Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Year: 2015

Grantee Spotlight: Dr. Kolawole Okuyemi – Improving Cervical Cancer Screening Attitudes of African Immigrants and Refugees

Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H., has devoted his career to improving the health of racially and ethnically diverse and other underserved populations using culturally tailored interventions. His current pursuits involve examining cervical cancer screening rates and screening behaviors among African immigrant and refugee women in urban areas of Minnesota. His research is funded by a Community Networks Program Center (CNCP) U54 grant from NCI/CRCHD.

In the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas, there are more than 70,000 African immigrant women, including Ethiopians, Nigerian, and Somali, who have never been screened for cervical or breast cancer. Among the Somali women Okuyemi surveyed in his study, only one third of them (aged 32 and older) had received a Pap test, compared to 63 percent of other immigrant groups in the study.

New on Cancer.gov: Resources on Melanoma Therapies

Comparing the treatment options available to patients with an advanced form of the skin cancer melanoma today and those available just 5 years ago is “like night and day.” That’s how Dr. Howard Streicher of NCI’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program describes what has been a dramatic shift in the treatment landscape for melanoma.

Although melanoma represents less than 5 percent of skin cancer diagnoses (the most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), it’s the cause of most skin cancer deaths.

Report Offers Comprehensive Look at Global Smokeless Tobacco Use

For more than half a century, following the 1964 report of the Surgeon General, Smoking and Health, scientific research and global tobacco control efforts have been directed against cigarette smoking. But in some parts of the world, other forms of tobacco, including many forms of smokeless tobacco, may pose an equal or greater threat to health.

In response, in December, NCI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective, the first-ever report on the global use of smokeless tobacco and its impact on health. Among the report’s findings: more than 300 million people worldwide use smokeless tobacco products, and these products cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer, among other diseases.

January Monthly Spotlight: Cervical Health and Cervical Cancer Disparities

In January, CRCHD joins the nation in raising awareness for Cervical Health and Cervical Cancer Disparities. 

Despite an approximate 75 percent reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality (since the 1950s), some racial/ethnic groups are disproportionately impacted by the disease. Cervical cancer can be detected during regular screening tests (called Pap tests) when it is easiest to treat the abnormal cells; however, some racial/ethnic groups continue to have low screening rates.

Implementation Research Workshop in Argentina: Moving Research into Practice

The Introduction to Cancer Program Planning and Implementation Research Workshop, co-organized by the National Cancer Institute, Center for Global Health (CGH), in collaboration with the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), and Instituto Nacional del Cancer (INC) of Argentina, was held in Buenos Aires, November 5 – 7, 2014. I was pleased to participate with DCCPS’s Dr. Cindy Vinson, in collaboration with Dr. Maria Viniegra from INC Argentina, in the development of the program and selection of international speakers. This Workshop was organized in the context of a memorandum of understanding signed by the INC Argentina and the US NCI to collaborate in common areas of interest. Implementation and dissemination research is one of the priorities areas identified by INC Argentina as it is essential to study the process of how to move research into practice to improve cancer screening, prevention and the continuum of care.
Research on implementation science addresses the level to which health interventions can fit within real-world public health and clinical service systems. The overall goal of the Introduction to Cancer Program Planning and Implementation Research Workshop was to train a critical mass of researchers, program managers, practitioners, and policy makers that can apply the knowledge gained on implementation and dissemination research to promote evidence-based interventions to reduce the cancer burden in the country and globally. Some of the specific objectives were to provide an overview of introductory concepts on implementation and dissemination research and cancer control planning and to encourage interdisciplinary networking among the participants and faculty. A thoroughly-developed and interactive program agenda that included lectures, case studies and group exercises, along with outstanding faculty from US institutions, Brazil and Argentina, and a highly engaged and selected group of attendees, were some of the key aspects for making this Workshop a highly successful event. CGH supported the travel of five trainees from institutions that are part of the Red de Institutos Nacionales de Cancer (RINC) in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador with the long-term goal of moving forward implementation research and cancer control planning in those countries.

The INC Argentina is committed to make implementation research a priority in the country. Some of the plans include a specific call for applications for grants and research fellowships on implementation research and an assessment of the workshop impact by following-up with the attendees to assess workshop impact on their program work or research career.

Analyzing the Gut Microbiome to Help Detect Colorectal Cancer

Changes in the gut microbiome could help distinguish individuals with healthy colons from those with either colorectal adenomas (polyps with a risk of becoming cancer) or colorectal cancer, according to results of two recent studies. The authors of both studies believe the findings suggest that gut microbiome changes could be a biomarker of colorectal cancer that could eventually be used to help screening for the disease.

Bacteria live in the gut, mouth, lungs and skin—basically any place exposed to the external environment. The collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in and on the body are referred to as the microbiome. In fact, the human body contains far more bacterial cells than human cells, and the gut is home to the greatest proportion, by far, of the body’s total microbiome.

Bacterial Biofilms Provide Clues into Colorectal Cancer Risk

Among the various environmental factors believed to contribute to colorectal cancer risk, new data suggest that dense bacterial communities called “biofilms” may play an important role, at least in some regions of the colon.

Biofilms are groups of microbes that grow and stick to each other on a surface. A new study has identified biofilms in the colons of some individuals with colon adenomas and colon cancers. The study findings, published in December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may provide new insights into colon cancer risk, the study authors believe.

Grantee Spotlight: Bill Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. – Steering a Partnership to Improve Cancer Outcomes for African Americans in Maryland and DC

Dr. William (Bill) Nelson is playing an integral role in advancing our understanding of cancer health disparities and helping to foster the interests of young medical and science students from underrepresented backgrounds in the field of cancer and cancer health disparities research. Dr. Nelson, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Johns Hopkins University and a Professor of Oncology, Urology, Pharmacology, Medicine, Pathology and Radiation Oncology, specializes in the treatment and research of prostate cancer.

Dr. Nelson steers one of the NCI-supported Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE), a partnership between the Howard University Cancer Center and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Howard-Hopkins partnership aims to increase screening, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and care in African Americans residing in the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, District of Columbia region. In this geographic area, African Americans continue to have the highest cancer death rates in the United States (and have held this statistic for more than fifty years).

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