136 episodes

American Cancer Society scientists and grantees discuss the most critical questions in cancer research -- in language that we can all understand.

TheoryLab American Cancer Society

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 23 Ratings

American Cancer Society scientists and grantees discuss the most critical questions in cancer research -- in language that we can all understand.

    Cancer-related cognitive impairment

    Cancer-related cognitive impairment

    People going through cancer treatment sometimes have cognitive changes such as trouble remembering, paying attention, or thinking clearly.

    Drs. Judith Carroll and Kathleen Van Dyk are clinician scientists who help patients with cancer-related cognitive impairment and conduct research into what causes it, how to identify patients at risk for it, and how to reverse its effects.

    Judith Carroll, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and she’s the term Endowed Chair of the George F. Solomon Professorship in Psychobiology at UCLA. She’s also a Member of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. She received American Cancer Society funding to support her research on “Biobehavioral Vulnerability to Accelerated Aging In Breast Cancer Survivors” from 2016-2020.

    Kathleen Van Dyk, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and she’s a practicing neuropsychologist. She was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow, studying “Cognitive Decline in Breast Cancer Survivors,” from 2017-2019.

    INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
    2:09 – What is “cancer-related cognitive impairment?” Is it the same as “chemo brain?”

    3:12 – How common is it?

    4:41 – What kind of symptoms does it produce?

    CONTRIBUTING FACTORS AND MECHANISMS
    6:54 – Is cancer-related cognitive impairment a side effect of cancer? Is it caused by certain treatments?

    12:11 – How has COVID impacted cognitive impairment among breast cancer survivors?

    14:22 – On the biology of aging and how cancer could accelerate the aging process

    TREATMENT
    17:48 – Is cancer-related cognitive impairment reversible?

    22:04 – On the exciting potential of sleep interventions

    23:54 – Understanding the effects of endocrine therapies on brain function

    CLOSING THOUGHTS

    25:42 – How ACS funding has impacted their career and research

    29:40 – A message they’d like to share with cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers who are concerned about cancer-related cognitive impairment

    • 34 min
    Targeted therapies, drug resistance, and two recent cancer research publications

    Targeted therapies, drug resistance, and two recent cancer research publications

    In this episode of the TheoryLab podcast, two American Cancer Society grantees discussed key takeaways from their recent publications.

    In the first part of the conversation, which is intended for a lay audience, Dr. Joshua Andersen and Dr. Bhuminder Singh talked about targeted therapies, treatment side effects, and drug resistance.

    Then they moved into a more technical discussion of their recent papers.

    Dr. Andersen recently published findings showing that “TNK1 is a ubiquitin-binding and 14-3-3-regulated kinase that can be targeted to block tumor growth.”
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25622-3

    Dr. Singh published a study recently showing that “Induction of apically mistrafficked epiregulin disrupts epithelial polarity via aberrant EGFR signaling.”
    https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.255927

    Joshua L. Andersen, PhD, is Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Brigham Young University. He is a two-time American Cancer Society grantee.

    Bhuminder Singh, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and he is also a two-time American Cancer Society grantee.

    1:25 – Dr. Andersen explains why his lab is focused on improving targeted therapies

    2:31 – Dr. Singh describes how his research is focused on addressing drug resistance in colorectal cancer

    4:28 – Dr. Andersen dives into his lab’s new Nature Communications paper on a new cancer driver—"it’s been probably the most rewarding project that I’ve been a part of in my career”

    8:11 – Dr. Singh asks a few questions about the paper: “Are there any mutations in TNK1 in human cancer?”

    10:01 – What ubiquitinated proteins was it binding to?

    11:44 – Is TNK1 itself ubiquitinated in certain conditions?

    12:49 – Dr. Singh explains takeaways from his paper, “Induction of apically mistrafficked epiregulin disrupts epithelial polarity via aberrant EGFR signaling”

    19:16 – Follow-up questions from Dr. Andersen: “How could the mistrafficking of a single ligand affect its localization so dramatically?”

    22:04 – “That has to send a signal then to start trafficking the intracellular EGFR out to the apical side of the cell, right?”

    27:49 – “As someone who hasn’t really thought about cell polarity very much inside a solid tumor, what would be the effects of mistrafficking in terms of the architecture of a solid tumor?”

    31:18 – The impact of American Cancer Society funding on their research

    • 34 min
    “Holding Hope for Cancer Patients with Serious Illness”

    “Holding Hope for Cancer Patients with Serious Illness”

    When a cancer patient has a serious diagnosis, clinicians and families can struggle with how patients experience hope.

    Three distinguished palliative care physicians and researchers joined the podcast for a conversation about their recent paper in JAMA titled, “Holding Hope for Patients with Serious Illness” (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2784454).

    Drs. Abby Rosenberg, Robert Arnold, and Yael Schenker shared their own experiences treating seriously ill patients and talked about how we can navigate the tension between appreciating the potential therapeutic benefit of hope and being concerned about perceived unrealistic hopes:

    “Rather than being concerned that hope is either so fragile that it can be lost, or so powerful that it can overwhelm decision making, clinicians should remember that hope is protective, if not necessary, for managing serious illness. Holding complex, flexible, and diverse hopes enables patients to believe in the unlikely while simultaneously accepting the inevitable. The role of clinicians is to support both.”

    Abby Rosenberg, MD, MS, MA, is a pediatric oncologist and palliative care physician and researcher at the University of Washington, where she directs the pediatrics component of the Cambia Palliative Care Center, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where she directs the Palliative Care and Resilience Lab. She has an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant to study “Resilience Outcomes Among Adolescents and Young Adults with Advanced Cancer.”

    Robert M. Arnold, MD, is a palliative care physician, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Palliative Care Section at the University of Pittsburgh. He previously served as a member of the American Cancer Society’s palliative care peer review committee.

    Yael Schenker, MD, MAS, is a palliative care physician, Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Palliative Research Center (PaRC) at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a past recipient of American Cancer Society research funding, which supported her study of “Primary Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Hematologic Malignancies.”

    3:27 - The therapeutic benefit of hope and why it’s helpful to patients and caregivers

    5:12 – Why clinicians sometimes feel the need to “correct” a patient’s hope

    8:56 – How physicians can address the tension of appreciating the potential therapeutic value of hope but being concerned about perceived unrealistic hopes

    10:50 – On how physicians can help patients diversify and increase their hopes

    6:24 – How they became interested in this topic and decided to explore this topic in a broader way

    17:35 – Advice they would share with someone in medical school who might someday treat patients with a poor prognosis

    19:03 – A message for caregivers of a patient with a terminal illness

    • 21 min
    What causes small cell lung cancer growth and resistance?

    What causes small cell lung cancer growth and resistance?

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States and worldwide. Small cell lung cancer comprises 15-17% of lung cancer cases, and it is the most aggressive subtype of lung cancer, growing rapidly and spreading to other organs quickly.

    Luke Hoeppner, PhD, received American Cancer Society funding to test whether therapeutically targeting a specific molecular pathway inhibits small cell lung cancer growth.

    Dr. Hoeppner’s lab was the first to report that activation of this particular pathway, called dopamine signaling, inhibits other forms of lung cancer growth. By therapeutically altering the dopamine signaling pathway, he hopes to inhibit small cell lung cancer progression and drug resistance, facilitating further advancement to new treatments.

    For more information about lung cancer, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer.html.

    Luke Hoeppner, PhD, is Assistant Professor and leader of the Cancer Biology research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.

    5:09 – What is small cell lung cancer? What vital statistics about it should we know?

    5:57 –What is the standard therapy for small cell lung cancer patients?

    8:13 – Why is it so hard to treat?

    10:04 – “Another way to put it is…”

    13:59 – Why drug resistance is such an important area of research for small cell lung cancer

    15:42 – “We’re trying to focus on understanding what in particular small cell lung cancer cells are doing to evade chemotherapy, and is there a combination treatment that we could add to chemotherapy that would prevent (resistance)?”

    16:18 – On his lab’s novel approach to combatting resistance

    24:17 – What are the therapeutic implications?

    25:05 – Why he’s optimistic about this line of research

    26:31 – On how American Cancer Society funding has impacted his research

    27:18 – A message he’d like to share with cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers

    • 28 min
    Improving our understanding of risk factors for breast cancer sub-types

    Improving our understanding of risk factors for breast cancer sub-types

    According to American Cancer Society researchers, in the United States in 2021, there will be an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women.*

    Finding breast cancer early and getting state-of-the-art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society has screening guidelines for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk for breast cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/american-cancer-society-recommendations-for-the-early-detection-of-breast-cancer.html.

    Two breast cancer researchers joined the podcast to discuss screening for the early detection of breast cancer.

    Anne Marie McCarthy, PhD is a cancer epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. She is the recipient of an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant to fund her research into “A Precision Medicine Approach to Breast Cancer Early Detection.”

    Lauren Teras, PhD, is a senior scientific director of epidemiology research in the Population Science team at the American Cancer Society.

    7:43 – Important things to know about breast cancer risk

    9:55 – Why mammography is recommended for all women - “Any woman that has breasts should think about screening for breast cancer with mammography on a regular basis”

    12:50 – But mammography screening isn’t necessarily enough for all women

    18:26 – On the challenges of mammography screening and aggressive cancers

    23:21 – On the association of breast density with cancer risk

    26:48 – Women who could benefit from more intensive screening

    29:46 – On being the best advocate for yourself (What do recommendations and high-risk categories mean for an individual?)

    34:45 – A message for breast cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers

    35:56 – The impact of American Cancer Society funding on Dr. McCarthy’s research

    * https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2021/cancer-facts-and-figures-2021.pdf

    • 37 min
    Fixing prescription drug coverage and reducing the financial burden of cancer

    Fixing prescription drug coverage and reducing the financial burden of cancer

    “More than 50% of cancer survivors report problems paying medical bills, financial distress, or delaying and/or forgoing medical care in the past year.”*

    The financial burden of cancer can affect survivors for years. And it can affect anyone: a cancer diagnosis as a young adult can have financial ramifications that can change the course of a person’s life; a diagnosis for someone who’s retired and on a fixed income can pose problems that nobody should have to face. The cost of cancer treatment also deepens disparities—not everyone can afford the most effective treatments.

    Stacie Dusetzina, PhD, and Robin Yabroff, PhD, are two of the leading voices on research on the financial burden of cancer. They joined the podcast to discuss prescription drug coverage in America, problems that cause financial challenges for people with and without insurance, and potential policy solutions.

    Stacie Dusetzina, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and an Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University.

    Robin Yabroff, PhD, is the Scientific Vice President of Health Services Research in the Surveillance and Health Equity Science team at the American Cancer Society.

    *Yabroff, K.R., Zhao, J., Han, X. et al. Prevalence and Correlates of Medical Financial Hardship in the USA. J GEN INTERN MED 34, 1494–1502 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-019-05002-w


    2:12 – Pain points in prescription drug coverage for Americans – for infusion therapies…

    7:39 – …and for orally administered therapies

    12:24 – Why it can be hard to predict financial toxicity

    13:48 – An example that hits close to home – a metastatic breast cancer patient with Medicare Advantage

    17:33 – The financial implications of being diagnosed with cancer when young…of paying for cancer therapies when retired and on a fixed income…and of dealing with the costs of chronic illness

    22:42 – Solutions!
    “The most obvious one to me is fixing the Medicare Part D policy to limit total out-of-pocket spending…”
    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2027580

    25:34 – Ways to reduce the burden of high deductible plans

    27:54 – “Despite how dire the situation you describe is, it’s actually worse.”
    How new advances in treatment will worsen cancer disparities unless we take action

    29:30 – Evidence showing that Medicaid expansion helps, but “making care affordable is going to take a lot more than Medicaid expansion”

    31:11 – “We’ve got to stop paying for the stuff that doesn’t work if we want to have better coverage for the stuff that does work.”

    37:04 – Why cancer prevention strategies are key

    39:00 – Advice for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families for dealing with the financial cost of cancer

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
23 Ratings

23 Ratings

AmyM SD ,

ACS funds the best science

I’m so proud to work for the American Cancer Society! As non scientific staff, I enjoy learning about cancer research through TheoryLab.

umich cheme ,

Diverse topics, scientifically a bit shallow

Interesting podcast that covers a wide range of topics in cancer research. Only criticism is the scientific discussion is tailored to a very broad audience. A bit more Scientific rigor and detail would make it 5 stars in my book. Please keep it up!

Homergee ,

Hypocrites

How many hope lodge patients had to stop treatment as you escorted them home ?

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