Pediatric Cancer Treatment Advances Bring New Hope to Children Battling Cancer

By Marianne Clay

Dr. Barbara A. Miller, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital, discusses the significant improvements in the treatment of pediatric cancer over the past four decades that have boosted survival rates.

Woman with brown hair and glasses wears lab coat with Penn State College of Medicine logo.

Dr. Barbara A. Miller is the chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

How have treatments for pediatric cancer improved since 1974?

  • The treatment regimens are much more complex. Multi-drug regimens are very common, often with higher drug doses and incorporating new or improved drugs.
  • Risk-directed therapies are more commonly used. Patients are now often stratified into “low” risk, meaning that their disease responds better to current therapies, and they require less intensive therapy, compared to “high” risk, meaning they are at high risk for a relapse and require more intensive therapies to give a better chance of cure. The genetic and biological criteria for designing therapies are continually being better defined.
  • New drugs are available that are biologically targeted and have fewer side effects, and more of these are currently being developed. However, we still need to learn a lot about how to use them, including what diseases they are effective in, how to use them with conventional chemotherapy and with each other, and for how long. (more…)

February 12, 2018 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

Head, and heart, in the clouds

Helping others is in Jim George’s nature. As the director of community relations at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, he’s made it his career. In 2011, he became a licensed pilot. That same year, he started building his flight hours so that he could start to volunteer with Angel Flight East.

The nonprofit organization provides free air transportation to financially needy patients and their families by arranging flights to distant medical facilities.

“It’s a great excuse to fly,” George says of Angel Flight. “You get to do what you love and do something good for someone else at the same time.” (more…)

February 5, 2018 at 8:05 am Leave a comment

More than meets the eye

Gascho with ancillary portraits 1

Dr. Joseph Gascho stands in front of his support staff series of portraits at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

If there’s one thing Dr. Joseph Gascho wants you to do, it’s to open your eyes to new possibilities and really see things.

Gascho, a cardiologist with Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute, spends his time outside of the hospital behind a camera, taking photos of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center staff, doctors and patients.

View Dr. Gascho photos on this Flickr album.

“I want other people to see what I see,” he explained. “I’m interested in perceiving and seeing what’s going on, and photography is a way of doing that.

“In hospitals, I want people to see that people are more than they appear to be on the surface. Patients are more than just patients, and doctors are more than just doctors.”


January 29, 2018 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

For This Advocate, Sweet Victory

By Carolyn Kimmel

Weighing 380 pounds, Bellefonte resident Dean DeVore was pre-diabetic and struggling with lethargy and sleep apnea. The AccuWeather meteorologist and game announcer for the Penn State Nittany Lions realized he had to do something to gain control over his health. He turned to surgical weight loss and lost 160 pounds.

Pennsylvania residents who, like DeVore, are struggling with obesity have a new option, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Ann Rogers, director of the Penn State Surgical Weight Loss program. After more than a decade of advocacy and more trips to Capitol Hill and the State Capitol than she cares to count, she is celebrating a victory.

As of Jan. 1, Pennsylvania state employees who have a BMI of 40 or more and diabetes are able to get weight loss surgeries covered by their health insurance. The benefit is thanks in large part to Rogers’s tireless efforts.


January 17, 2018 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

History through the lens: Veteran photographer retires after 36 years

By Jen Vogelsong

After nearly four decades of photographing the faces and events of Penn State, Darrell Peterson is trading project management in the studio for projects around the house. He is retiring in December but shared some of the favorite images he took during his 36-year career in this photo gallery.

Alan Brechbill, president of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said Peterson has photographed the organization’s history, and that institutional memory won’t be easily replaced. “(Darrell) knows us so well and is so proud of this place,” Brechbill said. “He made it a passion to paint us in the best light possible.”

Darrell Peterson

Over the years, Peterson has gone up in the Life Lion helicopter to take aerial photographs and scrubbed into ORs to document unusual cases for educational and research purposes.

December 21, 2017 at 7:05 pm Leave a comment

Prestigious training grant extended five more years

By Heidi Lynn Russell

Penn State College of Medicine has again been successful in extending funding from the National Cancer Institute through a training grant for vital research into viruses that cause cancer. This training grant has been in place for more than 20 years.

This August, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Penn State Cancer Institute were successful in renewing the training grant funding to continue groundbreaking research for another five years – something that many other universities have not been able to achieve, said Dr. Craig Meyers. Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. “We’re listed right up there with the big names,” he said. “A lot of universities want it.” Meyers, director of the Viruses and Cancer Training Program wrote the grant. (more…)

November 1, 2017 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

Summit to address health disparities in rural Appalachia

For those who live along the Appalachian mountain range, limited availability of health care services, low level of health insurance coverage, and behavioral risks, such as opioid addiction, are challenges. Researchers at Penn State and other institutions are working to understand these challenges through the Appalachian Translational Research Network.

Appalachia is a predominantly rural region along the Appalachian mountain range, including 420 counties in 13 states from southern New York to Mississippi.  For Pennsylvania, 52 of its 67 counties are Appalachian. (more…)

October 20, 2017 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

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