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WHO’s NCD Commission Lights a Fire Under Heads of State

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Global Health Now, reports that to date, no country has met the 19 requirements of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Sustainable Development Goal 3.4: to reduce by one-third, premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by 2030, as pledged in 2011 and 2014. The report, “Time to Deliver” released by the WHO’s Independent High-Level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases, addresses the concerns of fragile health systems in countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, nearly 41 million people die annually from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, lung, and heart disease. The commission members of the WHO recommend 6 solutions to the issue, the most critical one recommending the heads of state and government—not health ministers—should take charge of the NCD agenda because it crosses so many different government sectors. Read more…

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Workshop Report for Cancer Research: Defining the Shades of Gy: Utilizing the Biological Consequences of Radiotherapy in the Development of New Treatment Approaches—Meeting Viewpoint

The ability to physically target radiotherapy using image guidance is continually improving with photons and particle therapy that include protons and heaver ions such as carbon. The unit of dose deposited is gray (Gy);however, particle therapies produce different patterns of ionizations, there is evidence that the biological effects of radiation depend on dose size, schedule, and type of radiation. This National Cancer Institute (NCI) Sponsored workshop addressed the potential of using radiation-included biological perturbations in addition to physical dose, Gy, as a transformation approach to quantifying radiation. Read the article…

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The Radiation Stress Response: Of the People, By the People and For the People

Dr. Norm Coleman received a Failla Memorial Lecture Award in November 2017 for his outstanding radiation research. Dr. Coleman currently is a senior scientific advisor to ICEC.

The radiation stress response can have broad impact. In this Failla Award presentation it is discussed in three components using terms relevant to the current political season as to how the radiation stress response can be applied to the benefit for cancer care and as service to society. Of the people refers to the impact of radiation on cells, tissues and patients. The paradigm our laboratory uses is radiation as a drug, called “focused biology”, and physics as “nano-IMRT” because at the nanometer level physics and biology merge. By the people refers to how the general population often reacts to the word “radiation” and how the Radiation Research Society can better enable society to deal with the current realities of radiation in our lives. For the people refers to the potential for radiation oncology and radiation sciences to improve the lives of millions of people globally who are now beyond benefits of cancer treatment and research. Read the article…

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Zimbabwe moves to protect women from spiraling cervical cancer rates

The Guardian reports,  “More than 260,000 women worldwide die annually of cervical cancer, which could soon overtake childbirth as the developing world’s biggest killer of women. Low- and middle-income countries account for 85% of all deaths, and Zimbabwe is among the five nations – all of them in sub-Saharan Africa – with the highest incidence of cervical cancer.”  Zimbabwe is addressing this looming crisis in conjunction with the Unicef, the World Health Organization and the Zimbabwean health ministry through a vigorous initiative to vaccinate young girls against the human papillomavirus expected to reach almost every corner of the country. Read more…

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National Institute on Minority Healthy and Health Disparities

National Institute on Minority Healthy and Health Disparities is providing a research opportunity for post-doctoral fellows, assistant professors, or individuals in similar early stage research career positions. The organization will host the Health Disparities Research Institute from June 23-27, 2018. The program will aim to assist the support the research career development of promising minority health and healthy disparities. It will also provide lectures, mock grant review, seminars, small group discussion on research relevant to minority health and health disparities with NIH scientific staff.

The due date for submitting an application is April 27th, 2018 (5 PM EST). Read the article…

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Palliative Pain Relief Woefully Inadequate Worldwide

Palliative care is medical care focused on providing relief from the symptoms of a serious illness. The goal of such care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family as palliation can relieve patients from the pain of terminal disease, such as cancer. In 2015, there were roughly 25.5 million people who died without having access to pain control. Another 35.5 million people who survived their illness did not have access to palliative care. Can one imagine living through advanced stages of cancer without having pain control? This article addresses a real life example of how a patient ended his own life because of the pain. The majority of these people lived in developing regions that still do not have access to effective medical treatments. It is important to address this global issue and for people facing a cancer diagnosis, provide access to critical radiation therapy for both curative and palliative intent. Read the article…

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Upgrading Radiotherapy Services in Moldova

Moldova, a country of nearly 3 million people, is confronted with more than 11,000 new cancer cases a year, many of which are diagnosed at late stage and therefore often have direr prognoses for cure.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is working with Moldova to introduce new technologies and build workforce capacity to improve quality assurance in nuclear medicine, radio-diagnostics and radiotherapy. The country’s nuclear medicine diagnostics capabilities had become obsolete and were not functioning due to a lack of funds for refurbishment and upgrades resulting in the need to terminate these diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

Fortunately, over the last decade and through the good works of the IAEA, the Agency has provided expert, financial and educational support to enable authorities to upgrade their nuclear medicine units and have cancer patients undergo radiotherapy at the newly equipped Institute of Oncology and the Republican Clinical Hospital, in Chisinau.  Read more about this effort…

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Bridging the Gap: working to bring state-of-the-art radiation therapy to challenging environments

The International Cancer Expert Corps, in a cooperative effort with CERN and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council STFC, is undertaking an initiative to develop innovative, robust and affordable medical linear accelerators for use in low- to middle-income countries.  The article, “Bridging the Gap”, January 15, 2018, CERN COURIER, outlines the history of this project including the recent participation of representatives from Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries in an effort to ensure their particular needs regarding power systems, safety, operability and maintenance are addressed. Read the article…

Participating individuals from ICEC, CERN and STFC, along with experts in accelerator design, medical physics and oncology,  convened in late March, in Manchester, England near the STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory to review the program status and plan for the next phase of development. Watch this space for updates.

 

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The Cancer Threat to Africa’s Future

While significant progress has been made in halting the spread of communicable diseases in Africa, rates of non-communicable illnesses, especially cancers, are rising. With just 5% of global funding for cancer prevention spent in Africa, a new global strategy is needed to help manage a looming health crisis. Dan Milner provides insight into the efforts of the American Society for Clinical Pathology and how the organization, along with others, are working to address this potential catastrophe.  Read more

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Is Africa a ‘Graveyard’ for Linear Accelerators?

Africa should not be a “graveyard” for Linear Accelerators. There is an urgent need to develop a highly skilled workforce of specifically trained engineers, technicians and physicists necessary to ensure linear accelerators can be safely operated, maintained and serviced in low- and middle-income countries in Africa where the incidence of cancer is disproportionately high. Proper maintenance and repair plans, when implemented, reflect the continent’s capacity to maintain, install, commission and repair the highly technical medical equipment.

Africa Graveyard of Linacs