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Prevention: News Briefs

Annual Report - 2005-2006

Go Under Cover

Despite new findings that melanoma is only partially associated with exposure to ultraviolet B radiation from the sun, the message is still the same — limit sun exposure and use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, study lead Qingyi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and his colleagues found that only non-melanoma skin cancers are strongly associated with UVB radiation exposure. They stress, however, that this doesn’t mean sunbathing poses a minimal risk of developing melanoma since UVA radiation can damage the DNA in the pigment-producing cells that give rise to this deadly form of skin cancer.

Researchers examined the rate of chromosome breaks in skin tumors, finding that UVB radiation affected cell chromosomes more severely in patients with non-melanoma skin cancer compared to those with melanoma. A higher frequency of chromosomal breaks was associated with a more than two-fold increased risk for developing both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

A Promise of Fresh Air

Thousands of smokers live in multigenerational households and wouldn’t consider putting their parents and children in harm’s way. Yet these smokers’ choices barrage their loved ones with more than 4,000 chemical compounds and 60 known carcinogens each day.

The Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute recently awarded Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Behavioral Science, a three-year, $900,000 Clinical Innovator Award to intervene.

In the “Promoting Tobacco-Free Indoor Air Policy in Mexican-American Households” study, Prokhorov and his team will collaborate with their epidemiology colleagues to target Hispanic homes located predominantly in economically disadvantaged areas of Houston. Researchers will monitor exposure to secondhand smoke through self-reports and special monitors that detect nicotine in the air.

Researchers also will educate participants about the dangers of second-hand smoke through a series of culturally appropriate fotonovelas, or illustrated storybooks, hoping to convince smokers that the health benefits of quitting are visible, dramatic and immediate.

'Operation Stop Cervical Cancer in Nigeria’

Researchers at The University of Texas Center for Biomedical Engineering are bringing technology into remote areas of Africa to save lives.

Using a system developed by M. D. Anderson’s Michele Follen, M.D., Ph.D., Rice University’s Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D. and British Columbia Research Centre’s Calum MacAulay, Ph.D., doctors in Nigeria are providing patients with a quicker, less expensive way to identify cervical cancer. In Africa, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths.

The device uses a digital colposcope that views the entire cervix and a fiber-optic probe that measures wavelengths of light reflected off the cervix and which can detect cell abnormalities.

With a $1 million grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation and generous contributions from philanthropist T. Boone Pickens and Federal Express, six full-service screening centers across Nigeria will be developed.

In 2006, Follen and her project team met with regional leaders in Nigeria to evaluate program needs and delivered more than $430,000 worth of medical supplies, equipment and training materials.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center