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On Sept. 15, Andrew Kraft, MD, takes over as Director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center. He accomplished some remarkable things at his previous institution, the Hollings Cancer Center.

On Sept. 3, Ernest F. Hollings and Dr. Jerry Reeves penned an editorial in the Charleston, South Carolina newspaper The Post and Courier, praising Dr. Kraft for what he was able to accomplish as the Hollings Cancer Center Director.

"Dr. Kraft transformed the Hollings Cancer Center with his focused leadership, vision, inspiration, academic skills and just plain old hard work. He has tirelessly recruited new physicians and scientists in multiple departments at MUSC."

When Dr. Kraft took over in 2004, the HCC's main goal was to earn National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center designation. It's the most prestigious honor an American cancer center can achieve. At the time, NCI designation appeared to be long ways off for Hollings.

"In 2003, the prospects of obtaining this goal appeared bleak. Although the Hollings Cancer Center was busy seeing over 1,000 new cancer patients a year, there were relatively few NCI competitive grants and only about 40 patients a year were being enrolled into investigative protocols to find new and better ways of caring for particular cancers."

Dr. Kraft elevated the kinds of research that took place at the HCC, with the center achieving NCI designation in 2009.

What separates Dr. Kraft from his peers? Vision.

"Today the number of new cancer patients being treated at Hollings has more than doubled, and 10 times the number of patients are enrolled in scientific protocols with novel approaches to various cancers. The range of treatments and expertise has greatly expanded and cancer prevention has become a core competency."

• Dr. Andrew Kraft and Hollings Cancer Center: Mission accomplished (Sept. 3, The Post and Courier)

 
 
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The link between nutrition and cancer prevention has been well established, but there is still so much more to learn in terms of maximizing these health benefits.

Recently, Michelle Bratton, a clinical nutritionist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, spoke with Connecticut-based freelance writer John Lahtinen about the relationship between inflammation and cancer risk for PinkRibbonCooking.com.

“It has been theorized that an anti-inflammatory diet will lead to an environment within the body that will be less conducive for cancer cells to grow and multiply,” Bratton said. “Therefore, it may be a reasonable approach to reduce risk of cancer.”

Lahtinen writes: "While acute inflammation, typically characterized by swelling, redness, and stiffness, is a very natural way for the body to protect and heal itself, chronic low-grade inflammation is decidedly more troublesome, being associated with inflamed arteries, asthma, autoimmune disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, among other ailments."

These anti-inflammatory foods are often used as key components in the Mediterranean diet, which has been found to have numerous health benefits. Certain food items, herbs, and spices with anti-inflammatory properties include:

  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • fish
  • olive, canola, or flaxseed oil,
  • turmeric
  • cayenne pepper
  • mint
  • thyme
  • garlic
  • dark chocolate
  • whole grains

So if you and your loved ones are looking for ways to help keep your body healthy while reducing your risk for cancer, speak to a nutritionist and seek out foods that reduce chronic, low-grade inflammation.

• Exploring Inflammation and Breast Cancer, PinkRibbonCooking.com, July 15, 2014

 
 
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The University of Arizona Cancer Center welcomes its sixth Director — Andrew S. Kraft, MD.

Dr. Kraft, a nationally recognized prostate cancer physician-scientist and cancer center administrator, has been named the Sydney E. Salmon endowed chair and Director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Associate Vice President for Oncology Programs for the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. In addition to his Cancer Center leadership role, Dr. Kraft joins the University as tenured Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Senior Associate Dean for Translational Research in the College of Medicine.

Dr. Kraft will assume his new leadership role in September. He replaces Anne E. Cress, PhD, who has served as interim director of the UA Cancer Center since July 2013.

“We are pleased to welcome a physician-scientist of Dr. Kraft’s caliber to lead our NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences and interim dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. “Dr. Kraft’s strengths include developing and implementing clinical trials, recruiting outstanding faculty and successfully shepherding the construction of cancer center facilities – all important needs for UACC.”

Recruited to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2004, Dr. Kraft led the Hollings Cancer Center’s efforts to become a National Cancer Institute- (NCI) designated Cancer Center. Under Dr. Kraft’s leadership, Hollings attained NCI Cancer Center status in 2009, a distinction shared by only 67 other cancer centers in the United States.

An accomplished prostate cancer researcher and developer of novel cancer drugs, Dr. Kraft is the principal investigator for numerous clinical trials aimed at finding new treatments and cures for cancer. His research has continuously been funded since 1990 by the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation. He has more than 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals.


• Read the full story at the University of Arizona Cancer Center website.

 
 
PicturePhoto: Alamy
Talking about cancer is a scary subject for everyone, but new research suggests that men might be significantly more hesitant to discuss the disease than women.

Despite how (sadly) common cancer has become, a
new study carried out by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer found that almost a quarter of men (23%) say they have never spoken to a friend or relative about cancer. This charity encourages people to speak out about the disease, so this is an area that needs serious improvement.

This study led Robert Ince, a writer for the Guardian, to reevaluate his approach.

Ince writes: "The research made me question my own form on talking cancer. Other than a cursory chat to a friend about his mother's breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I don't think I had ever talked about the disease to anyone.

"That is until my world was devastated by my father's diagnosis of advanced lung cancer in November 2012. Even though it seemed like every conversation with friends was bookended with the cancer chat, my father never talked about the disease even when he was in the midst of it. Neither do I think he spoke about the subject prior to diagnosis."

This is a major concern, as silence is the disease's strongest ally. In order to create a cancer-free future, we need to feel as comfortable as possible to talk openly about it. This will lead to greater understanding, greater compassion, greater education, greater care.

"Ultimately, ignorance is not bliss," Ince writes. "Only by talking about the subject will we diminish the fear we all have of an illness which can be treated successfully if caught early."



 
 
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Cancer prevention isn't just a vital public health issue. It's also an economic issue.

In Friday's Arizona Republic, one of the nation's preeminent cancer prevention experts drove that point home.

David S. Alberts, MD, Director Emeritus of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, penned an op-ed for the Phoenix-based newspaper, passionately arguing for the federal government to ramp up its support of cancer prevention research -- not cut back.

"The lunacy in Washington, D.C., these days is not just devastating for our government but also for our economy. It reduces our ability and cuts back our momentum in reducing the risk of cancer in Arizona," Dr. Alberts writes.

During his eight-year tenure as UACC Director, Dr. Alberts built the Cancer Prevention and Control Program into one of the nation's largest prevention programs. In his editorial, he cites the federal government's creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund in 2010, which was established with the mission of improving the health of U.S. citizens and decreasing health-care spending.

"Rather than targeting this crucial spending for cuts, lawmakers should be making it a national priority," Dr. Alberts argues. "As someone who has made fighting cancer his career, skimping on this kind of spending makes little sense to me. This fund saves lives and saves money. Studies have shown that investing in programs that reduce health risks have a 5-to-1 return on investment, adding up to billions of dollars for state and federal governments over time."

Read the entirety of Dr. Alberts' argument here. It's definitely worth a look. The only fool-proof cure for cancer is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

 
 
PictureImage courtesy of W. Garth Callaghan
Prepare yourself, because after reading some of the notes Garth Callaghan wrote on these napkins, you might need a tissue of your own.

According to Today.com, Callaghan, 44," has battled kidney cancer twice over the last several years and currently lives with prostate cancer, a slow-growing disease. Recent blood work shows 'no evidence' of kidney cancer these days, but Callaghan said his oncologist has bluntly told him that people with his medical history only have an eight percent change of surviving the next five years."

But this isn't a story about cancer. It's a story about a father's love for his daughter, and the importance of expressing that love every chance you can, while you still have the chance to do so.

Starting in kindergarten, Garth left sweet notes on napkins for his daughter, Emma -- the sort of thing a compassionate, loving parents does for a child. It became a daily routine around third grade and has turned into a project that has brought joy and inspiration to folks outside of the Callaghan clan.

The Napkin Notes Dad has one goal -- to write 826 notes, one for each school day his daughter has left until her high school graduation. He's almost there.

“That’s when I thought, I can write out napkin notes ahead of time, and have them ready if I can’t fulfill my own promise if something bad happens,” he told Today.com.

"I love napkin notes for a couple reasons, not just the obvious ones such as knowing my dad is thinking about me or learning a new quotes,” Emma said. “I love them because they remind me not to take things for granted, because my dad started getting serious with them when he had cancer for the first time.” 

Read a few of them here, or buy the full collection anywhere eBooks/digital media is sold.

* The Napkin Notes Dad
* Dad with cancer writes daughter 826 notes to last after he's gone (Today.com, Jan. 27, 2014)

 
 
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We have been hearing the same message for years now: to reduce your cancer risk, regardless of age, we need to eat a healthy diet, be active daily, avoid or limit alcohol, and don’t smoke.

The reason we continue to hear this message? It works.

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, "postmenopausal women whose behaviors were consistent with the Nutrition and Physical Activity Cancer Prevention Guidelines put forth by the American Cancer Society had lower risk for cancer incidence, and cancer-related and cancer-unrelated death."

Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, CSO, University of Arizona Cancer Center member and professor of public health at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, was among the study's key contributors, and she discovered that those who follow the guidelines have a "17 percent lower risk for cancer incidence, 20 percent lower risk for cancer-related death, and 27 percent lower risk for death from all causes."

Also mentioned in Gerri Kelly's story? Dr. Thomson found that "the association was stronger for Asian, African-American, and Hispanic women, compared with non-Hispanic white women. It is possible that different ethnic groups may have differential disease course with varied response to environmental and/or behavioral exposures."

So even if you've heard it all before, it's never too late to take this message to heart. Eat right, exercise, never smoke, and cut the alcohol intake, and you'll be on your way toward reducing your cancer risk.

• Cancer risk lower in women adhering to cancer prevention guidelines (arizonacancercenter.org, Jan. 8, 2014)

 
 
PictureImage via AZ Public Media
Renowned bioinformatician Yves A. Lussier, MD, FAMCI, gave one of his first major interviews since joining the Arizona Health Sciences Center, speaking with host Alan Fischer and the wonderful folks at AZ Illustrated.

Dr. Lussier, who joined ASHC on Dec. 2, serves as UA professor of medicine; associate vice president for health sciences and chief knowledge officer for AHSC; associate director for cancer informatics and precision health for the University of Arizona Cancer Center; and associate director, BIO5 informatics, for the UA BIO5 Institute.

So what exactly is bioinformatics?

"Since the advent of the human genome in 2001, there's this nascent field of trying to translate in words that physicians can understand the meaning of the genome for clinical practice," Dr. Lussier said.

His primary role within AHSC will be to develop more personalized treatments for cancer patients, while lending his unique areas of expertise to various fields of study.

Watch the entire interview at the Arizona Public Media website.

Emerging field of bioinformatics connects docs, gene researchers (Arizona Public Media, Dec. 10, 2013)
Renowned bioinformatician Yves A. Lussier, MD, FAMCI, joins UACC (ArizonaCancerCenter.org, Nov. 27, 2013)

 
 
Most folks spend the days right after Thanksgiving searching for the best deals to get ahead on their holiday shopping. Just because Cyber Monday has passed, though, it doesn't mean people have finished scouring the web for bargains.

If you or someone you know shops at Amazon.com, please consider using our affiliate link. Just click the link below and shop as you normally would. Any purchases made through this site help to support the University of Arizona Cancer Center, our research, our patients, and a cancer-free future.

Thank you for supporting your University of Arizona Cancer Center, and happy holidays!
 
 
PicturePhoto: SusanaSoares.com
Here is the latest entry in our ongoing coverage of unorthodox cancer-fighting strategies: trained honeybees that can actually smell cancer.

From MashableNew research from Inscentinel, a UK-based firm specializing in insect research, suggests that honey bees can be trained to detect certain early-stage cancer in humans.

Yes, honeybees may be the trained, much like service dogs, to help save lives. Their ultra-sensitive sense of smell has already been harnessed to aid in the detection of explosive devices, but scientists believe these bees can be used to identify "biomarkers associated with tuberculosis, lung cancer, skin cancer and diabetes" -- each of which can all be detected through smell on a patient's breath.

Susana Sores, a Portuguese designer/researcher, has developed a device that will allow patients to take advantage of these bees' phenomenal sniffers, while keeping them safe from beestings. Early results are very encouraging, so this appears to be a development worth tracking.

• Inscentinel.com (official 
• Susana Sores (official website)