BY LENA HUANG | SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
Want to help find ways to prevent cancer? If you are between the ages of 30 and 65, have no personal history of cancer (except basal or squamous cell skin cancer) and are willing to provide a blood sample and answer periodic surveys, here's a study you should join.
The American Cancer Society launched its third Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-3) in 2010 and is seeking more participants. The goal is to enroll 300,000 by the end of 2013. The ACS has signed up about half of that so far.
Since the 1950s, the ACS has been conducting long-term studies in which researchers collect information, such as medical and lifestyle data, from participants over a period of time. The information from these studies has resulted in major findings, such as linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer and connecting physical activity to lowering the risk of certain cancers.
As people's lifestyles and environments change, it is important to keep these studies going –- to collect current data, identify new links to cancer and find ways to prevent it. The first CPS ran from 1959 to 1972. The second CPS started in 1982 and is still going. With CPS-3, the ACS is hoping to collect even more data, especially on various ethnic and racial populations.
Cancer seems to target certain populations but we don't know why. For example, liver cancer rates are higher in Hispanics than in non-Hispanic whites, and African-American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer compared with white men. With studies like CPS-3, we are hoping the data will help us to understand why.
The ACS is recruiting for CPS-3 around the country. Some of us on the CURE staff are going to participate. Join us, and let's support ways to fight this disease, so that future generations don't have to.
For more information about CPS-3, including finding a test site near you, click here.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JULY 13, 2012
The University of Michigan Health System developed a free mobile app for iPhone and iPad users to track skin changes and monitor for signs of skin cancer. UMSkinCheck lets users create a photographic baseline of skin lesions and then reminds users to check the lesion for changes over time. If a mole or lesion changes, the user can share the photo with a dermatologist to determine next steps.
The app also takes you step by step through a self-exam and will calculate your risk of developing melanoma. It also has examples of common skin lesions and takes you through the ABCDs (asymmetry, border, color, difference) of melanoma. Users can get sun safety and sunscreen tips as well.
Download the UMSkinCheck app on iTunes.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | APRIL 27, 2012
The American Cancer Society released new guidelines that recommend good nutrition and exercise for survivors to reduce the chance of recurrence and increase the possibility of disease-free survival. The ACS formulated these recommendations after convening a group of researchers and thought leaders in nutrition, exercise and cancer survivorship to evaluate current evidence and best practices on these topics. Among the committee's recommendations:
Minimizing weight gain during treatment may be important for survivors who are overweight and also for those of normal weight.
Evidence suggests that exercise is not only safe during cancer treatment but can also improve physical functioning, quality of life, fatigue and may even increase the rate of completion of chemotherapy.
Exercise after cancer diagnosis is associated with a reduced risk of recurrence and improved mortality in many cancer survivor groups, including breast, colorectal, ovarian and prostate.
Results of observational studies suggest diet and nutrition may affect risk of recurrence, cancer progression and overall survival in those treated for cancer.
This report also specifies nutrition and exercise advice by cancer types including breast, colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, lung, prostate, head and neck, and hematologic cancers. It also includes a helpful section on common questions and answers about nutrition, exercise and cancer survivorship. Some questions covered are:
Should alcohol be avoided during treatment? (Generally yes, or kept to a minimum, based on type and stage of disease.)
Are organic foods recommended for cancer survivors? (At present it is not known if organic foods are more effective in reducing recurrence than foods produced by other farming methods.)
Does sugar feed cancer? (No, however products high in added sugar may add substantial calories, resulting in weight gain, which may affect cancer outcomes.)
Can dietary supplements reduce the risk of recurrence? (No evidence at this time suggests supplements will reduce the chances of recurrence.)
Should I exercise during cancer treatment? (Evidence suggests that exercise is safe and can improve physical functioning and quality of life, however, intensity and duration may need to be adjusted during treatment and special precautions taken for those with anemia, weak immunity, bone disease, skin sensitivity, neuropathy and other side effects of therapy.)
"While we've published previous reports outlining the evidence on the impact of nutrition and physical activity on cancer recurrence and survival, this is the first time the evidence has been strong enough to release formal guidelines for survivorship, as we've done for cancer prevention. Living a physically active lifestyle and eating a healthy diet should absolutely be top of mind for anyone who's been diagnosed with cancer," Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, ACS director of nutrition and physical activity and co-author of the guidelines, said in a press release.
To read the full report, click here.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JANUARY 31, 2012
The percentage of Americans getting screened for cancer is below national targets with lower rates in the Asian and Hispanic populations, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute in a study released last Friday.
The study revealed that in 2010 breast cancer screening rates were 72.4 percent, which is below the target of 81 percent set by Healthy People 2020, a government initiative to set benchmarks to measure the impact of prevention activities. Cervical cancer screening was at 83 percent compared with the benchmark of 93 percent; and colorectal cancer screening was at 58.6 percent lower than the target of 70.5 percent.
According to the report, screening rates in the Asian population were "significantly lower" at 64.1 percent for breast cancer, 75.4 percent for cervical cancer and 46.9 percent for colorectal cancer. Hispanics were less likely to be screened for cervical cancer (78.7 percent) and colorectal cancer (46.5 percent) compared with non-Hispanics at 83.8 percent and 59.9 percent, respectively.
In a statement accompanying the study, lead author Sallyann Coleman King, MD, said, "It is troubling to see that not all Americans are getting the recommended cancer screenings and that disparities continue to persist for certain populations. Screening can find breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective." King, who is also an epidemic intelligence service officer in the CDC's division of cancer prevention, added, "We must continue to monitor cancer screening rates to improve the health of all Americans."
While financial costs may be a barrier to some in obtaining screening, the report also notes programs that can help. The CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to free or low-cost screening and diagnostic services to underserved women across the country. The CDC's Colorectal Cancer Control Program offers access to screening to underserved men and women in 25 states. In addition, reducing financial barriers to preventive care is an aim of the Affordable Care Act. Under the act, breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening is covered free under Medicare and new health insurance plans.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JANUARY 13, 2012
Last summer, the National Cancer Institute and the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology challenged innovators to create applications that help cancer patients, survivors and healthcare professionals. The winners were recently announced and were each awarded $20,000 to develop their technology. Although these apps are still in the early stages of development, you can test some out and see what the future may look like for technology that helps us along the cancer journey. Here are the two winners:
1. Ask Dory! was developed by Chintan Patel, PhD, and Sharib Kahn, MD, of Applied Informatics to help patients find clinical trials. It utilizes information from clinicaltrials.gov and takes you through a decision tree, or series of questions, to personalize and find the best trial for you. Dory was named after the curious fish in "Finding Nemo."
2. My Cancer Genome was developed by researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center as a personalized support tool to help patients, caregivers and healthcare providers match genetic mutations to therapies, treatments and clinical trials. Developers have started with cancers that are known to have genetic links and plan to add new content as more genes and diseases are connected and as more targeted therapies emerge.
The semifinalists also had intriguing ideas. One program focuses on cancer screening and decision making, and the other plans to provide personalized strategies for reducing cancer risk. If you are interested in seeing the semifinalists, you can look here.
Congratulations to these innovators who are working to use the latest technology to make cancer more understandable and personalized!RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Although President Obama issued an executive order last week to tackle the growing shortages of some medicines, the results of that order may not come fast enough for many cancer patients in need of treatments. More than 22 chemotherapy drugs, about 35 to 40 percent of the total number of approved cancer drugs, are in short supply.
To support cancer patients' concerns and provide help, Fight Colorectal Cancer is hosting a free webinar on the drug shortages called "What to do when your doc is out of 5-FU (or leucovorin or irinotecan)" on November 16 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Dr. Lindsey Poppe, the pharmacy clinical manager of oncology for the University of North Carolina hospital system, will provide alternatives and advice for patients and discuss how to take action to get your government representatives involved in a resolution. To participate, register here.
After Nov. 16, the webinar can be accessed at fightcolorectalcancer.org.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | SEPTEMBER 12, 2011
Two separate studies recently linked vitamin D and folate intake to a reduction in colorectal cancer risk.
In the vitamin D study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D had as much as a 33 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk compared with those with the lowest levels. The group also found a 12 percent lower colorectal cancer risk for those with a high intake of supplemental vitamin D compared with those with the lowest intake.
While scientists are unsure about the exact connection between vitamin D and cancer, it is suggested that it may decrease the risk of cancer through cell proliferation or inhibiting angiogenesis (blood vessel growth to the tumor). The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU for most people, with 800 IU recommended for those above age 70. Vitamin D is found in salmon, tuna, fortified juices and milk.
The study results came from a meta-analysis that reviewed 18 studies that included over 10,000 people. Of the studies, which spanned three continents, nine looked at vitamin D intake and nine examined blood levels of vitamin D in the blood. Researchers noted this lack of uniform criteria, however, meta-analysis are used to study trends in similar data that may not been seen in a single study. They suggested the results be confirmed in large, randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation.
In the folate study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that people with a higher folate intake per day were 30 percent less likely to get colorectal cancer than those who consumed less. For these results, researchers interviewed almost 6500 participants from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
In the 1990s, folate supplementation was added to grain products in order to prevent birth defects. The recommended daily allowance of folate is 400 micrograms for most adults and 600 micrograms for pregnant women. Folate can be found in many fortified cereals as well as vegetables and beans.
The lead investigator of the study, Todd Gibson from the National Cancer Institute, told Reuters that "people don't need to change their current activities [with respect to folate]. Most people are getting what is considered an adequate amount."RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JULY 27, 2011
Fight Colorectal Cancer is hosting two free webinars for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates. Fight Colorectal Cancer, formerly the Colorectal Cancer Coalition, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and educating people with colorectal cancer. Members advocate on behalf of patients and caregivers to increase research funding and influence policy and legislative change.
CURE's fall issue will feature an article on people who have made cancer their mission. If you are interested in doing the same, the webinar "Couch Potato Advocacy: 3 Things You Can Do at Home to Help the Fight" will steer you in that direction. It features David Pugach, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's associate director of federal relations, providing "tips on how to take your experience as a cancer fighter and use it to make a difference for all those in the fight of their lives." This webinar is on August 17, 2011, from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM EDT. To register, click here.
Getting cancer is tough enough without having to deal with losing a job or insurance. Learn what your rights are at "Cancer and the Law" hosted by Laura Riley of the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC). Riley will discuss common cancer-related legal issues for patients and survivors, such as employment rights, health insurance options, disability insurance and taking off work for medical reasons. The CLRC is a nonprofit that provides free legal assistance and counseling to cancer patients, survivors, friends and family. This webinar takes place on September 21, 2011, from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM EDT. To register, click here.
And for more information on Fight Colorectal Cancer, you can access their website at fightcolorectalcancer.org.RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JULY 20, 2011
Shambhala Mountain Center is hosting its fifth annual retreat "Courageous Women, Fearless Living: A Retreat for Women Touched by Cancer," and if you act fast, the Center is giving away two free registrations!
The goal of this nurturing retreat is to provide support and healing to those on the cancer journey by "integrating body, mind and heart." Professionals will give classes on healthcare, nutrition, meditation, yoga, visualization and art therapy. Leaders include Victoria Maizes, MD, executive director of Dr. Andrew Weil's University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and Linda Sparrowe, writer, yoga instructor and editor-in-chief of the magazine Natural Solutions.
Shambhala Mountain Center is located on 600 beautiful acres in northern Colorado. It has been offering programs and retreats on meditation, yoga and other contemplative disciplines since 1971. The Center is also affiliated with Shambhala International, a network of over 170 groups, centers and retreats around the world.
To apply for the two free registrations, click here. The drawing will be on July 25, 2011, so register soon! Good luck!
To find out more about the retreat, click here.
Here are some comments from past "Courageous Women, Fearless Living" attendees:
"This program will help me to begin my 'new life' – perfect timing, perfect content. I just finished radiation one month ago and had no idea what to do next! Now I know I am reborn."
"Thank you for sharing this sacred land. You worked so hard to show us love and compassion. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I felt so loved. This may have saved my life – I had lost hope, but now...I want to go on."
"For me, the five days we spent together in this blissful healing environment was wonderful from so many perspectives. I loved the nutritional guidance, the yoga, the meditation, the healing visualizations and most of all the courageous women, so full of life and vigor."RELATED POSTS
BY LENA HUANG | JUNE 17, 2011
This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced new regulations on sunscreens that will go into effect next year. These regulations include:
• a maximum SPF of 50 because 50+ doesn't offer more protection,
• SPF will include UVA and UVB light protection (currently SPF only refers to UVB),
• and "waterproof" or "sweatproof" cannot be used to describe sunscreens but "water resistant" can be used if product testing proves it can be resistant at two intervals, 40 or 80 minutes.
The new regulations were the topic of the Diane Rehm show yesterday. As always, I found her show informative, and in her usual style, Rehm interviewed both proponents and critics, one critic who said it has taken the FDA over 30 years to come up with these rules, while skin cancer rates continue to multiply each year in the U.S.
While this may be true, it's important to focus on what we can do. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and yes, skin cancer rates continue to climb each year. So what can we do about this now? The dermatologist that Rehm interviewed had some great suggestions. She said we should stop thinking sunscreen is just for the beach, but something we use every day we are exposed to the sun. Also, we need to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours because it can come off from sweat or rubbing with a towel or napkin.
I also learned from the show that sunscreen has about a two-year shelf life. Sunscreens that have been around longer than that may not provide the full protection, if any. For those who don't want to wear sunscreens, there are many options for sun protective clothing. The American Cancer Society provides some additional skin cancer prevention tips at its website.
The American Academy of Dermatology also has helpful online tools such as prevention tips, a "mole map" to help you determine skin cancer and locations where you can get free skin cancer screenings.
So while the FDA regulations may be late and won't be in effect for another year, don't use that as an excuse not to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing or hats. Every bit helps in the fight against skin cancer.RELATED POSTS