University Cancer Care News & Events

This section offers information regarding University Cancer Care events, cancer news and other points of interest to patients and families affected by cancer.

Drug delivery patent may lead to shorter chemotherapy treatments

Two University of Mississippi Medical Center researchers were awarded a patent that could revolutionize how cancer drugs are delivered. The new approach is one that could cut down on the number of chemotherapy treatments required, a measure that could save patients from some of the side effects that come with the aggressive treatment.

Additionally, the change in delivering the drugs could allow treatment for certain cancers that currently aren’t viable for chemotherapy.>>>more

HPV immunization for preteens provides best cancer protection

Vaccinating preteens against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, can help protect them from some cancers as adults, say experts at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. And although girls were the initial focus of the vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, it’s just as important that boys are protected. >>> more  

New procedure helps catch lung cancer earlier

More lung cancer patients could be saved by a new diagnostic procedure available at the University of Mississippi Medical Center that “maps” the body’s airways with GPS-like technology Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (ENB), which debuted at UMMC in February, uses unique catheters that extend to parts of the lung beyond the reach of conventional bronchoscopy, according to Dr. Pierre de Delva, thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of surgery. >>>more

Existing drug may offer hope to some breast cancer patients

A drug used to treat leukemia patients shows promise in fighting triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive subtype often affecting African-American women, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute said.

Scientists found roughly half of more than 800 triple-negative tumor samples they tested exhibited a key protein in the cells’ nuclei. Further experiments proved the drug imatinib mesylate targets that protein and stops the growth process. >>>more

Cancer Institute publishes Community Report

The UMMC Cancer Institute has published its second Community Report, a description of its effors along with those of community members to halt deaths from cancer in Mississippi. >>>more

Seniors donate to further cancer research

The Jackson Preparatory School senior class of 2014 on Thursday donated $14,360.11 to further research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute. >>>more

Fund-raising under way for facility to aid cancer patients

Mississippi’s first American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, planned for construction this year at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, will give cancer patients a cost-free place to stay during treatment.

On a cool morning in late January, Gov. Phil Bryant, ACS representatives, area health-care administrators and supporters gathered on the edge of a stretch of woods along the Medical Center property’s northeast side to make the announcement. >>>more

Cancer Care Breast Services team racing for a cure

University Cancer Care Breast Services is sponsoring a team in the 15th annual Metro Jackson Susan G. Komen​ Race for the Cure on Saturday, April 12, starting at the Old Capitol in Jackson.

Register for the race and join the University Cancer Care Breast Services team.

For more information, contact Deborah Simpson, team captain, at 601-984-5697.  

Unique program trains medical physicists residents

When Alex Nguyen shook hands, gave a brief talk and received his framed certificate for the Medical Physics Residency Training Program in mid-January, he became the second graduate of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s young program.
He also helped propel a training model that’s gaining national attention.

Medical physicists consult, calculate and help execute treatments for cancer patients needing radiation therapy.

The Department of Radiation Oncology in 2011 affiliated with the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, La., agreeing to train medical physics residents. >>>more

Gomez discovers protein that may help in prostate cancer care

Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute recently identified a protein that could help doctors give a clearer prognosis to patients with high-risk prostate cancer. >>>more

Crews retiring from UMMC, ACT center

Dr. Karen Crews, who helped start the ACT Center for Tobacco Treatment, Education and Research and who has headed the Oral Oncology Clinic since it's inception, is retiring. >>>more

Software can help diagnose, measure liver disease

New software by a University of Mississippi Medical Center radiologist that detects liver disease on CT scan images could lead to earlier detection and treatment of cirrhosis in potentially millions of patients. >>>more

Join UCC Breast Services in work to cure breast cancer

University Cancer Care Breast Services is fighting breast cancer through the American Cancer Society’s annual “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk” set for Oct. 26 in Jackson.

The team is seeking participants to walk with them and donations for the team.
Registration for the walk is at 8 a.m. and the walk starts at 9 a.m. from the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol.

Join the University Cancer Care Breast Care Making Strides team. The team hopes to raise $2,000.

For more information, email Team Captain Debbie Simpson.

Shoe donation can help bone marrow transplant unit

Employees in the Division of Hematology's Bone Marrow Transplant Unit are collecting shoes to raise money. >>>more

U.S.News gives University Cancer Care high rankings

UMMC has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a high-performing hospital in several categories on the publication's annual "Best Hospitals" list.

The Medical Center was cited as a high-performing hospital for gynecology, nephrology and urology. For the third year in a row, University Cancer Care also was listed as a high-performing regional cancer hospital.

Dr. Lucio Miele, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute and Ergon Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Radiation Oncology, said UCC's recognition especially is shared by UMMC's entire medical staff.

"Our multidisciplinary teams include medical and radiation oncologists and hematologists - who work primarily with cancer patients - as well as surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and multiple specialists in every field," Miele said. "These teams work together to provide the individualized care our patients need and deserve.

"In the end, a geneticist, a cardiologist, a pulmonologist can be as important in cancer treatment as can a surgeon or oncologist."

For a complete list of rankings, including qualifications for inclusion and other criteria, visit

Soon-to-be dermatology department launches its first residency program

A shortage of dermatologists in Mississippi usually means long waits for would-be patients, who may end up going out of state for care or leaving skin problems untreated.
But a new Department of Dermatology at UMMC, complete with its own residency program, aims to meet that problem head-on by expanding services and training homegrown dermatologists. >>>more

Cancer Institute researchers find compound that can supress prostate cancer tumor growth

A compound in blueberries – pterostilbene – helps keep prostate cancer tumors from growing and spreading in mice, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center reported in a paper published last month. >>>more

UCC team preparing for Komen walk

University Cancer Care breast services and members of the University of Mississippi Medical Center family are gathering a team for Susan G. Komen Central Mississippi Race for the Cure.

The annual fundraiser for cancer education, screening and treatment services is set for Saturday, April 13 at the Old Capitol on State Street in Jackson. In 2012, the Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias affiliate raised more than $267,000 for those activities in Mississippi counties. This year, they’re seeking to raise more.

Events include:

  • The kid’s one-mile fun run/walk at 6 a.m.
  •  The Pink Promise Parade at 8 a.m.
  •  The 10K run at 8:30 a.m.
  •  The adult 5K run/walk at 8:45 a.m.
  •  A breakfast for breast cancer survivors at 6:30 a.m. at the Old Capital Inn.

To join the University Cancer Care team or to contribute to it, email Amy Surmeli or call her at 601-984-2772. You can also visit the Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Race for the Cure team page for more information or to register.

Cancer Care lung team offering low-dose CT screening for lung cancer

University of Mississippi Medical Center physicians on the lung cancer care team are offering a new screening service for older long-term smokers who are at a higher risk for lung cancer. 

Recent studies show low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung screening programs can detect lung cancer earlier in some people. Lung cancer often has few symptoms in its early stages, so this screening, much like mammograms for breast cancer detection, may enable you and your doctors to detect lung cancer earlier and treat it earlier. 

A National Cancer Institute study recently showed that screening with low-dose CT reduced lung cancer deaths by 20 percent among a high risk population. The population studied had a smoking habit of 30 or more pack-years. The research was presented in the New England Journal of Medicine in August, 2011. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in this nation and a leading cause of cancer deaths in Mississippi. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates 1,960 Mississippians will die of it this year. 

In 2009, according to the Mississippi Cancer Registry, 1,918 did die of lung or bronchus cancers. 

Based on the NCI research, the University Cancer Care lung care team is providing this screening to patients who may benefit from it. The NCI study shows the screening is most effective for patients who: 

  • Are 55 to 74 years old. 
  • Are current or former smokers (a former smoker is someone who has stopped smoking within the past 15 years). 
  • Have a smoking history of 30 or more pack-years. A pack year is equivalent to smoking an average of a pack a day for one year. 
  • Have no history of cancer beyond basic skin cancer.

People who meet the criteria should talk to their primary physician about referring them for the low-dose CT screening. Those who do not have a primary physician may refer themselves to this program. 

Screenings are performed at the University Physicians’ offices at Grants Ferry, 101 Lakeland Place, in Flowood, Miss. Screenings cost $150 and payment is due at the time of service. It may not be covered by insurance. 

Each screening includes a low-dose CT scan, a review by a radiologist experienced in detecting lung cancer and a visit with a UMMC pulmonologist. 

The UMMC pulmonologist will discuss the results of your low-dose CT scan with you. If your primary physician referred you, our team also will forward and discuss those results with your physician. If your scan shows any signs of lung cancer, or any other lung conditions, the pulmonologist may suggest you have further tests to confirm or rule out lung cancer or disease. 

For more information or to see if you qualify, please call 601-984-5650 and ask for Diane. A qualified registered nurse, working directly with the lung cancer care team, will make an appointment for you to have a single low-dose CT scan as well as a follow-up visit with the pulmonologist. 

Physicians who are interested in this new screening opportunity for their patients may call 866-UMC-DOCS (866-862-3627).

Christie named SHRP's alumnus of the year

Debbie Christie,director of the Cancer Institute's Department of Cancer Research and Registry, recently received the 2013 School of Health Related Professons' Alumnus of the Year Award.

Dr. Jessica Bailey,interim dean of the School of Health Related Professions, and Sheila Crump, SHRP alumni chapter president, presented the award at the annual alumni dinner March 1 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Christie is a graduate of SHRP's Medical Record Administration Program.

Radiologist receives SAR's best paper award

Dr. Andrew Smith, assistant professor of radiology and director of radiology research, recently received the Best Research Paper Award at the Society of Abdominal Radiology's annual meeting.

Smith's multi-institutional project focused on the outcomes, complications and costs of care associated with the management of cystic kidney cancer.

Smith collaborated on the paper with colleagues at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Wake Forest, his research team in radiology and urology, UMMC Cancer Center staff, and Dr. Xu Zhang and Dr. Michael Griswold of the Center for Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.

The group's work may lead to a multi-institutional prospective clinical trial aimed at reducing complications and costs and changing the management of cystic kidney cancer across the world.

The Society of Abdominal Radiology is an international organization that focuses on advances in diagnosis and intervention in gastrointestinal and genitourinary radiology.

Batson Children's Hospital specialists work wtih outreach clinics in Hattiesburg

Mississippi’s health challenges, including access to medical care, are well documented. The Pediatric Specialty Outreach Clinics, a cooperative new partnership between the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Hattiesburg Clinic, offer a way to meet that challenge.

After months of conversations and visits with the Hattiesburg medical community, Batson Children’s Hospital specialists in hematology-oncology, gastroenterology and neurology have begun seeing established patients and offering outpatient consultations in two separate Hattiesburg Clinic locations: the Children’s Clinic and the Pediatric Clinic. >>>more

Prep juniors donate to cancer research

Anna Grace Buchanan and Cara Lee Crawford fulfilled a purpose fueled by sorrow Jan. 22 when they presented a $12,731.39 check for cancer research.

The Jackson Prep juniors who lost a father and grandfather to cancer organized and held a 5K race to raise the money.

"I'm really, really proud of you and your school for turning a challenge into opportunity," Dr. Lucio Miele, director of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute, said as he accepted the donation. Soon he was explaining the roads researchers here are traveling to try to find a cure.

Buchanan lost her father to pancreatic and liver cancer in June, 2012. Just a few days before the presentation, Crawford lost her grandfather to lung cancer that had metastasized to his liver.

With family, friends, teachers and administrators surrounding them, the pair told their story to Cancer Institute researchers and physicians.

"Anna Grace and I decided we want to give the money to UMMC in hopes a family wouldn't have to go through what we experienced this past year," Crawford said.

Buchanan and Crawford, who have participated in the Global Leadership Institute at Prep, planned, organized and carried out the run, said Cindy Townsend, the Leadership Institute director.

The leadership initiative encourages students to assume leadership roles in their community, state, nation and world, Townsend said. Juniors also are encouraged to develop and carry out a Make A Difference project, she said.

Buchanan said their planning began in May. "I knew I wanted to do something," she said and she knew she wanted to work with Crawford on the project.

They held Pounding the Pavement for a Cure 5K in September at the Flowood YMCA. Some 300 people signed up for the race and many others donated funds.

"There were no large donations, just the race and some donations," said Susan Lindsay, Prep's head of school. "I'm so proud of these girls and what they're sharing today."

Within the framework of three Cancer Institute basic research programs, more than 30 groups of researchers are searching for new drugs to treat cancer, for ways to suppress tumor growth, for ways to target only cancer cells and for the seed or stem cell from which cancer grows.

Find out more about Pounding the Pavement for a Cure

Learn more about UMMC Cancer Institute research.

To donate, contact the UMMC Office of Development, or send a donation to: 

Cancer Research Fund 
UMMC Development Office
2500 N. State St.
Jackson MS 39216


Many seeking cancer cure gather for Cancer Research Day

More than 120 researchers, physicians, medical and doctoral students and community leaders interested in cancer research attended the Cancer Institute’s first Cancer Research Day in November. >>>more

Jingle Bell Jog raises money for Children's Cancer Center

More than 1,000 adults and children registered to help Mississippi children battle cancer through the Jingle Bell Jog 5K and one-mile Fun Run held Dec. 1 in Pearl.

The run, now in its third year, raised thousands of dollars to support Mississippi’s youngest cancer patients at the Children’s Cancer Center, a part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Batson Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Cancer Center is the only center in the state providing comprehensive care for children with cancer or blood-related diseases.

“It was amazing to see so many people coming out to help our children,” said Dr. Gail Megason, the center’s director. Each year, 80 to 90 children seek treatment at the center. Physicians provide follow up care for another 750 to 800 cancer survivors annually.

Almost 700 adults participated in the run or walk and about 100 children participated in the fun run. Many others provided support through the Rally Without Running option.

Dana Cole, a Children’s Cancer Center RN who helped organize the race, said several families of patients formed teams in support of specific patients. The largest teams had 58 and 60 participants respectively. A team from Hazlehurst, with 45 participants, had no patient ties. “They just wanted to support the center which was awesome and very exciting,” she said.

Money raised goes to the Cure Kids Cancer fund at UMMC. Dr. Megason said the funds are used to supply unfunded needs whether that’s helping purchase medications or equipment needed by one child, or equipment that may make treatment more efficient and more comfortable for all the center’s patients. For example, one year the center purchased equipment that helps nurses find veins quickly and accurately. That results in fewer needle sticks.

To see a list of race winners, go to

Donate to the Cure Kid’s Cancer fund.

Breast care team opens follow-up clinic

The University Cancer Care breast care team and patients kicked off a new service in October, a follow-up care clinic geared toward breast cancer survivors.

The clinic, scheduled to be held quarterly, will focus on follow-up visits for women and men who are disease free. University Cancer Care physicians and staff will concentrate on testing to be sure cancer has not returned, on addressing issues cancer survivors face and on celebrating their recovery. 

Since the clinic will focus on survivors, it also will give those women and men a chance to meet others who have traveled their path and perhaps provide a sense of camaraderie and encouragement.

“We hope they’ll see that others have survived this too and are thriving,” said Dr. Barbara Craft, a medical oncologist who heads the University Cancer Care breast care team and who primarily treats breast cancer patients.

Usually survivors attend such clinics for about five years, with more frequent visits at the beginning. Dr. Craft hopes the clinic will help alleviate many concerns, but knows that once someone has cancer, fears can linger.

“It is scary to get a cancer diagnosis,” she said. “It really changes people’s lives. Our hope is we can offer those undergoing treatment now a chance to see those who have survived breast cancer long term and give our care teams a chance to do the same.”

Biochemistry professor's invention increases efficacy of tumor-targeting cancer treatment

A patent that biochemistry professor Dr. Drazen Raucher received last month represents a major accomplishment in his decade-long development of a cancer-fighting therapy. >>>more

Cutting-edge MRI technology enhances radiology department's standard of care

A magnetic resonance imaging machine with twice the power of existing units recently installed in the Department of Radiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center makes scans quicker for patients and gives physicians and researchers superior quality images. >>>more

Life-like reconstruction

In April 2011, Gladstone Jones of Waynesboro had his nose removed by a head and neck surgeon at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Oral Oncology Clinic. But wife Nina was all smiles earlier this month when her husband received a brand new nose.  >>>more

Bone marrow registry seeks perfect match for those with life-threatening conditions

To discover how 22-year-old Jessica Howard got to the bone marrow donor unit this month to give stem cells, rewind four years. Howard visited a blood drive location to gather information and to give blood. Mattie Coburn, a bone marrow donor recruiter at UMMC, was next door recruiting donors. Coburn convinced Howard to sign up for the national registry that day.  >>>more

UMMC experts: Tobacco, alcohol provide greater oropharyngeal cancer risk than HPV

A recent study found that the incidence of a certain type of oral cancer linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) increased by 225 percent from 1988 to 2004 nationwide, highlighting a growing public-health concern over cancer-causing oral infections.

But experts at the University of Mississippi Medical Center say the public should be far more concerned about the use of tobacco and alcohol as risks for oral cancer than with contracting oral HPV. >>>more