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.




Thursday, February 5, 2015

CCC Chats with Ronda Carlisle

Name: Ronda Carlisle
Title: Nurse Research Manager
UAB CCC: How long have you worked at the cancer center?
RC: I have been working on 17 years as of this year. I was a research nurse coordinator, but I have always been working in the capacity of Nurse Research Manager.
UAB CCC: What do you enjoy most about working at the Cancer Center?
RC: I love working with the patients. They are so appreciative of everything you do for them. The patients are the most important thing to me.
UAB CCC: What do you like to do in your free time?
RC: I love to knit and Thursdays are my knitting nights so I need to get off early tonight so I can enjoy that. I also like working in the yard. There is always landscaping to do at my house.  
UAB CCC: Describe your typical day here.
RC: *laughs as her beeper goes off* My beeper is always going off, if you can imagine. I like to come in early. If it’s a clinic day, I’m ready to go. I check emails, my phones and finish up work from the day before. I am always organizing my work before other people get involved. If I have to go the floor, then I make sure orders are signed and continue on with the next thing.
UAB CCC: In your opinion what do you find most important about the Cancer Center as a whole?
RC: What all we have to offer here in the South. UAB has great resource for so many people.  Not everyone has to go to other cancer centers. We are just now building our services for multiple myeloma, which we haven’t done before.
UAB CCC: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
RC: *smiles* I’m going to keep it in the states and say the Grand Canyon. I think that is where I would want to go first. I’ve been to European countries and well, I love being here in the states.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February 4th is World Cancer Day

Not only is February the National Cancer Awareness Month for the United States, but for February 4th, we recognize it as World Cancer Day.
            Cancer obviously doesn’t affect just Americans but other countries’ citizens as well. Across the globe we find other treatments, discoveries, and medical breakthroughs on cancer more than just the United States. Cancer awareness is more than letting people know the kinds of cancer, but the harms and early detection signals. It is about knowing the types of cancer screenings given, the treatments offered, and all of the tedious research done around the world but in your backyard at UAB.
            Millions of people have been affected by cancer, but we are making it our job to eliminate cancer as a public health problem by the year 2050. In order to get your brain rolling here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about cancer.

Several factors increase the risk of cancer, including tobacco use, pollutants, certain infections, radiation, obesity, and lack of physical exercise.

Smoking causes an estimated 90% of lung cancer. Tobacco has killed 50 million people in the last decade. If trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century, which equates to one person every six seconds.

One in eight deaths in the world is due to cancer. Cancer causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

Lung, prostate, and stomach cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men. Breast, cervix, and colorectal cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women.

The American Cancer Society estimates 577,190 people will die from cancer in the U.S. per year, or more than 1,500 people a day.
While some of these statistics are scary, they are very much true. In most cases cancer can be treated if caught early or just by maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as exercising, not smoking, and being up to date with medical check-ups. Researchers have suggested that early detection is anyone’s biggest weapon to stopping cancer. Cancer treatment is easier when done in early stages of the cancer inception.
Cancer research is also hugely important to impacting the world. With donations, grants, and funding, cancer centers such as UAB can find treatments and impact others with new discoveries. Opportunities such as the ArtBlink Gala coming up on February 28th is a great way to support cancer research, as well as fund-raising events through local, state and national organizations willing to help fight cancer.
With today being World Cancer Day, hug those you know affected by cancer and take care of your personal health so you’re not one of every three people in the world diagnosed. You can find more information online at

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine – Employee Spotlight

Name:  Pam Alverson

Title:  Program Director, Protocol Review and Monitoring Systems (PRMS) Office

How long have you worked at the Cancer Center?  I have worked at UAB for 27 years.  Of the 27 years, 21 were with the Cancer Center.

Describe a typical day in your job.    My job allows me to interact with current and new investigators and their staff across the UAB campus.   Sometimes I will meet with groups to provide information about the Cancer  Center review processes and other related topics. The Cancer Center has a Clinical Trials Operations Committee (Chaired by Dr. Harry Erba) that meets weekly.  The focus of this meeting is to provide a preliminary review of all cancer-related trials with the focus on trial management resources, funding, prioritization of trials, a look at the science and competing trials to make sure there are no concerns raised at this level.   Logistics-related or any other clinical trial-related business or concerns are handled at this meeting.  Accrual for on-going trials is another charge of this committee.  Preparation related to these topics and follow-up business can be part of any given day. 

 The internal scientific review provided by the Clinical Trials Review Committee (Chaired by Dr. Mansoor Saleh) at the Cancer Center reviews all cancer-related trials.  There is interaction with clinical, statistical, radiology and nursing reviewers.  Cancer Control and Population Sciences protocols and gene therapy protocols are also reviewed by this Committee.  From these meetings, reviews will be written and distributed to the investigators.  All scientific review-related correspondence comes through the PRMS office.   Both of these committees must review and approve a protocol prior to submission to the IRB and ultimately activation.  Attention to making sure the review processes of the Cancer Center are functioning as designed and facilitating these processes to avoid any unnecessary delays in protocol activation is at the top of my list.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Cancer Center?  Some of the main reasons I enjoy what I am doing are because of the people I work with and the nature of my job.   I work with people who are compassionate, intelligent and hard-working.  Whether they are in clinical, laboratory, administrative, regulatory, or clerical positions there seems to be a common focus to make things faster, easier and better for patients.  It is also a privilege to interact with world-class clinicians and scientists.  The people and the science make me proud to be part of the Cancer Center.

Tell us a little about yourself. Family, Hobbies, Interests, etc.  I am married and have a daughter and step son.  They are both married.  My daughter recently had our first grandchild in October, 2013.  Noah is a cute, happy baby who has already developed a sense of humor.  I am Granna.  My parents live close by so I get to see them often.  When not visiting with family, my husband and I enjoy working in our garden.  It is an organic garden, so the past 6 years I have been learning how to grow vegetables and not insects.  I also enjoy watching the wildlife appreciating the garden.  I enjoy most activities outside related to nature and really enjoy trips to the mountains as often as possible.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BCRFA gives largest donation ever to UAB Cancer Center

On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA) presented its largest donation ever – $650,000 – to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year’s gift brings the organization’s cumulative total to more than $5.1 million since 1996.

Since their launch, BCRFA has made an annual donation to the Cancer Center with proceeds from various fundraising efforts over the course of the year, including specially designed car tag sales, special events and from individual donors. Without the generous support of the community, none of these efforts made by BCRFA would have been possible.

“We are extremely thankful for all of the hard work the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama has done for us. Their support has been astounding since their inception and we couldn’t be happier to be their partner in the fight against cancer,” says Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the Cancer Center. “This kind of giving allows for our hard work to continue with hope for an even brighter future.”

BCRFA has continued to strive for success in helping the Cancer Center‘s breast cancer research program, which is now recognized as one of the premier research programs in the United States. This kind of partnership will strengthen not only financial needs, but the work of the community. All donations given by the BCRFA are given exclusively to the Cancer Center and remain in Alabama. BCRFA has generous help from community partners that include: Winn-Dixie, Docupak, Tameron Automotive, Belk, Sirote & Permutt, and The Alabama Power Foundation, along with many others.

BCRFA and UAB provide researchers with the resources to accelerate discovery and translate new knowledge into meaningful therapies for all types of breast cancer. They also provide funding for several key breast cancer projects that have the potential to provide new cures and to prevent DNA repair in breast cancer tumor cells. Much of this work is led by Andres Forero, M.D., a nationally recognized expert in breast cancer research and treatment and Cancer Center senior scientist.

Kate Kiefer, president of BCRFA, gave thanks to all that has helped her staff fund the Cancer Center and continued to advocate breast cancer research at the appreciation luncheon Tuesday. She passionately spoke about the foundation’s vision for the future and what a tremendous help the Birmingham area has been assisting in finding the cure for cancer in Alabama.  

The BCRFA hopes to continue to increase their funding to UAB each year, as the more dollars we raise, the more opportunity UAB has to conduct the amount of research required to find better treatments for all types of breast cancer, if not for the ultimate cure,” says Kiefer.

 Dr. Partridge wrapped up the ceremony by accepting the large donation and ended with a bold statement.
“With this donation, we will not only continue to grow stronger as a leader in the fight against breast cancer, but also grow closer to achieving our vision of eliminating cancer as a major public health problem by 2050,” says Partridge.

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.