This blog is part 3 of 4 of our “Cancer-Free Mondays” series about how the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund is helping Maryland Citizens.

ConquestThe best way to reduce deaths from cancer is through prevention and early detection. Cancer deaths could be cut in half simply through changes in behaviors associated with cancer development and increased early detection of cancers through cancer screening, experts say.  It sounds straightforward enough, but the key to success is in ensuring that our citizens, particularly the poor and underserved, have the information they need and the resources they need to act on the information. This is another area where Johns Hopkins and the Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF) have joined forces to improve the health of Maryland citizens.

From 2001 through 2010, when Johns Hopkins received a CRF Public Health grant, our physicians, nurses, and health educators provided education on cancer prevention and screening to hundreds of thousands of Marylanders and provided free cancer screenings to thousands more. Building upon CRF community partnerships, our healthcare team earned a federal grant to improve colon cancer screening rates among Medicare recipients.  Our physicians also provided colonoscopies to uninsured Baltimore residents through a collaborative initiative under the Baltimore City Public Health Department’s CRF Public Health Grant.

It is not coincidental that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Maryland leads the nation in decreased colon cancer incidence rates.  It is further proof that action against cancer—in this case colorectal cancer screening—brings results.  That same CDC report found that Maryland was among the best in cancer screening overall.

Though Johns Hopkins no longer receives CRF Public Health Grant support, its leadership has maintained and strengthened their commitment to the community. Even before the Affordable Care Act, Johns Hopkins voluntarily joined Priority Partners and became one of seven managed care organizations authorized by the state of Maryland to provide healthcare to our state’s uninsured. Our community outreach and public health experts have expanded the community partnerships established through the CRF and started new programs dedicated to eliminating racial disparities in Maryland’s cancer death rates.

More recently, a small CRF grant has allowed Johns Hopkins to broaden its participation in the Day at the Market program. The program is a bimonthly event that brings nurses and other clinicians, safety experts, and various caregivers to the Northeast Market on Monument Street in East

CRF-supported Day at the Market

Baltimore to meet face to face with citizens of Baltimore. A Day at the Market, which has received recognition from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, fosters dialog about prevention and detection of cancer and other diseases and ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The Day at the Market program is about more than health education. It is about addressing the needs of a community and providing citizens with the resources they need to make choices and changes that prevent cancer and other diseases.  Johns Hopkins experts say obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things we can do for our health. A nutritious diet is essential to achieving that goal, and the Northeast Market provides convenient access to fresh and affordable produce and other healthy foods.  Johns Hopkins leadership felt so strongly about this health commitment, that the Johns Hopkins University partnered with Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and other groups to help finance a recent $2 million renovation to the market.  The renovations include dedicated space for community health outreach and education and broader use of nutrition-friendly menus that provide a green leaf graphic to make healthy menu choices easily recognizable to customers.

We can talk about the value of cancer prevention, but as the old adage says, “Talk is cheap.”  Without the tools to understand and adopt healthy behaviors, Johns Hopkins experts and Maryland’s elected officials understand that the dialog is meaningless to many of our citizens. That is why we continue to work together to get the information, the access, and the support to the people of our state.

Cancer Prevention Tips and Resources

Cancer experts say if we do just a few things—applying what we understand today to strengthen cancer prevention—we could cut cancer incidence by more than half.  Here’s how:

The hepatitis B vaccine can prevent certain types of liver cancer.  The Gardasil vaccine prevents HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, a common sexually transmitted virus that causes the majority of cervical cancers and more than half of oral cancers.

Do you have questions or need help with any of these tips?  Visit the Johns Hopkins booth at the Northeast Market on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

Do you need health insurance?  Get help at the Maryland Health Connection.

Part 1:  Maryland and Johns Hopkins – A Partnership that Works for Maryland Citizens

Part 2: Maryland and Johns Hopkins - Teaming Up to End Smoking

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

ConquestThis blog is part 2 of 4 of our “Cancer-Free Mondays” series about how the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund is helping Maryland Citizens.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark report by the U.S. Surgeon General that linked smoking with cancer and other diseases.  Prior to the Surgeon General’s report, it is estimated that 42 percent of Americans smoked.  In the years that followed the report—which for the first time made public the dangers of smoking—U.S. smoking rates declined and are now 18 percent.  Experts calculate that this decline in smoking translates to some 8 million lives saved.

The same smoking-related health dangers that prompted the 1964 Surgeon General’s report were at issue in the 1990s class action law suit that resulted in the creation of the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF).  It seems fitting then, on this historic anniversary, to take a look at how Maryland’s public officials have tackled smoking and how the CRF has made a difference.

In fact, Maryland is doing better than the U.S. as a whole.  At 14.9 percent, Maryland smoking rates among adults are below the national average and are one of the lowest in the nation. Elected officials and researchers have worked particularly hard to protect Maryland’s youngest citizens, and that has been one of our state’s greatest success stories.   The youth (age 12-17) smoking rate in Maryland is 8 percent, well below the national average of 14 percent.

These positive smoking trends did not occur by chance.  They are the result of a dedicated and informed effort by Maryland’s elected officials in conjunction with CRF investigators. Backed by the results of CRF research, Maryland lawmakers made significant policy changes. They increased taxes on cigarettes and instituted tough regulations on smoking, such as the Clean Air Act.  Our state has enacted some of the nation’s strictest smoking policies, and theses changes have led to declines in Maryland smoking rates, and most importantly, saved lives.

CRF supported research at Johns Hopkins is helping guide policy and improve smoking cessation strategies. Since 2001, 15 CRF grants have been awarded to Johns Hopkins scientists to develop strategies to help people quit smoking, to study the best ways to communicate the dangers of smoking to teens and young adults, and for in-depth research of the science of smoking and cancer.

CRF investigators at Johns Hopkins have:

  • uncovered the genetic mutation that provided the definitive scientific proof that smoking causes cancer.
  •  studied the combined effect of firsthand and secondhand smoke on cancer incidence.
  • constructed a cigarette smoke facility and deciphered the specific genetic mechanisms corrupted by cigarette smoke and at play in the development of smoking-related cancers.
  • assessed Maryland’s smoking prevention strategies to determine what works and what does not.
  • completed a comprehensive analysis of smoking-related gene mutations in GI cancer.
  • conducted research to establish evidence-based antismoking strategies for youth.
  • engaged in a partnership with Howard University for community-based research to better understand the factors that influence tobacco use among 18-24 year old African Americans.

Although our state’s leaders and scientists have again positioned Maryland as a trailblazer in addressing the dangers of cigarette smoke, they also recognize that there is still work to be done.  About one half million Marylanders continue to smoke. Smoking remains the leading risk factor for cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports that smoking is a cause of cancers of the lung, esophagus, voice box (larynx), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. Even for those who have developed cancer, smoking only makes it worse. Research shows that people with cancer who continue to smoke increase their risks of developing second cancers, do not respond as well to cancer treatments, and are at higher risk than nonsmokers of dying of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

The message is simple.  If you don’t smoke, don’t start.  If you smoke, quit.

WHERE TO GET HELP TO QUIT SMOKING:

 MDQuit.org

Call the Maryland Quit Line 1-800-QUITNOW

Talk to your doctor.  Under the Affordable Care Act, tobacco users may be eligible for free tobacco cessation interventions.

 SmokeFree.gov provides information about methods and medications that make it easier to quit.

 Part 1:  Maryland and Johns Hopkins – A Partnership that Works for Maryland Citizens

 

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

This blog is part 1 of 4 of our “Cancer-Free Mondays” series about how the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund is helping Maryland Citizens.

ConquestIn 1990, Maryland had the highest cancer death rates in the nation.  Today, cancer deaths rates in our state are below the national average, and Maryland ranks 30th among all states.  How did Maryland go from first to 30th?  The lion’s share of this progress is attributable to the Maryland Cancer Control Plan and the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF).

It was about the same time as these alarming cancer rates were made public that Maryland joined 46 other states in a class action lawsuit against America’s cigarette manufacturers.  States were seeking reimbursement for the huge costs they faced because of smoking related diseases, like cancer. The states won and split the $53 billion in penalties they received.  The governors and legislators from other states that benefitted from the tobacco company settlement chose to use the money to patch holes in their state budgets or engaged in lengthy legal battles over it. Maryland stood alone and earned national distinction when its elected officials decided to use the money to fight cancer.  Wow, has that decision paid off.

Cancer death rates in our state are plummeting, and this decline coincides directly with the establishment of the Maryland Cancer Control Plan and the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund.  All of the major cancer killers:  lung, prostate, breast, colorectal, and cervical cancers, are on a downward trend in Maryland.  While cancer death rates throughout the nation are trending downward, Maryland’s death rates are falling more rapidly than the national average. In fact, for colorectal cancer specifically, Maryland has the highest rate of decrease in the U.S.

Our experts at Johns Hopkins are proud to call Maryland home, and they are honored to have had the opportunity to work with Maryland officials and citizens to help achieve this remarkable success.  We look forward to further progress.  We understand there is more work to be done, but the formula for success has been put in place.  There may be ups and downs in funding, but state officials have demonstrated their commitment to staying the course, and that is why Maryland is making unprecedented strides against cancer.

Look for future blogs on Mondays throughout January about how Maryland CRF-supported research at Johns Hopkins is helping Marylanders. Read more about Maryland CRF-supported research at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
1 Comment

2014 is off to a great start. Johns Hopkins is one of six centers to share in a half billion-gift to cancer research. Our center will receive about $90 million in new funding, which will outlast the current directors of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and fund new generations of cancer scientists until we beat the disease. This gift, from Ludwig Cancer Research, is one for the record books.  Read a commemorative issue of our Promise and Progress magazine that chronicles discoveries made by Hopkins' Ludwig Center scientists and watch the video below, an introduction to the Ludwig Center.

 

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

As part of our series on frequently asked questions about Kimmel Cancer Center clinical trials, this post looks at patient safety during a trial.
 
Dina George Lansey, a nurse and clinical research recruitment specialist for the Kimmel Cancer Center, notes that there are many rules in place to make sure that patients in studies are kept safe. “All clinical trials must be reviewed, approved and monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is made up of physicians, researchers, and members of the community. They review the study and the informed consent form to make sure that it is ethical and that the rights and welfare of participants are protected.” she says. “Clinical trials are also monitored by safety committees and various federal agencies that work to assure that research participants are protected and informed.”  
 
Before taking part in a clinical trial, each participant must sign a document called an informed consent form.  This document explains why the study is being done, the risks of taking part in the study, the benefits of taking part, the side effects of the treatment, and what other treatment options are available if you choose not take part in the study.  "Although the ‘informed consent’ refers to a document, it also refers to a process , a discussion that takes place between patients and research staff and/or their doctors,  before, during and sometimes after their participation in a clinical trial,”  says Lansey. “The goal of both the informed consent form and process are to make sure that patients have all of the information they need to help them decide whether they want to take part or continue to take part in a trial.” It is important to note that patients that decide to sign the informed consent form may ask questions about the study at any time while they are taking part in the study, and they may decide at any time that they no longer want to take part in the study. Neither their questions nor their decision to stop participating will affect their treatment or their relationship with their doctor.

Learn more about Kimmel Cancer Center research and search a database of ongoing trials.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

It is two years years ago today that legendary WBAL radio host Ron Smith died of pancreatic cancer. Ron's reach and impact as the "Voice of Reason" went far, but so do the efforts of his friends and family to fund research aimed at detecting pancreatic cancer at an earlier, treatable stage.

On his blog, WBAL's Rob Lang notes the efforts of Ron's wife, June, and the Friends of Ron Smith charity. They're funding the manpower necessary to complete studies of better anti-cancer tools. I raise a toast to them and Ron on this anniversary date. Ron, we miss you on our drive-time commute, and we thank you for this long-lasting legacy.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

--This post was written by Allison M. Rich in the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Development officeRide to Conquer Cancer

The holiday season tends to direct our thoughts toward the subject of giving, be it the giving of holiday gifts, the giving of our time, or giving towards cancer research.

While we, at the Kimmel Cancer Center, celebrate the generosity behind the largest gifts we receive which fund new medical equipment, cutting edge clinical trials, and innovative bench research, the reality is that such a large scale of giving is simply not possible for many of us. In light of such big gifts, it is easy to feel that one person’s $50 donation just doesn’t make much of a dent in cancer research. However, when a community of individuals comes together, the impact of giving is magnified in a way that is truly impactful – and not just in the fiscal sense.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is not only an opportunity to raise money for the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Sibley Memorial, and Suburban Hospitals – it is an opportunity to be a part of something even bigger. Instead of just writing a personal check for $50, you could amplify your giving by registering to ride and collecting the $2,500 participation donation from friends and family. Or maybe you would rather get your office involved by forming a team that will work together to support not just cancer research, but each other as well. Or perhaps volunteering your time to encourage and assist riders during their 150 mile journey is more your style.

No matter how you might choose to give this holiday season, we look forward to working side by side to magnify our impact and conquer cancer – together.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

Blood pressure demonstration with Mayor Rawlings-Blake

Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake undergoes a blood pressure screening by Dina Lansey, clinical trials outreach coordinator for the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

Today, a historic market near the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Campus re-opened after extensive building renovations. Funded, in part, by Johns Hopkins, Northeast Market vendors also renewed their offerings with expanded produce choices and cooking with healthier ingredients. The Kimmel Cancer Center offers educational materials and health screenings at the Market.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
No Comments

We’re starting a series on frequently asked questions about Kimmel Cancer Center clinical trials. This first question is the most basic: What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is research study that involves people to test new ways of preventing, diagnosing or treating cancer.  While many patients think that all clinical trials test experimental therapies, there are several kinds of clinical trials in which patients may be able to enroll, says Dina George Lansey, a nurse and clinical research recruitment specialist for the Kimmel Cancer Center.  “Treatment trials may include new drugs, vaccines or techniques for surgery or radiation. They may involve current standard treatments being used  in a new way or combine new and current standard treatments,” Lansey says. Even if cancer patients are not part of a treatment trial, “ patients they may be asked to participate in  other types of trials during treatment for their cancer. These might include research studies that seek to study ways to prevent cancer or learn more about side effects of cancer treatment, quality of life studies,” she explains.

It’s important to note that treatment trials “are done in a series of steps called phases. These steps help researchers figure out whether new treatments are safe, what side effects it causes,  if it is effective and if it is better than the current standard treatment.  It's a safety mechanism,” Lansey says. “At each phase, the results of the study are evaluated to determine whether it's safe to proceed to the next clinical trial phase.  This process is monitored very closely by those conducting the trials as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When all of the phases are completed, the FDA decides if the drug may be approved and marketed to the public.   “Clinical trials are opportunities for us to learn from cancer patients and for patients to contribute to the future care of others with cancer,” Lansey says.

Caregiver and blogger Dena Battle shared her thoughts about clinical trials on her blog, The Kidney Cancer Chronicles. I think you'll find that Dena's analogy of shoes and clinical trials makes a lot of sense, especially for those of us with a shoe fetish. Dena and her husband honed a very important skill of searching for clinical trials and asking questions of their medical team. We hope this blog series will help you learn more about clinical trials, and to help find the right size clinical trial for you, learn more about Kimmel Cancer Center research and search a database of ongoing trials.

Part 2: How is my safety as a patient protected?

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
2 Comments

Ride to Conquer CancerAfter a few days of food indulgence and giving thanks for our great bounty, I start thinking about refocusing my goals and aiming high for a new set of aspirations. My sister just completed a half-marathon and is training for an "aquathlon." (I watched her swim an impressive mile this summer.) My husband completed a week-long bike ride across Iowa...twice...when he was 9 and 10, on a single-speed bike. It's inspiration like this that will help me settle on the new year's goal, and there's already a challenge to consider.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is set for September 13-14, 2014. A two-day bike ride of more than 150-miles through Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The Ride benefits the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Sibley Memorial and Suburban Hospital. Registered participants get support in training and raising the $2,500 in donations to participate. Now is the time to prepare and commit to new goals. For a cause like cancer, I can aim high.

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
2 Comments