Tuesday, January 20, 2015

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is offering new alternatives to traditional cervical cancer screenings

More than 1 million women across Alabama ages 25 to 29 should be screened by their doctor for cervical cancer. Under the new guidelines, women should be tested using HPV screening alone and not a Pap smear. Pap smear testing will be used as a follow-up if tested HPV positive, as well as remaining the primary testing for women under the age of 25. Clinicians who are caring for these women are seeking out help in order to give their patients the best advice on the health advantages of using the HPV test as the best option for cervical cancer screening.

This was triggered by an FDA approval for the HPV testing method as the primary method for cervical cancer screening. Today’s guidance is being written and led by gynecologic oncologist,  Warner Huh, M.D., and is also being published simultaneously in the journals Gynecologic Oncology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease under the title “Use of Primary High Risk Human Papillomavirus Testing for Cervical Cancer Screening: Interim Clinical Guidance.”

“Although FDA approval is critically important for introducing a new screening test or algorithm, providers ultimately rely on guidance or guidelines to help them make the best decisions for their patients and want to understand advantages, disadvantages and unknowns associated with a new screening approach,” said Huh, who is a senior scientist for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Director of the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology, and is also a board member for both the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. 

Patients’ HPV testing will feel the same compared to the Pap smear but the only difference is how these samples are being examined. Medical personnel will run the samples through an automated machine to look for HPV DNA instead of abnormal cells.

“Pap smears miss a fair number of adenocarcinomas. We don’t want a test that will miss disease,” said Huh.

Remember to stay up to date on your personal testing and to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you might have with testing or other cervical cancer matters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why Give Wednesday: Childhood Cancer

Every year in the United States, approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 are diagnosed with cancer. Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer, with the average age of diagnosis at just 6 years old. That's one to two cases for every 10,000 children in the United States.

In Alabama, 150 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Childhood cancers are the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States, with approximately 2,500 children dying from the disease annually.

But there is hope. While incidence rates for some types of childhood cancers have remained steady over the last 20 years, five-year survival rates have dramatically improved. Today, a child diagnosed with cancer stands an 80 percent chance of beating the disease.

“That’s up from 50 percent just 20 years ago,” says Raymond Watts, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “However, that still leaves 20 percent of children who don’t survive. So even though we’ve made tremendous improvements, we still face significant challenges.”

To address this, the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Children’s of Alabama, the Children’sOncology Group and the National Cancer Institute recently formed the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. This unique partnership is focused on unifying local and national resources to improve and enhance childhood cancer care, research and education.

"Our goal is finding a total cure through research and development of innovative therapies,” Dr. Watts says. “We’re also researching ways to lessen the risks of treatment, both short-term and long-term, while allowing children to return to normal activities after their treatments are complete.”

Because while survival rates for childhood cancers have improved, they do come with a cost. Two-thirds of survivors face at least one chronic health condition, and as many as 25 percent face a late-effect considered severe or life-threatening. Some late effects of childhood cancers include: infertility, cardiotoxicity (heart problems at an early age), learning difficulties, audiovisual problems, hearing loss, and the most frightening possibility, second cancers.

Supporting research is critical to eliminating childhood cancer as well as the long-term effects that survivors face. Only about 4 percent of the National Institutes for Health's annual budget is currently dedicated to pediatric cancer research. You can make a difference by making a gift on our website or by visiting Children's of Alabama.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why Give Wednesday: Liver Cancer

First, let’s start with the liver…
The liver is the second most important organ in your body and the largest organ inside your abdomen.  It is found right being your ribs on the right side of your body.

Its purpose?
-The liver removes harmful substances from the blood
-It makes enzymes and bile that help digest food
-It converts food into substances needed for life and growth.

What is Liver Cancer?
Liver Cancer is known as a Gastrointestinal Cancer, which is among the most deadly cancer types, and in some cases, some of the most difficult to treat.  In 2014, the National Cancer Institute estimated approximately 33,190 new cases of primary liver cancer and bile duct cancers in the United States and 23,000 deaths from the disease. Secondary liver cancer is cancer that spreads to the liver from another part of the body.

Facts on Liver Cancer
  • Liver cancer is seen more often in men than in women. An average man's lifetime risk of getting liver or intrahepatic bile duct cancer is about 1 in 81, while an average woman's risk is about 1 in 196.
  • The average age at diagnosis of liver cancer is 63. More than 95% of people diagnosed with liver cancer are 45 years of age or older. About 3% are between 35 and 44 years of age and about 2% are younger than 35.
  • Liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year.

Why UAB?

At UAB, treatment options are contemporary, accurate, efficient, and effective. Patients diagnosed with liver cancer can rest assured that they have an expert team behind them. Liver Cancer Patients will be treated within the UAB Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Oncology Clinic. When patients choose to be treated here they benefit from a team of physicians who are specialists in their fields, who care for patients with state-of-the-art technology. These specialists work in collaboration with members from the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Divisions of Hematology/Oncology, Gastroenterology, Endoscopy, and Radiology making a variety of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities available to patients.

Visit our website for more information, your support is greatly appreciated. Donations are accepted here

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why Give Wednesday: Learn about UAB & Leukemia/ Lymphoma

What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream. There are an estimated 52,380 new cases of leukemia in the United States in 2014. There are an estimated 24,090 deaths due to Leukemia predicted this year.

What is Lymphoma?
Lymphomas are cancers that affect the cells in the immune system and are the most common type of blood cancer. Depending on the specific cells that are affected, each case is classified as one of two primary types – Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s – and these two categories break down further into five types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and more than 40 subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s.

Of the two types, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is far more common, affecting approximately 70,800 estimated in 2014 in the United States, as opposed to 9,190 cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is any of a large group of cancers of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. 

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. Symptoms include the painless enlargement of lymph nodes, spleen, or other immune tissue. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, or night sweats. Also called Hodgkin disease.

Why Choose UAB
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in the field of leukemia and lymphoma research and actively conducts clinical trials for both acute and chronic leukemia patients and both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients.
The Cancer Center has been involved in several clinical trials of Clofarabine, an anti-leukemia drug developed here in Birmingham. Many of these examine the drug’s effects on patients older than 60.
The Cancer Center has also been involved in several clinical trials and conducts much epidemiologic study on the outcomes of minority patients with lymphoma.

Much leukemia and lymphoma research is done through UAB’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, which is one of the 10 largest in the country.

Visit our website for more information, your support is greatly appreciated. Donations are accepted here

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

UAB Cancer Center Spotlight: Freda Lewis

Q & A with Freda Lewis
Clinical Trials Administrator

Tell us about yourself.
"I am a single mother to my daughter who is now 34, I am from Birmingham and have lived here all of my life. I enjoy volunteering at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, Relay for Life, the Deep South Network for Cancer Control, and I am adviser to the Komen Foundation. I love reading and cheering on the Birmingham Barons and Auburn Tigers." 

How long have you been at UAB?
"I have been at UAB for 26 years, 14 of which have been at the Cancer Center. I started in the Clinical Trials Network, which evolved to where I work today."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Give Wednesday: Breast Cancer

What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant (cancer) tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. It is estimated that there will be 232,570 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women this year and about 40,000 women will not survive. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.

What is UAB doing to find the cure?
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in the field of breast cancer research. The center is one of only 11 institutions in the nation to hold a SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant in breast cancer. These highly prestigious grants are designed to move research findings quickly and safely from the laboratory to the clinical setting.
Komen Promise Grant awardees at UAB
The Cancer Center is also a member of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, a national group of 14 research centers that conducts innovative, high-impact clinical trials in breast cancer. Also, in 2009, the Cancer Center was awarded a $6.4-million Promise grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to study triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama
Since 1996, the BCRFA has raised and invested nearly $4 million dollars of seed money to pave the way for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to receive sought-after and sustaining grant dollars. These funds have been instrumental in developing the following:
-$11.5 Million Dollar Grant Pilot funding that led to the receipt and renewal of the Breast Cancer SPORE Grant (Specialized Program of Research Excellence)
-Microarray Facility Helped create the UAB CCC Microarray Facility that can determine the genetic footprint of breast cancers
-$6.4 Million Dollar Grant Pre-clinical lab testing to prepare for a $6.4 million Promise Grant from the Komen Foundation to change the prognosis and treatment of Triple Negative Breast Cancer
-Imaging Facility Helped fund the In Vivo Imaging facility which supports Three Distinct Research Studies in breast cancer
-Talent Funds to recruit and retain world-class breast cancer researchers

Dr. Edward Partridge, UAB CCC director
“The BCRFA works tirelessly to raise money for breast cancer research at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Their investment provides essential pilot funding for several projects that have potential to translate into new discoveries for cures and disease modifying treatments. This philanthropic support is absolutely critical, enabling us to receive additional, high-profile grants, as well as recruit and retain world-renowned breast-cancer researchers. For every dollar we receive from charitable contributions, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is able to generate an average of $16 in federal and other funding.” - Dr. Edward Partridge, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Director

The Breast Health Center at UAB
The UAB Breast Health Center is a leader in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and research. With a multi-team approach to caring for patients battling breast cancer, the UAB Breast Health Center provides state-of-the-art treatment options and follow-up care. The Breast Health Center has a team of physicians with a strong passion for breast cancer and the patients it touches. Because our physicians are nationally recognized breast cancer specialists in oncology, hematology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology, you can rest assured you’re receiving the best care available. We work with specialists in other areas of care when necessary to give you a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Why Choose UAB?
The Breast Health Center at UAB is unique in that we offer comprehensive breast health services that include screening, risk assessment, prevention strategies, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and research. The UAB Breast Health Center has earned full accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a group of professional organizations from around the country dedicated to improving the quality of care and the monitoring of outcomes for patients with diseases of the breast. You can reach the UAB Breast Health Center at 205.801.8266.

Visit our website for more information, your support is greatly appreciated. Donations are accepted here

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why Give Wednesday - Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Why Give Wednesday - Colorectal Cancer 

What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). About 136,000 people will be diagnosed this year, and about 50,000 will not survive.

What is UAB Doing to Prevent Colorectal Cancer?
The UABComprehensive Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in the research and treatment of colon cancer. The center played an integral role in the development and approval of two important drugs used to treat colon cancer – Avastin and Erbitux, the latter of which was the first monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA for the treatment of colon cancer. The Cancer Center also researches minimally invasive surgical techniques, including laparascopic procedures, in order to improve patient comfort and recovery.
Treatment at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
Colon cancer patients at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center are seen in the center’s Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Oncology Clinic, located in The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital. The clinic treats all types of GI cancers, including esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, bile duct cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer, as well as soft-tissue sarcomas and endocrine diseases (thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas and adrenal).
The clinic’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment provides access to a team of dedicated specialists, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiologists, who work together to design the most effective treatment plan possible.

Pictured: Dr. Martin Heslin
Surgical Oncology Specialist at UAB. 
UAB’s Vision

The vision of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem. The mission of the Center is to provide the highest quality of life for people diagnosed with cancer, while advancing the understanding of cancer and translating this knowledge into improved prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship.

Visit our website for more information, your support is greatly appreciated. Donations are accepted here