For the past few months, the American Cancer Society has been laying the groundwork for what could be one of the biggest cancer prevention studies of its kind -- and it needs your help.
All across the country, people have been enrolling in the ACS's Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), with Southern Arizona's chance to take part in this historic study coming in October.
From the official ACS release
The American Cancer Society’s Epidemiology Research Program is inviting men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years who have never personally been diagnosed with cancer to join this historic study. The ultimate goal is to enroll at least 300,000 adults from various racial/ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S. The purpose of CPS-3 is to better understand the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer and to ultimately eliminate cancer as a major health problem for this and future generations.
Participants will be asked to choose an enrollment location (there are five in Tucson, including the UA Cancer Center — North Campus) and schedule an in-person appointment between Oct. 16-25. Then, participants will be asked to sign an informed consent form, complete a brief survey, as well as provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample, taken by a certified, trained phlebotomist. Appointments are expected to last approximately 20 - 30 minutes.
Those who are officially enrolled in the study will receive surveys mailed at home every few years to update the relevant health information.
The University of Arizona Cancer Center has more information
on the study, and be sure to listen to the Act Against Cancer Radio Show from Aug. 4
, where Denis Cournoyer, the Senior District Executive Director of the American Cancer Society, discusses the study.
On Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, Derek Neal lost his battle with Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). He leaves behind two adorable children, Gabe and Emma, and his loving wife, Sylvia, who chronicled Derek's battle in her devestatingly beautiful Team Derek
We've been tracking Neal's story since we first came across the blog on Oct. 3
. It's beyond tragic to see a young man with such a bright future pass so suddenly from such a terrible disease — something so unfair about it — but the outpouring of community support has been inspiring.
The day before Derek died, something incredible happened. Sylvia writes:
Joey Nelson, University of Arizona College of Medicine class of 2015 (Derek’s original class), came to the ICU. I thought he was just visiting but he had something he wanted to tell us. Stacie went out first and I could see her reaction. She was crying immediately. I knew it was a big. Joey told me that the college had granted him a MD. They wanted to present his diploma to him. I was bawling.
The Dean, Dr. Goldschmid and Dr. Kevin Moynahan along with Joey presented Derek’s diploma. They had already framed it for Derek. It was beautiful! I couldn’t believe what they had done and what a gift they were giving Derek. It was the most beautiful gesture to give to Derek to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams. Although sedated, Derek was studying the diploma. I could see his eyes looking at it.
I hoped that he knew what was happening. I hope that he understood.
Derek Neal, MD. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Here's a selection from Sylvia's post the day after her husband passed. She captures what true love is all about here:
I kept telling him that even though he didn’t want to leave, he could leave knowing that he had lived the most beautiful life. He could be proud and his legacy will live on. His children were proud to have such an amazing father and we were all so grateful to have had any time with him. I told him he had given me the greatest gifts of all, two beautiful children and he will always be with us through them.
University of Arizona Cancer Center Interim Director Anne Cress, PhD, has hit the ground running.
Dr. Cress sees this transition period as an opportunity to crystalize the UACC's mission and vision going forward. One of the first stops on her public information tour was a stop at the Buckmaster Show on Aug. 6
Dr. Cress' interview with Bill Buckmaster begins two minutes into the segment and lasts for roughly 10 minutes. It's a thoughtful, illuminating discussion on not only the UACC, but on the future of the field of cancer treatment. Listen to the interview here
The English language does not stay set in its ways. Language, like anything else in our culture, changes and evolves over time. Words that mean one thing to a generation can mean something completely different to another group of people. Some words fall out of favor, while other words become so broad that their definitions are practically impossible to pin down.
Cancer has become such a word.
: "A malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites."
From the National Cancer Institute
: "Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems."But here is where confusion can set in: "Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer."Cancer has become such a broad term that it has confused even medical professionals, where improved screening methods has led to any disease that is vaguely cancer-ish to sometimes get labeled as cancer, occasionally incorrectly.
Earlier this week, a panel of medical experts at the NCI attempted to solve this problem, looking for ways to sharpen our language to prevent unnecessary treatments.
"Screening and patient awareness have increased the chance of identifying a spectrum of cancers, some of which are not life-threatening," a working group of the National Cancer Institute wrote in a commentary in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Policies that prevent or reduce the chances of overdiagnosis and avoid overtreatment are needed, while maintaining those gains by which early detection is a major contributor to decreasing mortality."
Diseases that share similar attributes to cancer can often be minor, non-life-threatening conditions. However, as soon as the word "cancer" gets attached to any diagnosis, the patient's anxiety level understandably shoots upward as he or she seeks immediate treatment to alleviate the issue.
The committee recommended changing the names of some conditions and reserving the term "cancer" for lesions "with a reasonable likelihood of lethal progression if left untreated."
"More is not always better," said Laura Esserman, co-chair of the committee and director of the Breast Care Center at the University of California-San Francisco. "It's pretty clear that cancer - the word now refers to a wide range of conditions, some of which will not progress and will not kill you. ... We have to be a little bit more savvy."• Panel: Redefine 'cancers' to reduce overtreatment
via Arizona Daily Star
, July 30, 2013)
Big news out of Washington, DC today for those interested in the treatment and prevention of lung cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a release recommending screenings
for those who are at high risk for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans
, which can prevent a substantial number of lung-cancer related deaths.
The Task Force is taking comments from the public
on these findings until Aug. 26.
"The more you smoke over time, the more at risk you are for lung cancer. When deciding who should be screened, clinicians will need to assess the person’s age, overall health, how much the person has smoked, and whether the person is still smoking or how many years it has been since the person quit,” says Task Force co-vice chair Michael LeFevre, MD, MSPH. “This evaluation will help clinicians decide whether it may be beneficial to screen a given person."
Faculty at the University of Arizona Cancer Center say that mortality figure (200,000 diagnoses in the US, 4,000 in Arizona) can be significantly reduced.Farid Gharagozloo
, MD, FACS, chief of the new Southwest Lung Cancer Program
at the University of Arizona and a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center (pictured), says many people who have a nodule on their lung may be misdiagnosed as having valley fever (coccidiodomycosis), because that disease is prevalent in our desert environment.
“There are more problems with lung cancer in the Southwest than in any other region in the nation,” Dr. Gharagozloo said. “Lung cancer is as common here as it is anywhere else in America, but more people who live in the Southwest end up dying from it. We’re going to change that.”
Read more about these efforts to treat and prevent lung cancer at the UACC's official website
.• U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Issues Draft Recommendation Statement on Screening for Lung Cancer (July 29, 2013)• Early lung cancer screenings recommended (ArizonaCancerCenter.org, July 29, 2013)
Photo by AZPM
Genetic counseling is a hot-button topic lately.
With Angelina Jolie's recent New York Times Op-Ed
and the Supreme Court's ruling
on gene patents dominating the headlines, many folks who previously knew very little about genetic testing want to know much more about the various procedures available.
Our friends at Arizona Public Media have done excellent work bringing this information to the public, thanks to their top-notch science reporting.
From AZPM.org: "Just a few decades ago, these families would have had few answers or options. But, now, a simple blood test or cheek swab can identify the genes or gene mutations that can create this potentially deadly risk."
AZPM science reporter Gisela Telis spoke to University of Arizona Cancer Center genetic counselor Gail Martino, MS, CGC
, and the UACC's director of women's cancers, Setsuko Chambers, MD
, about what these advances in genetic testing can mean for the future of cancer treatment.
“We are able to give comprehensive care of these women from the start to the eventual outcome, so we do the diagnosis, the workup, the entire management, the surgery, we do the chemotherapy, and then we see the patient for years afterwards,” Chambers told AZPM. “So, it’s a very satisfying field. It’s difficult, it’s not simple, but it’s very satisfying.”
The UACC is the only cancer care facility in Tucson with certified genetic counselors. For people who have a strong family history of cancer, our multi-specialty team at the High-Risk Cacne can assess cancer risk, determine if genetic testing is appropriate, interpret testing results, and counsel regarding the options for cancer risk management. The UACC
Read the full story and watch video from AZ Illustrated's Wednesday night telecast here
Anne E. Cress, PhD
The University of Arizona Cancer Center is starting a new chapter. This week, Anne E. Cress, PhD, was named as the UACC's interim director.
With David S. Alberts, MD
, finishing an eight-year run as director at the end of June to focus on his many research projects, Dr. Cress will lead the cancer center into this exciting new era.
Dr. Cress is currently a professor of cellular and molecular medicine and radiation oncology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, as well as the deputy dean for research affairs.
"Anne Cress is one of the top cancer biology scientists in the world," said incoming UA Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, MD. "Her breadth of knowledge about translational approaches to cancer will be crucial as she leads the UA’s comprehensive cancer center through this time of transition."
UA College of Medicine - Tucson Dean Steve Goldschmid, MD, added: "Anne Cress' service to the University of Arizona, especially within the College of Medicine, is unparalled. Between her extensive research credentials and her administrative leadership, she is unquestionably the right person to take the reins of our cancer center at this critical time."
Read the full release at the official UA Cancer Center website
Here is the latest cutting-edge tool in cancer diagnostics -- literally.
Earlier this week, doctors at the Imperial College London unveiled a new surgical knife
that can instantly determine if the surrounding tissue is healthy or cancerous.
This innovation, which some are already calling the iKnife
, has the potential to drastically reduce surgery time, while improving the accuracy and efficacy of surgical cuts.
According to The Associated Press via the Arizona Daily Star
, "[s]urgeons typically use knives that heat tissue as they cut, producing a sharp-smelling smoke. The new knife analyzes the smoke and can instantly signal whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy."
At a demonstration in London on Wednesday, doctors used the new knife - which resembles a fat white pen - to slice into slabs of pig's liver. Within minutes, the room was filled with an acrid-smelling smoke comparable to the fumes produced during surgery on a human patient.
The knife has yet to be approved, but the Imperial College London plans to do more tests. If approved, this knife could drastically improve the field of surgical oncology, while eliminating the guesswork and wait times that are currently unavoidable.• 'Smart' knife tells quickly if cancer's cut out
(AP via Arizona Daily Star
, July 17, 2013)
• Intelligent 'iKnife' diagnosis cancer midsurgery (CNet, July 18, 2013)
Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer
Recently, The Plain Dealer
out of Cleveland embarked on one of the most ambitious, difficult and vital long-form journalism projects I've seen in quite some time."Clues to Cancer"
is the newspaper's five-part series that came out back in late April, but it took countless weeks of interviews, manpower and analysis to piece together the finished product.
For 10 months, reporter Angela Townsend and photographer Lynn Ischay followed nine patients through their journey as study participants in Phase 1 trials at University Hospitals. It's a fascinating, moving, occasionally heartbreaking, often illuminating look at this important issue. Kudos to the folks at The Plain Dealer
.Clinical trials are
indispensable in the scientific research process. It's at the clinical trials stage where some of the biggest breakthrough advancements in patient care can take place. It's also where patients can receive treatments that may not have been available to them in any other way.But it's also the area that struggles most with patient education.
This series does a phenomenal job breaking down exactly what a patient needs to know, as well as dispelling any false information that may be floating around about clinical trials.
Start with Part 1 of the series, "Cutting-edge" treatments, but much uncertainty
, and read on from there. It takes a significant time commitment on the reader's part to make it through each of the five parts. Trust me -- it's worth it.
• "Clues to Cancer" (The Plain Dealer, April 28, 2013)
Photo: Stockbyte via Getty Images
The big news in cancer research this week had to do with an eye-opening paper published in the July 10 edition of Neurology
: Inverse occurrence of cancer and Alzheimer disease
The study's conclusion: "The occurrence of both cancer and AD dementia increases exponentially with age, but with an inverse relationship; older persons with cancer have a reduced risk of AD dementia and vice versa. As AD dementia and cancer are negative hallmarks of aging and senescence, we suggest that AD dementia, cancer, and senescence could be manifestations of a unique phenomenon related to human aging."
Both cancer and Alzheimer's Disease are devastating illnesses. If one can provide clues in how to combat the other, we could conceivably find ways to reduce the impacts of each
"Since the number of cases of both Alzheimer's disease and cancer increase exponentially as people age, understanding the mechanisms behind this relationship may help us better develop new treatments for both diseases," said study author Dr. Massimo Musicco, an Alzheimer's expert at the National Research Council of Italy in Milan.
Research has been conducted in this specific area in the past, but many medical professionals were not receptive to it. Catherine Roe, of the Washington University School of Medicine, told USA Today
that fellow scientists laughed at her
in 2005 when her own research first suggested a link between Alzheimer's and cancer.
"It could open avenues of investigation that people haven't even thought of yet," she said. "They've been looking at the usual suspects for so long."
• Discovery that cancer may protect against Alzheimer's could lead to new treatments
, July 11, 2013)
• Study finds inverse link between cancer, Alzheimer's
, July 10, 2013)
• Inverse occurrence of cancer and Alzheimer disease
, July 10, 2013)