Thursday, May 25, 2017

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

The month of May brings our attention to skin cancer. Summer calls for a variety of outdoor activities, such as afternoons at the ballpark, outdoor picnics, trips to the beach or just a day by the pool. As this season is quickly approaching, it is important to understand what skin cancer is and how we can prevent it while still enjoying those long, fun-filled days in the sun.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually. By definition, skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that primarily occurs on skin that has seen excessive exposure to the sun or tanning beds. There are three major skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. If treated early, the prognosis is usually not life-threatening.

Know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer:
  • Signs of non-melanoma skin cancers include new red lesions that steadily grow, non-healing sores or crusted areas on the skin, bumps with a "pearly" or translucent surface, and any tender growths on the skin's surface.
  • Melanomas are darkly pigmented, discolored areas or bumps with an asymmetrical shape, irregular borders, or dark black or multicolored surface. While the majority of melanomas do not arise from moles, new or changing moles in adulthood should be examined.

blake phillips"Over a lifetime, it's quite common for high-risk patients to develop multiple skin cancers on different body sites," says C. Blake Phillips, M.D., a fellow in the UAB Department of Dermatology. "That said, most skin cancers have an excellent cure rate if detected and treated early. I encourage learning the signs of skin cancer and self-exams between clinic visits. Patient awareness is extremely helpful in early diagnosis."

Dr. Phillips outlines several ways in which we can protect ourselves from the sun:
  • Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats with sunglasses when out in the sun.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Also note that "water resistant" does not mean "waterproof," as waterproof sunscreen does not exist.
  • When sweating or swimming, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours or even more. Sunscreen can be rubbed off by a towel, so reapply after drying off as well.
  • Limit your direct exposure to the sun and seek shade, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest.
  • Avoid indoor tanning. Staying away from the tanning bed altogether is one of the easiest ways to avoid skin cancer, yet an estimated 11.3 million Americans engage in indoor tanning. In fact, more than 410,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States may be linked to indoor tanning.
It is important to remember that anyone with skin is at risk for developing skin cancers. "While less common, even those with heavily pigmented skin can develop skin cancer," says Dr. Phillips.

Talk to your doctor or click here to learn more or schedule an appointment at UAB.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Bladder cancer, a type of cancer that forms in the tissue of the bladder, is the fourth most common cancer in men. Despite this, bladder cancer awareness remains surprisingly low. It is important to understand the symptoms of bladder cancer and who it affects, as well as measures you can take to prevent it.
The American Cancer Society lists the most common symptoms of bladder cancer:
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation
    • Having to urinate more frequently
    • Pain or burning during urination
    • Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
    • Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full
Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include:
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain
Understanding the symptoms of bladder cancer can lead to early detection, which improves the chances of being treated successfully. Often times, these symptoms are caused by a multitude of things other than bladder cancer, but it is still important to have them checked so that the cause can be found and treated if need be.

The American Cancer Society also lists some statistics that we should be aware of:

  • Smokers are 3 times more likely to get bladder cancer than nonsmokers.
  • About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
  • Men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
  • Whites are about 2 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than African Americans and Hispanics.

Jeffery Nix, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Urology and associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center says, "For bladder cancer patients, median age of diagnosis is 75. About 50 percent of cases are related to smoking, so they'll have other health issues as well. They also have high complication rates after surgery."
Why UAB?
The UAB urology program is one of the few nationally ranked urology programs in the Southeast. Patients that choose the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for their genitourinary cancer will receive treatment from highly reputable urologists, as well as a personal care plan that utilizes the latest technology and techniques.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit our website.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cancer Center's Economic Impact

Did you know that for every dollar the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center receives, we can leverage that for as much as $14 from external funding sources, including federal agencies such as the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Turning $1 into $14 makes a definite economic impact, not just at UAB, but across Birmingham. Learn more by watching this short video, and then visit our website to find out how you can get involved in helping us achieve our vision of eliminating cancer as a major public health problem!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What if Birmingham was known as the city that cured cancer?

Birmingham, Ala., is known for many being things. The Magic City. The Pittsburgh of the South. One of the hottest food cities in the nation.

But what if Birmingham was known as the city that cured cancer? With this city being home to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, we think that dream isn't that far-fetched. In fact, we have hundreds of scientists, physicians and other staff working every day to make that vision a reality.

To learn more about the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, and how you can get involved in the fight against cancer, visit our website.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cancer Center in the News

This month's issue of Birmingham Medical News focuses on oncology, and several articles highlight work being done at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Click on the links below to learn more.

UAB Testing Robotic Platform for Prostate Cancer Detection and Treatment

Immunotherapy: Using the Body's Own Defenses to Fight Cancer

Starve a Cancer, Feed a Patient

UAB Team Identify Protein that Plays Key Role in Brain Cancer Stem Cell Growth

Thank you to the Birmingham Medical News for featuring us, and if you would like to learn more about the Cancer Center, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and despite numerous research advancements and increased efforts in tobacco cessation and anti-smoking initiatives, the disease is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society:

Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer). In men, prostate cancer is more common, while in women breast cancer is more common. About 14% of all new cancers are lung cancers.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2016 are:
  • About 224,390 new cases of lung cancer (117,920 in men and 106,470 in women)
  • About 158,080 deaths from lung cancer (85,920 in men and 72,160 in women)
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women; about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. About 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, while less than 2% are younger than 45. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is offering a free seminar, "Frankly Speaking About Lung Cancer," on November 7 at the Wallace Tumor Institute on the UAB medical campus. Mollie deShazo, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology, will provide fundamental information about current lung cancer treatments, strategies for symptom/side-effect management, and tools for survivorship. We encourage you to learn more, and if you are interested in learning about UAB's smoking cessation programs, click here

Monday, July 27, 2015

UAB Women in Medicine: Claudia Hardy

Claudia Hardy is the program director for the Deep South Network, a National Cancer Institute Community Network Program Center grant awarded to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center. The mission of the Deep South Network is to eliminate cancer health disparities among underserved minorities in rural and urban areas across Alabama and Mississippi.

What responsibilities do you have in your position? What’s the day-to-day like? 
I’m a program director in the Cancer Center for community outreach. A lot of people only know me for the Deep South Network, but I do more than that! People don’t realize the complexity of things I’m responsible for. I have managed the Deep South Network for 15 years and serve as a communication liaison and work with investigators and scientists to develop randomized trials and qualitative research products, in addition to developing culturally appropriate outreach efforts.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of this job is the variety. It allows me to stay connected with real issues and helps me understand how to better work with researchers and scientists as they conduct research.

Were there any parts of getting to this point in your career that were difficult for you?
I never knew for certain at 18 what I wanted to do. My undergrad is in communications and my Master’s is in Public Administration. This job is tailor-made for me. Earning my undergrad degree was tough. I had a professor who told me I’d have a difficult time in my field, so I’m always up for a challenge. He retired last year and invited me to his retirement party. I got to tell him that I made a liar out of him, and he said I made him proud.

Do you have a hard time balancing work and personal life? How do you manage that?
I’m much better than where I was. Work will always be there. I’ve been here for 16 years. I travel to places and have to work some evenings and Saturdays. I’ve made relationships with vulnerable people that bleed into my personal life that I hold near my heart, particularly with minorities, where trust is not always automatic. These work relationships have become personal. But I think I’ve become much better at balancing. I just have to say to myself sometimes, “Hey, I’m off the clock!”

What advice do you have for young women trying to choose a career?
I’m always encouraging young women in particular to know what it is they want to do and it will pay off if you do work you’re called to do. It makes the tough times easier because you know in your heart this is what you’re meant to do.