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What Your Dollars Support

February 2014

Thank you for supporting Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's essential research on women's cancers.

At Fred Hutch, our women’s cancers researchers are dedicated to improving the prevention, early detection and treatment of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. Every day, these scientists and clinicians take us closer to our ultimate goal of ending these devastating diseases. Their innovation would not be possible without private contributions like yours.

We’re pleased to share with you recent discoveries that promise to improve care for women with cancer. We thank you for partnering with us to help propel this lifesaving research.

Pinpointing ovarian cancer prognosis by counting immune cells

For many cancer types, the more tumor-attacking immune cells that find their way into the tumor, the better the patient’s chances of survival. But counting these armies of cells had proven difficult, meaning this correlation couldn’t be used in the clinic to determine cancer patients’ prognoses and help guide their treatment.

Shoppers at 2013 Shop to Make a Difference

Shoppers at 2013 Shop to Make a Difference

Fred Hutch’s Dr. Jason Bielas and colleagues developed a new method for counting a special class of cancer-fighting immune cells reliably, quickly and cheaply in patients with early stage and advanced ovarian cancer. This new test has the potential to predict treatment response, cancer recurrence and disease-free survival earlier and more effectively than any other available method.

The researchers tested their novel method on tumor samples from 30 ovarian cancer patients. Looking at the levels of T cells present in these tumors and comparing those levels to the women’s survival, they found that higher numbers of T cells did correlate with better survival. Developing and testing this innovative technique, which would not have been possible without private support like yours, could lead to improved treatment options in early stages of ovarian cancer.

Certain blood pressure meds may increase breast cancer risk

In a recent study, Dr. Christopher Li and colleagues observed an association between increased breast cancer risk and long-term use of calcium-channel blockers, a widely used class of hypertensive medication. Women who took CCBs for 10 years or more showed a more than twofold increase in invasive ductal breast cancer and invasive lobular breast cancer. In contrast, the researchers found a possible association between a reduced risk of both of these types of breast cancer and the long-term use of another hypertensive medication called an ACE (angiotensin-converting-enzyme) inhibitor.

Dr. Li cautions that these results should not change current clinical practice, particularly given the benefits of these drugs for preventing diseases associated with high blood pressure such as stroke and heart disease. However, this observational study will prompt further research to confirm if there is a causal relationship between CCBs and increased breast cancer risk and then determine if women should be advised to alter their medication for treating hypertension.

Celeste Smith, breast cancer survivor

Celeste Smith, breast cancer survivor

Breast cancer survivor gives back

Everything in Celeste Smith’s world turned upside down the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following surgery to remove the tumor in her breast, she had 30 rounds of radiation, 18 rounds of chemotherapy and 26 rounds of hormone therapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch’s treatment arm.

After a year and a half battling her cancer, Celeste had lost her house, filed for bankruptcy and given up her career in real estate and an active social life. But despite all she lost, Celeste is thankful that she didn’t lose her life — thankful to her doctors at SCCA and the research at Fred Hutch that makes successful treatments like hers possible.

Now, cancer-free five years after her diagnosis, Celeste volunteers her time helping other patients and families at SCCA and serving on an advisory council to help improve patient experiences. She dedicates her time and energy in this way because she wants to give back to the people and places, Fred Hutch and SCCA, that saved her life.

“I want everyone to have the experience that I had. Had I not had the doctors that I had, I probably would not be here today,” she said.

Private support like yours is critical for the important work Fred Hutch does to ensure that many more breast cancer patients go on to live healthy, productive lives, as Celeste knows all too well.

"Fred Hutch saves lives. When you are investing, you are really investing in the lives of others. There is no better investment than that."