|Interview with Dr. Sanya Springfield, NCI|
Bill Schmalfeldt: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, this is NIH Research Radio.
Welcome to episode 24 of NIH Research Radio with news about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health, the nation's medical research agency. I'm your host, Bill Schmalfeldt. Coming up on this edition, I'll sit down for a chat with Doctor Sanya Springfield, Director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities and Chief of the Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Branch. We'll talk about the new human papilloma virus vaccine and other issues.
Wally Akinso will tell us about the National Center for Research Resources, announcing that it will provide nearly 11.5 million dollars to fund 11 science education partnership awards across the nation. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is launching a campaign to increase awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We'll tell you about it. But first, why aren't older Americans discussing their use of complementary and alternative medicine with their doctors? We'll look into that question coming up next on NIH Research Radio.
Maybe you've heard of tai chi, an ancient form of Chinese exercise. The National Institutes of Health is conducting a clinical research study to see if tai chi improves physical fitness and well being for cancer survivors in the Washington, D.C. metro area. If that's you and you're between the ages of 18 and 60 and your last treatment was two or more years ago, call 866-999-1116 or log on to clinicaltrials.gov. The NIH is a nonprofit government agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
More and more folks aged 50 and older are using complementary and alternative medicines, such as herbal supplements, mediation and acupuncture in their day-to-day lives. Yet 69 percent of these people do not talk to their doctors about such use, according to a new survey conducted by AARP and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCAM Deputy Director Doctor Margaret Chesney explains why this is.
Dr. Margaret Chesney: Well, the primary reason that people are not telling their providers is that the providers don't ask. That's what 42 percent of the people have told us. Another main reason is that people don't realize that they should and that it's really important for providers to know. Other reasons are, people said, gee, there wasn't enough time. Or they didn't think that their doctor or their provider would know about integrative medicine or complementary medicine. And actually, there's a small number of people who said they were afraid that their doctor would be dismissive or even say, I don't want you to do that.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Dr. Chesney said there needs to be an open dialogue between providers and patients. After all, the healthcare professional works for the patient and needs as much information as he or she can get on the patient in order to provide proper treatment.
Dr. Margaret Chesney: They really need to know what is happening in the lives of their patients in every way. And a big part of that is what people are taking in terms of complementary and alternative medicines and herbal medicines. Over-the-counter medicines: are people taking a lot of NyQuil can be a sign, an indication of things. They need to ask and they need to know and that's an important part of being able to then work as a partner with their patients. It really is a partnership and to be able to advise patients on the best course of action to take for the patient's health.
Bill Schmalfeldt: For more info on this survey, visit nccam.nih.gov.
We're coming to the end of January. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so we're glad to have with us in the studio today, Doctor Sanya Springfield. She's the Acting Director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities and the Chief of Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Branch at the National Cancer Institute. You're a busy lady!
Dr. Sanya Springfield: I'm extremely busy, but let me correct you on that. I'm now the Director of the --
Bill Schmalfeldt: Oh, well --
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Active Director of the --
Bill Schmalfeldt: You scratched the acting --
Dr. Sanya Springfield: -- Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparity.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Yeah. Then we're going to yell at the people who sent this to me.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Well, they don't know yet.
Bill Schmalfeldt: They don't know. Well, congratulations.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Thank you.
Bill Schmalfeldt: You're breaking the news for our podcast listeners.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: I'm breaking the news
Bill Schmalfeldt: Excellent. We've been hearing a lot about the new vaccine for the human papilloma virus. There's commercials for it now on TV, but not the word that the vaccine is now available for this leading cause of cervical cancer.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Yeah. Yes.
Bill Schmalfeldt: And of course, NIH and the NCI have led the way in the research that led to the FDA approval of this vaccine. The word's getting out. What more can we do?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: I think the first thing we do or -- is to have interviews just like this. I mean, I think the media is absolutely paramount in the success of the information that has to get to the communities that are affected by this cervical cancer. So Gardasil really represents a breakthrough in prevention.
Bill Schmalfeldt: That's the vaccine, Gardasil?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: That's the vaccine, Gardasil. And it really represents a breakthrough in prevention, strategies that have never been demonstrated before. So we now have the ability to absolutely prevent cervical cancer. It's important in our populations, and I'm talking about minority populations and underserved populations, because they suffer at a higher rate. They die at a higher rate of cervical cancer.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Now, why is that? Why are so many minority women still dying from this cancer?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: You know, what I attribute it to, is what I call P E D.
Bill Schmalfeldt: P E D.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Prevention and early detection.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Ah.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Unfortunately, our communities are not up-to-date, not involved with their own health issues.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Is it an economic thing? That they don't have health insurance?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Oh yes, it's a multi-factorial thing. Uninsured, information, information for me is knowledge. It's location of where a lot of these populations are. A lot of --
Bill Schmalfeldt: Not everybody can get to a doctor.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: You know, a lot are in rural communities and just don't have transportation to doctors. But of course, I think one of the key factors is education and information dissemination. It's easy now for our young women to, once they become sexually active --
Bill Schmalfeldt: Right.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: To have annual pap tests.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Right.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: And so the word needs to get out, is that if you do these kinds of annual pap tests, that the likelihood of you getting cancer and having it go undetected is low.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Basically a lot of this has to do with just taking ownership of your own health --
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Exactly.
Bill Schmalfeldt: -- and utilizing the services that are available. Talking a little bit more about the vaccine itself. What was all involved in getting this out on the market?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: You know, I think, because of its unique promise, you know the early studies indicated that it was 100 percent preventable, would prevent cervical cancer.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Right.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: So, the FDA went on a fast track
Bill Schmalfeldt: Yeah, I remember that.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: To get this Gardasil out.
Bill Schmalfeldt: And they made it a large point about the fact, that they were putting this on the fast track, which, there was some controversy around it.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Yeah, I think one of the controversies about it is that people may believe, especially young women, young, young girls, may believe that it's an open door to sexual freedom.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Right.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: And so we have to really promote clear, concise, and consistent information to our communities to make them aware of the true nature of this preventive agent.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Now, you see where New Hampshire is thinking about making this vaccine available, free to all young women. Is that something we should do in all 50, do you think?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: I think, I think, it's the beginning of a ground swell in order to do that. As a matter of fact, the District of Columbia, in fact, is trying to make legislation regarding the requirement of young girls to have the vaccine. So I think once people are aware that here's a preventive agent that's available to prevent a cervical cancer that's killing our populations in leaps and bounds. I think once that word gets disseminated to our communities, I think it's important for us to really think about making this a national program.
Bill Schmalfeldt: And of course the NCI and the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities is playing a key role in getting the word out. There's a Web site, I understand.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: Yes, we just launched our new Web site, recently revamped. It's more user-friendly. We have a section for researchers; we have a section for the lay public. We have information for individuals who want to apply for grants that we support through the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. So we're really excited about this new Web site. We know it's important for us to disseminate this information. But we also know that all populations don't have access to the Internet. And let me give you the Web site, by the way. It's crchd.cancer.gov. But for those that don't have access to the Internet, you can go to your local library or community center or church. But we also have another way for individuals who don't have access to the Internet. And that's to call 1-800-4-CANCER.
Bill Schmalfeldt: 1-800-4, the number four, cancer.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: That's correct.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Let's back away from the HPV vaccine for just a moment. And here's a unique opportunity to talk to the vast audience listening to us on the Podcast about your organization, the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. What's all involved?
Dr. Sanya Springfield: The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities has a mission. And that mission, simply stated, is to reduce and ultimately eliminate the disparities that we see in our minority populations, in our underserved populations due to cancer.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Mm-hmm [assent].
Dr. Sanya Springfield: We have multiple strategies to do that. We fund and develop new and innovative community and clinical interventions. We're expanding our research base as it relates to minority investigators, and also patients in clinical trial programs.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Mm-hmm [assent].
Dr. Sanya Springfield: We do this wonderful dissemination again, revamping of our Web site so we have information dissemination to educate these communities about cancer. What's cancer? How do you die from cancer? Is it a death sentence? Is it, you know, can I survive? And more importantly, we coordinate and integrate the comprehensive cancer research programs and projects that are funded across the NCI. So we really represent the focal point for the National Cancer Institute for all of these activities:
Bill Schmalfeldt: For more information again about the human papilloma virus and the Web site you just mentioned, visit the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities's Web site. That's crchd.cancer.gov. Or you can call 800, the number four, cancer. And as always, find out what's going on at the National Cancer Institute, visit www.cancer.gov. Dr. Sanya Springfield, congratulations on removing the acting from your title. She's the Director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities and Chief of the Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Branch at the National Cancer Institute. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us here on NIH Research Radio today.
Dr. Sanya Springfield: It's been my pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Bill Schmalfeldt: Coming up, Wally Akinso will tell us about the National Center for Research Resources, announcing that it will provide nearly 11.5 million dollars to fund 11 science education partnership awards across the nation. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
Want to know more about the important cancer research going on at the National Cancer Institute? Would you like to hear from the experts and ask questions? Then take part in NCI's toll-free teleconference series. All you need is a phone, there's no registration, and it's free. Coming up Tuesday, February 20th from one to two P.M. Eastern, the topic will be the importance of the NCI bypass budget and strategic plan for patient advocates, featuring Ms. Sherri Nichols, Director of the Office of Science Planning and Assessment at the NCI. Call 800-857-6584. The passcode is the word, "budget." For more information about the toll-free teleconference series, call the NCI Office of Liaison Activities at 301-594-3194 or ola.cancer.gov. The NCI toll-free teleconference series. Once again that telephone number, 800-857-6584. The passcode is the word, "budget."
One of the most important missions at the NIH to support science education. Wally Akinso has this story of one such project.
Wally Akinso: The National Center for Research Resources has announced that it will provide nearly 11.5 million dollars to fund 11 science education partnership awards across the nation. These projects, also known by their acronym as SEPA projects, are designed to inform the public about health issues, foster science literacy and encourage students to consider careers in the health sciences. Dr. Tony Beck, program officer for the Division for Clinical Research Resources, at the NCRR, said through mobile laboratories, portable science kits and online activities, these projects will provide hands-on, inquiry based instructions on topics such as cardiovascular risk factors, genetic testing, and diabetes treatment and prevention.
Dr. Tony Beck: There's a SEPA program, it's been around since 1991. We have 72 active programs throughout the U.S., Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. The purpose of this is to create a pipeline for underserved rural kids, for clinical research careers and to educate the general public on what the NIH does.
Wally Akinso: Dr. Beck said that these programs reach out to children in rural and underserved communities by funding K-12 classroom activities as well as science centers and museum exhibits across the country.
Dr. Tony Beck: The SEPA community is a very special community because most of the PI's, the principle investigators, have full-time other careers. They're professors, they're clinicians, they may run a division of a science center or museum, but teaching kids is what they really enjoy. It's very reassuring to be able to see the devotion they have to this general community.
Wally Akinso: Dr. Beck said the awards support the professional development for science teachers, the development and distribution of hands-on science curricula, traveling exhibits and Web sites for students, teachers and the general public. For more information about SEPA, visit www.ncrrsepa.org. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Bill Schmalfeldt: It's the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. One of four Americans over aged 45 suffers from it and chances are you've never heard of it. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, otherwise known as COPD, affects an estimated 12 million Americans who've been diagnosed with it and another estimated 12 million who are believed to have the disease but have not been diagnosed. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in partnership with other agencies in the COPD community, is launching a campaign to increase awareness of this disease, which experts believe will become the third leading cause of death in the United States by 2020. Here's Doctor James Kiley, Director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the NHLBI.
Dr. James Kiley: The goal is to increase awareness and understanding of COPD and its risk factors to underscore the benefits of early detection and treatment. The campaign will have a number of materials: fact sheets for COPD patients and those at risk, reference cards for health professionals, resources for community based organizations; a Web site, radio and print PSAs. There's lots of things that will be made available to the community to get more information about this disease.
Bill Schmalfeldt: In COPD, the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs become partially blocked, making it difficult to breathe. COPD develops slowly and can worsen over time. And it's often characterized by shortness of breath. Other symptoms include constant coughing, sometimes called smoker's cough; excess sputum production, and wheezing. COPD is sometimes referred to emphysema or chronic bronchitis. People over age 45 with a history of smoking are at risk for COPD. In addition to smoking, other environmental exposures like pollutants or secondhand smoke can contribute to the disease. For more information on COPD and the Learn More, Breathe Better Campaign, visit www.learnaboutcopd.org.
And with that, we've come to the end of this episode of NIH Research Radio. Please join us on Friday, February 9, when Episode 25 of NIH Research Radio will be available for download. These stories are also available for MP3 download the NIH Radio News Service Web site, that's www.nih.gov/news/radio/index.htm. Our daily 60-second feature, NIH Health Matters, is heard on nearly 1000 radio stations nationwide as well as XM Satellite Radio and on the Health Star Radio Network.
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