Progress and Promise Against Cancer at the Chicago Tribune’s PRIME Expo

Now in its third year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) hosted its free community event, “Progress and Promise Against Cancer,” on Saturday, April 14, 2018, as part of the AACR Annual Meeting 2018. In partnership with the Chicago Tribune‘s PRIME Expo, Progress and Promise Against Cancer brought together some of the greatest minds in cancer research to educate the public on cancer prevention, interception, and treatment.

Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, who was inaugurated as AACR President during the Annual Meeting, served as the emcee during two sessions bringing together cancer researchers and patient advocates to share their experience and expertise.

The first session focused on prevention and interception, featuring Jaffee, AACR Treasurer William Hait, MD, PhD, FAACR, and Adriana Albini, PhD, member of the AACR Board of Directors. Jaffee, deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, spoke excitedly of the promise of treating cancer with immunotherapy-using the body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells.

During the same panel, Hait, an oncologist, researcher and global head of Johnson & Johnson External Innovation, talked about creating a world where one could age in total freedom from disease. He likened the key to freedom in aging to making a modern car with sensors to indicate when something is about to go wrong. Theoretically, this could allow us to intercept a disease, like cancer, before it starts.

Finally, Albini, a pathologist at Bicocca University in Milan, Italy, and director of the Vascular Biology Lab at the MultiMedica Research Hospital, spoke about the importance of cancer prevention. She described healthy steps that can be taken before and after cancer develops: stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, eat a varied diet, limit alcohol intake, avoid excessive sun exposure, engage in regular physical activity, avoid chronic infections, and follow evidence-based screening guidelines.

The second session focused on breakthroughs in treatment, specifically precision medicine and immunotherapy, featuring Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, a fellow of the AACR Academy and director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago. Olopade called for increased genomic testing before cancer develops and said such testing could guide adoption of strategies to avoid cancer. These strategies could include following tailored screening recommendations, or possibly undergoing treatments like chemoprevention, in which a healthy person is treated with medication to lower the odds of getting cancer.

The session ended with three patient advocates describing their cancer journey and what they’ve learned through their experiences: Ivy Elkins, a stage IV lung cancer survivor active in the LUNGevity Foundation; Candace Henley, a colorectal cancer survivor and Chicago resident who founded the Blue Hat Foundation; and A.J. Brown, a prostate cancer survivor who works with the International Cancer Advocacy Network.

Over 2,500 people attended the Chicago Tribune PRIME Expo event. More than 200 attended the AACR educational sessions, and many more learned about the AACR at its booth in the exhibit area. There, they received information on the Cancer Progress Report, the AACR Foundation, and Cancer Today, a magazine offering information and inspiration for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.