Maryland Legislature Told Cancer Deaths Declining, Oral Health Improving
|Members of the University of Maryland,
Baltimore (UMB) faculty were among a
handful of medical professionals who briefed the Maryland legislature
this week on the state of cancer prevention and treatment, and oral
Kevin Cullen, MD (photo far right),
director of the Marlene and Stewart
Center (UMGCC) described for the House Health and Government
Committee some of the reasons why UMGCC has been ranked as one of the
top cancer centers in the nation six years in a row.
An important factor in that success, Cullen explained, has been the
Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF),
which has supported critical
research, such as that performed by Angela
Brodie, PhD. Brodie's
research on the enzyme aromatase has led to the development of a new
class of agents for breast cancer treatment, and three new compounds
approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"We have reduced the recurrence rate in women diagnosed with breast
cancer by 40 percent," Cullen said. Another new drug discovered by
Brodie's team, Galeterone - an androgen receptor antagonist - has great
promise as a treatment for prostate cancer, he added.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore has also successfully leveraged
faculty and researchers' expertise and accomplishment to attract
private support for advances in cancer treatment. Cullen cited
the ongoing construction of the Maryland
Proton Treatment Center.
The $200 million facility at the University
of Maryland BioPark is
entirely privately funded, he told the committee, and will begin
treating patients next year.
Another panelist, Stanley Watkins, MD,
medical oncologist and chair of
State Council on Cancer Control, told committee members
just how far the state has come in preventing cancer deaths. In
1992, he said, Maryland had the highest cancer death rate in the
nation. "By 2013 we were below the national average mortality rate,"
Watkins said, ranking 30th in the nation. "From first to 30th is
an incredible success."
Overall, Marylanders still have a long way to go to achieve healthy
lifestyles that can help prevent cancers and other medical maladies,
according to Courtney Lewis,
director of the Center
Prevention and Control at the Maryland
Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene (DHMH) Although the rate of smoking has declined,
2010 only 34 percent of Marylanders had a healthy weight," she said.
A second panel of experts expressed a positive outlook on the state of
the state's oral health. Seven years ago, 12-year old Prince
George's County resident Deamonte Driver died after an infection from
an abscessed tooth spread to his brain. Driver's family did not
have dental insurance, and he did not receive routine dental care.
Driver only received emergency care a full six weeks after first
complaining of headaches.
"Marylanders' access (to dental care) in the late 1990's was last in
the U.S.," said Harry Goodman, DDS,
MPH, director of the DHMH
Office of Oral Health. "It now surpasses the national
Goodman explained to the committee that DHMH has worked to restructure
the dental public health infrastructure, institute school-based oral
health screenings, create a 'public health dental hygienist' category
to enable dental hygienists working for public health programs to
provide certain services without a dentist first having to see the
patient, initiate a single Medicaid dental vendor, and increase
Norman Tinanoff, DDS, MS, director of the University
School of Dentistry Division of Pediatric Dentistry - expanded on Goodman's
final point. "Restorative (dental) fees were last raised in
2003," he testified. Tinanoff sits on the board of the Maryland
Dental Action Coalition, which advocates raising Medicaid
fees in order to foster better practices. "It's less than a
break-even situation when Maryland dentists are providing care to
children with Medicaid," he said.
|Posting Date: 01/17/2014
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