Local War on Breast Cancer: Special Report

Local War on Cancer
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Birmingham, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham is home to the only National Cancer Institute designated Cancer Center in Alabama.  The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has had that distinction since it was founded in 1973.  President Nixon’s administration established 8 NCI designated cancer centers in 1971.  There are 70 such centers today as the United States continues it’s war on cancer.

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Health Center is the first in Alabama to be certified by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.  In our special half hour report we are examining the latest breast cancer screening technology, the standard treatments of breast cancer, survivor groups and clinical trials being offered at UAB and in the community.

Breast cancer affects one in eight women.  An estimated four thousand women in Alabama will be diagnosed this year.  For those women there is hope with early detection and advances in medicine.

Dr. Eddy Yang is a radiation oncologist, professor and vice chair of translational sciences at UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.  He said, “from a research stand point we are advancing faster than ever before and I think our hope is that we can figure out the root cause not just cancer in general, but your particular cancer and then from that be able to pinpoint which therapy is going to be the best for you and I think that’s coming in a very fast way.”

In mammography, the technique that uses X-rays to diagnose and locate tumors in breasts, doctors are using new technology to offer more personalized medicine. Medical director for breast imaging at UAB, Caroline Reich, says Tomosynthesis also called 3D mammography is an option for patients with dense breast tissue. Another option, and one of the newest breast imaging procedures, is contrast mammography where doctors inject certain chemicals into the blood stream and some cancers pick up the dyes or contrast agents and become more visible. 

There is a new frontier of clinical trial drugs for breast cancer being studies and administered right here in Birmingham. These treatment options go beyond the standard care. For many patients, clinical trials are the last option. The trials begin in labs where researchers work on discovering new treatments. When they are ready for human testing, patients are able to get involved. Dr. Mansor Saleh, director  of clinical trials at UAB uses Phase 1 trials — the ones being tested on humans for the first time. 

A Birmingham-based organization, Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies, is on a mission to address breast cancer in the African American community. Brenda Hong is a 30-year survivor. After her first diagnosis, it came back in 2009, then again in 2010. She founded the organization the first time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and her buddies are on a mission to show the newly diagnosed breast cancer patients that there is someone who will walk with them on a familiar journey. For more information about the organization, visit their Facebook page

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a wide variety of Clinical Trials.  You can call 205-934-0309 for more information.

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