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NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: Bladder Cancer Could Be Treated the Same Way as Breast Cancer

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal host cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at a genomic and molecular level is helping doctors treat cancer “smarter”.

Bladder Cancer: Stepping into the Era of Precision Medicine

Correct diagnosis is the foundation for effective treatment. And looking at the genes instead of just the cancer class is helping improve diagnosis. Traditionally, cancer diagnosis depends heavily on assigning a cancer into certain classes by analyzing cancer’s cell and tissue features. In recent years, gene and other molecular analysis tools have been used more frequently – and the molecular diagnosis practice is paving the road toward the era of precision medicine.

By analyzing molecules and gene sequencing data, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently found that a subtype of bladder cancer has the same molecular signatures as a subset of breast cancer. Both groups express low levels of a protein called claudin and share a same type of immune deficiency.  These similarities could mean it is possible to treat these two types of cancer originating from different anatomic locations with the same regimen of checkpoint inhibitor drugs or an approach of modern immunotherapy.

More research is still needed, but the door is now open to make more accurate and clinically meaningful diagnoses of cancers based on genetic testing results than just on the tissue features viewed from under the microscope. This would make precision medicine possible to benefit thousands of cancer patients around the world.

Genomic Testing

The era of precision medicine is here: Doctors could choose the right therapy for the right patient with the information derived from genomic testing. While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the molecular and gene levels.

Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers for each patient’s cancer. This empowers oncologists to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success. Click here to learn more about genomic testing.


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On the Move With Dr. Ba: 2016 Recap

We are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Research is fueling the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Precision medicine and genomics are accelerating the pace of progress to improve lives around the world.

NFCR President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Sujuan Ba, has spent this past year traveling the world to lead efforts and collaborate with top scientists to improve patient treatments as well as educate the public on advances in cancer research and prevention.

A Few 2016 Highlights

January March

groupWhile many people were excited about a short work week because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Dr. Ba was travelling the world to collaborate with cancer researchers in China. In Beijing, Dr. Ba organized a workshop with 50 scientists from three continents and launched GBM AGILE China at a press conference at the China Hall of Science and Technology. This global launch effort is a continuation of the already-successful Washington, DC launch held in November 2015 for the groundbreaking global alliance formed to cure Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the deadliest human brain tumor. NFCR is particularly pleased with this first-of-its-kind international collaboration because it can help establish best-practice protocols for countries working together. Dr. Ba said, “GBM AGILE will change the paradigm of clinical research in the future, with a systematic approach to reveal potentially lifesaving treatments far faster than has ever been possible.” Click here to read the full text of Dr. Ba’s speech.

What is GBM AGILE?

Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaboration to test and develop new brain cancer treatments.

This global coalition- of which NFCR is a founding supporter-  has attracted over 150 participants from more than 40 leading cancer institutions across three continents. It implements a new generation of clinical trials – called “adaptive trials” – which allow patients to be enrolled more quickly, receive treatment with multiple anti-cancer drugs simultaneously and does not require years of follow-up to determine whether a new experimental treatment is beneficial. Every patient counts in this innovative clinical trial.

For the past decade, Dr. Ba has worked closely with a group of passionate and accomplished women – known as “Daffodils and Diamonds” – who have resolved to make an impact in the fight against cancer. Their efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of life-saving research dollars.

Early in the year, Dr. Ba worked tirelessly with members of Daffodils & Diamonds to create the D&D Accelerator Fund for Cancer New Therapies. Too often, promising new cancer drugs and therapies lose funding and stall just before investment communities and biopharmaceutical companies can take them to the next level. This D&D Accelerator Fund aims to help bridge the so-called “valley of death” between early stage development and FDA approval.

d-and-dThis new initiative was announced at the 35th Annual Daffodils and Diamonds Luncheon in Chevy Chase, MD. Dr. Ba and members of the NFCR staff attended the event and thanked the D&D members for their hard work and generosity. Dr. Ba is confident this Accelerator Fund would provide a mechanism to  generate a sustainable stream of future revenue to plow back to support cancer research.  This long-living commitment to cancer research will appropriately showcase the  great efforts made by this incredibly dedicated group of women.

April – June

asgOn May 2, the 2016 annual Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research was awarded to Dr. Mary-Claire King for her seminal research on the existence of BRCA and the identification of its location. Thanks to Dr. King, genetic screening methods are now available to identify people at high risk, and preventive and therapeutic approaches have been developed to treat breast and ovarian cancer more effectively.

Over 150 people attended the dinner and award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Dr. Ba spearheaded the creation of this international, annual prize in 2006. The award recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in the war against cancer. This year, Dr. Ba made closing remarks at the event thanking Dr. King for her significant contribution to cancer research which saved million’s lives and emphasized the importance of continuing investment for cancer research for future life-saving breakthroughs.

On May 16-18, Dr. Ba presided over the peer review meetings by NFCR’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) in San Francisco. The SAB and NFCR-funded scientists met with Dr. Ba and NFCR’s scientific team to discuss scientific, strategic and clinical direction for NFCR’s science and translational research programs. “Research will cure cancer and NFCR is about research,” Dr. Ba stressed at the meetings. “This Scientific Advisory Board is about creating a road map for NFCR that works to liberate science—an architecture for speeding up discoveries and new approaches for treating cancer.”

After Dr. Ba returned to the Capital region, she ended the month of May by presenting at the Annual Conference for the National Association of Professional Asian American Women. Her speech titled “Your Best Defense Against Cancer” was an informative address for the accomplished crowd.  Dr. Ba highlighted some important prevention tips for the audience, since, until we find cures for all cancer, cancer prevention is still a powerful weapon we must use and spread.

July – August

gbmA scientist by training, Dr. Ba is a strong advocate for global collaboration – and not just flashy press announcements, but actual day-in and day-out long working groups with peers. As a member of the executive committee that leads Global GBM AGILE, Dr. Ba worked with a team of around 50 experts from the U.S., Australia and China to finalize the “Master Protocol of Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment” from August 7-11 in Phoenix, Arizona. This program will revolutionize how clinical trials are run in the future.

A few days after the successful conclusion of the GBM AGILE workshop in Arizona, Dr. Ba was in Frederick, Maryland cheering on a Play4TheCure® team as they raised funds for innovative cancer research. Play4TheCure® is dedicated to raising funds for NFCR through competitive sports featuring recreational sports clubs, middle schools, high schools and collegiate sporting events.

From August 20-21, Dr. Ba ended a busy month by attending the U.S.-China Forum on Precision Medicine and Patient Cares in Boston organized by Professor Raju Kucherlapati of Harvard University and the Kew Group, Dr. Ba shared her perspectives on cancer presision medicine at this form where diverse groups of scientists, physicians, regulators and business people get together to discuss the state of Precision Medicine and to find ways to promote this exciting newly emerging field.

September – October

panelIn September, Dr. Ba had the distinguished honor to be part of the opening ceremony VIPs at the First International Precision Medicine Conference in Tianjin, China, representing NFCR with a presentation titled Advancing Global Cancer Research through Non-profit Mission.

jbOn October 17, Dr. Ba joined Vice President Joe Biden for the Moonshot Report Release at the White House. Leading an organization that is responsible for groundbreaking cancer research discoveries throughout the past 40 years, Dr. Ba and NFCR greatly embrace this bold, collaborative undertaking.



What is Cancer Moonshot?

Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the Cancer Moonshot aims to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer- to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years.

Click here to read a copy of the Vice President’s report.

Dr. Ba continued her treks with some of the best and brightest at MIT in Cambridge, MA. From October 26-28, Dr. Ba attended the CanceRx 2016: New Approaches to Commercializing Biomedical Research Conference where she urged universities and non-profit organizations to work more effectively to advance their common mission of saving patients’ lives. She actively discussed with fellow attendees about how we must incorporate investment communities and biotech/pharma companies into the ecosystem of fighting cures.

gbm2On November 11, Dr. Ba showed her support for the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) and one of NFCR’s long-term research fellow and current Chairman of the Scientific Board, Dr. Web Cavenee at the Gray Gala in Boston, MA.  Dr. Cavenee received the 2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for his long-term contributions to brain cancer research communities around the world.

Moving Forward

Even though the year is almost over, Dr. Ba certainly won’t be slowing down. To keep up with Dr. Ba on a daily basis, follow @Sujuan_Ba and @NFCR on twitter.

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NFCR’s Dr. Web Cavenee Honored at Prestigious Gray Gala

On Friday, November 11, 2016, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) held its annual Gray Gala to recognize and celebrate the achievements of change-makers across the brain tumor community.  Pioneers in brain tumor research were honored, including Dr. Web Cavenee, Chairman of NFCR’s Scientific Advisory Board and former NFCR-funded research fellow.  Dr. Cavenee was awarded the 2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for Adult Brain Tumor Research.

David Arons, CEO NBTS; Dr. Web Cavanee, Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board; G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS; Dr. David Louis, Pathology Chair Mass General Hospital)
Pictured above from left to right: David Arons, CEO NBTS; Dr. Web Cavanee, Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board; G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS; Dr. David Louis, Pathology Chair Mass General Hospital)

“It was an honor to witness the celebration of the scientists, advocates and volunteers all joined together to support the brain tumor community,” said Dr. Sujuan Ba, President and COO of NFCR.

Dr. Sujuan Ba spoke to fellow leaders at the Gray Gala about this collaboration and stressed, “NFCR is proud to partner with the National Brain Tumor Society to fight GBM, one of the most deadly cancers.” Dr. Sujuan Ba is particularly enthusiastic about an innovative undertaking both the NFCR and NBTS are supporting: GBM AGILE.  Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaborative program to test and develop new brain cancer treatments. Its adaptive and personalized approach will cut several years of the clinical testing and reveal potentially lifesaving treatments far faster than has ever been possible. Additionally, the learning from GBM can be used for other cancers using similar approaches to save more lives.

Pictured: G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: David Arons, CEO of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: David Arons, CEO of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Dr. Sujuan Ba with Key leaders of GBM AGILE pictured from left to right:
Dr. Alfred Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center and NFCR Fellow);
Dr. Brian Alexander (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute);
Dr. Web Cavanee (Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board)
Dr. Sujuan Ba with Key leaders of GBM AGILE pictured from left to right: Dr. Alfred Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center and NFCR Fellow); Dr. Brian Alexander (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute); Dr. Web Cavanee (Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board)
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NFCR-Funded Scientist Selected as ‘Giant of Cancer Care’

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, Director of the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies at TGen, has been selected as a 2016 Giants of Cancer Care® by OncLive.  Dr. Von Hoff, Physician-In-Chief and Distinguished Professor at TGen, is a world-renowned physician scientist in cancer research. NFCR has been funding Dr. Von Hoff’s research for over thirty years—in fact, provided Dr. Von Hoff with his very first peer-reviewed grant—and has been supporting his pioneering research ever since.


On behalf of NFCR, Chief Science Officer Michael Wang congratulates Dr. Daniel Von Hoff in person on November 11, 2016

“NFCR congratulates Dr. Von Hoff on this honor; he is truly a ‘Giant of Cancer Care,’” said Franklin Salisbury, Jr., NFCR CEO. “We have supported Dr. Von Hoff’s research efforts since 1985 and know he is an extraordinary man and gifted physician scientist whose research represents the future of medicine in which information gleaned from clinical cares can be used to guide research on new treatment development that target deadly tumors, giving new hope to cancer patients worldwide.”

This is Research for a Cure and Dr. Von Hoff is especially appreciative of NFCR. He has said: “[Early in my career,] my NIH grants kept getting turned down; I did not have any way to generate preliminary information and someone from NFCR walked into my office and said that after careful review I had been selected as a young investigator they wanted to support. I would like to say thank you to all of those who have given because it got me started in quite an adventure to try to make a difference for patients.”

Dr. Von Hoff has devoted his career to translational medicine – the movement of new therapies from the research institution to patient care.  In addition to this recent selection, he was honored with the Scripps Genomic Medicine Award in 2011, named one of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 50 Oncology Luminaries in 2014 and among the first class selected in 2013 by the American Association for Cancer Research for its Fellows of the AACR Academy.

von-hoffDr. Von Hoff and his colleagues have conducted early clinical investigations of many new cancer agents, including: gemcitabine, docetaxel, paclitaxel, topotecan, irinotecan, fludarabine, mitoxantrone, dexrazoxane, nab-paclitaxel, vismodegib, and others. These treatments are helping many patients with breast, ovarian, prostate, colon, leukemia, advanced basal cell and pancreatic cancers today.

Reflecting on his 30 year journey with NFCR, Dr. Von Hoff said, “Cancer researchers often receive funding from a number of sources, including the federal government, but the most important money we receive for cancer research comes from the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Without NFCR’s support, some of my research would never have gotten off the ground.”

NFCR is proud to have provided $4.67 million for Dr. Dan Von Hoff’s research that directly and indirectly resulted in many clinically high-impact new therapies which have saved hundreds and thousands of people’s lives.

About the Giants of Cancer Care Award
Now in its fourth year, the Giants of Cancer Care recognition program honors those who have devoted their time, talent and resources to improving care for patients and families who are affected by cancer. Their discoveries have propelled the field forward and established the building blocks for future advances. Recipients demonstrate the qualities of unlimited selflessness, compassion for their patients, and a desire to understand and develop life-changing treatments.  In 2016, a Selection Committee of 80+ eminent oncologists will chose 10 honorees from 10 different tumor types and specialty categories.

About NFCR’s Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies

At the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies at TGen, Co-Directors Dr. Daniel Von Hoff and Dr. Laurence Hurley are pioneering new approaches to attack the so-called “undruggable” targets present in many tumors.

The Center is also embarking on an entirely new approach to developing drugs that block newly-recognized genetic structures called “super enhancers.” This approach may lead to great improvements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer and other cancers.

About National Foundation for Cancer Research

NFCR was founded in 1973 to support cancer research and public education relating to the prevention, early diagnosis, better treatments and ultimately, a cure for cancer.  NFCR promotes and facilitates collaboration among scientists to accelerate the pace of discovery from bench to bedside.  NFCR is committed to Research for a Cure – cures for all types of cancers.

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NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: New Method to Detect Biomarkers

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer- causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at the genomic and molecular level are helping oncologists treat cancer with greater success.  This is the key to precision medicine, treating each individual’s cancer as unique.

New Method for Detection: MishCTC

Metastasis— the spread of cancer to a different organ or tissue— is responsible for the vast majority of cancer-related deaths.  As cancer grows, certain cells detach from a primary tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body. Detecting these circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples could help with early diagnosis of cancer, but the biggest challenge facing CTC detection is that there is a lack of reliable biomarkers.genomics-feature-image

A new method called MishCTC is being developed to enhance the detection sensitivity.  The new method is designed to detect a molecular biomarker called miRNA-21, which is a small RNA molecule that exists inside the tumor cells but can’t be detected in normal blood cells. Thus, miRNA-21 is an ideal marker for detecting CTCs.

With continual optimization, the MishCTC method could be used for molecular diagnostics in hospitals in the future. The results of this new test would provide vital and personalized information about a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and metastasis, which will guide the doctors to make much better and effective decisions to treat their patients.

Genomic Testing

MishCTC is a new method to detect cancer biomarkers.  Once detected, we can more easily detect the “Achilles heel” of the cancer.  While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the molecular level.

Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers for each patient’s cancer. This empowers oncologists to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success. Click here to learn more about genomic testing.

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7 Ways Dogs Help People with Cancer

Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.”  They are loyal companions, always excited to see you, follow your every word and will never desert you.  Simply put, they love you unconditionally and aren’t afraid to show it.  Research now shows there are also health-related benefits to spending time with these adorable, furry, four-legged friends.

1. Dogs can smell cancer.
Canines smell up to 1,000 times more accurately than humans.  In multiple laboratory studies, dogs have been able to detect certain cancers by smelling breath or urine samples.
In one study, a Labrador retriever trained in cancer scent detection correctly identified 91% of breath samples and 97% of stool samples from patients with colon cancer. In another study, a German shepherd identified ovarian cancer malignancies form tissue samples with 90% accuracy.  Dogs might one day be used in conjunction with existing diagnostic tests to detect cancer at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.

2. Dogs are good for your overall health and heart.

One study
found that people with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure than those without pets. In another study, one year after suffering a heart attack people with dogs were more likely to be alive than those who did not have a dog.

3. Dogs can significantly improve your mood.
Cancer can cause depression and feelings of isolation.  Another study found that cancer patients who spent time with a therapy dog prior to treatment reported improved emotional and social well-being, even while their physical well-being was in decline during chemotherapy.

4. Dogs are good stress relievers.


ICYDK: Dogs can suffer from cancer just like people. November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day, a day created to increase awareness and understanding of canine lymphoma. It’s a good time to give your dog an extra hug or belly rub to let them know how special they are.

Going through cancer treatment can be stressful and dogs can provide a welcome distraction. Petting them releases endorphins that relieve stress and improve mood.  This can help patients forget about their pain or frustrations for a period of time.

5. Dogs are great company.
Going through cancer treatment can be a lonely experience.   Even if you have a strong support system, you may not be able to share your inner most feelings with them.  Dogs are always eager to listen… and they know how to keep a secret.

6. Service dogs can aid in recovery and independence.
When most people think of service dogs, they think of guide dogs for the blind.  But medical service dogs can also be trained to bark for help, retrieve a phone, assist in walking, and opening and closing doors.  They can even be trained to pick up dropped items or turn on/off lights and appliances.    This can be especially helpful for cancer patients who have lost a limb or have difficulty getting around as a result of treatment.

7. Walking a dog is great exercise.
dog-cancer-3Adding some form of exercise to your daily routine – even during cancer treatment – will enhance your physical well-being and aid in your recovery.  Cancer can literally be exhausting.  Research has shown that cancer patients who exercise regularly have 40% to 50% less fatigue.  Taking your dog for a walk several times a day provides the perfect amount of moderate exercise needed.

Whether you are a dog owner or have access to therapy dogs at your infusion clinics, dogs have the ability to help people with cancer better cope with their diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

Share with us how your dog helps you get through the day.

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A Loving Tribute to Elmo’s Friends Phyllis and Tony Geiss

A Legacy to Support Cancer Research

geissPhyllis and Tony Geiss lived long and extraordinary lives filled with many accomplishments.  NFCR has been the recipient of a generous gift from the Geiss Estate which will be able to move cancer research forward in a very significant way.  We would like to share with you a window into this inspirational couple’s lives.

Phyllis and Tony were perfectly matched.  Married more than 60 years, both possessed qualities of warmth, modesty, humor and intellect.  For a major anniversary, Tony had a star named for Phyllis in the National Star Registry.  He gave the gift to her with a card that read, “Twinkle, twinkle, little wife.  Thank you for a perfect life!”

Phyllis distinguished herself academically which led to a stellar career in advertising and banking.   A dear friend reflects, “Phyllis was tiny, reserved, and soft-spoken, with an incisive mind and a dry wit.  She delighted in having people over for dinner and throwing large New Year’s parties. Her grateful dinner guests continue to savor the memory of her divine sticky pudding.  She was a creative, original thinker, and although she worked very well in a corporate setting, she was unconstrained by tradition.  Her cousin told of a visit with Phyllis to the Sistine Chapel.  When her cousin said she did not feel she was getting an adequate view of the ceiling by craning her neck, Phyllis pulled her to a place with less traffic and lay down on the floor looking up.  ‘Now we can see it!’”

Loved and esteemed by his colleagues, Tony’s genius lay in entertaining, educating and enchanting children and adults alike.  One of his colleagues tells the story about one of their first meetings as Sesame Street writers: When someone suggested that they “brainstorm,” Tony replied immediately, “Oh–if I had known there would be a brainstorm, I would have worn a braincoat!” If you have been around children at any time since the 1970s, you will undoubtedly have been fondly aware of Tony’s Sesame Street characters, songs and storylines.

For over three decades, Tony’s gifted writing and composing, along with his talent as a lyricist created Elmo’s Song, the Honkers, and Abby Cadabby, among many other memorable characters and familiar songs.  Tony also delighted his audience by co-writing three films: Follow that Bird, The Land Before Time and An American Tail.  The 22 Emmys he helped Sesame Street earn were among many won by the show since it first aired in 1969. Tony gave so much pleasure to so many people that he can truly be named a national treasure.  As of 2009, Sesame Street co-productions were broadcast in more than 140 countries.  Today, it is almost impossible to count the number of children who are enjoying and learning with Sesame Street all around the world!

Phyllis and Tony made their decisions about charitable contributions jointly to reflect their passions and interests.  During their lifetime, they were loyal and generous donors to the National Foundation for Cancer Research and it has been enormously gratifying to learn that they valued our mission to fund innovative cancer research enough to remember us in their estate plans.   Phyllis and Tony Geiss were extremely accomplished individuals, and as a team, their partnership was happy and harmonious. Their philanthropic work will enable NFCR to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat all types of cancer.  NFCR is enormously grateful and honored by their generosity and foresight.   Trustees of the Geiss Estate say “Phyllis and Tony deeply valued worldwide efforts in health care and protecting the environment.  They would have been greatly inspired and gratified to see and advance the work that NFCR is doing to unify discoveries in cancer research around the world and to integrate information on a global scale.”

Learning, having fun, and good health, are vital components for the well-being of anyone, anywhere.  NFCR will honor the Geiss’ generosity by promoting cancer research to ensure that people worldwide can enjoy good health, enabling them to lead productive and joyful lives.

From Elaine Currie, NFCR Donor Relations Officer

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A Simple Colonoscopy Could Save Your Life

This installment of the NFCR blog is by Liz Diamond, Major Gifts Officer with NFCR (she’s also the beguiling Brit that graces our voicemail!)


I have just had a colonoscopy and received a result that indicates I have no early signs of colon cancer.  This is my second excellent colonoscopy with a clean result and since I have no family history of colon cancer, I was advised to schedule another procedure in 10 years.

I am not a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV but my reason for telling you this is that I’m really hoping that you will consider having a colonoscopy too!  It could save your life.

If you are over 50 years of age, have a family history of colon cancer, are overweight or a smoker, schedule a visit to your general practitioner sooner rather than later to see when a colonoscopy is indicated for you.  (50 years old is the age that guidelines tell us to have our 1st colonoscopy for early detection.) Colon cancer is the development of cancer from the colon or the rectum, and it is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.  I happen to live in Maryland and in my state, colon cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

COLON CANCER IS OFTEN TIMES PREVENTABLE!!!!!!  If, during a colonoscopy procedure performed under anesthesia by a gastroenterologist, polyps or pre-cancerous polyps are discovered in your colon, they will be removed during the procedure.  I am stressing the word PRE because if these polyps were left to grow unchecked, some of them have the potential to become cancerous.

Don’t take that risk!  Cancer is more treatable when it is diagnosed in early stages. If you are 50 or over, go ahead and schedule your colonoscopy.  If you are under 50 and have a family history of colon cancer or cancer polyps, or if you are African-American, then you may be advised to have colonoscopies starting at an earlier age than 50 and having them at shorter intervals than ten years.

In the immortal words of a certain ad – JUST DO IT! – make that appointment.   I am glad I did.  Even if my result had not been as favorable, my doctor and I would have taken further steps to prevent me from getting a colon cancer diagnosis.

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Taste the Cancer-Fighting Power of the Rainbow

Eating a colorful diet doesn’t just make for beautiful meals—it’s a good way to make sure you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can help prevent cancer, as well as other health concerns.  The deeper the color, the greater concentration of nutrients and antioxidants.

Although a colorful diet won’t guarantee that you’ll avoid a cancer diagnosis, it is an important tool in your fight to help prevent it.  So for dinner tonight, try this nutritious, delicious and super colorful salsa with grilled chicken or fish.

Rainbow Salsa

(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)


3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt


1. Combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.


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Taste the Cancer-Fighting Power of Kale

kaleKale is a nutritional superstar as it provides one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition we have.  Per calorie, kale provides more iron than beef and more calcium than milk. It’s packed with at least 45 antioxidant flavonoids and contains 10 times the daily value of the important, yet often overlooked, vitamin K.

Early research shows that a diet containing the powerful antioxidant vitamin K may reduce the overall risk of cancer. Try this nutritious, delicious cancer-fighting recipe that’s perfect this time of year.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Toasted Almonds

(Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2012)


  • 8 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1½ cups butternut squash, cubed into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into ½ inch wide ribbons (5 cups)
  • ¾ cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (for shaving)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. To make dressing: Whisk 5 Tbsp oil, vinegar, shallot and mustard in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. Combine squash with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then roast for approximately 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until squash is tender and lightly golden.   Let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile heat remaining oil in large skillet over high heat. Add kale and cook, tossing frequently, until bright green and slightly wilted, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add 3-4 Tbsp of dressing and toss to coat.
  5. Combine squash, kale and toasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan over vegetables.  Drizzle more dressing if needed.
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