Cecilia Rosales Ph.D.

Hope for the cure

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As we prepared to go to press, the American Cancer Society released its 2012 “Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics/ Latinos.” The data reveal that cancer has surpassed heart disease, and is now the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States. 

Although cancer incidence and mortality rates are lower among Hispanics, the Cancer Society estimates that, this year  alone, 112,800 Latinos will be diagnosed with the disease; 33,200 will die of it. 

But there are reasons to remain optimistic. On September 20, 2012, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center announced an unprecedented effort to dramatically accelerate the pace at which scientific breakthroughs translate into clinical advances to reduce cancer deaths. This is no small feat. Worldwide, the disease affects more people than heart disease, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria – combined. An estimated 100 million people will die from cancer in this decade.

Fittingly, M.D. Anderson has dubbed this formidable new endeavor, “The Moon Shots Program,” inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s determination to go to the moon in the 1960s, and the speech in which he declared, “that challenge is one that we are willing to accept; one we are unwilling to postpone; and one which we intend to win.” 

The inaugural “Moon Shots” program will initially target eight cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers. 

Scientific and technological advances are rapidly changing the medical field and reshaping our understanding of many diseases. The same week “The Moon Shots Program” was announced, the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA, led by the National Cancer Institute, the National Human Research Institute, and researchers from around the world) published the results of the first comprehensive genetic analysis of breast cancer.  This study and a better understanding of the genetic causes of the most common forms of breast cancer are expected to impact clinical medicine and increase treatment options for breast cancer patients. 

Despite all these new developments, early detection continues to be of critical importance. That’s why Latino Perspectives Magazine is proud to partner, once again, with the Komen Phoenix Affiliate to get out the message (page 27). Talk to the women in your life about breast cancer, and join us on October 14, 2012, at the Komen Phoenix Race for the Cure. 

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