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Public Health & Cancer Awareness

Each month, the UVM Cancer Center shares messages related to a cancer-specific health observance.


Experts believe that up to 50% of cancers can be prevented. That’s because certain daily habits can make us more likely to get cancer. Changing these habits may help prevent cancer.

5 lifestyle changes that may reduce your cancer risk:

  • Quit smoking ( is Vermont's tobacco cessation resource. ). 
  • Make healthy food choices.
  • Get regular checkups & screenings.
  • Stay active.
  • Protect your skin with sun safe behaviors.




March is colorectal cancer awareness month. With regular screening, almost all colorectal cancer can be prevented. If you are 45 or older, please talk to your doctor about screening options. 





Did you know that Vermont has the second highest incident rate of melanoma in the U.S.?
May is skin cancer awareness month and by limiting sun exposure you can reduce your skin cancer risk.
Three Prevention Tips:

  1. Cover up. Wear wide-brimmed hats, sun-protective clothing and sunglasses.
  2. Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or seek shade.
  3. Wear sunscreen, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

Early detection promotes successful treatment, talk to your doctor about your screening options. 

Summer Safety Tips: Find some simple health and safety tips for summertime activities.

Something New Under The Sun: Learn about the signs of melanoma.

9 Things I'd Never Do As A Dermatologist: Summer's coming. How many of these ski 'don'ts' do you do?



Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer. UVM Cancer Center clinical member, Shahid Ahmed, MD, MBBS, a medical oncologist specializes in cancers of the urinary system and the reproductive organs in men and provides an overview of diagnosis and tips to manage treatment side effects in this Healthsource article. 




25th Annual Women's Health and Cancer Conference: View recordings of presentations and panels about surgical options, survivorship, integrative care, palliative care, and breakthrough advances in the research.

Breast Cancer Portfolio: Learn more about the UVM Cancer Center's research, education, community outreach, and clinical care related to breast cancer.

Clinical Trials: See what clinical trials are being offered related to breast cancer.

Genetic Testing for Cancer and Risk Assessment: Learn about the team of clinicians who provide genetic screening and risk assessment.

Screening Guidelines: The American Cancer Society recommends these screening guidelines. 

Breast Cancer Screening: Reach out to your primary care provider or the Breast Care Center if you are due for a screening.

Support Services: There are many resources for patients in treatment or patients who have completed their treatment, including support groups and the popular Steps to Wellness class. 



Lung Cancer Public Health Campaign. The UVM Cancer Center teamed up with Dartmouth Cancer Center and Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer to encourage more Vermonters to get screened for lung cancer. When detected early, local tumors can be removed which increases the patient's survival rate from 24% to 60%.

Learn more about:

  • Guidelines
  • Screening locations in Vermont
  • Eligibility requirements


Lung Cancer Research. Learn more about the Cunniff lab's promising new therapy for mesothelioma and metastatic cancer, which is currently a Phase I clinical trial. 

Clinical Trials: See what clinical trials are being offered related to lung cancer.

New Study Establishes How Cells May Communicate Changes in Their Environment

May 2, 2024 by Katelyn Queen, PhD

Image displays focal adhesions in red, microtubules in green, DNA in blue, and actin in gray

“Watch out, shark!” Your response to someone yelling this while you sit at your office desk would be very different than if you had been swimming in the ocean. Just like we respond to cues based on our environment, so do cells, and cancer cells are particularly good at adjusting to environmental changes. One of these environmental changes is the stiffness of the material that surrounds the cells. This material, the extracellular matrix, is a scaffold of fibrous proteins that is both sturdy enough to provide architectural support and dynamic enough to remodel itself. As tumors grow, the surrounding extracellular matrix remodels, thickens, and stiffens. Cancer cells respond to these environmental changes by growing more rapidly, becoming more mobile and invasive, and increasing defenses to avoid cell death. However, little is known about how cancer cells connect environmental changes to cellular communication in order to thrive in changing environments. 

Now, new work from UVM Cancer Center member, Alan Howe, PhD, highlights a newly identified pathway that connects the properties of the extracellular matrix to signals that control cell mobility/motility. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a better understanding into how cells incorporate changes in physical cues into cellular communication.

Focal adhesions are specialized structures that form a link between the external environment and internal machinery of the cell. Previous work from the Howe lab found that, unexpectedly, the signaling protein PKA is a component of focal adhesions. This new body of work shows that PKA interacts with the protein talin to integrate external cues into internal cellular communication. Talin is a critical component of the mechanical interactions between cells and their environment. This new work highlights how, as cells pull against the extracellular matrix, the tension exerted results in the stretching of talin and subsequent interaction with PKA. This novel integration between the external environment and talin serves as a signaling complex that couples the sensing of external cues with cellular communication.

Future work in the lab will focus on determining how cells control the interaction between PKA and talin, pinpointing which additional proteins PKA interacts with as a result of its affiliation with talin, and determining how changing these interactions affects cell motility and invasion.

This work was made possible through the effort and dedication of Mingu Kang, PhD, a graduate student in the Howe lab. The identification of PKA as a component of focal adhesions was further supported by graduate students Hannah Naughton, Amanda Senatore, and Madeline McTigue. The work was made possible by funding from the National Institutes of Health and a UVM Cancer Center pilot grant.

If you would like to learn more, view the published manuscript here.