2021 was another unprecedented year, with new challenges for many people, particularly those living with cancer. However, this year also saw phenomenal progress toward our vision for a world without HPV and anal cancer.
In this Year in Review, we reflect on a year of advances in improving outcomes for those affected by anal cancer and HPV. Highlights include a groundbreaking study to screen for anal cancer, the first anal cancer patient conference, the first anal cancer clinical treatment guide, an unforgettable NOMAN race across the sea, and the first European Union commitment to end HPV cancers for all children.
As we build upon these initiatives in 2022, we thank you and all that you do. Your steadfast support has contributed to our ability to serve our community and make great strides to end preventable cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients. We hope you’ll read through our 2021 highlights to learn more about all the progress that your support makes possible.
With Sincere Gratitude,
Justine, Tristan, and Camille Almada
Accelerating Early Diagnosis and Prevention
In critical news for the goal of ending anal cancer, our collaborators at the ANCHOR study have shown that anal cancer can be prevented by routine screening and removal of precancerous cells.
A decade ago, the Anal Cancer Foundation built and led the coalition of organizations that supported and pushed for this research. There are currently no routine national guidelines to screen for and treat anal precancer. Anal cancer incidence and mortality are increasing rapidly and this study was essential to demonstrate that we can prevent anal cancer before it starts.
The large, randomized, controlled trial specifically showed that treating precancerous anal cells can significantly reduce the risk of progression to anal cancer among people living with HIV, the group at highest risk for developing anal cancer. The study was halted early due to the therapy’s high success rates and we expect the results will be published in 2022. Learn more about this groundbreaking trial.
Learn, Connect, Advocate! The First Anal Cancer Patient Conference
Making the most of our virtual world, we convened the first anal cancer patient conference in September. Over 440 thrivers and professionals participated in the virtual conference from 20 countries around the world. Anal Cancer Foundation Co-Founder Justine Almada facilitated the day's events.
Experts including Drs. Joel Palefsky, Cathy Eng, Karyn Goodman, and Paul Romesser spoke about anal cancer causes, treatments, emerging therapies, and how to mitigate the various side effects of chemoradiation. Anal Cancer Thriver and Activist Marcia Cross and Cervivor's Tamika Felder shared their own stories, guiding the audience to use their personal experiences to advance the fight against anal cancer. Thrivers were given the opportunity to ask questions live, as well as connect with each other.
The conference presentations are available on ACF's YouTube page. We look forward to future collaborations to keep the incredible momentum going!
Cultivating Community & Increasing Access to High-Quality Information
ACF seeks to galvanize patients to become active decision makers in their treatment process through our extensive educational resources, informational conferences, peer-to-peer support, and thrivership programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the cancer community and those caring for loved ones. Unfortunately, the anal cancer community has not been immune to this trend. In fact, the demand for our services has never been higher.
Just this year:
- 800+ people participated in our informational forums such as the Anal Cancer Patient Conference and the Pelvic Floor Therapy webinar,
- 120+ anal cancer thrivers and caregivers signed up to be matched through our Peer-to-Peer Support Program,
- 175+ were helped by our patient navigation services, and
- Thousands more gained knowledge through our in-depth treatment, prevention, and side effect guides.
Knowledge is power and we are focused on ensuring that people facing anal cancer have the tools to thrive.
The First Patient Version of Clinical Treatment Guidelines
In coordination with the NCCN, we produced the first anal cancer treatment guidelines for patients — a user-friendly version of the complex medical guide that sets national treatment protocols for anal cancer.
NCCN is a coalition of the leading cancer centers across the United States. They create standard treatment protocols for a range of cancers, including anal cancer.
This new anal cancer treatment guide presents clinical information in an easy-to-read format for people with cancer and those who support them. The creation of this 60-page resource is a critical step to empowering patients with the same information as their doctors, allowing for informed, shared decision-making about their treatment.
NOMAN Campaign: Global Vaccine Advocacy
In December 2019, our NOMAN Campaign launched an initiative in the European Parliament to eliminate HPV Cancers and diseases in Europe. Just 14 months later, we're delighted to report a significant breakthrough in the program.
Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, a roadmap of the EU's public health efforts against cancer, for the first time will dedicate funds to support Member States’ efforts to vaccinate both boys and girls against HPV.
The objective is to vaccinate at least 90% of the EU target population of girls and to significantly increase the vaccination of boys, by 2030.
This is a massive victory and indicative of the growing recognition that one of the greatest opportunities we have to prevent cancer is through gender-neutral HPV vaccination.
Rowing, Riding, and Running to END HPV
The passion of our participants never ceases to amaze us! Athletes took to the Mediterranean for the 5th edition of our Barcelona - Ibiza: Row to End HPV events, pushing themselves to their limits in addition to spreading the word about the connection between HPV and cancer in their communities and beyond.
Additionally, we were grateful to continue our partnership with the Haute Route, lighting up the most beautiful and infamous climbs across Europe in our gold jerseys and ‘END HPV’ socks which were worn with pride by the 300 attendees of the Ventoux event!
And proving that lack of boats or bikes is no impediment to those passionate about ending cancer, our first cohort of runners took on the iconic London Marathon, racing the streets of the capital. We thank all our athletes for their sacrifice and energy as NOMEN!
As we head into 2022, the Anal Cancer Foundation and NOMAN Campaign will continue to advocate for policies that end preventable cancer, improve access to quality cancer care and information, and work alongside stakeholders to ensure that we end the suffering caused by HPV and anal cancer. Our success is not possible without your support and belief in our mission. It's truly an honor to be on this journey with you!