News from the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative | January 2022
Protecting people with cancer during the omicron surge
COVID-19’s staggering spread across Wisconsin is disrupting patient care and pushing our hospitals to their limits.

Record high case numbers are straining hospital capacity, causing widespread repercussions for patients with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Many hospitals are postponing nonessential procedures, limiting visitors, and reporting long emergency room wait times, dangerously low blood supplies, and staffing shortages.

People with cancer and their loved ones should take extra precautions during this time to protect their health. Here is what patients and families need to know:

  • Get your booster shot, if you haven't already. People who get the COVID booster are significantly less likely to need hospitalization, and are less likely to spread the disease to a loved one with a compromised immune system. If you are not vaccinated, schedule your first shot now.

  • People with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer, now can get a fourth vaccine dose five months after their third shot, to improve their immune response. Depending on where you live, you may be able to schedule your fourth dose at your local vaccination site, or you may need to speak with your doctor to learn more.

  • Limit the time you spend with anyone outside your own household, at least until the current wave has subsided.

  • Avoid extra or unnecessary outings and wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask whenever you leave home. N95 and KN95 masks are best at protecting against omicron. A more affordable (and easier to find) alternative may be to wear a surgical mask over a cloth mask.

  • Take extra precautions to avoid injury that may require an emergency room visit, such as walking outdoors on icy pavement.

  • Speak with your doctor about any upcoming procedures, such as a surgery or colonoscopy, in case it needs to be postponed. If you are asked to postpone a cancer screening or diagnostic procedure, make sure to reschedule it as soon as you are able.

  • If you are immunocompromised, ask your doctor if you’re eligible for a preventive treatment designed to help your body prevent or fight COVID-19. (Depending on your region, supply may be limited.)

  • Talk with your doctor before taking any unapproved at-home remedy that claims to prevent or treat COVID infection. Some of these have been shown to cause complications such as organ failure that can lead to cancer treatment being delayed or canceled.

  • Eligible loved ones can consider making a blood donation to help increase supplies. (See below to learn more about Wisconsin's critical blood supply shortage.)

  • If you have a family member currently in the hospital, ask how you can help with smaller tasks so that hospital staff can focus on essential medical care. 

We have entered a critical time. Please help us work together to protect our most vulnerable patients, while reducing the overwhelming pressure currently facing our state's health care system and its workers. Our hospitals are in crisis, and each of us can do our part to help.
Wisconsin's blood supply is dangerously low. Here's how you can help.
Wisconsin hospitals are facing extreme shortages in blood supplies, forcing some hospitals to limit blood transfusions and leaving some patients without the life-saving care they need.

These critically low levels are being driven by the pandemic, which has caused some blood drives to be cancelled or delayed, while others are experiencing historically low donor turnout. Meanwhile, demand for blood is rising, as hospitals and ICUs across Wisconsin are nearing patient capacity.

Our help is needed now.
Here is what individuals, organizations, and communities can do:

Can cancer survivors donate blood?
Cancer can impact whether a person is allowed to give blood.

Some cancer survivors are eligible to donate blood, depending on their cancer type, health history, and whether they're at least one year post-treatment. People in active cancer treatment, people whose cancer has relapsed, and people with a history of certain cancers are not eligible to donate blood.

Cancer survivors can learn more about blood donation eligibility from the American Red Cross, Verywell Health, and the American Cancer Society.
Honor National Blood Donor Month with the 2 in '22 Campaign
In honor of January's National Blood Donor Month, Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin is encouraging Wisconsinites to join the "2 in '22" campaign and pledge to donate blood at least twice in 2022.

Tips for making "Dry January" a success
Many people across Wisconsin are ringing in 2022 by participating in "Dry January," choosing to go alcohol-free for for the first month of the new year.

The WCC's own Noelle LoConte, MD, medical oncologist at UW's Carbone Cancer Center, recently spoke with news outlets across the state, explaining how "Dry January" can be a tool for reducing cancer risk and offering tips to help participants succeed.

Why it matters
We know that alcohol use can increase risk for at least seven types of cancer. And studies have shown sharp increases in alcohol use during the pandemic. Monthlong challenges like "Dry January" can be a helpful tool to reset a person's relationship to alcohol and develop healthier habits.

Tips for success
For patients who are participating in Dry January or for anyone who wants to re-examine their alcohol intake, Dr. LoConte offers the following tips:

  • If and when you drink, try to maintain moderate drinking or less. Moderate drinking is defined as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men.

  • Talk to your physician if you are struggling with alcohol dependence, addiction, or overuse to get resources and support for cutting back or quitting.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink water whenever you are drinking alcohol.

  • Try to regularly replace alcohol with healthier alternative beverages like water, tea, and juice, or try mocktails or non-alcoholic beer.

  • Share your goals with family and friends or on social media, to find support and to help keep yourself accountable.

  • Invite friends or family to join you in Dry January. Or connect with an online community for support and encouragement.

  • Avoid binge drinking, which often can happen if you have recently taken a break from alcohol. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and five or more drinks for men.

Bottom line
“There is still a lot we don’t know about the connections between cancer and alcohol, but we do want people to know there is a connection and to be mindful of how much they’re drinking,” Dr. LoConte said.

“The pandemic has led a lot of people to drink more, and we don’t want to see folks live through a pandemic only to come to us as patients with cancer down the line if we can prevent that.”
Partner Announcements
A short list of funding opportunities, calls for proposals, and other news from our members and partners.

To submit an announcement for an upcoming newsletter, please email us.
New report: Major progress in lung cancer early detection and treatment leads to drop in cancer mortality
Major progress is being made in the fight against lung cancer. While lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death, patients are finally being diagnosed earlier and living longer. This was one of the major findings in Cancer Statistics, 2022, the latest edition of the American Cancer Society’s annual report on cancer rates and trends, just released this week.

Raise awareness during Wisconsin Radon Action Month
January is Radon Action Month! Use this toolkit from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to share social media messages that raise awareness about the health effects of radon and how to fix radon problems.

Radon is an odorless gas that naturally occurs in the ground underneath homes, schools, and other buildings. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among people who have never smoked, and the second-leading cause of lung cancer overall.

Throughout the month of January, you can promote radon awareness by helping people understand what radon is, how to test for it, and how to fix problems.

GW offers tools to promote Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
GW Cancer Control TAP has unveiled a new Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Campaign. This includes data about screening and HPV vaccination, as well as best practices for communicating about cervical cancer with diverse audiences. Use this resource-rich document as you plan your social media campaigns for the rest of the month.

Fall cancer conference will explore the "cost of cancer"
UW Carbone Cancer Center’s annual fall conference for health care professionals, on Friday, November 18, is focusing on the “cost of cancer.” 
Event planners are looking for workshop presenters for a number of topics:
  • Escalating price of cancer therapies
  • Budgeting for indirect costs of cancer care
  • Navigating the cost of long-term survivorship care
  • Cancer and Medicare – what do seniors need to know?
Interested in presenting? Please email Craig Robida at
Free on-demand modules for shared decision making in breast cancer screening
New on-demand Continuing Education (CE) and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) part IV modules are now available on the topic of shared decision making (SDM) for breast cancer screening. The CE and MOC are free to anyone who is interested.

Developed by the Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN), these modules provide a comprehensive overview of SDM for breast cancer screening and provide guidance in how to best utilize SDM methods in clinical practice.

COVID-19 and Cancer
People in active treatment for cancer can be at greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19.

We keep track of articles, studies, and other resources that can inform your work related to COVID-19, vaccine promotion, and the effects on patients with cancer. See below for recent highlights:
Updated vaccine guidance for immunocompromised children (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has published updated guidance for people with cancer based on the latest FDA approvals and surging COVID-19 infection rates.

Do Your Part (Healthy Wisconsin Alliance)
  • This short, powerful video is designed to raise public awareness about the COVID crisis currently facing Wisconsin hospitals, how it is impacting patient care, and the importance of getting fully vaccinated. Designed to be shared across social media channels.

  • A significant proportion of all fully vaccinated adults who died of COVID-19 had at least four risk factors associated with severe outcomes, researchers found. Read the full report from the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

  • An international study looked at patients needing surgery for 15 different types of tumors in 61 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers compared cancer surgery rates in countries with light restrictions and in those with lockdowns. Researchers found that the stricter the government response, the greater the chance that cancer surgeries were delayed (a 0.6% non-operation rate in countries with light restrictions, vs. a 15% non-operation rate in countries with severe lockdowns). It's important that we strengthen systems in order to maintain surgery during public health emergencies, as delaying surgery can impact survival.

  • Patients with cancer are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Researchers examined whether COVID-19 outcomes in cancer patients were associated with geography or region. The authors recommend standardizing guidelines for the care of cancer patients who have COVID-19, to improve outcomes for these vulnerable patients.

  • Vaccination is an essential strategy for protecting vulnerable populations from COVID-19. However, researchers found that patients with cancer who develop breakthrough COVID infections despite full vaccination remain at risk of severe outcomes.

  • Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jasmine Marcelin has spent the last year talking to a lot of people about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Here, she shares what she's learned and how to talk about the vaccine with people who have doubts about getting vaccinated.
Lessons learned from the HPV vaccination learning collaborative
This summary report offers lessons learned from the American Medical Group Association and the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable learning collaborative.

American Cancer Society's report on the status of cancer disparities in the US, 2021
This updated report provides comprehensive and up-to-date US data on disparities in cancer occurrence, major risk factors, and access to and use of preventive measures and screening by sociodemographic characteristics. Also included is a review of programs and resources that have reduced cancer disparities, as well as policy recommendations to further address inequalities. 

State Cancer Scorecards from the National LGBT Cancer Network
Click on any state in this interactive map to view the State Cancer Scorecard, and see how Wisconsin ranks in LGBT-inclusive cancer policies.

Association of Daily Sitting Time and Leisure-Time Physical Activity with Survival Among US Cancer Survivors
Cancer survivors with prolonged daily sitting and little to no physical activity had a far higher chance of death, whether from their cancer or other causes, a cohort study found.

A New Take on Health Guidance for the New Year
Physical activity and healthy eating are important tools for reducing cancer risk. Learn how to talk about health without perpetuating stigma and stereotypes, in this helpful blog post from We Heart Health Literacy.

Find more resources in our Interactive Resource Center.
Pap Tests, HPV, and the Gardasil Vaccine: Separating Myths from Reality

A webinar for community health workers, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
Jan. 18
11 am - 12 pm CST
Community Engagement Spotlight: Azure'De Williams

Get to know Azure’De (DeDe) Williams, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Area Health Education Center (AHEC), and learn more about her work to increase diversity among health professionals and improve health outcomes.

The Community Engagement Spotlight is a monthly virtual series hosted by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Office of Community Engagement (OCE), featuring community partners and the important work they are doing for and with the community. Each session will include time for audience members to engage directly with these amazing individuals during an interactive segment.
Jan. 19
4 - 5 pm CST
Surviving the Journey Through Cervical Cancer

Hosted by the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan’s National Native Network with Indian Health Service Clinical Support Center (Accredited Provider), this webinar will share best practices and resources designed for physicians, nurses, health educators, administrators, and support staff working with American Indian and/or Alaska Native communities.
Jan. 26
2 - 3 pm CST
Share your upcoming events with fellow members.
Are you planning a workshop, webinar, or other event? We can help promote your events in our Member Events Calendar and in future issues of ENGAGE.

To include your event, please send event details to Alex Faust.
Save the Date: 2022 Wisconsin Cancer Summit

If you haven't already marked your calendars, please do so for the 2022 Wisconsin Cancer Summit, Oct. 19-20, 2022, at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison.

Stay tuned for more details!
Coming Soon: Member Survey

In a few weeks, you'll receive our member-wide survey, designed to help us better understand the needs of our members. Your responses will help to guide our future programming, communications, and outreach. Thank you in advance for your help!
Reducing the burden of cancer
for everyone.