Each May, dozens of the top cancer research facilities in the United States highlight some of their most innovative, groundbreaking projects as part of National Cancer Research Month.
In 2007, the United States Congress declared May National Cancer Research Month. The University of Arizona Cancer Center is joining the American Association for Cancer Research's
national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of cancer research and the progress that research institutions are making in critical areas of research and patient care.
We're in the final stages of preparing our Summer edition of Act Against Cancer
, which covers some truly incredible research projects already taking place at the UA Cancer Center. Sally Dickinson, PhD, is currently exploring how sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound in broccoli, can be extracted and used as a topical solution to combat skin cancer. In addition, Monica Yellowhair, PhD, is examining how depleted uranium exposure could potentially impact a cell's ability to repair itself.
We have also updated our Facebook page
to reflect our participation in NCRM.
Here some more highlights
of the many research efforts under way at the UA Cancer Center:
Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the spotlight.
She's been an A-list movie star for nearly two decades. She's married to Brad Pitt, arguably the most famous actor of his generation. She's graced the cover of every magazine. When she speaks, people listen.
So her Op-Ed in today's New York Times
obviously got people talking.
Jolie underwent a prophylactic mastectomy after finding that she is a carrier of an alteration in the BRCA1 gene. Her mother died of breast cancer at 56, and doctors estimated that Jolie had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
Jolie's essay is extremely powerful and illuminating. You should read the whole piece here
For people who have a strong family history of cancer, our multi-specialty team at the University of Arizona Cancer Center
can assess cancer risk, determine if genetic testing is appropriate, interpret testing results, and counsel regarding the options for cancer risk management. The UACC is the only cancer care facility in Tucson with certified genetic counselors.
To find out more, visit our web page
or call (520) 694-0800. Read more about prophylactic mastectomy
Destiny Hessel (photo by Sandy Hessel)
No child should ever have to deal with something as traumatic as a cancer diagnosis.
A person's youth is supposed to be sacred. It's a time for people to experience carefree enjoyment of the world around them.
It's not that simple for young cancer patients. All of the treatment sessions and hospital visits make a person grow up much faster than they should have to. Sadly, this often means they have to miss out on some of defining youth experiences.
The fine folks at the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern Arizona
are doing amazing things to help kids reclaim their youth.
On Saturday, the Candlelighters held their eighth annual Dream Night Prom
in Tucson, an event to help bring some much-needed normalcy and fun into the lives of young cancer patients.
From Kimberly Matas at the Arizona Daily Star
: "The first Dream Night Prom, in 2006, was the creation of teenager Carina Groves, who envisioned the event as a high school senior project. The 50 teens who attended found the prom to be both fun and healing, and encouraged the Candlelighters to make it an annual event."
Events like this are "especially meaningful to teens and their families because a cancer diagnosis can cause challenges that make a normal social life difficult. Treatments can cause hair loss, weight changes and other physical challenges. Long hospital stays can disrupt usual social activities, and important milestones are often missed."
Thank you so much to everyone responsible for events like this.• Teens with cancer get their own special Tucson prom
(Arizona Daily Star
, May 5, 2013)
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month
-- perfect timing, especially considering how much additional sunshine most communities start to see as spring rolls into summer.
Each May, we look to do what we can to help educate folks about this disease. It's the most common form of cancer in the United States, and many skin cancer cases can be prevented through regular screenings and sun-safe habits (such as wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunscreen on exposed areas).
Today, the UA Skin Cancer Institute
is kicking off "Trivia Tuesday,"
where they will post a trivia question to their Facebook page to test your knowledge on Skin Cancer and Sun Safety. You will have until Friday to answer, and the first person to answer correctly will win a prize.
Today's question has two parts: 1) What is the most common type of skin cancer? 2) What is the estimated number of new cases, of that type of cancer, diagnosed annually in the US?
Think you know the answer? Head over to the SCI Facebook page
and leave a comment!UPDATE
: Watch this Lifelines video about how skin cancer affects minorities (h/t NCI Multicultural Media)
Today, we found out that the University of Arizona Cancer Center
became the first institution in Southern Arizona (and only the fourth in the entire state) to be awarded a three-year term of accreditation from the American College of Radiation.
It's a prestigious, well-deserved honor for our tremendous Radiation Oncology
team, which has been working hard for years to earn this accreditation.
From the official ACR release
The ACR is the nation’s oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body, with nearly 500 accredited sites, and 25 years of accreditation experience. The ACR seal of accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting specific Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards developed by ACR after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field.
Patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Radiation Oncology Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.
Dave Dravecky had a special left arm.
Think about it. There are nearly 7 billion people on Earth. Less than one percent of them - a fraction of a fraction - will ever throw a Major League fastball. Dave Dravecky was one of them.
He grew up idolizing Sandy Koufax and Vida Blue - other lefties who could fire off 90-plus mile-per-hour fastballs. He spent most of the 1980s sharing the same occupation as his heroes: big-league pitcher. Incredible.
It all came to a heartbreaking halt on Aug. 10, 1989, when Dravecky suffered one of the most horrifying injuries anyone can suffer on a baseball diamond. His left arm - that special, gifted arm - snapped in half. Dravecky, a desmoid tumor survivor, pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks earlier that season, defying the odds and returning to the mound 10 months after his diagnosis.
But that cancer had weakened his deltoid to the point where his arm could no longer survive the torque of a 90 mile-per-hour fastball. After the injury, the cancer reappeared (along with dozens of surgeries and a brutal 10-month staph infection) and claimed his arm for good. In order to survive, the doctors would need to amputate. That left arm that made all of his dreams come true was now threatening to ruin his life.
For some people, that could be too much to bear. For Dave Dravecky, it started him on a path of spiritual and personal discovery.
Dravecky told his story on Thursday morning at the annual NACCDO-PAN conference
in Denver. With nearly every American cancer center represented in the audience, Dravecky delivered a moving, emotional, and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious speech that reminded us what it takes to defeat this awful disease.
Dravecky took us through the dizzying highs of his professional baseball career, along with the heartbreaking lows of the identity crisis and depression he went through when he lost his ability to pitch.
"We're all on a journey for a common goal, and that's to find a cure for cancer," Dravecky said at one of the speech's most emotionally charged moments. "It's teamwork that will help us achieve that goal."
Dravecky also relayed a story about the time he met his idol, Sandy Koufax. He wanted to shake his hand for serving as such an inspiration in his life. As a young, baseball-loving child growing up in Wyoming, I remember watching Dravecky pitch through the 80s and how devastatingly sad I was to witness Dravecky's injury on television in 1989. Seeing him speak today was one of the more inspiring moments of my life.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hand I need to shake.
Just about everyone who smokes has tried to quit at some point. Last week, we had a post covering how some folks seek out massage therapy
to kick the habit. We've also done posts on the hidden financial burden
smokers endure, as well as the added health hazards
We've even covered the proposed smoking ban
at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.
Today, we explore the technology route.
Judith Gordon, PhD, a behavioral psychologist with the Department of Family and Community Medicine in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is seeking participants to help test a mobile phone app designed to help people take medication to quit smoking.
Study participants will spend two hours testing the app, called RxCoach, in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and will be compensated for their time. Knowing how to use a smart phone is required. It will be a plus – but not required – for a participant to be a smoker, former smoker and/or using the prescription drug Chantix to curb their nicotine cravings.
Dr. Gordon, a recognized leader in smoking-cessation research, is principal investigator on the study, which is funded with a National Institutes of Health Small Business Technology Transfer Grant. She is partnering with InterVision Media of Eugene, Ore., which is programming the app.
Some people will try anything to put an end to their tobacco habit -- patches, gum, self-help books, hypnosis. Can something as relaxing and wonderful as massage therapy help, as well?
Recently, some Tucson massage therapists completed training in a research project to combat tobacco use, the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the United States.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by the Department of Family and Community Medicine
at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is called Project Reach
. According to the Arizona Health Sciences Center, participating licensed massage therapists are better equipped with the skills and knowledge to help their clients quit tobacco, and to help clients help a loved one quit tobacco.
As part of Project Reach, participating massage therapists took part in training sessions and received client information handouts so that the massage therapist can help their clients quit tobacco. Massage therapists also learned about communication skills to encourage and support behavior change – rather than threaten or lecture the smoker. They learned how to provide essential information about quitting techniques and local resources for extra support.
“We want to express our appreciation to these massage therapists, and recognize their efforts and commitment to being a quit-tobacco resource for the Tucson community,” says Myra Muramoto, MD, professor of family and community medicine and director of Project Reach.
A directory of massage therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractors who completed Project Reach training is available at www.fcm.arizona.edu/reach
. For more information about Project Reach, please call 520-626-9895, or email email@example.com
Here's how scientific research works, in a nutshell. Each time a new, potentially groundbreaking cancer treatment surfaces, the scientific community attempts to poke holes in it, searching for ways that it could fail or otherwise harm patients. This kind of skepticism is a vital part of the scientific method.
This time, it's the treatment itself that is poking holes.
Researchers are currently experimenting with a process called irreversible electroporation (IRE), which uses millions of electrical pulses per second to kill cancer cells but spares nearby tissue.An April 15 article
in the British paper the Daily Mail calls IRE a "minimally invasive cancer treatment that punches microscopic holes" in tumors, but doesn't harm surrounding healthy tissue.
Dr. Constantinos Sofocleous, an interventional radiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, "completed all 30 treatment sessions with no major complications, showing IRE to be safe enough for further investigation in larger clinical trials." He presented his findings at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.This treatment method involves generating strong electrical pulses to make microscopic holes in the cancer cell membranes, which throws the tumor cell into total disarray, as the lack of balance between the molecules inside and outside that cell leads to its demise.
Dr. Sofocleuous: "The combination of minimally invasive surgery and IRE allows for faster recovery with less tissue injury, and it is hoped, a better long-term outcome than with traditional surgery."Cancer treatment that punches holes in tumours could be latest weapon in war against disease
, April 15, 2013)
This morning, thousands of people are voicing their support for medical research. The Rally for Medical Research
is taking place at the Carnagie Library grounds in Washington DC, where some of the field's most respected researchers, including University of Arizona Cancer Center Director David Alberts, MD
, are taking part in this unified call to action to raise awareness about the critical need to steadily increase investment in the NIH to improve health, spur more progress, inspire more hope and save more lives.
From the Rally's official website:
“Today’s rally will serve as strong reminder to Congress that the health of our nation depends on medical research,” said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., president of the American Heart Association. “Unless we restore NIH funding now, the treatment or cure you or your family will desperately need in the future may never be discovered. We will not give up this fight.”
The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world and has been a driving force behind many decades of advances that have improved the health of people in every corner of America. In addition, the NIH is creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs through its funding of thousands of scientists at universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the globe.
To watch a live stream of the event, head over to the AACR's YouTube page, or view the embedded video below: