nathan J Starr, DO, Joy Arellano, RN, Helen H. Howard, RN, Margo Peyton, Sara Matar, BS, Xiaoguang Liu, MD, PhD, Alan J. Fowler, Sorell L. Schwartz, PhD, and Jaeil Ahn, PhD.

Georgetown holds an issued US patent for the use of nilotinib for the treatment of certain neurodegenerative diseases and has other pending patent applications in US and foreign jurisdictions. Moussa is also the named inventor on this related intellectual property.

This study was supported by the Lasky-Barajas Family Fund and other donors. Novartis, the maker of nilotinib, provided nilotinib and matching placebo free of cost to Georgetown University for all participants while on the study.

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First Patient in a Clinical Trial Using Her Own Immune System to Personalize Treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Still Experiencing Remission Six Months Later

WASHINGTON – The first cancer patient to be treated as part of a CAR-T cell clinical trial at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital through Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is still in “complete remission” six months after receiving the treatment.

Diggs receiving her car-t cell therapy
Daisy Diggs

Daisy Diggs, 67, of Laurel, Maryland volunteered for the experimental treatment after a lengthy battle with stage-three non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Following her diagnosis in 2015, the mother of two and grandmother of four developed several tumors that could not be eliminated with chemotherapy alone.

“I had tumors in my lymph nodes, hip, pelvis, neck and right kidney. They couldn’t get a handle on it,” Diggs says. “I’ve been getting chemo for two and a half years. Each time I would have some [tumor] shrinkage and then they would grow. I thought, ‘Well, the chemo isn’t working for me, let me try this.’ I’m glad I did. I see these T-cells as Pac-Men circulating in my body and eating up the cancer.”

“We don’t know if others will have the same or similar response or for how long the treatment will be effective,” says Pashna N. Munshi, MD, associate clinical director of the Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy Program, a joint program between MedStar Georgetown and the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack/Meridian Health.

“Still, hers is exactly the early result we had hoped for. The fact that she is still in complete remission six months after her CAR-T infusion signals a promising chance for a long-term remission for Ms. Diggs.”

“I feel great,” says Diggs. “I’m so relieved to receive this latest news. For me, the CAR-T cells were 100 times better than chemo in terms of how I felt during the treatment. I’m just so happy. I thank God and I thank Dr. Munshi.”

Ms. Diggs receiving CAR-T cell infusion
Ms. Diggs receiving CAR-T cell infusion on July 23rd, 2018

Diggs joined the phase 2 CAR-T cell (axicabtagene ciloleucel or KTE-C19) clinical trial to test its safety and effectiveness, which had only become available two years after her diagnosis of follicular lymphoma. Starting in the summer of 2018, she began receiving the experimental therapy, which uses her own immune system to destroy the cancer.

CAR-T cells are made in a medical lab using a component of the patient’s white blood cells. There, the patient’s natural, disease-fighting T-cells are genetically modified to express synthetic receptors that target proteins commonly found on the lymphoma cells.  About two weeks later, the patient receives lymhodepleting chemotherapy for three days and the CAR-T cells are then infused into the patient. Thereafter, the CAR-T cells are expected to attack the tumors. The goal is that the CAR on the T cells will bind to and kill cells that express CD19, a protein that is found on B-cell lymphomas.

“Once the CAR-T cell engages the tumor, it gets activated and proliferates multifold thereby eradicating the lymphoma rapidly,” says Dr. Munshi.

CAR-T cell therapy carries many risks. Patients can experience drops in blood pressure, high fevers, neurological problems and even death as the body reacts to major changes in the immune system.  For Diggs, the risks of the experimental treatment were outweighed by the potential benefit.

“While we’re very pleased with the results of Ms. Diggs’ treatment through this clinical trial, it’s important to remember that this is only a single experience of the 80 participants who will be enrolled nationwide. We have enrolled an additional five patients in this study here at Georgetown.  

“I had to meet all the criteria for this - go to the dentist, get all these tests done, biopsies,” Diggs recalls. “At first I was nervous because I didn’t know how it would turn out. They explained the risks and told me all the bad things that could happen. But I figured that nothing else was working and that whatever happens, happens but if it’s good, it’s going to be wonderful.”

Diggs has reported few side effects limited to only muscle pain. After her first PET scan in October, doctors could no longer find any evidence of cancer. In only three months, her tumors had disappeared.

Ms. Diggs hugging Dr. Munshi after learn that her cancer is in “complete remission” thanks to her car-t cell treatment.
Ms. Diggs learns that her cancer is in “complete remission” on October 18th, 2018.

Diggs has reported few side effects limited to fevers and muscle pain. After her first PET scan in October 2018, doctors could no longer find any evidence of cancer. In only three months, her tumors had disappeared. Her second PET scan in January 2019 also found no evidence of cancer.

“We’re giving it the ol’ one-two punch,” Diggs says. “I always say we’re shutting that party down. Now it’s hopefully going to be shut down for good.”

Axicabtagene ciloleucel, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as Yescarta for relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, transformed follicular lymphomas and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphomas, but is not approved for low grade lymphomas (follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma) that this clinical trial tests.

Very common side effects include cytokine release syndrome with symptoms including fever, nausea, headache, rash, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and trouble breathing. Most patients have a mild reaction, but sometimes, the reaction may be severe or life threatening. Anemia (lack of cells that carry oxygen) and neutropenia (a decrease in white blood cells) are also very common.

This clinical trial is sponsored and designed by Kite Pharmaceutical, a Gilead Company. Dr. Munshi occasionally serves as a paid scientific consultant for Kite Pharmaceutical.

For more information about this trial, please contact Julie Verna at 202-444-0960.

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Large Study Reveals Long-Term Outcomes for Prostate Cancer Patients Treated with High Dose, Short Term Radiation like CyberKnife Radiotherapy

WASHINGTON –– A large, national study examining a radiation treatment for prostate cancer––popular because it delivers a high dose of therapy in a very short time frame––supports its routine use. 

The study, conducted at cancer centers around the United States including at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, looks at long term follow up data for stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) used to treat more than 2,100 men with prostate cancer that had a low or intermediate risk of recurring.

The results were published Feb. 8 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the therapy is delivered by a system called CyberKnife, which delivers high doses of radiation precisely aimed to minimize the involvement of healthy surrounding tissue.

Radiation oncologist Sean P. Collins, MD, PhD, says curative treatment is a shared goal along with maintaining a person’s quality of life.  Side effects, including impotence, can occur with all treatments for prostate cancer and can happen years after treatment.

“While it is necessary to observe these men for decades, our interim seven-year data show that survival and side effects are comparable to other forms of radiotherapy,” says Collins, director of the CyberKnife Prostate Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University. 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which establishes cancer treatment guidelines, classified SBRT as an alternative to conventional therapy, but had noted a lack of long term follow up data. There is much more experience with conventionally fractionated radiation therapy, delivered five times a week for up to nine weeks, and brachytherapy, in which radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate.

“Our findings give us great confidence that CyberKnife should become a standard option for some men who want to avoid the hassle and inconvenience of standard therapy,” Collins says.

 

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Collins reports receiving grants from and being a paid consultant for Accuray Inc., the maker of CyberKnife.

 

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MedStar Georgetown Specialist Leads Targeting of Huntington’s Disease Symptoms Through New Guidelines

An international group of experts, led by MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Karen Anderson, MD, recently published new clinical guidelines focusing on the treatment of behavioral symptoms seen in patients with Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that impairs physical and mental abilities as movement-controlling cells die in the brain. It’s estimated that 70% of American patients with the disease do not receive specialist care; instead seeking treatment from general practitioners, general neurologists, and psychiatrists.

“These guidelines convey the important message that we have treatments available now for many neuropsychiatric symptoms of HD. This should encourage patients to seek care. They also help non-specialist clinicians understand that HD is a not a hopeless condition,” explains Dr. Anderson, director of the Huntington’s Disease Care, Education, and Research Center (HDCERC), a joint program between MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center.

The guidelines, published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease, provide primary caregivers with a stronger set of tools and specialist-led strategies to treat five behavioral symptoms of the disease: agitation, anxiety, apathy, psychosis, and sleep disorders.

Before publication, Dr. Anderson and the panel of nine others submitted ideas to Huntington’s disease experts around the world to reach consensus. Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) like these can be relied on in the absence of randomized clinical trial evidence, which is harder to obtain when studying rarer diseases.

“We encourage patients and families to use these guidelines to partner with their clinicians when seeking care since these symptoms often have a huge impact on patients’ wellbeing and their relationships with individuals close to them,” advised Dr. Anderson.

Currently, there is no treatment available to slow, stop, or reverse the course of Huntington’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For more on the newly published guidelines, visit: https://www.iospress.nl/ios_news/expert-based-clinical-guidelines-focus-on-behavioral-symptoms-in-huntingtons-disease/

 

 

 

 

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The Washington Capitals Join Pediatric Patients for Holiday Fun

(Washington, D.C.) - The Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals lifted holiday spirits during the team’s annual December visit to patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

The team, alongside mascot Slapshot, arrived by bus to meet children and families, including those spending the holidays in the hospital’s pediatric inpatient units. The Caps also played games, signed autographs and created artwork with families gathered inside the Lombardi Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic.

“Days like today, when you can have the entire Washington Capitals hockey team visit, provide such an incredible and necessary distraction from illness,” said Laurie Strongin, CEO of the Hope for Henry Foundation.

Strongin started the foundation 15 years ago after her son, Henry, was treated at MedStar Georgetown. This year, Hope for Henry provided Stanley Cup Championship gear like tote bags, pennants, apparel and more to make sure no child left the party empty handed.

Elsewhere in the clinic, players went from the ice to the icing while helping children decorate a colorful gingerbread house. It was just one of the art projects organized by Tracy’s Kids, a non-profit art therapy program for children suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.

Families also enjoyed cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake and participated with Caps players in Flashes of Hope, a photography project that honors patients and raises money for pediatric cancer research.

MedStar Health serves as the Official Medical Provider of the Washington Capitals.

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Prostate Cancer Patient Does His Research and Chooses Proton Therapy to Treat His Aggressive Disease

Dr.-Lischalk-with-Denwiddie(Washington, D.C.)  When Melvin Denwiddie, 73 was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2016 his physicians first told him the “watch and wait” strategy would be sufficient.  But in 2017 further testing showed that his cancer had become more aggressive and it was time to get treated.

“My prostate cancer was potentially fatal if I didn’t start treatment,” says Denwiddie. “My choices were surgery to remove the prostate, traditional radiation or proton radiation,” says the great-grandfather of three. “I did my research and I wanted proton therapy.  I found that proton therapy would be the most accurate; it would follow the shape of my tumor and would penetrate only the tumor and not any of the tissue outside of the tumor.  That was very important to me.”

That’s when he found proton therapy at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and his radiation oncologist, Jonathan Lischalk, MD.

“It’s important to sit down with patients and discuss their treatment options,” says Dr. Lischalk. “For localized prostate cancer, a variety of treatment options exist including surgery and radiation therapy.  Even within radiation therapy, many options exist including proton therapy, x-ray-based therapy, and brachytherapy.  Helping a patient understand his treatment options, the related side effects, and the clinical outcomes is extremely important.”

The proton therapy system at MedStar Georgetown is the first and only in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and is the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™ technology. HYPERSCAN produces beams that are sharper than other proton systems and treats patients faster.

Denwiddie received 43 proton treatments over the course of July through September 2018.

“From my standpoint, proton therapy is a very good treatment process. It was not invasive, it wasn’t painful and I experienced very few side effects,” says Denwiddie.  “Aside from my bladder becoming overactive, it was a pretty easy treatment from beginning to end.  And any side effects I had are getting better.”

With proton therapy complete, Denwiddie continues with hormone treatments for his prostate cancer under the care of his urology team at MedStar Georgetown.

Denwiddie with Dr. Lischalk in an exam room
Melvin Denwiddie (left) and Dr. Lischalk (right)

“Proton therapy is proving to be an excellent option for prostate cancer treatment,” say Ryan Hankins, MD, a urologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “From a urology standpoint, I am able to use a small needle through the skin to place the needed fiducial markers and gel spacer to help improve patient outcomes and make proton therapy more precise. This is done with no incisions on the skin. Dr. Lischalk and I also coordinate patient visits to help make the patient's visit to MedStar Georgetown as seamless as possible.”

Denwiddie is a retired accountant for NASA but continues to prepare tax returns and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. “It’s a labor of love I’ve been practicing since 1972.  It’s such a pleasure to know that I can continue to help people when they need it in this way.”

With his wife of more than 50 years newly retired and his prostate cancer treated, Denwiddie looks to the future with optimism and excitement.

“I feel confident that this prostate cancer is a thing of the past. The rest of my life, I’m looking forward to enjoying the freedom and flexibility to move around and travel with my wife.  That includes visiting family and places I haven’t had the opportunity to see yet. I’m very excited about my future.”

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MedStar Georgetown Joins Elite Group of Hospitals, Only 50 in the Nation, to Receive Prestigious Magnet® Designation for a Fourth Consecutive Time

(Washington, D.C.)  - MedStar Georgetown University Hospital proudly announces it has achieved Magnet® designation for the fourth consecutive time by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  MedStar Georgetown is now one of just 50 other institutions in the United States to be recognized by the Magnet Recognition Program® four times in a row.   

MedStar Georgetown was the first hospital in Washington, D.C. to achieve Magnet status back in 2004.

“I am so incredibly proud of our nurses,” says Michael C. Sachtleben, president of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “We are honored to be acknowledged by the ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program and to achieve this prestigious designation for a fourth time.”

On a conference call today, the ANCC representatives shared the outcome of a recent site survey and agreed that MedStar Georgetown has met its rigorous expectations of quality and nursing excellence.

 “While the Magnet designation allows us to attract and retain top nursing talent, it is not strictly a ‘nursing’ recognition,” says Eileen Ferrell, MS, BSN, RN, chief nursing officer at MedStar Georgetown. “This designation can only be attained through the highly functional and collaborative work between all departments and associates here at MedStar Georgetown.  It also means our nurses are involved in clinical research and performance improvement, all in the best interests of our patients.”

ANCC bestowed its first Magnet designation in 1994 with the idea that the honor would act as a “magnet” for excellence by promoting professionalism in nursing. Magnet recognition is seen as the highest accolade a hospital nursing system can achieve.

A study found better patient outcomes in hospitals whose nurses had achieved Magnet recognition.  The research results were published in the October 2012 issue of Medical Care, the official journal of the Medical Care section of the American Public Health Association.

“Our nurses at MedStar Georgetown exhibit the highest of standards when it comes to professionalism and excellence in caring for our patients,” says Sachtleben. “I know I join all of my colleagues here at MedStar Georgetown in expressing how grateful we are for their role in taking their profession to such a high level of quality and excellence.” 

Magnet recognition is bestowed upon an organization for a four-year time frame, and an organization that desires to continue to be recognized must re-apply for the designation.

 

About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a not-for-profit, acute-care teaching and research hospital with 609 licensed beds located in Northwest Washington, D.C. Founded in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis—caring for the whole person—MedStar Georgetown is committed to offering a variety of innovative diagnostic and treatment options within a trusting and compassionate environment.

MedStar Georgetown’s centers of excellence include neurosciences, transplant, cancer and gastroenterology. Along with Magnet® nurses, internationally recognized physicians, advanced research and cutting-edge technologies, MedStar Georgetown’s healthcare professionals have a reputation for medical excellence and leadership.

About the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®          

The Magnet Recognition Program® administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the largest and most prominent nurses credentialing organization in the world, recognizes healthcare organizations that provide the very best in nursing care and professionalism in nursing practice. The Magnet Recognition Program serves as the gold standard for nursing excellence and provides consumers with the ultimate benchmark for measuring quality of care. For more information about the Magnet Recognition Program and current statistics, visit www.nursecredentialing.org/magnet.

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