AACR: An annual meeting of "like minds" in cancer prevention

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By Katrina Burton

One of the most collaborative meetings of researchers in basic, clinical, behavioral and epidemiological science focused on cancer prevention, the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, is taking place in Anaheim, CA, this week.

A plethora of professionals is expected to attend this year's conference, which focuses on scientific and lifestyle strategies to prevent cancer. With hundreds of research studies and lectures, the program lineup is sure to have something for not only scientists, but for patient advocates and survivors as well. 

MD Anderson Cancer Center will definitely represent with major presentations and leaders chairing sessions, including Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., vice president and head of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

Past chair of the 2009 AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, Hawk continues to take a leadership role for this year's conference.

Hawk started off the program Tuesday morning with a professional advancement session for trainees on how to succeed in the field of cancer prevention. He chairs two sessions this week. The first focuses on prostate cancer screening, particularly highlighting the issues of overscreeening, overdiagnosis and overtreatment, and is the opening session Wednesday morning.

"This session will highlight the importance of screening," said Hawk. "As exemplified by the cardinal manifestation that recently led to the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation to remove PSA-based screening from its roster of recommended services."

The first speaker will highlight the problem while the second speaker will zero in on potential approaches to retain the benefits of PSA screening, while reducing effects on the patient.

The Thursday session will include multiple talks regarding recent data on chemoprevention with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

"One of the lectures will discuss novel COX-2 based imaging that might be applied in the future to identify those at greatest risk, those expressing COX-2 as a target, or to identify NSAID-responding patients before the phenotypic response - an intermediate marker," said Hawk. The session will also feature a discussion of a new abstract and three additional talks:

  • Aspirin for cancer prevention: Are we ready?
  • Development of NSAID eflornithine combinations for treating cancer risk factors
  • Aspirin mediated down-regulation of Warburg Kinase AKT1 in patients with Barrett's Esophagus: Implications in neoplastic transformation
Hawk is also moderating a press conference Thursday, Oct. 18, that will feature four papers on the press program from various institutions.

Other researchers take center stage

  • Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology chairs a panel on risk assessment and also speaks in that session on "Health screening cohort: A new avenue for risk prediction, prevention, and early detection research."  Her collaboration with MJ Health Management in Taiwan led to a groundbreaking study published Tuesday about liver cancer risk prediction. Wu will also speak at the risk assessment and early detection plenary session. Her presentation: "Translational epidemiology: Towards personalized cancer risk assessment, prevention and therapy." 
  • Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, will give a lecture titled "A mouse to human search for early detection markers," at the risk assessment and early detection plenary session, which he also chairs on Friday.
  • Powel, Brown, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of MD Anderson's Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, is scheduled to close out the conference with his talk on, "Targeting breast cancer stem cells using cancer preventive rexinoids." Brown was the chair of last year's conference.
  • J. Jack Lee, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biostatics chaired an educational session on opening day about the design of prevention clinical trials titled "Report Card for chemoprevention trials: The good, the bad and the ugly - how can we do better?"

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