Committed to Excellence in Cancer Research, Education and Patient Care
January 2019
New Gynecologic Oncologist Aims to Reduce Cervical Cancer Rates in NOLA
Dr. Jessica Shank is board certified in Gynecologic Oncology and Obstetrics & Gynecology and specializes in female pelvic cancers, including ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and Gynecologic Oncologist Jessica Shank, MD, is on a mission to raise awareness that this cancer is preventable.

"In New Orleans, cervical cancer rates are more than double that of the rest of the country," said Shank. "This is a cancer that can be prevented with regular Pap smear screening and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine."

The vaccine was previously FDA-approved for use in girls and boys from ages 9 - 26 but was recently approved for use up to the age of 45.

"I'm looking for outreach opportunities to de-stigmatize HPV as a sexually transmitted infection and make patients and parents aware that they have these options, especially now that more people are insured."

Shank says education is our best bet, not just among patients and parents, but also pediatricians, primary care providers, family medicine doctors and internal medicine physicians.

"In places with socialized health care or closed healthcare systems, like Australia, cervical cancer has been virtually eliminated, because everyone gets the vaccine and everyone gets screened. We could do this in the U.S. As a country, we need to realize it's much cheaper to prevent cancer than to treat it once it occurs."

Dr. Shank's recent arrival at Tulane is actually a homecoming. "I'm from Louisiana," she said. "I fell in love with this city as a Tulane undergrad and med student."
She attended Tulane Medical School as a commissioned naval officer with a Navy Health Professions Scholarship. She then completed internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), followed by a Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship at the University of Michigan. She then served as a staff gynecologic oncologist at NMCSD for five years before retiring from the Navy.
"This city and its people are near and dear to my heart. I wanted to come back and raise my children near their family here in Louisiana," she said.

Dr. Shank specializes in female pelvic cancers, including ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers, and s he utilizes the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as robotic, laparoscopic and laser surgery. 
"One of my goals is to create more access to care for gynecologic oncology patients here," said Shank. "Right now the state of Louisiana has a total of only eleven gynecologic oncologists; so we're under-served. I'm hoping to help facilitate more opportunities for identifying cancer early or preventing it altogether."
Tulane Study Finds Potential Role for
Personality Psychology in Cancer Care
A new study by Tulane University researchers finds a potential role for personality psychology in cancer care. (Story by Carolyn Scofield; photo from Thinkstock)
Men who are neurotic or introverted are more likely to be distressed after their prostate cancer diagnosis, according to a new study by researchers at Tulane University.

The findings suggest those personality traits are important factors in how men responded to the bad health news. The results of the study led by Laura Perry, a Tulane doctoral student in health psychology, are published in the journal Psycho-Oncology .

The researchers surveyed 212 men with prostate cancer about their tendencies on five well-established personality traits. These men also reported on their degree of emotional distress, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

Findings showed that emotional distress was more common among participants with certain personality tendencies—neuroticism, defined as a tendency to be emotionally unstable and experience negative emotions; or introversion, a tendency to be withdrawn, reserved, and inhibited.

The study found that 37 percent of participants had at least one form of emotional distress (anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts). Those who were neurotic or introverted were more than twice as likely to experience emotional distress compared to the rest of the sample. These effects of personality could not be explained by other factors, such as participants’ age, education level, or health characteristics.

“Someone who is neurotic may tend to interpret an event, such as a prostate cancer diagnosis, as a more significant threat to their well-being,” Perry says. “Someone who is introverted may be less likely to seek support from friends and family during their illness. In either scenario, these individuals may be less equipped to cope with the emotional burden of cancer.”

The study suggests a potential role for personality psychology in cancer care. Perry says future studies are needed to investigate whether assessing personality tendencies during routine appointments could strengthen patient care.
Sixth Annual Gunning for a Cure
Benefits Prostate Cancer Research
The Sixth Annual Gunning for a Cure Sporting Clays Fundraiser - an annual clay shooting competition benefiting Dr. Oliver Sartor's Prostate Cancer Research Fund at Tulane Cancer Center - will take place Saturday, February 16 , at Stella Plantation , 4881 Highway 39, Braithwaite, Louisiana, in Plaquemines Parish. Event registration will begin at 8 AM and the shoot begins at 9 AM.

Hosted by the family and friends of the late Chalin O. Perez, a former patient of Dr. Sartor's, this event has raised over $730,000 since it's first year.

Chalin O. Perez passed away in 2003, after battling prostate cancer for many years. "Dad always attributed his quality of life over the years to Dr. Sartor," said Perez's son Chalyn, who along with his siblings and others, heads up the organizing committee for the event. "That's why we support Dr. Sartor's Prostate Cancer Research Fund - because we believe he offers the best prostate cancer treatment available anywhere, while also pursuing the research that will lead to a cure."

"This is an exciting time in the prostate cancer research realm," said Dr. Sartor, head of Tulane's Prostate Cancer Research Program. "We have made great progress over the past few years with regard to the development and approval of new drugs, the use of genetic testing to help tailor treatment plans to the individual patient, and basic science discoveries at the lab bench that have the potential to impact the way we care for patients in the future.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the research funding necessary to blaze new trails in our search for a cure, which means none of this would be possible without our supporters. I am immensely grateful to everyone involved in Gunning for a Cure – the organizing committee members, the donors, the in-kind sponsors, the volunteers, and the shooters. I hope you will join us for a fun and meaningful day on February 16."

There are a variety of ways you can help support this event, including shooting teams and station sponsorships, as well as individual shooter options and in-kind donations. But you don't have to participate in the sporting clays competition to attend. Families are encouraged to join us for lunch, which offers live entertainment, a generous buffet, open bar, live and silent auctions, raffles, and plenty of activities for the kids - bouncy houses, "Touch-A-Truck" experiences, and so much more. Children under 12 are FREE! 

For more information, visit
Student Athletes Provide Much-Needed Financial Assistance to Cancer Patients
Student athletes and coaches from Archbishop Chapelle, Cabrini, Mount Carmel Academy, St. Mary's Dominican, St. Scholastica Academy, Archbishop Shaw and Loyola University visited Tulane University's Yulman Stadium recently to present a check for $38,505 - the cumulative proceeds of Pink Games fundraisers held last fall.

Pink Games are a series of benefit volleyball games and other student-led fundraising initiatives held to support the Cancer Center's Patient Relief Fund - a resource for providing much-needed financial assistance for local patients facing a cancer diagnosis as well as financial burdens that could become barriers to their care.

David Mocklin, head athletic trainer at Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine as well as Mount Carmel Academy, founded the Pink Games effort at Tulane, and since 2013, funds raised exceed $155,000!

During the check presentation ceremony, the students were introduced to a breast cancer patient who has received a Patient Relief Fund grant. She was filled with emotion as she thanked the students and explained how their efforts have positively impacted her life.

Dr. Emad Kandil (left) was recently honored with the prestigious Shipley Award from the Southern Surgical Association, one of the oldest surgical societies in the country. This award is given in recognition of astute surgical scholarship. Dr. Kandil is only the third Tulane faculty member to receive the Shipley Award in the 60 years since its inception.
Calendar of Events
Oliver Sartor, MD
Raju Thomas, MD, FACS, FRCS, MHA
Emmanuel Antonarakis, MD
Topics to include:
  • Screening and surveillance
  • Focal therapy
  • Surgery
  • Castrate-resistant cancer
  • Genetics & biomarkers
  • Personalized medicine
  • and more!

Intended for:
  • Urologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Other healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of prostate cancer

For more information, or to register, please visit

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM
Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Tulane offers free prostate screenings - a PSA blood test - on the second Tuesday of each month at Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic, 150 S. Liberty St., New Orleans. To make an appointment, call 504-988-6300 or 1-800-588-5800.
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