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Recent Developments in Cancer Research

American Cancer Society Funding

Funding by the American Cancer Society of some of the country’s most talented and innovative scientist researchers, the Society is proving its dedication to finding cures and fighting back against a disease that has taken too much.

Society grantee talks about the challenges of getting funding – Brian C. Turner, PhD, University of Colorado – Denver, who studies leukemia/lymphoma, discusses the difficulties of getting funding as a postdoctoral fellow and his appreciation of his American Cancer Society grant.  Click here to view the video.

Society researcher discovers genetic link to esophageal cancer – American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Charis Eng, MD, PhD, has identified three genetic mutations that are more common in people with disorders of the esophagus, including cancer.  Click here to read more about this exciting research and how it may impact patients.

Society study finds that treatment for lung cancer varies depending on hospital type – A recent study conducted by Society intramural researcher Katherine S. Virgo, PhD, managing director, Health Services Research, found that lung cancer patients treated in hospitals that care for a high percentage of uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients were significantly less likely to receive surgery that was intended to cure the person compared to patients treated at hospitals that care for low percentages of the uninsured/Medicaid-insured. Click here to read more about this interesting new finding.

Unlocking the mystery of postpartum breast cancer – Two recently published studies from American Cancer Society grantees Traci R. Lyons, PhD, and Pepper Schedin, PhD, highlight some of the risks of cancer associated with pregnancy, and help untangle the threads between normal and cancerous cells. Click here to read more.

Southern states lag behind Northern states in making progress against colorectal cancer (CRC)
–  A recent report by Society intramural researcher Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, vice president, Surveillance Research, and his colleagues shows that progress in reducing CRC mortality rates varies significantly across states, with states in the Northeast showing the most progress and those in the South showing the least progress. Colon cancer screening rates are generally lower in the Southern states than Northern states. Click here to read more about this finding.

Topic Highlights

Hope and Life for Latina Women

American Cancer Society grantee Deborah Erwin, PhD, from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, has developed a community-based program aimed at increasing breast and cervical cancer screening among Latina women. Watch Dr. Erwin discuss her innovative program called Esperanza y Vida (Hope and Life), and the impact of her American Cancer Society grant on that work.

Crusader for Cancer Prevention

The American Cancer Society’s Vice President Emeritus, Epidemiology & Surveillance Research Michael Thun, MD, MS is featured in the “Spotlight On …” section of Cancer Prevention, a national newsletter from New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The article documents Dr. Thun’s 30-year career dedicated to understanding what causes cancer and how to prevent it. Click here to read the article. Dr. Thun is also co-author of a recent study showing that being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of dying, regardless of whether you smoke or have a serious illness. Click here to read more about this study.

Making the Funding Cut

The American Cancer Society’s Extramural Grants peer review process was recently featured in the September issue of the publication Nature. The article, titled “Research funding: Making the cut” examines the rigorous process that our volunteer reviewers undertake in deciding which research grants will get funding from the Society. Click here to read the article.

Reducing Cancer Disparities

American Cancer Society grantee Annette E. Maxwell, DrPH, from the University of California, Los Angeles, is working to reduce cancer disparities by increasing colon cancer screening, and she’s getting results. 

Intervention Increases Colon Cancer Screening in Filipino Americans

A recent study by American Cancer Society grantee Annette E. Maxwell, DrPH, from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that small, community-based multi-component interventions significantly increased colon cancer screening among Filipino Americans. Dr. Maxwell’s grant, titled “Community Dissemination of an Evidence-Based CRC Screening Intervention” focused specifically on Filipino members of the community (recruited from more than 45 Filipino American community centers and churches) who were not compliant with the current colorectal cancer screening guidelines. These findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health in November 2010.

Nearly 550 study participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups – two intervention groups and one control. Those in the intervention groups received an education session, printed take-home materials, a reminder letter, and a letter to physicians. The only difference between the two intervention groups was that one received a free take-home screening kit, while the other group did not. People in the control group had a session promoting physical activity. Six months after the intervention, participants in both intervention groups, either with or without the free screening kit, were significantly more likely to have been screened (30 percent, 25 percent) than participants in the control group (9 percent). These findings will help the medical and public health community design programs that can impact cancer screening rates in underserved communities, thereby helping to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes.  

Diabetes and Insulin Linked to Colorectal Cancer

Peter Campbell, PhD, from the American Cancer Society’s Epidemiology Research program, shows that type 2 diabetes and insulin use are linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer in men, but not women. 

American Cancer Society Staff Epidemiologist Finds Link between Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin Use, and Colon Cancer in Men

A recent study by American Cancer Society Director of Tumor Repository Peter Campbell, PhD, suggests that type 2 diabetes and insulin use are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer in men, but not women. Dr. Campbell is the lead author of the study titled “Prospective Study Reveals Associations between Colorectal Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus or Insulin Use in Men,” which was published in the October issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute.

Using data from 73,312 men and 81,663 women who were part of the American Cancer Society CPS II Nutrition Cohort, Dr. Campbell found that 1,567 men (227 with type 2 diabetes) and 1,242 women (108 with type 2 diabetes) were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer by 2007. Among men, type 2 diabetes was associated with increased risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer compared to not having type 2 diabetes. Colorectal cancer risk was higher for those participants with type 2 diabetes regardless of whether or not they used insulin. The authors speculate that the lack of an association between type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer risk among women might relate to improved glucose control among women with type 2 diabetes in recent years.

“While our study supports an association of type 2 diabetes with colorectal cancer incidence among men, our results also suggest that insulin use is associated with a slight, but not a substantially increased, risk of colorectal cancer among men with type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Campbell says. “Prevention strategies should emphasize adherence to guidelines intended for the general population such as smoking cessation, weight management, exercise, and regular early detection exams.

 Click here to watch Dr. Campbell discuss his study on YouTube.

Lung Cancer Research Update

A summary is available that describes how the American Cancer Society is funding various research efforts to continue to find answers about lung cancer. Read the document [PDF, 302KB].