The global health community, including such organizations as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, are increasingly talking of a major shift in global health. Non-communicable diseases—diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer—kill more people globally than infectious diseases. In response to this changing landscape and building on the existing infrastructure and long-term stability of IGHID’s flagship global programs, global oncology at UNC has increased dramatically since 2011. IGHID and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are putting faculty expertise in virology and cancer, AIDS-associated malignancies, global cancer prevention, and global clinical trials to work to address the growing worldwide problem of cancer. Find more information about this at Malawi Cancer Consortium.
In developing countries, the lack of surgeons, specialists and access to treatment means that many otherwise treatable cancers are fatal. Satish Gopal, a UNC physician in hematology/oncology and infectious diseases, lives full-time at UNC Project-Malawi and is only one of two oncologists in the entire country of 15 million.
The UNC global cancer program has clinical sites in Brazil, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, India, and China.
There are a number of malignancies associated with HIV/AIDS, especially Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cervical carcinoma, which are all more prevalent in individuals with HIV/AIDS. Because antiretroviral therapy has rendered HIV a chronic, manageable infection with a normal life expectancy, more people are developing AIDS-associated malignancies.
UNC is a clinical site for the National Cancer Institute-sponsored AIDS-associated malignancy consortium (AMC), which conducts clinical trials that enroll HIV-positive individuals with cancer.
In Malawi and Brazil, we are conducting a number of clinical trials around treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma in people living with HIV/AID. In China, an HIV surveillance project in Xinjiang and Guangxi Provinces records all incidences of cancer among the HIV-infected population.
Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment
Closer to home, Jennifer Smith and Noel Brewer in public health are leading an initiative to eradicate cervical cancer in North Carolina. The Cervical Cancer-Free NC initiative is a multi-year project aimed at preventing the disease through vaccination against (HPV) and effective screening for early signs of cervical cancer.
Hematologic malignancies account for almost 10 percent of cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States and other resource-rich settings, patients with diseases such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma have benefited from treatment advances that have resulted in unprecedented rates of long-term cure and control.
Satish Gopal is conducting research into how these diseases can be effectively treated in a resource-limited setting and is leading the effort to set a research agenda to address the growing impact of cancers of the blood in sub-Saharan Africa.
- UMJT Fogarty Global Health Fellowship
- Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship
- Malawi Surgical Residency Program for Malawians
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Gopal S, Wood WA, Lee SJ, Shea TC, Naresh KN, et al. Meeting the challenge of hematologic malignancies in sub-Saharan Africa (Blood, 2012).
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