April 14, 2018:

As stated in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures, in 2018, there will be an estimated 1,735,350 new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States. While cancer treatments and early detection have become more and more promising over the years – thus increasing life expectancy and lowering the mortality rate of cancer patients – prevention remains one of the most important challenges.

April is National Cancer Control Month: a federally endorsed observation annually spurred on by a proclamation from the President. This yearly announcement from the President is a reminder to all Americans to pay attention to factors that can reduce individual cancer risk. From Roosevelt to Trump, each Commander in Chief has taken time to issue a proclamation for Cancer Control Month. Here is a selection from President Donald J. Trump’s 2018 address:

American innovators and entrepreneurs have made many incredible scientific breakthroughs during the past century. In the field of medicine, American scientists have been at the forefront of world-class research that has developed increasingly effective cancer prevention strategies and treatments. Through public- and private-sector partnerships, Americans have made critical advances to support and expand precision medicine and immunotherapy approaches to cancer.  These innovations have given us greater ability to prevent, detect, and treat cancer and have helped more than 15 million Americans beat this disease.

Despite these tremendous strides, we recognize the staggering number of Americans who have lost their battles with cancer. Last year alone, cancer took the lives of approximately 600,000 adults and 2,000 children in the United States, making it the second leading cause of death in our Nation.  According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 40 percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Together, we must take action to prevent and combat cancer, including maintaining healthy diets and weight and making physical activity a part of each day. Regular screenings and physicals, as well as knowledge of family medical history, are also crucial to catching cancers in earlier, more treatable stages. (Presidential Proclamation, March 29th, 2018)

Partnering to Improve Colon Cancer Screening Rates Across Wisconsin

When colon cancer is detected early, in most cases it is a treatable or even curable disease – a fact reflected in the increasing survival rates.

Noelle LoConte, MD

“That survival rate is largely thought to be due to screening,” said Noelle LoConte, MD, a medical oncologist at the UW Carbone Cancer Center who specializes in treating colon and other gastrointestinal cancers.

Any number of screening methods can be used to meet the nationwide goal of screening 80 percent of eligible patients by 2018. Some health centers across the country have exceeded that goal, but many others have not. In Wisconsin and across the country, some of the lowest screening rates are found at federally qualified health centers (FHQCs).

“FQHCs are designated by the federal government, and they are medical homes for the poorest people,” LoConte said. “Several years ago, David Frazer, Associate Director of the Center for Urban Population Heath (CUPH) and I worked on a pilot study with a single FQHC, Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee on improving screening rates, and we were successful in doing so.”

In 2015, LoConte and colleagues at CUPH and the Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Control Program were awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to improve colon cancer screening rates at FQHCs across Wisconsin. Currently, nine health centers across Wisconsin, eight of which are FQHCs, are included in the outreach project. The centers range from urban to rural populations – and range from initial screening rates of 12 to 70 percent, with an average of 34 percent.

Read more.

Using mobile phones to encourage immigrant populations to get cancer screenings

To Hee Yun Lee, Ph.D., member of the Screening, Prevention, Etiology and Cancer Survivorship program, cancer research is deeply personal. As a Korean immigrant, she saw how immigrant populations in this country are not as aware as other healthcare consumers about the importance of getting regular cancer screenings. 

Hee Yun Lee, Ph.D.

“When we moved to Minnesota, we discovered that my husband had late-stage lung cancer,” she said. “It was a tragedy…his survival time was very limited.” Like many people faced with this kind of diagnosis, Dr. Lee felt isolated and alone. “But when I took my husband to the clinic, I saw many immigrants who were in the same situation.” 
That’s when Dr. Lee, who is a Professor and Director of Research for the School of Social Work, decided to change her research focus from family violence to cancer screening and prevention. “I wanted to use my own experience to help change the patterns I saw in the immigrant population,” she said. 
Read more (on page 44).
As we observe National Cancer Control Month, let us raise awareness of the measures we can take to prevent cancer and strengthen our resolve to find a cure for this horrible disease, which continues to cause so many families such great pain.  Let us also honor the determination, courage, and strength of our cancer survivors.  Their stories are an inspiration to all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2018 as Cancer Control Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to speak with their doctors and healthcare providers to learn more about preventative measures that can save lives.  I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent and control cancer.  I also invite the Governors of the States and Territories and officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to join me in recognizing National Cancer Control Month.  (Presidential Proclamation, March 29th, 2018)

Have You Joined the Fight Against Cancer?

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This story was compiled by Alecia Burkhardt, communications associate for the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, with contributions from the UW Carbone Cancer Center and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.