Our latest issue of Act Against Cancer has arrived, and we couldn’t be more proud of how this edition turned out.

We conducted around a dozen interviews and poured through hundreds of historical documents and photos to tell the story of this tremendous organization. In the fight against cancer, it’s important to know where you came from so you can effectively decide where you want to go.

This issue covers the early days of the National Cancer Act, the circumstances that led to the formation of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, and the unique leadership abilities of Sydney E. Salmon, MD, as the UACC became one of the research world’s most influential and respected institutions.

We delve into the UACC’s atmosphere of innovation and imagination, and how that led to some major breakthroughs in translational research, as well as how that spirit of teamwork and will carry us — and the field of cancer research as a whole — through the present and into the future to help everyone achieve our common goal: to prevent and cure cancer.

Download the PDF here, but be sure to also visit our website at arizonacancercenter.org, where we’ll be supplementing these stories with audio clips from the researchers who have been there from the beginning.


PictureChristian von Wagner, PhD
If you are reading this blog post right now, you may be on your way toward better cancer prevention techniques.

According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, older men and women who used the internet were more likely to participate in screening for colorectal cancer, participate in physical activities, eat healthily, and smoke less, compared with those who did not use the internet.

From the study, via the American Association of Cancer Research: “A large, population-based, cohort study of older adults in England, called the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, collected data from men and women aged 50 or older, and found that men and women who were consistent internet users were twice as likely to participate in colorectal screening than nonusers. Both men and women who used the internet consistently were also 50 percent more likely to take part in regular physical activity, 24 percent more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and 44 percent less likely to be current smokers.”

“We accounted for sociodemographic factors that influence internet use and various measures of physical capabilities and cognitive function that decline with age, and still found an association between internet use and cancer-preventive behaviors,” said Christian von Wagner, Ph.D., senior lecturer in behavioral research in early diagnosis of cancer at the University College London, United Kingdom. “The interesting aspect here is a dose-response relationship between internet use and cancer preventive-behaviors: Intermittent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than never-users, and consistent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than intermittent users.”

The issue at hand here is what is known as a “digital divide” — internet use is not consistent across socio-economic categories. According to the study, internet use was higher in younger, male, white, wealthier, and more educated participants and lower in older, less wealthy, and nonwhite individuals with physical disabilities.

“It is important that policymakers recognize the role internet use plays in influencing inequalities in cancer outcomes, and help increase access to the internet among this demographic,” he said.


Are you looking for an easy, enjoyable way to increase your protection against cancer? Just put one foot in front of the other.

A recent study from the American Cancer Society shows that “walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day was associated with a 14 percent reduced breast cancer risk, compared to leading a sedentary lifestyle.”

The study, published online Oct. 4 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, identified more than 73,000 women past menopause who were enrolled in an American Cancer Society study on cancer incidence.

“The nice message here is, you don’t have to go out and run a marathon to lower your breast cancer risk,” said study researcher Alpa Patel, senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society. “Go for a nice, leisurely walk an hour a day to lower risk.”

Those who can handle more strenuous physical activity are encouraged to do so. The study showed that “an hour or more of daily strenuous physical activity was associated with a 25 percent reduced risk.”

This study doesn’t break very much new ground in the field of cancer prevention. All researchers agree that there is a link between physical activity and reduced cancer risk. But it is a terrific reminder of the importance of staying active.

“This is something nearly every woman can do,” said Dr. Laura Kruper, co-director of the breast cancer program at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.“If you get off the couch and walk around, it would help.”

• Daily Walk May Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk (WebMD, Oct. 4, 2013)


Each October, the University of Arizona Cancer Center is among the nation’s leaders in raising awareness for breast cancer.

The following is just a sampling of our efforts. Look for more updates on “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” throughout October.

• Throughout the month of October, Bashas’ and K-LOVE 88.1 have joined forces to conduct a breast cancer awareness drive in the Bashas’ stores throughout Southern and Eastern Arizona to support breast cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

• ¡VIDA! The Eighth Annual Mujer Latina Breast Cancer Conference will take place Saturday, Oct. 12, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, Abrams Building, 3950 S. Country Club Rd., Tucson. This year’s conference will feature new workshops on the Affordable Care Act, adolescent health, nutrition and wellness, patient navigation and an extensive educational program on breast health delivered in both Spanish and English. Click here for more information, as well as conference registration, and watch KGUN-9′s interview with Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, FACP.

• Speaking of KGUN-9, they’ve teamed up with MixFM to take part in the the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The event takes place on Oct. 27 at the Kino Sports Complex. Registration starts at 7 a.m.

• KGUN-9 also put together a nice piece on our Healing Spirit Boutique.


The American Association for Cancer Research released its 2013 progress report on Tuesday. Each year, it’s the nation’s most comprehensive, eye-opening collection of cancer-related statistics.

The major takeaways from this year’s report:

1) There have been more than 1 million fewer cancer-related deaths since 1990, with nearly 14 million Americans having survived their fights with cancer. The research is working, and it’s saving lives.

2) Even with progress, cancer remains a serious public health threat. From the report: “Even with the advances in cancer research, it is projected that more than 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and more than 580,350 Americans 
will die from one of the more than 200 types of cancer. Global cancer incidence is predicted to increase from 12.8 million new cases in 2008 to 22.2 million in 2030.”

3) Research is a wise investment. The budget for the National Institutes of Health continues to shrink annually, and that’s not including the devastating 5.1-percent budget cut ($1.6 billion) that came as a result of sequestration. Cancer is an expensive disease, and the report warns that “if the United States does not increase its investments in the scientific research needed to develop more effective interventions, the increased economic burden will cost lives and harm the economy.”

The majority of the report can be understood by taking a look at this tremendous infographic the folks at the AACR put together (click “Read More” to see the infographic):


It may only be his second week on the job, but Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, the new senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Arizona, took part in a Town Hall event at Kiewit Auditorium on Monday.

Dr. Garcia is wasting no time in communicating his message and laying out his goals for the Arizona Health Sciences Center – specifically, his vision for the UA Cancer Center.

“As the senior vice president of health sciences, I believe we should be focusing our thinking on expanding our research prowess as a university. Everyone around here knows that the cancer center resides at the epicenter of our research goals. The translational and applied research that takes place here has an impact across colleges. It is a key area for us to deploy key resources,” Dr. Garcia said.

Dr. Garcia – along with UA Cancer Center interim director Anne Cress, PhD, UA Health Network CEO Michael Waldrum, MD, and College of Medicine – Tucson Dean Steve Goldschmid – addressed the Kiewit Auditorium audience and covered a wide range of topics regarding the UA Cancer Center and its direction going forward.

As the UA senior vice president for health sciences, and a key member of UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s executive team, Dr. Garcia provides academic leadership for the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) colleges: the UA College of Medicine – Tucson; the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix; the UA College of Pharmacy; the UA College of Nursing; and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. He also has direct oversight of the UA Cancer Center.

“I’m a physician scientist myself. I have a very deep respect for the breadth and type of science that is involved in clinical cancer research. I’m really interested in expanding our research portfolio, particularly our translational and applied research. We need to recruit program leaders and game-changers that can advance our science,” Dr. Garcia added.

Watch the archived video from the Town Hall event at the AHSC Biomedical Communications website. Dr. Garcia’s next speaking event will take place at the BIO5 Institute (Thomas W. Keating Building, Room 103) on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 3:30-5 p.m.


A cancer diagnosis is often a race against time. The faster a medical team can detect a developing cancer, the better its chances to find a successful treatment.

This is especially true when it comes to ovarian cancer.

If this cancer is detected early, doctors have tools and treatments at their disposal to make sure a patient lives a long, happy, healthy life. Unfortunately, far too many ovarian cancers go undetected until it’s too late.

A potentially exciting new blood test could help speed up the detection process.

From Time’s Healthland blog:

Researchers are excited about the latest results, published online in the journal Cancer, from a blood test that could detect the first signs of ovarian cancer. For 11 years, scientists from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston studied just over 4,000 post-menopausal women who were screened for changes in a blood protein called CA125, which serves a biomarker for tumors. While this protein has been used before to predict ovarian cancer, the results haven’t been reliable, since researchers frequently relied on just one test result. In the current study, the scientists repeated the test and compared the readings; the changing levels of CA125 told a more consistent story about the women’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

During this 11-year study, the tests were 40 percent accurate in predicting the presence of ovarian cancer, and in identifying cancer early, to go along with a 99.9-percent specificity result (next to no false positives).

The results are awfully exciting, but the test isn’t quite ready for public use yet. More tests need to be conducted in order to validate these results, but these initial tests have drawn a great deal of attention throughout the ovarian cancer treatment community.

“I was more excited reading this study than I have been in a really long time,” Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancers for the American Cancer Society said to HealthDay. “Not only was [the screening] finding cancers in both of those studies, but it was finding them early. That’s what we want to do.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with a new case of ovarian cancer this year, with more than 14,000 dying from the disease. If this CA125 test and others like it can help give doctors advanced notice on these developing tumors, lives can be saved.

• Blood Test May Detect Ovarian Cancer At Its Earliest Stages (Time.com, Aug. 26, 2013)


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 blog.

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.

Rest in peace, Derek.

• Beloved Tucson medical student dies of lung cancer (Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 12, 2013)
• Team Derek Neal


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.