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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How Can We Use Technology to Advance Population Science Research?

There has been a rapid expansion of technology in recent years, from artificial intelligence to intensive genetic sequencing to wearable trackers of fitness and health. How all of this technology can be effectively incorporated into population sciences research is an area of active inquiry.

To facilitate discussion and showcase research in this area, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is hosting a conference, Modernizing Population Sciences in the Digital Age, in San Diego from Feb. 19-22. This four-day meeting will include discussions about the best use of mobile technology, how to best leverage large datasets, and how to incorporate modern technologies into existing and upcoming studies.

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Malignancy, MSI Status, and the Microbiome

The human microbiome – the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live inside and on the surface of our bodies – has garnered significant scientific interest in recent years. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP), which was launched in 2007, seeks to characterize the diverse microbiota to help understand how these microbes impact human health and disease. Initial results from the HMP predict that over 10,000 microbial species coexist within the human ecosystem.

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Conference Set to Present the Latest Research and Developments on Cancer Health Disparities

When Michael Lawing was diagnosed with stage 3 renal cell carcinoma in 1997, he knew almost nothing about the disease.

Neither did his local urologist in rural North Carolina.

Within three years, Lawing’s cancer metastasized. His local doctor referred him to a specialist in Charlotte. Under his care, Lawing began a clinical trial of an immunotherapeutic drug. His cancer stabilized. Over the past two decades, he has experienced several recurrences of cancer, but a steady stream of newly approved treatments, most recently the immunotherapeutic Opdivo (nivolumab), have kept his disease under control. He is currently monitored with quarterly CT scans, but is taking no additional medication and experiences no symptoms or side effects.

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Disrupting a Link Between Obesity and Cancer

The obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating. The World Health Organization estimates that the proportion of the world’s population who are obese nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016, with the proportion of adults age 18 or older who are obese reaching 13 percent in 2016. The prevalence of obesity is even higher in the United States.

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How is Obesity Linked to Cancer?

Medical risks of obesity include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, obesity has been associated with increased cancer incidence and mortality. To address the link between obesity and cancer, the American Association of Cancer Research is hosting a Special Conference, Obesity and Cancer: Mechanisms Underlying Etiology and Outcomes, this week in Austin, Texas.

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Fostering New Advances in Lung Cancer Research

A diverse group of about 220 physicians, patient advocates, and scientists in basic, translational, and clinical lung cancer research will convene in San Diego for an international conference organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). The focus of the conference is “Lung Cancer Translational Science from the Bench to the Clinic.”

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AACR, NCI, and EORTC to Host Meeting on Molecular Targets

Beginning this Friday, Philadelphia will host the 2017 AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics. The conference, held each year by the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, brings together some of the world’s leading cancer scientists to discuss the discovery, biology, and clinical applications of novel cancer therapeutics.

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