Nov 22, 2021

A Caregiver's Journey to Healing through Art

University of Utah student Griffin Hale created an art installation focused around his mother, who has metastatic breast cancer. “The Caregiver’s Window” remained for just a few days, but the emotional impact may last a lifetime.

Nov 19, 2021

What to Know if You’re Nervous about Mammograms

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancers diagnosed in women, yet many women still get anxious when it comes to getting a mammogram. Here, we outline what a mammogram is and walk through a typical appointment.

Nov 01, 2021

Oncology Nurse Becomes Cancer Caregiver to Her Own Mom

Cassidy Kotobalavu faced cancer on a daily basis while working as a nurse educator at HCI. In 2015, it hit home when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The support she received from HCI staff allowed her to get a rare glimpse at the important roles played in one person’s cancer journey.

Oct 27, 2021

Letter of Hope from Matt Covington, MD, from the Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging

“We want to help individuals with cancer receive the best imaging possible,” says Matt Covington, MD. Dr. Covington is a radiologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute who specializes in cancer imaging. In this letter of hope, he explains why he is passionate about his research and how advances in cancer imaging can help patients today and in the future.

Oct 25, 2021

Talks with Docs: Phoebe Freer, Chief of Breast Imaging at HCI

Phoebe Freer, MD, chats about what happens in the breast imaging department at HCI, some common concerns from patients and how a traumatic car accident inspired her to become a doctor in the latest Talks with Docs.

Oct 20, 2021

Will a Mammogram Work for Me? FAQs about Small Breasts, Dense Breasts, and Implants

If you have small breasts, dense breasts, or breasts with implants, you may wonder whether a mammogram will work for you. Huntsman Cancer Institute breast radiologist Phoebe Freer, MD, explains what you need to know about mammograms for these breast types.

Oct 18, 2021

How the Breast Cancer Family Registry Is Making an Impact on Future Generations

The Breast Cancer Family Registry provides people with a glimpse into their medical past and future. Through testing, doctors can discover if a person carries a BRCA gene mutation, which increases the risk of breast cancer. Learn about the impact the registry has had on two people, Elise Grant and Chrissy Walker.

Oct 11, 2021

Ask an Expert: Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. Kirstyn Brownson, MD, a surgical breast oncologist at HCI, and Phoebe Freer, MD, a radiologist at HCI, share their knowledge and expertise about the disease, its symptoms, and possible treatments.

May 28, 2021

Six New Cancer Research Fellows Announced by 5 For The Fight

Six new cancer researchers will receive funding through the 5 For The Fight Cancer Research Fellowship, which aims to bring innovative ideas and new ways of thinking to eradicate cancer.

May 21, 2021

Innovative National Clinical Trials in Breast Cancer and Hematologic Cancers Open at Huntsman Cancer Institute

Huntsman Cancer Institute highlights two examples of clinical trials at HCI exploring new innovations in cancer, including the I-SPY2 trial, studying new approaches for breast cancer treatment, and the SWOG CLL Study S1925, or EVOLVE CLL, an international study evaluating a new approach to chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma.

Apr 01, 2021

A Patient’s Perspective on Breast Cancer, Fertility, and Race

Tiana Rogers, PhD, was trying for a baby and working on her research career when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she describes her cancer treatment and fertility planning care as “textbook,” she knows Black women like her face worse outcomes than other racial groups when it comes to cancer, pregnancy, and various medical issues. Now she’s using her experience to help other women of color achieve health equity.

Feb 22, 2021

COVID-19 and Mammogram Breast Cancer Screening: What You Should Know

Dr. Phoebe Freer, a radiologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute and chief of breast imaging in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at University of Utah Health, provides insight on breast cancer screening and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Feb 18, 2021

Healing through Music and Teaching after Breast Cancer

Country singer and music teacher Kaci Whitby was blindsided by a breast cancer diagnosis at age 31. Genetic testing revealed she had the BRCA mutation, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. After going through chemo and surgery, Kaci is now in follow-up care. She talks about the moments she is grateful for—spending time with family and sharing her love of music with her students.

Jan 04, 2021

Doctors Urge Utah women Not to Delay Mammograms Because of the Pandemic

COVID-19 has had a major impact on health care delivery this year. In spring 2020, as part of the extraordinary precautions designed to keep people safe, certain medical appointments were postponed. These included cancer screenings such as mammograms. Phoebe Freer, MD, a radiologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, is leading efforts to help women get access to lifesaving mammography screenings. Her team has worked to implement a variety of safety protocols to help keep patients safe

Dec 09, 2020

Think of the Whole Picture When Choosing Breast Cancer Treatment

Connie Collier didn’t waste any time getting back to life after breast cancer surgery. The 70-year-old retired VA medical support specialist and Air Force veteran doesn’t like to sit around. She’d rather spend time camping, canoeing, fishing, or—better yet—riding her motorcycle. So when Connie needed to choose a treatment for breast cancer, she asked herself which option would let her resume her active lifestyle as soon as possible.

Oct 30, 2020

Conquering Cranky – Optimism amid a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Candis Shupe was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in January of 2019. Candis’s enthusiasm, optimism, and desire to help others has led to her family motto: "Conquer Cranky." She has taught her children about cancer in a nonthreatening way, participated in various clinical trials, and raised more than $11,500 for research at HCI with help from her favorite modern aerobics fitness class, High Fitness."

Oct 27, 2020

Nine Tips for Your Screening Mammogram

Most women should start getting a screening mammogram at age 40, according to the American Cancer Society. If you have family history of breast cancer or are high risk, your doctor may recommend this important screening at a younger age. And while a mammogram is crucial to your health, it’s probably not the most exciting thing on your calendar. Here are a few tips to make your appointment go more smoothly.

Oct 27, 2020

Letter of Hope: Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research in the Varley Lab

You might not see us during your visit to Huntsman Cancer Institute, but we want to let you know that we are working hard in the Varley Lab in the HCI research building next door. We conduct research that improves the treatment and care of patients like you. We are a small group of dedicated young men and women who are developing new strategies to diagnose and treat breast and ovarian cancer.

Oct 22, 2020

Letter of Hope: Breast Cancer Research in the Welm Labs

Dear patients, please know this as you go through your breast cancer treatment journey. The dedicated technical staff, PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows in the Welm Labs continue to work hard every day (and night!) to bring new hope to people with metastatic breast cancer through innovative research, always with patients in mind.

Oct 14, 2020

Talks with Docs: Jane Poretta, Breast Cancer Surgeon

Jane Porretta, M.D. is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in breast surgery. She sees patients at HCI and at the South Jordan and Farmington Health Center facilities. In this episode of Talks with Docs, Dr. Porretta shares with us when her interest in surgery was born, why she loves being part of the team at HCI, and what surprising person she would trade lives with for a day.

Oct 12, 2020

Miss Resilient: Living through Three Unrelated Breast Cancers

After three unrelated breast cancer diagnoses here I am now, at 77, in good shape, active, and enjoying my life. I hardly notice my mastectomy. My friends have nicknamed me “Miss Resilient.” I’m sharing my story with the hope that a newly diagnosed woman will know she can rise above this disease. Involve your family and friends, accept help, stay positive, and be active. Always remember YOU are the author of your own life!

Oct 07, 2020

Ask an Expert: Targeted Axillary Dissection

Targeted axillary dissection (TAD) is a relatively new breast cancer procedure. It allows surgical oncologists to specifically locate a lymph node that contained cancer before chemotherapy, remove it during surgery, and check it to see if there is remaining cancer in the lymph node. With a more accurate picture of the patient’s response to chemotherapy in the lymph nodes, the patient may be able to keep more axillary, or underarm, lymph nodes.

Sep 30, 2020

My Mammogram Saved My Life

Jessica Rivera doesn't have any family history or risk factors for breast cancer. But when she turned 40 she scheduled her first screening mammogram, never expecting the results to come back positive. Jessica hopes to help other women by sharing her story and urging them to get their mammograms. “Cancer is still happening. It doesn’t care that we have a pandemic. I wish it did because we all feel like we have a full plate right now. But I believe with all my heart that my mammogram saved my life. Get your mammograms. Regardless.”

Aug 11, 2020

Call Her Quiet Thunder: Breast Cancer Didn't Slow Down this Cyclist

“I ended up saying yes to a whole lot more and doing lots of different things," says Jen Diederich, breast cancer survivor and cyclist. For Jen, her bicycle races have lead to much more than ribbons.

Jun 29, 2020

Thriving, Not Just Surviving, with Metastatic Breast Cancer

“When you get diagnosed with a terminal cancer, you have to decide how you’re going to live with a disease. It doesn’t have to stop you from doing things, but you do have to choose how to live.”

Jun 10, 2020

Ask an Expert: Why Choose a Lumpectomy?

Lumpectomy is the gold standard for breast cancer surgery, says Kirstyn E. Brownson, MD, a surgical breast oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute. We asked Dr. Brownson to explain what a lumpectomy is and the benefits it offers.

Jun 02, 2020

She’s Got Sunshine: Finding the Bright Side with Breast Cancer

After being diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her fortieth birthday, Renee felt overwhelmed and out of control. After meeting with her breast cancer surgeon and making a plan, she decided to celebrate the things she can control.

May 05, 2020

Breast Cancer and Physical Distancing

As a third year medical student, I was about to start work with the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) breast cancer team when coronavirus cancellations began. All University of Utah School of Medicine clinical learning was suspended to protect the health of patients and students. Soon, however, Kirstyn E. Brownson, MD, the physician I was scheduled to work with on my rotation, contacted me. We talked shop and she shared insights about treating breast cancer. Aside from these lessons, she gave me a challenge: research something I’m interested in and its connection with breast cancer.

Mar 04, 2020

Talks with Docs: Kirstyn Brownson, Breast Cancer Surgeon

In this episode of Talks with Docs, Kirstyn Brownson, MD, tells us how she went from ballerina to surgeon after a life-changing injury. Dr. Brownson also speaks with us about her affinity for writing and how women with cancer have improved their experiences by engaging with their health care team.

Mar 04, 2020

Talks with Docs: John Ward, Breast Oncologist and Hematologist

John Ward, MD, has been a part of Huntsman Cancer Institute since its doors first opened. He now serves as Interim Senior Director of Clinical Affairs and the Interim Physician in Chief. Dr. Ward is honored to be associated with people who face cancer in their lives and tells us what he's learned from his patients after his 25 years at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Mar 01, 2020

To Understand Cancer from Its Beginnings

By better understanding cancer in its earliest stages—and a deeper knowledge of healthy cell behavior—we shed light on the precursors of cancer and what allows a cancer to grow. Read just a few highlights of noteworthy recent studies at HCI that advance our quest to understand cancer from its beginnings and to use that information in the creation and improvement of new cancer treatments.

Mar 01, 2020

Navigating Inherited Cancer Risk

After their sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Juana Cobián and her brother decided to get genetic testing. Genetic testing provides a way for many to understand their risk for developing cancer.

Mar 01, 2020

Saving More Than Time: Shortened Radiation Therapy

Traditionally, breast cancer patients who receive radiation get small doses almost daily over a six- to seven-week period. Radiation oncologists are now seeking to shorten that time through clinical trials.

Mar 01, 2020

Navegando los riesgos del cáncer heredado

Luego de que a su hermana se le diagnosticara cáncer de mama, Juana Cobián y su hermano decidieron hacerse pruebas genéticas. Las pruebas genéticas ofrecen una forma de que muchas personas puedan entender su riesgo de desarrollar cáncer.

Mar 01, 2020

Entender el Cáncer desde sus Inicios

Mediante una mejor comprensión del cáncer en sus etapas más tempranas—y un conocimiento más profundo del comportamiento de las células saludables—esclarecemos los precursores del cáncer y lo que permite que un cáncer crezca. Lea algunos puntos destacados de estudios notables recientes en HCI que impulsan nuestro empeño por entender el cáncer desde sus inicios y usar dicha información en la creación y las mejoras de nuevos tratamientos contra el cáncer.

Mar 01, 2020

Ahorrando mucho más que el tiempo: la radioterapia acortada

Traditionally, breast cancer patients who receive radiation get small doses almost daily over a six- to seven-week period. Radiation oncologists are now seeking to shorten that time through clinical trials.

Feb 20, 2020

Huntsman Cancer Institute to Host 7th Annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Conference

The 7th annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Conference will be hosted by Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and Theresa’s Research Foundation on September 10 and 11, 2020. Participants from around the world are invited to discuss metastatic breast cancer including ongoing research and new ideas from early career scientists.

Jan 28, 2020

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Many Women Consider Breast Reconstruction

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Terri Jones had a plan. “When it got to the idea of reconstructive surgery, all I knew is that I didn’t want anything foreign in my body,” Jones said. “I didn’t want implants and I thought that meant I wouldn’t have reconstruction at all.” After speaking to a friend who had breast cancer, Jones learned there are many more options when it comes to breast reconstruction than she realized.

Nov 06, 2019

Talks with Docs: Regina Rosenthal, Breast Cancer Surgeon

Regina Rosenthal, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon practicing breast surgery at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute. She has more than twenty years of experience in the surgical treatment of breast cancer and is an advocate for the multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer, which helps tailor treatment plans to the goals and needs of individuals.

Oct 31, 2019

Breast Cancer: Not Just a Women’s Disease

Michael Sheffield was a healthy 45-year old in 2010 when he noticed some pain in his nipple. Not thinking much of it, he waited a few weeks until a routine skin check with his dermatologist. During the appointment, Mike’s dermatologist found a cyst and did a biopsy. A week later when results of the biopsy were back, Mike received unexpected news. He had breast cancer.

Oct 15, 2019

Expecting a Baby, not a Cancer Diagnosis

Sarah was 32 years old and 14 weeks along in her third pregnancy—this time a baby boy. Everything was normal until one day she found a lump in her breast. Sarah had a mammogram and ultrasound-guided biopsy. The tests confirmed the lump was breast cancer. Referred to Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Sarah traveled from her home in Nevada, leaving her one- and three-year-old behind. Her medical family at HCI included an obstetrician from the University of Utah who specializes in high-risk pregnancy. Limited to certain treatments in order to keep the baby safe, the team decided to shrink the tumor with chemotherapy.

Sep 05, 2019

Huntsman Cancer Institute Breaks Ground on 205,000-Square-Foot Expansion of Cancer Hospital

Today patients, donors, dignitaries, and staff of Huntsman Cancer Institute celebrated the groundbreaking of the next major expansion on the cancer campus. The Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers at HCI will contain eight stories, with a floor dedicated to women’s cancers; a new endoscopy center; increased services for blood and marrow transplant patients; an expansion of the HCI Wellness and Integrative Health Center; and 48 new inpatient hospital rooms

Aug 21, 2019

What You Need to Know about the FDA Breast Implant Recall

Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall on breast implants manufactured by Allergan. We asked Jay Agarwal, MD, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Utah and breast reconstruction surgeon at Huntsman Cancer Institute, about what patients should know about the recall.

Mar 12, 2019

Huntsman Translational Scholars: Matthew Poppe, MD

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) has established The Society of Huntsman Translational Scholars, an initiative that recognizes excellence in the discipline of translational science. Translational researchers extend basic discoveries made in the laboratory and apply them to solve clinical problems and benefit patients through new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

Mar 01, 2019

Space for Emotional Healing: Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Support Group

Connecting with other cancer patients in a support group can decrease isolation, provide additional support, and help reduce stress, according to Lisa Gauchay, MSW, LCSW, a social worker at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Lisa runs a support group for patients with metastatic breast cancer. The group meets once a month, discussing different topics that include how to cope with grief, bucket list ideas, and the process of dying. Patients who participate in the support group often create lasting friendships by connecting with others who are going through similar experiences.

Feb 11, 2019

Invest in Joy

Holly Hagerman, cancer survivor and co-chair of Pink Park City, has always found joy in being active in the mountains. When she stumbled into Pink Vail during a trip to celebrate healing from surgery, she knew she had to bring that joy back to Utah.

Oct 25, 2018

More Than A Mammogram

Most women have about a 10-12% lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. But how do you know if you have a higher-than-average risk? Huntsman Cancer Institute now offers personalized breast screening visits, which help you find out your own risk for breast cancer. This helps you decide if you need to screen for breast cancer earlier than average, or if you need to take extra steps to lower your risk.

Oct 19, 2018

Letter of Hope from the Zangle Lab

Just a little way down the hill from Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Zangle Lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering is working on new technologies to choose the most effective therapies for each individual patient with breast cancer. We are excited about a project that takes a new approach to measure the growth of cancer cells and predict which drugs may be most beneficial to patients with advanced metastatic breast cancer.

Oct 04, 2018

Talks with Docs: Cindy Matsen, MD

At Huntsman Cancer Institute, Dr. Cindy Matsen helps provide patients with surgical options as they undergo treatment for their breast cancer. In this interview, we learn about the relationships she builds with her female patients and what they teach her every day.

Aug 07, 2018

Research Identifies New Treatment Targets in Breast Cancer

Scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, in collaboration with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have generated the first single cell resolution atlas of genes that control the formation of breast tissue. The atlas provides a comprehensive molecular map that will be used to help researchers understand how breast cancers form and to pinpoint new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease.

Jul 09, 2018

Huntsman Translational Scholars: Adam Cohen, MD, MS

Huntsman Cancer Institute established The Society of Huntsman Translational Scholars to recognize excellence in the discipline of translational science. Adam Cohen, MD, MS, was recently honored with a Huntsman Translational Scholar award. He is a researcher and physician, specializing in neuro-oncology and breast oncology.

Jun 14, 2018

Huntsman Cancer Institute Physicians Attend and Share Expertise at National Cancer Meeting

“Delivering Discoveries: Expanding the Reach of Precision Medicine,” was the theme of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2018 annual meeting held June 1-5, 2018 in Chicago. One of the largest scientific conferences in the world, the meeting brings together nearly 40,000 attendees and features thousands of studies about new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.

Jun 11, 2018

Letter of Hope from the Gertz Lab

It is patients like you, your loved ones, and Dr. Gertz's parents who keep us motivated and excited to find ways to help in the fight against this terrible disease. We appreciate everything you do as patients—like donating samples and participating in clinical trials—and we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to help patients with breast and uterine cancer.

May 30, 2018

Huntsman Cancer Institute and TGen receive $6.7 million grant to battle a hidden enemy

Often what kills cancer patients is not the cancer at its original or primary site, but its spread to secondary sites within the body, through a process called metastasis. In the case of breast cancer, the tumor often spreads to the bone, and it is this bone metastasis that results in intense pain and precedes spread to other organs.

May 22, 2018

Talks with Docs: Alvin Kwok, MD, MPH

Alvin Kwok, MD, MPH, is a breast reconstruction surgeon who returned to Utah to join the Huntsman Cancer Institute team. He shares with us how breast reconstruction can help patients' outlook on their cancer journey. We also find out what delicious activities he's up to on his days off.

Mar 08, 2018

Talks with Docs: Theresa Werner, MD

Huntsman Cancer Institute celebrates International Women's Day 2018 in a conversation with Dr. Theresa Werner. Her patients juggle treatment with lives that often include work, a relationship, and motherhood. She talks with us about the optimistic women she treats in clinic and a stylish first lady of the United States she would trade lives with for a day.

Feb 15, 2018

Developing Better Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapy in cancer treatment is often called personalized or precision medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Targeted therapies are designed to be more effective and less harmful than other approaches because the drugs are specially designed to meet the individual characteristics of each patient.

Feb 15, 2018

Expanding Access to Clinical Trials

All cancer treatments and medications that are used today were, at one point, part of a clinical trial. Clinical trials can offer hope, particularly in complex diseases such as cancer. But getting access to them can be difficult, especially if patients have to travel a long distance to a hospital that offers trials.

Dec 22, 2017

New Endowed Chair Holders at HCI

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is pleased to announce the appointment of two of our colleagues as holders of prestigious endowed chairs at the University of Utah. Endowed chairs recognize academic distinction, promote excellence, and provide funds for cutting-edge research.

Dec 01, 2017

Talks with Docs: Anna Beck, MD

A conversation with Anna Beck, MD—director of Supportive Oncology and Survivorship at Huntsman Cancer Institute—on a love for medicine that spans three generations and her four-legged family.

Dec 01, 2017

Facing Cancer with Hope and High Heels

After Emma Houston learned she had breast cancer, the first thing she did was go shopping to buy red three-inch high heels. The shoes became as much a hallmark of her cancer journey as her humor and positive outlook. 

Oct 18, 2017

Retreats and Support Groups Offer Space for Emotional Healing

Support groups and special retreats are helpful for many people with cancer. Merica Hale found a healing place to relax and meet women diagnosed with breast cancer who could offer each other support.

Oct 01, 2017

Mammograms Save Lives: What Women Need to Know about Breast Cancer Screening

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October is a reminder for women to get to know their bodies, practice awareness, and schedule a screening mammogram to check for breast cancer.

Jan 25, 2017

Huntsman Cancer Institute Scientists Identify Bone Degradation Process Within Metastatic Breast Cancer

Once breast cancer spreads through the body, it can degrade a patient’s healthy bones, causing numerous problems. Scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have identified a new way that bones get destroyed through cancer. And they’ve also learned how to block that destruction with a new drug. Initial tests with patients show promising results.

Oct 30, 2015

Twice a Survivor

Mary Chamberlain had completed treatment for one type of cancer, melanoma, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She talks about her journey with both cancers, including how she got through chemotherapy when she thought her body couldn’t take it anymore.