AACR Meeting Highlights Recent Advances in Pediatric Cancer Research

Pediatric cancer, while rare, is a devastating diagnosis that is estimated to affect over 11,000 children in the United States in 2019. Among those diagnosed between birth and age 14, more than 1,000 are anticipated to die from the disease this year. The most common types of cancer in this age group are leukemias, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors, and lymphomas.

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Learning Lessons From Diverse Populations

The 12th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved wrapped up Monday in San Francisco. This year marked record attendance for the conference, as well as a record number of abstracts that helped shape a dynamic, diverse program.

The meeting reinforced the central dilemma of cancer health disparities: While advances in cancer research have improved outcomes for many Americans, underserved and underrepresented groups have not benefited equally.

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“It Doesn’t Have to be This Way”: Targeting Cancer Health Disparities

The 12th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved kicked off Friday evening in San Francisco with a passionate call to fight cancer disparities on every front, from socioeconomic to biological.

“Everyone in this room is united in our goal to eliminate cancer health disparities,” said conference cochair Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW, manager of Special Populations and Native American Outreach at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. “Medical research powers our ability to treat our patients. Conferences such as this, where we unite as a community, fuel hope that we can improve the lives of our patients.”

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Orchestrating an Antitumor Immune Response: A Preview of the Fifth International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that helps a patient’s own immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. Research on different types of immunotherapy has exploded over the past decade, and such approaches have proven to be successful for many patients. However, challenges remain, including a lack of response in some patients, development of resistance, and difficulties using certain immunotherapies in solid tumors.

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Upcoming AACR Meeting Focuses on Recent Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research

Pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States by 2030. The prognosis for this disease remains grim: The overall five-year survival rate is lower than 10 percent, and this rate drops to less than 3 percent if the disease is identified after the cancer has metastasized, a stage at which more than half of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed.

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Highlights from AACR Meeting Focusing on Environmental Carcinogenesis

Decades of research have led to the identification of an increasing number of cancer-causing substances in our environment. These substances, known as environmental carcinogens, can be found anywhere, including in our air, water, food, and workplace.

Despite the progress we have made in identifying and increasing awareness of such carcinogens, experts believe that we have a long way to go before we have fully delineated them and successfully regulated our exposures to reduce cancer incidence. Therefore, establishing methods to better identify all of the carcinogens in our environment, to measure our exposure to them, and to prevent cancer caused by them are areas of active investigation in the field.

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How Can Identifying and Measuring Exposures to Environmental Carcinogens Help Prevent Cancer?

A recent estimate suggests that more than 40 percent of cancers could be prevented. Modifiable factors linked to cancer include tobacco use, obesity, alcohol consumption, and exposure to ­environmental carcinogens, which are substances in our surroundings that can cause cancer and may facilitate progression of the disease.

Environmental carcinogens could be present in our air, water, or food. While some of these carcinogens have been identified, scientists believe that current measures to mitigate our exposures are inadequate. Other carcinogens present in our environment have yet to be fully defined.

To address these issues, the AACR is hosting a conference focusing on Environmental Carcinogenesis: Potential Pathway to Cancer Prevention next week in Charlotte, North Carolina. This meeting will review current advances in the field with the goal of sparking ideas and discussion about novel ways to prevent cancer.

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NIH-AACR Conference Explores Intersection of Cancer, Autoimmunity, and Immunology

Although checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapies are remarkably effective for patients with some cancers, demonstrating durable antitumor activity and/or high response rates, they are not risk-free. Reports of immune-related adverse events (therapy-dependent toxicities caused by non-specific activation of the immune system) surfaced early in development for ipilimumab and accompany all approved immunotherapies.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will join the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to convene the NIH-AACR Cancer, Autoimmunity, and Immunology Conference on April 15-16, 2019, in the Masur Auditorium on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

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