Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Give Wednesday: Brain Tumor Awareness Month

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Nearly 70,000 people will be diagnosed with one just this year. The exact cause of a brain tumor is unknown so, other than generally healthy lifestyle choices, these tumors can't really be prevented. This month, we encourage you to learn more about this disease, share your knowledge with others and raise awareness of the need for new and innovative research and treatments. 

What is a brain tumor?

Brain tumors occur when there is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain. There are two types of brain tumors: benign and malignant. The main difference between the two is that benign tumors do not contain cancer cells and malignant tumors do. A benign tumor is generally easier to remove because it has an obvious border or edge and does not disturb the tissues around it, but can cause serious health problems if it presses against sensitive areas of the brain. These types of tumors also rarely grow back. A malignant tumor (also known as brain cancer) can grow more rapidly and is likely to invade nearby healthy brain tissue. These cancer cells may spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord.

How will I know if I have a brain tumor?

Since there are many types of brain tumors that can invade many areas of the brain, symptoms vary from case to case. The most common symptoms of brain tumors include:

  •  Headaches
  • Nausea
  •  Changes in speech, vision or hearing
  •  Changes in mood, personality or ability to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • Problems balancing or walking 
  • Seizures

How does UAB treat brain tumors?

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is known throughout the country as a leader in brain tumor research. The physicians in the Cancer Center’s nuero-oncology clinic are devoted to treating brain tumor patients with the most innovative technology available. These physicians are specialists in oncology, hematology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology and work together to provide a comprehensive approach to treating each patient’s specific situation.

What kind of research is UAB doing?

The Cancer Center continues to lead the country in innovative research on brain tumors. The center is one of only five institutions in the country to hold a SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant for brain cancer. These grants are incredibly prestigious and move research findings quickly and safely from the laboratory to the clinic. In 2012, UAB research effort on brain tumors was declared one of the top clinical research advances of the year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Visit our website for more information. Your support is greatly appreciated! To donate, click here..

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why Give Wednesday: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Why Give Wednesday: Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with summer vacation and beach trips on the horizon, many of us will be spending more time in the sun than usual. This is a fun-filled time for everyone, but this also means we need to pay more attention to avoiding sun overexposure so we prevent skin cancer as much as we can.

First of all, what is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is a disease where malignant (cancerous) cells grow in the tissue of the skin. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer, which equals more than those diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. The three most common types of skin cancer are:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma is most common form of skin cancer and grows slowly, usually on the head, neck or torso. This type of skin cancer is unlikely to spread to other parts of your body and, if detected early, is the least risky. It usually appears raised, waxy pink bumps.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma affects parts of the skin that are exposed to heavy UV rays. It can spread to the tissues, bones and near lymph nodes if left undetected, but does so slowly.  It appears as red, scaly, and rough skin lesions.
  • Melanoma is the fastest growing, most aggressive and most deadly type of skin cancer. It can spread to many parts of the body, including the bones and brain. If this happens, the disease becomes nearly incurable.It appears as moles that are irregular in shape, color, diameter and/or border.

How can you prevent skin cancer?

About 90 percent of skin cancer cases are associated with overexposure to the sun, so it is important to protect yourself from UV rays all year long—not just in the spring and summer. “Everyone should wear sunscreen all year round, even on cold, cloudy days,” says Marian Northington, M.D., director of UAB Cosmetic Dermatology. “Unless use of a flashlight is necessary to see, you should have sunscreen on.” UAB experts suggest everyone use a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum and water resistant every single day (For more sunscreen guidelines, click here.) You can wear a hat or other clothing that covers skin or seek shady areas to avoid excessive exposure to skin, too. 

Why UAB?

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is involved in many new and innovative trials studying the most effective ways of treating and preventing skin cancer. A recent example of skin cancer research that the center is involved with is developing a morning-after cream to be applied after extended exposure to sunlight which would the damage caused by the sun. The center also handles thousands skin cancer cases each year and provides the most advanced services and facilities for its treatment.

Visit our website for more information. Your support is greatly appreciated! To donate, click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why Give Wednesday: May is National Cancer Research Month

What exactly is cancer research?

By definition, cancer research is the process of studying cancer to identify causes and develop strategies for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Most cancer research can be organized into three categories: basic, translational and clinical. Basic research involves learning more about how a cancer cell is different from a regular cell. In many cases, scientists will study models of cancer that are grown in a laboratory or in animal models. Clinical cancer research deals with patients directly. Scientists use clinical research to test everything from new surgical techniques to new treatments. Translational cancer research combines the previous two methods by taking the results of basic research, bringing it to the clinic for patients, then studying the new results and effects further back in the laboratory.

Why is cancer research important?

Almost everyone in the United States can say he or she knows or has known someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the U.S. alone can expect more than 1.6 million diagnoses of various types of cancer, and more than half a million deaths attributed to cancer just this year. While these numbers are still high, the amount of people who have survived cancer is higher than ever before. Our understanding of the disease and its treatments expands further with every passing day. Why? Because developing cancer research has given us more opportunities than ever before to save lives. 

Why give to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center? 

UAB is one of the nation's leading cancer research centers and is the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in a six-state area that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. In the past, the Cancer Center's physician-scientists have helped generate some of the most significant breakthroughs in cancer research, and translate this research into patient treatments, often long before any other hospital.

The Cancer Center's mission is to provide the highest quality of life to any person diagnosed with cancer, while progressing that world's understanding of cancer and translating this knowledge into prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship. The people who work every day at the Cancer Center intend to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem, and every donation provides the support to one day realize this vision. 

Visit our website for more information. Your support is greatly appreciated! To donate, click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Minority Cancer Awareness Week April 13-19, 2015

This week we are celebrating National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. With cancer being one of the leading causes of deaths, it is common for certain groups to find it harder to fight and survive cancer. Many groups with this disadvantage include Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics. This disparity is due to numerous reasons such as access to health care, socioeconomic factors, or even poverty.

It is the goal of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, April 13-19, to increase awareness of the issues these groups face.

Both the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society research and analyze certain statistics that pertain to these minority groups. Some of the statistics are surprising.
The cancer death rate among African American men is 27% higher compared to non-Hispanic white men.The death rate for African American women is 11% higher compared to non-Hispanic white women.African Americans have the highest incidence rates of colorectal cancer of any racial or ethnic group.Hispanics have higher rates of cervical, liver, and stomach cancers than non-Hispanic whites.Liver cancer incidence and death rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders are double those among non-Hispanic whites.

There have been significant changes over the years that have helped balance some these numbers. Anti-tobacco campaigns have been a major influence on the African American community and decrease lung cancer possibilities. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the overall lowest chance for cancer incidence or death due to cancer.

 For more information on cancer concerns or patient information, please visit or visit our website

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of deaths in cancer. This is disturbing news for many readers. Researchers say that six out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if screened earlier.

Colorectal cancer is commonly known as rectal cancer or colon cancer depending on where the cancer starts. These two are typically found together considering the numerous commonalities between them.

The following are typical types of colorectal cancer:

Adenocarcinomas: These cancers start in cells that form glands that make mucus to lubricate the inside of the colon and rectum. This is what most doctors refer to when speaking on colorectal cancer.

Carcinoid tumors: These tumors start from specialized hormone-producing cells in the intestine.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs): These tumors start from specialized cells in the wall of the colon. Some are non-cancerous; others are malignant, which means cancerous. These tumors can be found anywhere in the digestive tract, but they are unusual in the colon.

Lymphomas: These are cancers of immune system cells that typically start in lymph nodes, but can start in the colon as well.

Sarcomas: These tumors can start in blood vessels as well as in muscle and connective tissue in the wall of the colon and rectum. These are fairly rare.  

If you are screened early enough, then many of the polyps, or growths, can be removed fairly quickly if detected.

Most importantly, concerns or questions you may have concerning your digestive system contact your physician for more information.

Most doctors will do a fecal occult blood test or stool DNA test. Other tests include colonoscopy, CT colonoscopy (virtual testing), or double contrast barium enema. These are X-ray driven tests to help look at the colon or rectum.

If you are treated with colorectal cancer, then many lifestyle changes may have to occur in order to remain as healthy as possible.

Some of the most important things that doctors recommend are eating healthy, a good night’s rest, and exercising regularly. These things will improve cardiovascular health, immune systems, can help lower anxiety and depression, and will make your muscles stronger.

Both the American Cancer Society and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer recommend screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 for both men and women. We encourage you to talk to your physician to determine the screening option that is right for you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CCC Chats with Mary Jerome

Name: Mary Jerome
Title: Research Nurse Coordinator

UAB CCC: How long have you worked at the cancer center?
MJ: I have worked here for 5 years.

 UAB CCC: What do you enjoy most about working at the Cancer Center?
MJ: The collaboration between doctors and radiologists. They collaborate together and make this place a package. We do the research and we all like to pull together to make this a team. All about teamwork here!

UAB CCC: What do you like to do in your free time?
MJ: I’m a grandmother so I enjoy being around my big family. I am also the caregiver with my mother who has Alzheimer’s. It’s also fun to listen to CD books on my long drive to work, but I mean who doesn’t love watching movies and going to dinner too?

UAB CCC: Describe your typical day here.
MJ: The point of my job is that when I get a subject I put them on clinical trials and get them treated. I direct a lot of the patient care here as well. I make sure orders are turned in. Coordinating everyone is part of my everyday job, especially when working with industry sponsors and having their people communicate with my people as they say. *chuckles*

UAB CCC: In your opinion what do you find most important about the Cancer Center as a whole?
MJ: It offers people hope. Typically I work with lung cancer patients and that’s not a good diagnosis most of the time.  Across this whole spectrum, we give people hope here and I love it.

UAB CCC: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
MJ: Hawaii! It has always appealed to me. I love the sun and the sand. They have no snakes too!


February is National Cancer Awareness Month

Here at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center we are keeping tabs on all and everything cancer-related. In honor of those affected by cancer, we wanted to remind you that February is National Cancer Awareness Month. We want to be proactive with saving lives and reminding others of the importance of cancer screenings.
By seeing your doctor for a cancer screening, early detection is the best weapon you have to surviving cancer. Early detection can be seen without noticing external or internal issues. Screening allows for physicians to find and treat cancer early before the spread happens. There are different kinds of screening and symptoms for multiple cancers and typically the most common kinds are breast, cervical, colon/rectal and lung, along with many others. Here is a look at the different types of screenings and guidelines.
Breast Cancer
Screening methods for breast cancer typically include clinical breast examinations along with mammography and other imaging as well. Women over the age of 40 should continue to have yearly breast examinations with good health. Women in their 20s and 30s should be examined every three years and women over 40 should be examined every year. Also self-breast examinations should be a routine for women ages 20 and up. If you notice any lumps in your breasts during a self-exam, call your physician right away.
Cervical Cancer
UAB recommends women should have cervical cancer screenings no later than the age of 21. Women should have a Pap smear done every year in order to detect cervical cancer. Beginning at age 30, women who have had three normal Pap tests in a row should be tested every 2 to 3 years. Some women who have had exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), HIV infection or weakened immune system due to a surgery should be screened annually. Talk to your doctor today about getting a check-up if you’re a little behind or having concerns.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Both women and men are at average risk of colorectal cancer and should be screened beginning at the age of 50. Types of colorectal screenings include: flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and stool DNA test (sDNA). People with certain health issues such as personal history of colorectal cancer, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and/or family history of colorectal cancer should be checked earlier and more often than the age of 50. Call your doctor if you think you might subject to this cancer or recall having family history of such.
Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the scary cancer for the smokers of the world. Many people subject to lung cancer are ages 55-74, are in fairly good health, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and are still smoking or quit within the last 15 years. Your physician should talk to you about the benefits, limitations and harms that lung cancer screenings may cause you. When having a screening, make sure you are going to a facility with the proper CT scanning equipment and can inform you of their findings once you have the screening done.
With February being National Cancer Awareness Month, it is hard to touch on every cancer out there, but these mentioned above are some of the more common types of cancer, and we want you to be aware and proactive. You can always find more information online through a variety of resources, including the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society or our website. Remember to stay healthy, eat the right foods, and stay in touch with your physician about any concerns you might have.