May is National Cancer Research Month in the US and a lot is going on in the name of cancer research.
Here are some of the activities organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR):
- Listen to the radio spots on KYW Radio featuring the AACR and some of Philadelphia’s top researchers.
- TV spots will begin Thursday, May 7, on the local WPVI-TV station.
- National Cancer Research Month street banners decorate the streets of Philadelphia during this month.
- AACR leaders went to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress on National Lobby Day, Wednesday, May 6.
What else can you do?
If you are a patient, how about checking out currently ongoing clinical trials?
If you are not a patient, how about making a donation to your favorite cancer advocacy group? Or signing up as an organ donor?
In addition, there may be other cancer research studies you can get involve in. Check out an example below.
Donate breastmilk for cancer research!
The University of Massachusetts is running a unique cancer research program. And the participants are not cancer patients but breastfeeding women.
The study is led by environmental toxicology expert Dr. Kathleen Arcaro and its goal is to investigate whether mother’ breastmilk can be used as a quick and easy way to assess breast cancer risk.
Specifically, the researchers are “looking for methylated genes that indicate potentially pre-cancerous changes in breast cells. The test could show signs of elevated breast cancer risk in women at an earlier age than ever before – a population currently not receiving mammograms or other screening.”
Methylation indicates potential tumour sites, and is thus an early phase cancer development. Early detection of methylation in mammary tissue is a key in cancer prevention.
Currently, the most widely used method of screening for breast cancer is through mammography. However, the technique presents some disadvantages inclusive, pain, invasiveness and exposure to potentially harmful radiation. Alternative methods of collecting cells through ductal lavage and nipple aspiration do not yield a large number of cells or a representative sample of cells in the breast. Breastmilk, however, provides millions of cells from all mammary glands, cancerous as well as noncancerous.
Interested in participating?
The UMass Amherst study, funded by Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, is seeking to enroll a total of 500 nursing or breast-pumping mothers over the next year, women who have had a breast biopsy in the past or who are scheduled to have one soon. Interested women can contact the UMass Amherst research team online at www.breastmilkresearch.org. If they qualify to participate, they’ll be mailed a breastmilk collection kit and asked to donate a sample, plus complete a questionnaire and consent form. Delivery and pickup of samples is free. Participants will receive $25 in appreciation for their time. Full confidentiality of medical records and other information is assured for all participants.