Masonic Cancer Center researchers work to identify carcinogens in the world around us—as well as ways to avoid them
When scientists talk about “environmental” causes of cancer, they don’t mean that carcinogens lurk in every tree and stream. They’re referring to anything that enters or interacts with the human body—sunshine, food, water, alcohol, radiation, cigarette smoke—and examining them for their potential to cause renegade cell growth. And as they now know, environmental factors are linked to as many as two out of every three cancers diagnosed.
In December the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved final agreements among the University, University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP), and Fairview Health Services (now operating together as University of Minnesota Health) for a new academic outpatient clinic.
Why does it take so long for promising cancer drugs to move out of the lab and into doctors’ offices where patients can benefit?
Masonic Cancer Center Translational Research program associate director Jill Siegfried, M.D., explains.
In U of M team, racecar driver finds comfort, expert care, and determination
Brad Hoyt fell in love with racing as a boy when his father took him to see the movie “Grand Prix.” So when he found himself the winner at the finish line of the premier Grand Prix of Monaco in 2008—in a 1969 Formula One Ferrari similar to the one in the movie—he had to pinch himself. After returning home to Minnesota, all Hoyt wanted to do was get back to Monaco and win again. But a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in April 2011 threatened that plan—and his life.
At 78, volunteer Hinda Litman now has a shock of snow-white hair but retains the same joyful energy she brought to University of Minnesota hospitals more than 35 years ago, when she first volunteered as a patient visitor. Since then, she’s worked in the surgery lounge, with hospice patients, and now in the Masonic Cancer Clinic—wherever there has been a patient in need, Litman has shown up.
This story is short. Not much is known about metastasis. And that’s the point. “Patients don’t die from primary tumors,” says researcher Akhouri Sinha, Ph.D., of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. “It’s the metastases that kill them.”
Since scientists now know that between 5 and 10 percent of all cancers are caused by abnormal genes inherited from a parent—often called hereditary cancers—Masonic Cancer Center researchers and clinicians are increasingly focused on making sure that patients understand their family history to minimize their cancer risk.
Giving a gift of appreciated stock, bonds, or mutual fund shares that have been held more than one year can provide an immediate benefit to research, education, or care at the University of Minnesota—and it may be more tax-efficient than giving cash.