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Notable News September 2019

September wraps up a big month of cancer awareness. It is the awareness month for childhood cancer, gynecologic cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and thyroid cancer. Awareness days bring people together to provide educational and fundraising opportunities, and they can help shine a brighter light on the need for funding and research. If you ordered anything from Amazon recently, you may have noticed just how impactful awareness months can be. During the month of September Amazon partnered with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) and helped raise awareness by using special packaging designed with the childhood cancer gold ribbon symbol. That kind of exposure can lead to increased funding and support from those who might not otherwise be aware that every three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer, and it remains the deadliest disease for children in the United States. Learn more at acco.org.
Like leukemia and lymphoma, multiple myeloma is a blood cancer, and while its awareness month is in March, this month there is some promising news for treating the incurable cancer, says biospace.com. The FDA approved the drug Darzalex to be used in combination with other medications for patients newly diagnosed and eligible for autologous stem cell transplant. Studies showed that adding Darzalex to the other medications reduced disease progression or death by 53 percent. More information about the uses of Darzalex can be found here.
Something else to be aware of this month is the potential danger of a popular heartburn medication, reports webmd.com. Ranitidine, known as Zantac, and several generic versions, may pose a cancer risk. The FDA found a cancer causing substance in the drug, and now at least one manufacturer has recalled the drug, and another one has stopped distributing it. It is not yet known why lab testing discovered a carcinogen in the drug, but if you take Zantac, or one of the generic versions, you should probably talk to your doctor, and read more about the findings here.
Of course, it would be ideal if we didn’t have to be aware of cancer at all anymore, and that just may be the case in the future, thanks to a “magic” treatment, says medicalxpress.com. Researchers, using a super computer, have found a molecule that could fix any cancer-related issues in the body. The molecule is promising because, unlike other immunotherapies, it could be sold in pill form, could reach deeper into tissues, and would leave the body faster, reducing negative side effects. Also, it could be used to fight several kinds of cancers including melanoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, and brain cancer. The magic pill still has further development, but the research is moving from the lab to animal testing, so fingers crossed that before long this magic molecule leads to a cure. You can find out more here.
September also hosts Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day, so mark your calendar for next year, and make sure you don’t miss any other important awareness dates. They can be found on the Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) Cancer Awareness Calendar, here.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Feature

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month, so we wanted to shine a light on this disease. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease can be preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests). It also can be cured when found early and treated. Women should start getting screened regularly, starting at age 21.

Two tests help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Pap Test

The Pap test is recommended for women between ages 21 and 65, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Women should start getting Pap tests regularly at age 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may say you can wait three years until your next Pap test. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. Your doctor can perform both the Pap and HPV tests at the same time. If your test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. Your doctor may then say you can wait as long as five years for your next screening.

If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost Pap test through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Find out if you qualify.

HPV Vaccine

Get the HPV vaccine if you are in the age group for which it’s recommended. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. HPV can also cause cancers of the penis in men, and anal and head and neck cancers in both men and women.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteens (both boys and girls) aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26.

Make an appointment today for your or your child’s vaccination. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance does not cover vaccines, CDC’s Vaccines for Children program may be able to help.

For a full list of awareness months please visit our Cancer Awareness Calendar 2018.

What Can You Do?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests using this month to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

How can I help spread the word?

We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:


Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/cervicalcancer/index.htm

http://www.nccc-online.org/

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/special-coverage/cervical-health-awareness-month.html

https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/JanuaryToolkit.aspx