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|Kanzius conference in Erie will boost research|
|Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 4:26 PM|
When President Richard Nixon announced a "war on cancer" in 1971, who could have imagined that part of that offensive would originate in Erie?
Actually, the experts have moved away from war imagery in the language used to describe strategies to prevent, detect, treat and cure cancer. If we had stuck with the war analogy, who wouldn't feel battle fatigue after a four-decade engagement?
Yet we still cheer on those who "fight" cancer, because we know it takes courage and resolve to prepare mentally for the often-harsh treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, that patients undergo after their diagnosis.
We also know that "battle" can be an apt way to describe the barriers that exist to find funding for research that leads to medical breakthroughs.
Last December, health experts weighed in on the success of the "war on cancer" to mark the 40-year anniversary of the National Cancer Act, which Nixon signed on Dec. 23, 1971. One doctor said it was time to rethink the quest to come up with a cancer cure, and to concentrate instead on prevention. Another talked about the spiraling cost of treatments and tallied up the victims who succumbed to cancer because they hadn't been diagnosed soon enough.
What seemed to be missing in that national conversation was a recognition that much progress has been made on the noninvasive treatment invented by the late John Kanzius when he was suffering from an aggressive form of leukemia.
Several new developments, fortunately, promise to bring new attention to work that Kanzius started almost 10 years ago to find a gentler yet effective way to detect and treat cancer. Kanzius, a radio engineer, patented a device that uses external radio-frequencies to target and kill cancer cells.
In April, Kanzius researcher Dr. Steven Curley, an oncologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was honored as one of the recipients of the third annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. "To be named a Disruptive Innovator means that we are causing change," says Mark Neidig Sr., executive director of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation in Erie. Curley received that award in New York City, but many eyes should be on Erie Oct. 26-28 when Curley and the other two lead researchers on the Kanzius device headline a conference sponsored by the foundation, Faces2012. "We're having it in Erie because this is where it all started," says Neidig.
Curley will make a presentation at the conference, as will David Gellar, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Dustin Kruse, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis.
The conference will also give cancer patients, survivors, family members and foundation volunteers and donors a chance to tell their stories. By highlighting advances in research and putting a human face on cancer patients, the conference will provide new ammunition to those determined to wipe out cancer, by war or any other means.