Fruit and vegetables
U.S. Department of Agriculture | Flickr |

In the midst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, a group of friends in St. Louis started cooking meals in the kitchen of a church. These meals were distributed to seven people they knew who were living with the disease.

That small group of friends quickly grew into a non-profit organization called Food Outreach.  

Today, 28 years after it was founded, Food Outreach provides nutritional counseling and meals to low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS or cancer.

The Witherspoon family

Most of us, at some point, will know someone who is struggling with a life-threatening illness. More than one in three U.S. residents are diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime, and one in nine adults over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

But when a close friend or loved one shares that they have a serious health issue, we’re often left not knowing what to do or what to say.

An international panel of scientists reported this week that glyphosate, the main ingredient used in Monsanto's weed killer Roundup is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

Dr. Heidi Miller, (left) and breast health navigator Cherese Agard work at Family Care Health Center in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood of St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past six years, staffers at Family Care Health Center in St. Louis have doubled the number of women coming in for regular mammograms.

It’s part of a region-wide push for “breast health navigators”: women who reach out to other women who aren’t getting mammograms and frequently don’t have health insurance. Then, they figure out how to get them in the door.

provided by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill

“I very recently learned that I have breast cancer,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced in a statement on Monday.

In a note on her Tumblr page, McCaskill, 62, wrote that her prognosis is good and that she expects a full recovery. The cancer was detected during a routine mammogram, and McCaskill said she will be in St. Louis for three weeks to receive treatment.

Standing from left: U.S. Rodney Davis, John and Kimberly Wade, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Seated: Jacky Wade
Provided by the Wade family

Two sets of parents who lost sons to brain cancer last year were in the House chamber for the State of the Union speech when President Barack Obama announced his “new moonshot” effort to cure cancer.

One family’s pain and grief was well known to millions, the other’s heartache was known to a small, close-knit Illinois community a few miles north of St. Louis, a growing number of supporters on Facebook and their local congressman.

This sculpture outside St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis was built to honor the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, a collaboration between St. Jude and Washington University in St. Louis.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Almost one in every 10 children with cancer was born with an inherited genetic mutation predisposing them to develop the disease, according to a joint study by Washington University and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

The research suggests that genetic screening could provide an important tool for diagnosing cancers earlier and avoiding ineffective treatments.

Washington University in St. Louis

African-American men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than men of any other racial group, but a group of St. Louis-area physicians say that disparity was not considered when a U.S. health regulator decided no longer to recommend annual screening tests, regardless of race.

The Prostate Specific Antigen test, or PSA, is often criticized for its high rate of false-positive results. But Dr. Lannis Hall, a radiation oncologist for Siteman Cancer Center in St. Peters, credits the tests with helping alleviate the stark disparity in survival rates between African-American men and white men. 

Michelle Seeger questions Army Corps health physicist Jonathan Rankins while her sister Julie Pinkston looks on. Seeger grew up near Coldwater Creek and has Stage IV cancer.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6/24/15 after the Corps open house - Area residents packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center last night to find out the bad news about radioactive contamination in North St. Louis County.

At the open house, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed it has found radioactive contamination at three new sites along Coldwater Creek.

They are in St. Cin Park in Hazelwood, Duchesne Park in Florissant, and a property of the St. Louis Archdiocese behind St. Ferdinand cemetery, also in Hazelwood. All the contaminated areas are subject to flooding from the creek.

Alex Heuer

If there is one word to describe Teri Griege it would be ‘resilient.’ She began running marathons in her forties after conquering an alcohol addiction and worked her way up to competing in triathlons including the Ironman.

“It’s a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike [ride] and then the run is a marathon, 26.2 miles,” Griege explained. Her goal was to compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer, Steve Miller, at company headquarters in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When two new drugs for hepatitis C hit the market, they were a game-changer.  

About 95 percent of hepatitis C patients can be cured with either Harvoni or Vikiera Pak, two drug regimens developed by two competing pharmaceutical companies. No longer did patients have to endure the severe side effects of older treatments, which were often taken as weekly injections.

Jenell Wright (front row, in blue) and Meagan Beckermann (second row, in light blue) were among the crowd of more than 100 that gathered to listen to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1/29/15 after the meeting

More than a hundred people packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center East Thursday night to hear the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talk about its cleanup of St. Louis radioactive waste sites.

Dr. Michael Rettig, research technician Stephanie Meier, Dr. Daniel Link, and Dr. Todd Fehniger, in the lab at Barnes Jewish Hospital.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers at Washington University are conducting some of their first human trials for a new cancer drug that would treat one of the most lethal forms of adult leukemia. While standard leukemia treatments involve months of intense chemotherapy, this drug uses a specialized antibody to help the body’s own immune system learn how to fight back.

The "plume" of TCE-contaminated groundwater in Elmwood Park is shown in light blue in the top left of this map.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

After years of concern, residents of Elmwood Park aren't any closer to knowing if they are being harmed by chemical vapors.

In the late 1980s, the industrial chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE, was first detected in groundwater under the North St. Louis County neighborhood. The contamination came from spills at the nearby Missouri Metals Shaping Company.

St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness president Lisa Sienkiewicz stands next to the Kiener Fountain in downtown St. Louis, which has been dyed teal in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

To kick off National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, local organizers dyed the water in the Kiener Plaza Fountain in downtown St. Louis teal -- the trademark color of the awareness campaign.

Sometimes called the ‘silent killer,’ ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognize before it’s in an advanced stage.

The rate of survival is low: 20,593 American women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. 14,346 women died, according to the Center for Disease Control. But treatments are most effective when the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages.

In Jan. 2014, an online survey had collected 1,242 reports of cancer from current and former residents of the neighborhoods around Coldwater Creek in North St. Louis County.
Coldwater Creek Facts PowerPoint presentation

New data are adding to concerns that exposure to radioactive waste in Coldwater Creek could be causing cancers and other health problems.

Nuclear waste generated by the Mallinckrodt Company was dumped in North St. Louis County after World War II, contaminating the creek and surrounding areas.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Scientists at the Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine have identified 127 significantly mutated genes that they believe drive the development of cancer. This knowledge has the potential to lay the groundwork for new diagnostic tests and individualized treatment for different types of cancers, says Li Ding, assistant professor of medicine and assistant director at the Genome Institute at Washington University and the paper's senior author.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Samuel Achilefu, professor of radiology at Washington University Optical Radiology Laboratory, is excited about how light, specifically near infrared light, can be used to identify cancers. To demonstrate how infrared light can help surgeons to see and remove tumors, he shows how a laser pointer penetrates deep into human tissue causing it to glow red. Ordinary white light tends to bounce back.

Benjamin Raphael, Brown University

In separate studies both published today, researchers at Washington University mapped the genomes of two types of cancer: endometrial cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia.

Both studies are part of The Cancer Genome Atlas project, an effort funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the genetic basis of 20 major human cancers.

Residents of the area around Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County do not have higher rates of cancers caused by exposure to radiation. That's the finding of a study released today by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

State scientists looked at the incidence of 27 types of cancer in five zip codes near the creek for the period from 1996 to 2004.

National Cancer Institute/Sriram Subramaniam

The American Cancer Society is launching a nationwide study to try to better understand the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to causing cancer.

Adam Procter | flickr

A University of Missouri researcher is one of only a dozen recipients of this year’s National Medal of Science, announced by President Barack Obama Thursday.

Frederick Hawthorne is the director of the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine at MU, and will be receiving the nation’s highest honor for scientists.The University says the Institute “was created largely to facilitate Hawthorne’s research” with the chemical element Boron.  

(National Institutes of Health)

New genetic research on lung cancer may help open the door to more targeted cancer treatments.

A national consortium of scientists has mapped and analyzed genetic mutations in squamous cell carcinoma, a common type of lung cancer.

(National Cancer Institute/Bill Branson)

Saint Louis University is launching a new initiative to try to fight cancer in minorities.

The SLU Center for Cancer Prevention, Research and Outreach will work with community organizations to improve cancer outcomes for African Americans living in North St. Louis City and County.

The initiative will initially focus on breast and prostate cancer.

Scott Supplesa

Pediatric leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. There are about 3,000 new cases in the United States every year, typically in children between the ages of four and six.

With treatment, about three-quarters of affected children are able to beat the disease.

But for those with what’s known as “high risk” leukemia, the odds of survival are much worse.

Washington University pediatric oncologist Dr. Todd Druley has been trying to use genetics to understand why some leukemia is so hard to treat. He spoke with St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra.

(via Flickr/nate steiner)

A new study out of Washington University has found that the 2-1-1 phone information system could be an effective tool to fight cancer in low-income and minority communities.

Across the U.S., people can call 2-1-1 to get help with housing, food, and other social service needs.

(National Cancer Institute)

More than half of cancer cases in the United States could be prevented.

That’s according to a new article published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine by researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University.

St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra spoke with lead author Dr. Graham Colditz about what we know about cancer — and why more isn’t being done to prevent it.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the family of Annette Simpkins of Granite City, Ill., returning her case to the Madison County circuit court for a trial.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

At first glance, the Saint Louis University Cancer Center and the St. Louis Symphony seem to have vastly different missions. One seeks to provide the best care possible following an often devastating diagnosis. The other seeks to spread the beauty of music wherever it can.

But a unique collaboration looks to combine those two missions as often as possible in the region's first comprehensive music therapy program – to the benefit of both organizations and the people they serve.

(National Cancer Institute)

There's more evidence that most men don’t need an annual prostate cancer screening.

Washington University chief urologist Dr. Gerald Andriole has been leading a clinical trial involving more than 75,000 men over the age of 55.

The study has tracked the men for over a decade, to see whether getting an annual prostate-specific antigen, or PSA test, makes someone less likely to die from prostate cancer.