May 21, 2009
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - How to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of those impacted by cancer is the focus of a new partnership that includes Alabama's only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, their colleagues from South Alabama and representatives from the top cancer-advocacy organization.
The Alabama Cancer Summit 2009: A Call to Action will be presented Tuesday, May 26, by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of South Alabama (USA) Mitchell Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society Mid-South Division. The invitation-only gathering will be at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, with a keynote address by American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin, Ph.D.
The summit's end result will be a renewed Alabama cancer policy initiative that can serve as a legislative and budgetary "road map" for battling the disease. The policy will include evidence-based input from academic, medical, public health, business and nonprofit leaders. Summit speakers will address mortality, prevention, early detection and survivorship and devote special attention to four of the most-common cancers in Alabama: breast, colon, cervical and tobacco-related cancer.
"Alabama has the eighth-highest cancer mortality in the nation. Not only is that tragic, but it is completely unnecessary," said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. "An estimated 70 percent of all cancer deaths can be prevented, and we can only succeed in that effort if we work together to develop a smart, forward-thinking cancer policy."
The idea for the partnership grew from a conversation between Partridge and state Rep. Paul DeMarco (R) of Homewood, about how Alabamians could work together to reduce the expense and tragic toll of the disease. At the summit, emphasis will be placed on initiatives that reduce cancer deaths through policy and how state government can take charge in drafting that agenda.
"In Alabama, cancer causes untold heartache and touches the lives of nearly everyone, and costs our economy millions in medical treatments and lost productivity," DeMarco said. "We have a responsibility to do the right thing, and our initiative will set the tone for our state, neighboring states and federal lawmakers to improve cancer policy."
Recent data show that an estimated 22,000 new cancer cases occurred in Alabama last year, and that nearly 10,000 Alabamians died from the disease. Experts say those numbers could be significantly reduced by broadening access to cancer screening programs, delivering the message of healthy lifestyle change and advocating for timely and effective cancer treatment.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only one within a five-state region to have the National Cancer Institute's comprehensive designation. The center is a leader in groundbreaking research and leading-edge patient care.
About the Mitchell Cancer Institute
The USA Mitchell Cancer Institute is dedicated to the advancement of cancer treatment, prevention and early detection through its innovative basic and translational research programs, cancer treatment and community outreach. As the only academic cancer research institute in the upper Gulf Coast region, the creation of the Mitchell Cancer Institute represents the largest single most ambitious research growth initiative in the history of the University of South Alabama.
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the society has 13 regional divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, including throughout Alabama.