Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 Annual Retreat on Cancer Research in NJ - Public Forum focus on HPV Cancers

Yesterday,  I attended this year's Annual Retreat on Cancer Research in NJ. I usually attend the Public Forum only but this year I registered for the entire day. This gave me the opportunity to network with more researchers during the poster sessions  listen to the keynote given by Dr Doug Lowy (Deputy Director of the NCI) and listen to my gynecologic oncologist present research on precision medicine and disparities in Latino populations.

Here are some highlights of what I found most interesting:

Public Forum
Preventing HPV Related Cancers: Advances and Challenges

Welcome and Overview - Dr Epstein
  • Cervical Cancer is a worldwide problem.
  • In Australia , they have an 83% vaccination rate of young girls which has lead to a decrease in cervical cancer diagnosis. 
  • In the UK , all 12 year old girls get vaccinated in school. 
  • In the US, only 40% of the girls eligible to be vaccinated are. National Goal is 80%. 
  • "HPV should be considered a routine vaccination." 
HPV Related Cancers in Sexual Minority Men: Missed Opportunities for Prevention - Drs Halkitis and Kapadia
  • Sexual minority men with HIV are at a higher risk for HPV.
  • "Poor people have poor health outcomes." 
  • Frank discussions about sexuality are needed.
  • In a cohort study for HIV in men they looked at HPV vaccination rates and found vaccination rates for HPV were low. 
  • Direct messaging of the signs and symptoms of anal cancer are needed

HPV Vaccinations for the Low Income and Uninsured Populations in New Jersey - Dr Tsui
  • There is no mandate in NJ to have young girls and boys receive the HPV vaccination. 
  • Only 45% of young girls who get TDAP vaccination get the HPV vaccination. 
  • Northern counties of NJ have lower vaccinations rates the the rest of the state. 
  • With programs to assist those without insurance to get health care services has led to young girls 11-12  without insurance to have higher rates of HPV vaccination that those with medicaid or insurance. 
  • The vaccination requires 2 doses ( 2 visits) and many are not returning for 2nd dose. 
 Preventing HPV Associated Cancer Through Vaccination and Screening - Dr Lowy
  • 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers are due to HPV
  • The HPV test detects HPV but many women will not need treatment or develop cancer.
  • It takes years from HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer. 
  • Cervical cancer  develops in women who are HPV + and their  infection does not clear. 
  • Costa Rican study showed level of antibody sufficient from single dose of vaccine ( 7 yrs). Trial of 2 vs 1 dose is ongoing now in Costa Rica.
  • Poor countries use an ascetic acid screening test.   
  • Studies confirm the HPV vaccination is safe. Article reporting dangers of vaccine has been retracted. 
My take away from listening to these HPV focused talks:
We have a foolproof way of preventing cervical cancer - and other HPV cancers ( anal, vaginal, vulvar, throat cancers)
We need to better educate parents on the benefits of the HPV vaccine as a cancer preventer.
We need to better equip pediatricians, PCPs and family physicians with tools to have the conversation regarding the vaccine to insure that young girls and boys are getting vaccinated.

Interested in learning more about HPV ad the vaccine?
Check these resources

Every Day is a Blessing

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another Graduation!

When telling my story on this blog, I tend to put life events in relationship to my cancer diagnosis.

I was first diagnosed right before my son, Matthew, returned to college for his sophomore year.   My husband drove him back to Virginia a few weeks after my surgery. This is one of my favorite photos from when I was in treatment. My daughter drove me to one of his crew meets. 

In the spring of 2008, I was there to see him receive his Bachelor of Arts degree. I wasn't sure back in 2005 that I would be there.

Five months after his graduation in 2008,  I had a recurrence which required another surgery and chemotherapy. Two years later in  2010,  I returned to campus to see him receive his Master of Arts degree.


On May 7th of this year my family celebrated once again. My son received his PhD in History. I was very emotional when I heard them say, " Doctor " as he received his hood.

It is hard to express how grateful I am to all my gyn oncs and nurses who got me to each and every graduation and to my family and friends for their unending support.  Seeing him reach his goal was amazing. And I could not be prouder. 

Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Needs of Women with Ovarian Cancer


As you know, I am the co-founder and co-moderator of the #gyncsm Community on Twitter. Christina and I founded the community in 2013 for those impacted by gynecologic cancers and those who care for them.

In early 2016 we began working with Teresa Hagan Thomas and other researchers to better understand the needs of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer . We discussed those needs during the #gyncsm monthly chat, Re-envisioning Ovarian Cancer Survivorship in April 2016.

I am pleased that on April 26, 2018, "The Needs of Women Treated for Ovarian Cancer: Results From a #gyncsm Twitter Chat" was published  in the The Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Review. We are honored to be involved in this research. 

Follow this link to read the entire article.…/vo…/iss2/3/

Every Day is a Blessing!