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ResearcHERS campaigns kick off this month

​The goal is to raise at least $1.6 million.

ResearcHERS is a movement that shines a light on the incredible discoveries made by women, and empowers women leaders to support the American Cancer Society’s national research program that funds some of the brightest female minds in cancer research. 

This  fundraising campaign began in the North Central Region in 2019 and now has a nationwide focus with 32 campaigns in the month of May – goaled at over $1.6 million. As of May 3, more than $640,000 had already been raised. 

ResearcHERS is fundraising by women, to support and sustain women-led research and careers. Here’s how:

The staff supporting ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer of Indiana in the North Central Region are celebrating a big win.. Through engaging leaders, stewarding past ambassadors, and leveraging volunteers to exceed goal, the campaign recently secured an individual personal gift of $150,000 for one of their ambassadors. 

The recipient, Cathy Langham, is the co-chair for the Indiana campaign. She secured the gift through sharing the ACS story and demonstrating how the donation will impact our mission. Cathy is now the top candidate on the leaderboard for ResearcHERS by over $100,000. 


More about ResearcHERS

The American Cancer Society is proud to be a top supporter of women in cancer research. Currently, nearly half of ACS’ grantees are women, most of them early in their careers. As of January 1, 2021, there are 664 grants in effect totaling $382.3 million and of that total 299 are women-led research projects totaling $156.1 million. Your are invited to view replays of the inspiring virtual kick-offs that took place in April in the North Central and Northeast Regions.

If you  would like to learn more about the ResearcHERS campaigns, visit www.acsresearchers.org.


  • ACS seeks applications for health equity grants

    This new program will fund Cancer Health Equity Research Centers at minority serving institutions.

    The American Cancer Society is deeply committed to addressing the complex societal factors – such as racism, discrimination, and poverty – that prevent all people from having a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Now, we’re launching a new competitive grant program to help minority serving institutions target cancer health disparities unique to a local community. 

    This funding is intended to support the formation of new Cancer Health Equity Research Centers (CHERCs) at minority serving institutions. To be considered a minority serving institution, at least 25-50% of a college or university’s enrollment should be comprised of a single or combination of racial or ethnic minorities, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The grants will help stimulate novel collaborations and approaches to mitigate societal risk factors, contributing to our goals for achieving health equity and reducing cancer mortality. 

    Visit cancer.org to learn more about the program and share with your fellow volunteers and supporters yet another way ACS is innovating to reduce disparities and move closer to health equity. 

    Important dates 

    Letters of intent are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 15, 2021. Those letters will be used for selecting investigators to submit a full application. An independent and competitive peer review of grant applications will be conducted in October 2021, and awardees will be notified on Oct. 27, 2021.

    Potential applicants can learn more by attending a 2 p.m. ET Microsoft Teams meeting on May 20. It will be recorded.

    Again, all these details and more can be found on cancer.org.


  • CANCER announces new editor-in-chief

    Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, succeeds Fadlo R. Khuri, MD.

    CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, today announced that Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, will join the journal as the new editor-in-chief, with a five-year editorship beginning on July 1, 2021. Dr. Ramalingam is internationally recognized for his research, specifically for the development of individualized therapies for patients with small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. 

    Currently, Dr. Ramalingam is deputy director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, where he leads the integration of the research, clinical, and educational components, and is assistant dean for cancer research at Emory University School of Medicine. He has worked with CANCER as the editor for the journal’s Chest and Lung Disease, Clinical Trials, and Medical Oncology sections since 2011. 

    “I am incredibly honored to serve as the new editor-in-chief of CANCER, one of the oldest and most prestigious oncology journals, which has been positioned as an important global forum for exchange of scientific knowledge under the leadership of my predecessor Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri,” said Dr. Ramalingam. “I look forward to continuing to position CANCER as a destination journal of major research discoveries and to help the journal grow in reputation and impact.”

    Dr. Ramalingam succeeds Dr. Khuri, who leaves the editor-in-chief position after 10 years of providing vision, leadership, and dedicated service to help increase the journal’s visibility among some of the top research journals in the field. During his tenure, submissions to CANCER increased by more than 40% and full-text accesses to the journal’s online content more than doubled, making it the most downloaded medical journal on Wiley Online Library.

    “We are incredibly grateful for all that Dr. Khuri has done to elevate CANCER’s esteemed format and reputation within the oncology community as he is praised by his colleagues for his dedication to the journal,” said Bill Cance, MD, our chief medical and scientific officer. “We are excited to continue that legacy and scientific impact of the journal among leading researchers under the new editorship of Dr. Ramalingam.” 

    Dr. Ramalingam holds additional titles at Emory University School of Medicine including professor of hematology and medical oncology, director of the Division of Medical Oncology, and the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research.

    About CANCER
    CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology, course, and treatment of human cancer. CANCER is published on behalf of the American Cancer Society by Wiley and can be accessed online.


  • Hardship common in survivors of AYA cancers

    As AYA cancers increase, understanding ongoing hardships is critical.

    A new study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) finds higher medical financial hardship in adult survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers than in adults without a history of cancer in the U.S.

    Experts have known that cancer and its treatment can cause significant financial hardship to cancer survivors and their families. However, the long-term economic implications for adult survivors of AYA cancers were not fully understood.

    In this study, investigators led by Amy D. Lu, MD, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Zhiyuan “Jason” Zheng, PhD, American Cancer Society, used data from the National Health Interview Survey (2010-2018) and analyzed responses from adult (>18 years) survivors of AYA cancers (ages 15-39 at diagnosis) and adults without a cancer history. The study explored the various aspects of financial hardships including material (for example, ability to pay bills), psychological (for example, worries about medical bills), and behavioral (for example, delaying or foregoing medical care) measures.

    Key study findings include:

    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely than adults without a cancer history to report material and behavioral financial hardship, including problems paying medical bills or delaying or forgoing care because of cost.
    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely to report greater intensity of medical financial hardship than their counterparts without a cancer history.
    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely to report cost-related medication non-adherence, such as skipping medication doses, taking less medication, and delaying filling a prescription to save money.

    “Multiple aspects of financial hardship associated with a cancer diagnosis may last for many years for survivors of AYA cancers,” said Dr. Zheng.

    As the incidences of AYA cancers increase, understanding the spectrum of medical financial hardship is critical to those caring for and designing policies for adult survivors of AYA cancers, and in guiding ongoing research in this area.

    “Healthcare providers can help support increased awareness and assessment of financial hardship, as well as subsequent connection to existing financial and vocational assistance/support services. State and federal policies may have a broader impact through implementation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act in increasing insurance coverage options including affordability and accessibility,” said the authors.


  • ACS awards 42 research grants totaling $33.8 million; many focus on health equity

    The American Cancer Society, the largest non-government, not-for-profit funding source of cancer research in the United States, has approved funding for 42 research grants totaling $33.8M. 

    The newly approved grants will fund investigators at 33 institutions across the United States. Grant-funded projects will begin on July 1, 2021.

    Below are highlights of the latest cycle:

    Dhyan Chandra, PhD, Roswell Park Cancer Institute: Dr. Chandra's project will build on previous groundbreaking work which found that mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the key reasons African Americans with prostate cancer have worse health outcomes when compared with Caucasian-Americans, and that this dysfunction is often caused by cytochrome c-deficiency in prostate tumors. Their current project will investigate agents that restore cytochrome c and explore whether restoration of cytochrome c and mitochondrial function improves the efficacy of current prostate cancer therapeutics. Their work could have immediate applicability to treat prostate cancer patients and reduce racial disparities.

    Luke Hoeppner, PhD, University of Minnesota: Small cell lung cancer is the most aggressive subtype of lung cancer, with only 7% of patients surviving over five years. Dr. Hoeppner's team previously showed that several genes in the dopamine pathway promote drug resistance in lung cancer. Their work will now investigate the hypothesis that altering the dopamine signaling pathway is a new approach to inhibit small cell lung cancer progression and drug resistance, which could translate to more effective treatment options.

    Todd Lucas, PhD. Michigan State University: African-Americans are at an increased risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer (CRC). With this project, Dr. Lucas aims to identify whether providing options for at-home CRC screening reduces African-American colorectal cancer screening disparities, and to decipher whether use of culturally-targeted implementation intentions can enhance conversion about screening. These findings could potentially reduce significant and costly cancer disparities through behavioral prevention.

    Caitlin Murphy, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas: This project will explore if and how prescription co-payments impact medication adherence among breast cancer patients from low-income households. Almost half of low-income and uninsured patients report financial problems related to their cancer diagnosis, including out-of-pocket costs, medical debt, and even bankruptcy.  Dr. Murphy's results will inform ways to improve delivery of effective breast cancer treatment, ensuring equal access and affordable breast cancer care for vulnerable, underserved patients.

    Senthil K. Radhakrishnan, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University: Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease that disproportionally affects African-American women. Dr. Radhakrishnan's project will build on previous work showing that blocking a protein called Nrf1 could lead to increased efficacy of an existing drug therapy, Carfilzomib. In this application, Radhakrishnan's team will test if administration of Carfilzomib together with Nrf1 pathway inhibition results in a significant reduction in tumor and metastatic burden. If successful, their work could lead to the development of rational drug combinations that could improve outcomes for TNBC patients.

    Christine M. Daley, PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute: American Indians use chewing tobacco at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. As a result, their rates of oral, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers are rising. To address this disparity, Dr. Daley's team has developed a culturally tailored quit chewing tobacco program for American Indians called All Nations Snuff Out Smokeless (ANSOS), and will use grant funds to test, tweak, and expand the program.

    Our Extramural Discovery Sciences currently supports research in a wide range of cancer-related disciplines at more than 190 institutions. 

    ith an investment of more than $5 billion since 1946,  ACS  has funded 49 researchers who have gone on to be awarded the Nobel Prize. We primarily fund early career investigators, giving the best and the brightest a chance to explore innovative ideas at a time when they might not find funding elsewhere.

    For more information about cancer research supported by the American Cancer Society, please visit cancer.org/research


  • Did you miss the NCCRT webcast? A replay is now available.

    On March 16, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) hosted a webcast featuring Richard Wender, MD, and Robert Smith, PhD, NCCRT co-chairs; Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control; Rebecca Siegel, MPH, our senior scientific director, Surveillance Research; Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, UCLA Health, our 2021 80% in Every Community National Achievement Awards grand prize honoree; and other special guests. 

    If you missed the annual event, held every March in recent years to mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a replay is now available.

    Host of the show was our own Desiree Berenguer Carton

    Coming up on Thursday, April 15, 2 - 3 p.m. ET, is another NCCRT webinar: Colorectal Cancer Screening & COVID-19 Update: A Look At The Current Landscape One Year Into The Pandemic.

    The webcast is free and is open to NCCRT members, 80% Pledge partners, CDC grantees, ACS and ACS CAN staff, and other partners working to increase colorectal cancer screening rates. Pre-registration is required.

    This webinar will bring back together the authors of NCCRT’s action-oriented playbook (released June 2020) to discuss what progress has been made and what challenges remain for colorectal cancer screening in 2021.


  • USPSTF wants to double lung cancer screenings

    More Black people and women would be screened under the new criteria.

    The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, released a final recommendation statement on screening for lung cancer on March 9. It says people with a long history of smoking should begin getting annual low-dose CT scans at age 50, five years earlier than the group recommended in 2013. The group also broadened the definition of people it considers at high risk for the disease.

    The taskforce’s new recommendation has some differences compared to the American Cancer Society’s guidelineRobert Smith, PhD, senior vice president, cancer screening, shared his perspective on the USPSTF’s recommendation in the statement below. The statement is also posted to pressroom.cancer.org and can be used to respond to media as appropriate.   

    Statement attributable to Robert Smith, PhD, senior vice president, cancer screening: 

    The USPSTF 2021 recommendation for annual screening for the early detection of lung cancer for those who meet the following criteria: Adults aged 50 to 80 years who have smoked a pack a day for at least 20 years, and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

    The two major changes from the 2013 recommendation are lowering the age to start screening from 55 to 50, and lowering the pack-year smoking history from 30 pack-years to 20 pack-years. 

    Significance of Changes 

    Despite smoking less, there is evidence that Black adults who smoke are at higher risk for lung cancer than white adults (i.e., at a lower pack-years smoking history). Lowering the pack-year history will increase the number of adults who are eligible for screening among those who currently smoke or formerly smoked, which is important for those who are at higher risk with at lower pack year histories. Similarly, Latinx/Hispanics who smoke accumulate less pack-years history than whites who smoke, and women accumulate less pack-years history than men, so more Latinx/Hispanic adults who smoke and women would be eligible for screening under the new guidelines. 

    Insurance Coverage 

    Under the Affordable Care Act, all non-grandfathered private insurance plans and Medicaid expansion plans will have to provide coverage according to the new guidelines. For private insurance, the plan must begin covering the USPSTF recommended preventive service beginning in the plan year that begins on or after one year from the date the recommendation is issued. Medicare will have to choose to update its National Coverage Determination. 

    Current ACS Guidelines 

    Our lung cancer screening guideline was last updated in 2013, and an update will be initiated in 2021. The current recommendation is for annual screening for the early detection of lung cancer using a low-dose spiral computed tomography (LDCT) for those who meet the following criteria: 

    • Aged 55 to 74 in relatively good health (note the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers screening to age 77, and the USPSTF recommends screening for adults up to age 80. The ACS guideline should not discourage adults who are healthy and eligible for screening to continue past age 74)
    • Currently smoke or quit in the past 15 years
    • 30+ pack-year smoking history

    ACS also recommends these individuals undergo informed/shared decision making with a clinician and discuss the potential benefits, limitations, and harms of screening prior to referral in addition to being counseled on smoking cessation.


  • Nucor Steel Decatur, Perdue Farms, and Taco Bell each fund a research grant meaningful to them.

    The Hero of Research Award offers Relay For Life teams that raise at least $165,000 during the Relay season an opportunity to name an existing post-doctoral fellowship research grant in honor of a loved one or their team. Once identified, this named grant is active for three years. 

    Three teams – Nucor Steel Decatur, Perdue Farms, and Taco Bell (Southern Multifoods) – earned this honor for their fundraising efforts in a difficult 2020 fundraising year. They will be naming their grants this calendar year. 

    Nucor Steel Decatur and Taco Bell (Southern Multifoods) are renewing their grants earned in 2017. Perdue Farms is a first-time recipient of this honor, and should be proud of their efforts and dedication each year. 

    Let’s learn more about the teams and the grants they named:

    Nucor Steel Decatur 

    • Grant name: Nucor Decatur – Farrah Brownlee Rollings Grant
    • Investigator: Tiffany Rios, PhD
    • Institution: New York University School of Medicine
    • Project title: DAP5/eIF3d: Translation Mechanism essential for Breast Cancer Metastasis

    Wes Rollings, a member of the Nucor Steel Decatur Relay For Life team, lost his wife, Farrah, to breast cancer in 2020. This research project was chosen specifically to help those fighting all types of metastatic breast cancer. 

    “First of all, I want to say, “thank you” for thinking of Farrah,” said Wes. “That was very thoughtful, and I feel proud that I get to work with teammates like you.” 

    Their team is passionate and uses the same business model as their company to constantly improve, be passionate, and learn and grow from the past. This year they were “virtually unstoppable” as they pivoted their cycle event to virtual.

    • Grant name: The Perdue-Lewiston Associate Research Grant
    • Investigator: Michael Lewis, PhD
    • Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • Project title: Defining Enhancer RNA Function in the Pathogenesis of Breast Cancer

    The Perdue Farms Relay For Life team consists of associates employed at the Perdue Farms Complex in Lewiston, NC. It has raised more than $1.7 million dollars since they first organized.

    The team has been participating in the Relay For Life of Bertie County for 25 years. In 2012, the Relay team reached the $100,000-per-year status for the first time, and has continued to raise well over that each year, averaging around $145,000 per year. They were determined to reach their goal and earn a Hero of Research Award. 

    “It is a great accomplishment to be able to raise this amount of money needed to achieve this award, plus doing it during a pandemic,” said a member of the team. “Our associates didn’t waiver in their giving.”

    They chose to name the grant The Perdue-Lewiston Associate Research Grant because Perdue’s associates were the ones that made this happen with their payroll contributions. Learn more.

    Taco Bell (Southern Multifoods)

    • Grant name: Southern Multifoods, Inc. Give Más Live Más Southern Multifoods Grant
    • Investigator: Zachary Wilson, PhD
    • Institution: University of Utah
    • Project title: Regulation of Cell Metabolism by the Mitochondrial Derived Compartment

    The Taco Bell (Southern Multifoods) Relay For Life team started raising money for our mission because two employees were battling cancer at the same time. Since 2009, this team has raised an impressive $3,254,326. When they first started raising money for Relay For Life, they never imagined the impact their company would make in so many lives. 

    Despite the daily duties at their restaurants, managers and team members ask every customer for a donation. The fact that cancer does not discriminate is what unites this team to raise money and fight. Every year their passion for Relay grows even stronger and is celebrated at their local Relay For Life event.

    The grant will be named the Southern Multifoods, Inc. Give Más Live Más Grant after all staff at the home office chose the final winner out of six potential names. To them, every dollar raised is helping a mother, father, son, daughter, or friend celebrate another birthday.


  • Missing regular mammogram increases risk of dying from breast cancer

    Finding coincides with plummeting cancer screening rates due, in part, to COVID-19.

    Attendance at regular mammography screening substantially reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a large ACS-funded study of more than half a million women published March 1 in Radiology. Researchers said women who skip even one scheduled mammography screening before a breast cancer diagnosis face a significantly higher risk of dying from the cancer.

    “This is the first time we’ve analyzed the mortality benefit of not just breast cancer screening, but regular breast cancer screening, using such a robust, comprehensive data set,” said Robert Smith, PhD, our senior vice president of cancer screening.

    “This study comes at a critical time, as a staggering number of women have missed their regular mammogram over the past 12 months due to the period when screening services were suspended as a result of the pandemic, as well as enduring fears and barriers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

    In the new study led by László Tabár, MD, from Falun Central Hospital in Falun, Sweden, a multinational team of researchers took a more detailed look at screening attendance patterns to further refine mortality risk estimates. They analyzed data from almost 550,000 women eligible for mammography screening in nine Swedish counties between 1992 and 2016. The women were divided into groups based on their participation in the two most recent scheduled screening exams prior to cancer diagnosis. Women who participated in both screening sessions prior to diagnosis were identified as serial participants, while those who did not attend either screening opportunity were categorized as serial nonparticipants. 

    Analysis showed that participation in the two most recent mammography screening appointments before a breast cancer diagnosis provides a higher protection against breast cancer death than participation in neither or only one examination.

    The incidence of breast cancers proving fatal within 10 years of diagnosis was 50% lower for serial participants than for serial nonparticipants. Compared to women who attended only one of the two previous screens, women who attended both had 29% fewer breast cancer deaths.

    “Regular participation in all scheduled screens confers the greatest reduction in your risk of dying from breast cancer,” said the study’s lead author, Stephen W. Duffy, M.Sc., professor of cancer screening at Queen Mary University of London.

    Duffy said the results add further evidence to support regular screening with mammography as a means for reducing breast cancer-related deaths: “While we suspected that regular participation would confer a reduction greater than that with irregular participation, I think it is fair to say that we were slightly surprised by the size of the effect.”

    “The message that women should take from this analysis is clear: regular screening tests can save your life,” Smith said.  “Regular mammography screening is an important part of a woman’s preventive health plan. And, if you’ve missed getting your mammogram during this pandemic, call your doctor to make up that appointment, and be conscientious going forward about getting regular mammograms.”

    Breast cancer screening with mammography has helped to substantially reduce breast cancer deaths by enabling detection of cancer at earlier, more treatable stages. Despite mammography’s well-established effectiveness, many women don’t participate in recommended screening examinations, and pandemic-related barriers to screening have exacerbated this reluctance. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, an estimated 35% of Americans missed routine cancer screening due to COVID-19-related fears and service disruptions early in the pandemic.

    In the U.S. in 2021, there will be an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women and 43,600 deaths. For women at average risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that those 40 to 44 years of age have the option to begin annual mammography; those 45 to 54 undergo annual mammography; and those 55 years of age and older transition to biennial mammography or continue annual mammography. Women should continue mammography as long as overall health is good and life expectancy is 10 or more years. For some women at high risk of breast cancer, annual breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended to accompany mammography, typically starting at age 30. 


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