The Blog

Immune drugs hold hope of “clinical cure” for deadly skin cancer

i Sep 28th No Comments by

A new generation of drugs designed to trigger the immune system to fight cancer is offering the prospect of a “clinical cure” for some melanoma skin cancer patients who until a few years ago were more likely to be facing a swift death.

Cancer specialists gathering for a European conference at the weekend said the so-called immunotherapy drugs, a class led by Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy, or ipilimumab, have transformed an area of oncology in which until recently doctors barely had time to get to know their patients.

Stephen Hodi, assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the United States, said he was cautious about using the term cure, but described recent advances as a “paradigm shift”.

At the least, he said, the success of this new generation of medicines means some melanoma patients would now be living with a chronic disease, rather than facing imminent death.

“This is a really amazing time … A few years ago we could never have imagined using the C-word, cure, in melanoma,” he said. “But we are headed that way.”

“Ipilimumab opened a door, and now the field is moving extremely fast,” he told Reuters at the European Cancer Congress (ECC) in Amsterdam.

Read the full article from

Related article: ECC 2013: Longest follow-up of largest number of melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab shows some survive up to ten years

Jackie Evancho eBay fundraiser for The Woiner Foundation

i Sep 22nd No Comments by

Beginning at 9 p.m. EST time on Tuesday, Sept. 24th, the Woiner Foundation will host an online (eBay) charity auction of rare memorabilia items autographed by Jackie Evancho.

The young soprano from Pittsburgh won runner-up on the NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent” in 2010 and launched her soon-to-be legendary career, signing with Columbia Records shortly thereafter.

During Jackie’s exciting run on AGT, one of her first on-camera interviews was with WPXI-TV VJ Jessica Fera, founder of the Woiner Foundation.  Jessica and the Evanchos have kept in touch ever since and the foundation is grateful for the family’s support of its efforts in the fight against melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

100% of the proceeds from the three auctions will benefit the Woiner Foundation.  You can bid on the items by visiting the foundation’s page on eBay.

**Please Note: Because we had a brand new eBay account that was receiving a high number of bids, eBay removed our first listing twice due to security concerns.  We have gone through two verification sessions with eBay and our listed has been reinstated.  Thank you for your patience!

Jackie Evancho Autographed “Dream With Me In Concert” DVD (For Auction 9/26-10/3) SOLD! $870 RAISED!


Jackie Evancho Autographed “Heavenly Christmas” Framed T-Shirt (For Auction 10/6-10/13) SOLD! $370.65 RAISED!


Jackie Evancho Autographed “Dream With Me” T-Shirt and “Dream With Me” Tote Bag *Tote Bag Not Autographed (For Auction 10/20-10/27) SOLD! $810 RAISED!

jackiedreamshirt  jackietotebag

FDA approves Abraxane for advanced pancreatic cancer

i Sep 6th No Comments by

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today expanded the approved uses of Abraxane to treat patients with advanced (metastatic) pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. An estimated 45,220 patients will be diagnosed and 38,460 will die from the disease in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute. Surgery is the only option to permanently remove or cure pancreatic cancer, but it usually is too late for surgery by the time the cancer is diagnosed.

“Patients with pancreatic cancer are often diagnosed after the cancer has advanced and cannot be surgically removed,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In these situations, and in situations when the cancer has progressed following surgery, options like Abraxane can help prolong a patient’s life.”

Abraxane is a chemotherapy drug that can slow the growth of certain tumors. Abraxane is intended to be used with gemcitabine, another chemotherapy drug, in patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

The FDA reviewed the new use for Abraxane under the agency’s priority review program, which provides for an expedited review of drugs. Abraxane was also granted orphan product designation for pancreatic cancer because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition.

The FDA approval of Abraxane is the first new treatment to be approved for adenocarcinoma pancreatic cancer in nearly eight years.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Press Release

FDA Press Release

Melanoma symposium set for Oct. 26 at UPMC

i Sep 4th No Comments by

UPMC CancerCenter and AIM at Melanoma, a nonprofit organization that supports melanoma research and promotes melanoma prevention and education, will host the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Patient and Caregiver Symposium. Leading melanoma experts will discuss emerging therapies, the importance of clinical trials, and innovations in research.

Saturday, October, 26, 2013
8 a.m. to noon
Herberman Conference Center
at UPMC Cancer Pavilion,
UPMC Shadyside
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Speakers include:

  • Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology and Clinical and Translational Science, director, Clinical Trials, Department of Dermatology
  • Matthew P. Holtzman, MD, assistant professor, Division of Surgical Oncology
  • Ahmad Tarhini, MD, PhD, associate professor of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science, UPCI Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program
  • Hussein Tawbi, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science, UPCI Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program, co-leader, UPCI Sarcoma Program, director, UPCI Clinical and Translational Research Center
  • Hassane M. Zarour, MD, professor of Medicine, Immunology and Dermatology, UPCI

Light food and refreshments will be available. The program is free. To register, visit and click on Patient and Caregiver Symposiums or call 412-623-7707.