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)