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.