Monthly Archives: June 2012

Expert Voices blog: Cancer Vaccines — Fulfilling the Promise

By William H. Chambers, PhD

 

Vaccines are not new. In fact, there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians and Chinese used them many centuries ago.  Vaccines work by preparing your own immune system to attack invading pathogens, thus preventing disease. Vaccines have helped us make great inroads against many deadly diseases over the past 60 years, when they became used more widely.

Using vaccines against cancer is relatively new, though. Cancer researchers have been trying to make vaccines for tumors, just like others have made vaccines for measles, mumps, and tetanus. [more]


Preventive vaccines

In the case of diseases like measles, the vaccines are made to be given before the disease ever starts. They prevent the disease. And this is one approach researchers have taken with vaccines to prevent cancer.

We now know that about 20% of cancers are started because of infections, mostly from viruses. One virus that causes cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, as well as anal cancer, some head and neck cancers, and genital cancers.

Because researchers have been able to identify strains of HPV that cause the cancers, they have also now been able to develop vaccines that are highly effective in preventing these HPV infections, and thus prevent many of the cancers they cause.… Continue reading →

ACS releases new data on survivorship

By Kevin Stein, PhD

 

June is turning out to be big month for cancer survivors. Not only did we celebrate National Cancer Survivor Day on the 7th, but the Society is also co-hosting the 6th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference June 14 -16 in Arlington, VA.

 

And the American Cancer Society has just released the first-ever Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts & Figures, the newest addition to our Facts & Figures publications. The report highlights the continued increase in numbers of cancer survivors in the United States. Survivors are defined as any person with cancer from the time of diagnosis on.

 

We estimate that there are now 13.7 million Americans alive today who have a history of cancer, and that this number is expected to grow to nearly 18 million by 2022. [more]

 

Much of this growth is related to the increase in the US population, but also to the fact that the fastest-growing segment of the population is persons age 70 and older, the age group when most cancer diagnoses occur. Close to half of all cancer survivors are over the age of 70, while only 1 in 20 is less than 40 years old.  Having said this, we do have to say that cancer can strike at any age.… Continue reading →

What do you really learn from a path report?

By Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, MPH

Most people’s impression of pathology is based on the forensic pathologists in TV shows such as “CSI” (or, if you’re my age, “Quincy, ME”). But for people facing cancer, there is another aspect of pathology to learn about – the testing that is done to find out whether an area of diseased tissue is benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Doctors often suspect that a person has cancer based on their physical exam findings and on the results of x-rays and scans. In the vast majority of cases, however, samples of cells (called cytology) or tissue samples (biopsies) must be tested to know for sure. And, if the tumor is cancerous, pathology testing will also determine what kind of cancer is present. This information is very important in guiding the treatment you receive, and in estimating your outlook for recovery and survival.

People receiving treatments for cancer usually get to know the teams of professionals who perform surgery and who prescribe and give their chemotherapy and radiation. On the other hand, you rarely meet the pathologists, technologists, and other laboratory professionals who test the biopsies, blood, and other specimens removed from your body. Learning about what they do with your samples can help you make informed decisions about your care.… Continue reading →