Thursday, June 23, 2011

Exporting Expertise

Yesterday, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center unveiled the UAB Cancer Care Network, an affiliation between the Cancer Center and community cancer centers and hospitals in Alabama and Georgia that provides access to the latest discoveries in cancer research and offers an unmatched level of expert cancer treatments in those communities. This is an incredibly exciting initiative that will allow us to bring leading-edge care to these communities, giving patients an opportunity to stay close to home while giving doctors and nurses access to leading cancer research.

Comprehensive cancer centers, such as ours at UAB, offer the highest levels of research and patient care. We set the standards that community hospitals follow. Our goal with the UAB Cancer Care Network is to make that expertise and knowledge available to every man and woman in our region.

One of the most important aspects of the network is that cancer patients at our partner hospitals will have access to the Cancer Center’s vast research enterprise, including our clinical trials that often feature therapies developed at UAB and unavailable elsewhere. The network allows us to bring all of these resources to patients while allowing them to stay close to home and their support system, which is so crucial.

I hope you will learn more about the UAB Cancer Care Network, and as always, thank you for supporting YOUR UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridging the Gap

While progress is being made in the fight against cancer, a new report from the American Cancer Society shows that there are still disparities in cancer death rates between people of lower and higher socioeconomic statuses.

Using education as a measuring stick, the study found that people with a high school education or less died at a rate of up to five times higher than those with at least four years of college education. Among men, those with less education died of cancer at rates more than two and a half times than those of men with college degrees. These numbers among women were almost identical.

Why is this the case? Studies have shown that people with less education - often those in lower socioeconomic situations - are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors, such as smoking, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. Likewise, these populations are less likely to have access to the care they need and screenings for early detection.

It is our duty to continue to address these disparities, which has been a longstanding commitment of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. While we launch new research and discover new treatments, we must also look for ways to deliver all of these discoveries to every single person, regardless of where they are in life.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Celebrating Survivors, Celebrating Life

Tomorrow, June 4, 2011, we at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center - along with several other cancer-related organizations across Birmingham - will celebrate Cancer Survivors Day. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a "survivor" as anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.

When I first start treating cancer patients 30 years ago, a cancer diagnosis was one of the most devastating things a patient could hear. At that time, the five-year survival rate was only 45 percent - meaning that less than half of people diagnosed with cancer would still be alive five years later.

Fortunately, advances in research and improved treatments have caused that number to steadily increase over the years. Today, the five-year survival rate across all cancers is 65 percent. Statistics have also shown that since 1991, every day approximately 350 people become cancer survivors who would have died of the disease in years prior. Of course, we are still working to raise those numbers, but this is a long way from where we once were.

Cancer Survivors Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the more than 11 million Americans who are survivors thanks to the hard work of scientists, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals across the nation. If you are a survivor, or if you're family has been touched by cancer, I invite you to come celebrate with us at the Pepper Place Saturday Market, beginning at 7 a.m. We will have live music, dancing, children's activities, cooking demonstrations, educational activities and much more.

Someone diagnosed with cancer today is much more likely to survive than die of the disease, and if that's not a reason to celebrate, I don't know what is! I hope you'll join us to Celebrate Life!

-Ed Partridge, M.D.