About AIDS & Cancer

The letter and articles you will find on this page were written by volunteers of the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation. There are also several websites which should serve as excellent resources for people living with HIV / AIDS and cancer. Many of the sites are more specific to Nassau / Suffolk County but all the sites have some helpful information about living with these illnesses, educational aspects and medical choices, updated daily news reports, support groups, and / or advice on receiving financial assistance. It wasn’t the purpose of this web page to list every website which could help people living with HIV and cancer. However, from the links posted below, many of these sites are connected to other excellent links. The common theme of the volunteer-written articles relate to living with AIDS and cancer in Long Island, New York as well as global news that affect people living with HIV and cancer. Also included on this page is a letter written and faxed to United States Senators Charles E. Schumer; the same letter, different addressee, has been faxed to United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Christopher M. Hahn, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island, the organization which administers the funding from The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006. Thequestion arises: Were our leaders aware that their would be cuts in AIDS services in Nassau / Suffolk County for 2007, and what can be done to restore full funding for AIDS services in Nassau / Suffolk County.

On April 28th 2008, The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Suffolk and Nassau Counties which will restore more than $1 million in Ryan White Funding to Long Island. Previous legislation by the U.S. Department Health and Human Services found Long Island ineligible for vital funding due to technicality. The year long litigation  to restore Long Island’s funding status has brought hope and increased strength for HIV/AIDS patients and those who stand for them. The suit against HHS was led by Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, Congressman Steve Israel, Nassau and Suffolk Health Departments, County Attorney offices and the United Way of Long Island.

Letter to United States Senator Charles E. Schumer(click here to view pdf) 

Downing of Malaysia Airlines: Effects on International HIV/AIDS Research

My name is Richard Brodsky. I am HIV+ since 1997, a brain cancer survivor since 2002 and a marathon runner for life. I’m doing very well on the AIDS medicine and recently my Foundation sponsored a 5K AIDS Cancer Run Walk. The Event was free for people living with HIV or cancer. We had several HIV+ people participating in the walk, but none could run the 5K. The attached article was written by a medical student volunteer. The only thing I can add to this, as a Jew is, we have done a great job of convincing the world that never again can 6,000,000 Jews or any other innocent group be murdered. The math is simple: Currently there are 1,600,000 people dying of AIDS every year. A four-year delay of the cure would mean that Putin and his Russian backed separatists now have more blood on their hands than Hitler. I ask you, was the CURE for AIDS on the plane that crashed? No one can say with 100% certainty whether it was or was not. Dr. Lange died on the flight and he convinced doctors to view AIDS, not as a medical disease, but rather as a medical pandemic. Researchers, please share your research! It’s not about who discovers the CURE, but that the CURE is discovered! In my heart, I believe the CURE was very likely on the plane and if it was, are the Russian government and/or the Russian backed separatists responsible for delaying the CURE and killing millions of HIV/AIDS patients around the world?

-Richard Brodsky

The tragedy of the MH17 airline crash not only extends to the loss of 298 humans lives, but to individuals across the globe. Among the flight’s manifest were about 100 contributors that were planning to attend the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia. It’s incredibly devastating as there was a loss of knowledge and experiences that could impact the progression of research. Only a few names out of the estimated 100 contributors have been confirmed so far: Dr. Joel Lange [mentioned below], Glenn Thomas [World Health Organization media adviser], & Pim de Kuijer [32-year-old activist]. The annual conference is very different from traditional medical gatherings. There is a mixture of scientists, clinicians, human rights activists, patients & public health employees that come together in order to collaborate. These events have helped drive understanding and responses to HIV/AIDS in a short amount of time.

Dr. Joel Lange was a Dutch clinical researcher who focused on HIV therapy. He served as the former president of the International AIDS society. He was also the founding Chairman of PharmAccess Foundation, which advocates the improvement of access to HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries. Dr. Lange played a very active & important role in HIV/AID research. In the mid-1990s, he advocated for the use of combination therapy in the management of HIV/AIDS. This was important as it reduces the development of drug resistance compared to monotherapy! He was an important advocate for providing affordable AIDS medications to African countries. “If we can get cold Coca-Cola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs.” His studies on the offspring of HIV-positive volunteer mothers in Rwanda & Uganda showed a decrease in congenital transmission [1% chance] with antiretroviral drug treatment. It is difficult to quantify Dr. Lange’s contributions. Dr. Lange was a charismatic leader that promoted collaboration among doctors and researchers. Additionally, he helped promote the idea of HIV/AIDS being a medical pandemic and not a disease. It is not a question of who gets the glory for discovering the cure to HIV. The loss of Dr. Lange will have adverse consequences! According to the 2013 UN AIDS report, there were 1.6 million individuals who have died from AIDS. How many more will be affected?

Glenn Thomas was to be part of media launch on July 20th that involved the display of new tools to prevent harm to users of intravenous drugs. He was recognized as an effective communicator on the dependencies between HIV/AIDS & tuberculosis [note: susceptibility to tuberculosis rises dramatically in immunocompromised states].

This current crisis implicates the pro-Russian separatists as responsible for the shooting of this aircraft. More importantly, the likelihood of a direct-link to the Kremlin is being explored by the United States. Vladimir Putin has adamantly denied Russian involvement in this incident. But what other actions can we expect from a country backed in a corner? There are already effective US sanctions placed against Russia, and Europe should join in imposing their own sanctions on Russia. Regardless of the reaction, Putin’s actions have not only affected the loved ones of these 294 individuals, but of the HIV/AIDS community and the international family. Will history prove Putin may have more blood on his hand than history’s vicious leaders? President Obama condensed this notion at a White House news conference: “These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others, and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.”

I make a plea to Putin to do some soul searching and end the crisis in Ukraine.

-By: Sahil Batta, Medical Student

Cancer Patients Living Longer with HIV Medications (Viracept) 

HIV protease inhibitors that have mainly been used to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection have also shown potential as cancer treatments against certain types of cancers. This has been first verified by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The most common HIV protease inhibitors are Nelfinavir (Viracept®), Ritonavir (Norvir®), and Saquinavir (Invirase®). The discovery was a result of experimentation of drugs already on the market. New drug development is very time-consuming and extremely expensive. Existing drugs have passed the majority of safety and regulatory guidelines, which makes for easier to test on patients.

A general mechanism has been proposed to show how these protease inhibitors have anti-cancer activity in non-HIV-associated human cancer cells. The underlying mechanism of the anti-tumor effect involves the stimulation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response (ESR), which is shown by an increase of two ESR markers. The induction of ESR is important because it sensitizes the cell for cell death. There is an accumulation of misfolded proteins, which indicates proteasome inhibition. These factors lead the cell to apoptosis, or programmed cell death (removal of old or damaged cells). Nelfinavir and Saquinavir were the most potent of the HIV protease inhibitors being examined. Non-apoptopic cell death also involves the stimulation of the endoplasmic reticulm, which can lead to the a normal process of self-digestion, known as autophagy.

In one study, Nelfinavir and Saquinavir were shown to be more potent than the other HIV protease inhibitors examined. They each had similar abilities to prevent tumor growth, and induce programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which is a normal process that rids the body of old or damaged cells. The molecular structures of these two drugs share a trait that is not found in the other drugs that were tested, and the researchers speculate that this trait might provide an explanation for the relatively higher potency of these two drugs. Nelfinavir was the most effective of all the protease inhibitors tested, and was able to cause two different types of cancer cell death—apoptosis and non-apoptotic cell death. ER stress and autophagy are very important cellular processes that are currently being investigated in cancer research. Impaired autophagy (unable to recycle or destroy older cells) often leads to development of cancer.

The specific mechanism behind these HIV protease inhibitors is widely debated. The team that initiated the research found that HIV protease inhibitors were effective because they inhibited the activation of a protein referred to as Akt. This protein has been involved with the development of many types of cancer.

One research group found that Nelfinavir was effective at slowing the growth of breast cancer tumors involving the HER2 protein. HER2-positive breast cancer comprises nearly 30% of all breast cancers, and it is less responsive to traditional hormone treatments. Nelfinavir successfully inhibited growth of tumors that had become resistant to the commonly used breast cancer drugs lapatinib and trastuzumab. Further experimentation showed that Nelfinavir’s mechanism of action involved the HSP90 protein, which also binds to HER2. Experimentation on pituitary adenomas by researchers showed that HIV protease inhibitors could overcome the high secretory activity and stabilize the cancer cells for radiation therapy.

Another research group found that HIV protease inhibitors were useful to sensitize drug-resistant cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents and radiation therapy. Addtionally, they can be used as single agents on drug-resistant cancer cells. Ovarian cancer cells were treated with clinically applied Nelfinavir, which induced cell death (apoptosis). Nelfinavir was found to have changed the morphology of the ovarian cancer cells, which resulted in large vacuoles derived from the ER (stress) and induction of the unfolded protein response.

Lastly, Nelfinavir has been tested on patients with glioblastoma and oligodendroglioma, which accounts for the majority of primary brain tumors. The treatment strategies for this disease have not changed drastically for many years as it usually requires surgical intervention followed by radiotherapy. The addition of Nelfinavir can help sensitize the cancer cells to additional medications or radiation therapy, as well as inhibit the growth of the tumor. The modulation of the Akt protein can help down-regulate angiogenesis, which is often necessary for tumor growth.

Nelfinavir has been used in experimental trials to determine how much of the drug can be tolerated by cancer patients and to better understand how it behaves and reacts in the human body. The process of finding new functions for already approved drugs is called repositioning. Repositioning takes advantage of existing data on toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and potential side effects. Additionally, this process can better complement new drug development by reducing risks and costs. Nelfinavir is still undergoing experimentation as a potent anti-cancer drug or supplement. Difficulties stem from the lack of a specific molecular mechanism for the drug, as well as other side effects. However, researchers have indicated their optimism for the drug as it has a pronounced and versatile effect on various forms of cancer.


Gills JJ, LoPiccolo J, Tsurutani J, Shoemaker RH, Best CJM, Abu-Asab MS, Borojerdi J, Warfel NA, Gardner ER, Danish M, Hollander MC, Kawabata S, Tsokos M, Figg WD, Steeg PS, and Dennis PA. Nelfinavir, a lead HIV protease inhibitor, is a broad spectrum, anticancer agent that induces ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Clin Can. Res. Vol. 13, No. 17. September 1, 2007.

J. S. Shim, R. Rao, K. Beebe, L. Neckers, I. Han, R. Nahta, J. O. Liu. Selective Inhibition of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Cells by the HIV Protease Inhibitor Nelfinavir. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2012; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs396

Joong Sup Shim, Rajini Rao, Kristin Beebe, Len Neckers, Inkyu Han, Rita Nahta, and Jun O. Liu. Selective Inhibition of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Cells by the HIV Protease Inhibitor Nelfinavir. J Natl Cancer Inst, October 5, 2012 DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs39

Brüning A, Burger P, Vogel M, Rahmeh M, Gingelmaiers A, Friese K, Lenhard M, Burges A. Nelfinavir induces the unfolded protein response in ovarian cancer cells, resulting in ER vacuolization, cell cycle retardation and apoptosis. Cancer Biol Ther. 2009 Feb;8(3):226-32. Epub 2009 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 19106637.

Xie L, Evangelidis T, Xie L, Bourne PE. Drug discovery using chemical systems biology: weak inhibition of multiple kinases may contribute to the anti-cancer effect of nelfinavir. PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Apr;7(4):e1002037. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002037. Epub 2011 Apr 28. PubMed PMID: 21552547; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3084228.

Gills JJ, Lopiccolo J, Tsurutani J, Shoemaker RH, Best CJ, Abu-Asab MS, Borojerdi J, Warfel NA, Gardner ER, Danish M, Hollander MC, Kawabata S, Tsokos M, Figg WD, Steeg PS, Dennis PA. Nelfinavir, A lead HIV protease inhibitor, is a broad-spectrum, anticancer agent that induces endoplasmic reticulum stress, autophagy, and apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Sep 1; 13(17):5183-94.

Bernstein WB, Dennis PA. Repositioning HIV protease inhibitors as cancer therapeutics. Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2008 Nov; 3(6):666-75.

Clinical Trials (examples):

Study With Nelfinavir and Combined Radiochemotherapy for Glioblastoma: http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00694837

Evaluation of Nelfinavir and Chemoradiation for Pancreatic Cancer: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01086332

Study With Nelfinavir and Combined Radiochemotherapy for Glioblastoma: http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00694837

AIDS Articles

OraQuick In-Home HIV test:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new HIV test that makes it possible for Americans to determine the presence of antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2). Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the HIV virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that nearly 1.2 million individuals in the United States are living with the HIV infection. Approximately 20% of these individuals are not aware of their infection. Also, there are an additional 50,000 new HIV infections per year, which are often transmitted from people unaware of their HIV status. An important factor in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV involves knowing your status. The availability of an over-the-counter (OTC) home-use HIV test kit allows for another option for individuals to get tested and treated effectively.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV test is designed to test a sample of oral fluid from the upper and lower gums. The individual is required to swab their gums and place the sample into the developer vial that comes with the test. The test takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes to come back with an accurate result. A positive or negative result is not absolute. A positive result should be translated as a crucial signal for additional testing done in a medical setting to confirm the test result. Likewise, a negative test result does not fully exclude the possibility of an HIV infection. The FDA particularly mentioned that exposure to HIV within the previous three months cannot be accurately excluded with a negative test result. There is an estimated one false negative result for every 12 test results in HIV-infected individuals. One false positive would be expected out of every 5,000 test results in individuals unaffected by HIV. This rapid HIV test has the potential to identify a significant amount of previously undiagnosed HIV infections, which are especially prominent among those unlikely to undergo standard screening methods.

Orasure has planned to launch this test in October and through retailers like CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. Online pharmacies will also be licensed to sell Orasure products. The test was marketed to health professionals at the cost of $17.50 per test. Orasure expects the consumer version to be of much higher cost. CEO Doug Michels also noted that additional costs will help pay for the toll-free calling center to provide counseling and medical referrals to test users.

Alongside the manufacturing of the OraQuick In-Home HIV test, OraSure Technologies will also provide a 24/7 consumer support center that will be available by phone. The support center would be a primary method of educating users about HIV/AIDS, the proper procedure for administering the test, and additional guidance, which are dependent on the results obtained by the consumer. Additionally, all phone operators will be highly trained, as well as bilingual. This further facilitates and helps users of this rapid home test. It is a big step forward in combating the spread of HIV, as well as providing both exceptional awareness and guidance for those affected. Doctors have called the test a new step forward and one that could help end the reign of this nearly 30 –year-old epidemic.

-Sahil Batta, August, 2012

Breakthrough in HIV / AIDS Research:

An effective vaccine against the AIDS virus is much closer to becoming a possibility, as researchers have discovered a pair of naturally occurring antibodies. These antibodies have been reported to kill approximately 90% of all HIV strains, and are known as VROC1 and VROC2. This is considered a potential breakthrough for the advancement of HIV vaccine design. Currently, the best antibodies, which are immune system proteins that fight infections, approximately block 30% of all HIV strains.

The antibodies were collected from a 60-year old gay man, who has been HIV positive for 20 years.  The research was conducted at the National Institutes of Health, under the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Gary Nabel was the leader of the research conducted.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS by changing the protein composition on the surface of cells. This allows it to continue to infect cells throughout the body, avoiding the immune system and many of the drugs that attempt to stop its infection.

This new pair of antibodies binds a spike on the surface of the virus, which happens to interact with a receptor named the CD4 binding site. When the antibody binds to the surface of the spike, the virus cannot enter the cell. Since the virus also uses the CD4 binding site to enter into the cell, it can’t tolerate any mutations in the spike. The spike’s composition is relatively constant in all strains of the HIV virus, explaining the effectiveness and versatile nature of these newly found antibodies. By understanding the mechanism in which antibodies effectively blocked the HIV virus, researchers were able to produce an artificial spike to emulate where the antibodies attacked, in order to synthesize more antibodies.

Researchers are hoping to progress research by conducting animal studies, and hopefully, as it becomes more refined, human testing. The possibilities of this drug can result in a standalone medication, a gel applied before intercourse, or as a stimulant to produce antibodies before infection. Although the discovery was ground breaking, researchers do believe that it will take some time before this research is converted into a fully fledged vaccine. The hope it garners, however, will, optimistically, be converted into the goals of researchers and victims alike.

-Sahil Batta, July 15, 2010

Reality of HIV on Long Island:

While scientists avidly search for a cure for AIDS, we must educate ourselves of its wrath on our world.  Every day there are 7,397 newly reported HIV cases.  Every day 5,480 lives are lost due to AIDS.  Every day 1,013 children, under the age of 15, are diagnosed with HIV.  Often times when we hear stories of the epidemic in far off lands, we view it as merely a Grimm fairy tale. 

This disease has been racing across our very own nation for over two decades and is gaining speed.  The United Way states that every nine and a half minutes, another person becomes infected with HIV in America.  41% of all newly reported HIV cases in America are from ages 13-29.  Every single hour two people inside the 13-24 age group contracts HIV.  With increasing sexual activity and drug usage in this age range, they are at the greatest risk.

New York State is the number one state for people infected with HIV, while neighboring state, New Jersey, resides in the top five.  It may be raging in Manhattan, where according to the Long Island Association for AIDS Care, you are three times more likely to contract HIV than anywhere else, but it also is growing rapidly in America’s seemingly safe suburbia. 

As of 2006, in combined Nassau and Suffolk counties, there were 2,032 reported people living with HIV, and 3,644 reported people living with AIDS.   Long Island has more reported cases than any other American suburb.  According to United Way, Long Island has more reported cases than 26 separate states. 

These are only reported cases.  There are an estimated 21% of people who are HIV positive who remain unaware because they are asymptomatic.  That is an estimated 250,000 people in our country that do not realize that they are HIV positive.  Symptoms may not show anywhere from 16 months up to 15 years.  These carriers look fine, feel fine, and carry on about their normal lives without any idea that they are HIV positive.  From the first day you contract HIV, it can take three months for the antibodies to build up enough to be detected.

The sooner you find out that you are HIV positive, the sooner you can get information on getting medicated.  Everytime you go to the doctor, throw in an HIV test, regardless of your lifestyle.  If you have unprotected sex or are an intravenous drug user, you should be tested every three months, as you are at the greatest risk.  There are measures that you can take to lower your risks.  Roger Miller, from the Nassau County Health Department states, “We always encourage abstinence first of all.  If you’re going to be sexually active, we advise people to limit their number of partners, and to use condoms everytime.” 

There is no location, class, age, or race that is safe from this disease.  This disease is not biased.  You are most at risk if you are an intravenous drug user or sexually active in any way.  Yes, HIV defines oral sex as sexual activity.  It can attack whether you are African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, gay, bisexual, straight, a president, a farmer, a secretary, 14, 37, or 62.

-Bobbi Craig, April 2009

AIDS: Local, National, and Global Perspectives

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS, is a collection of infections and symptoms that result from damage the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does to the immune system.By breaking down the acronym, one can better understand the effect of the disease.Acquired means that it is not a hereditary disease, but one that develops later from a “disease causing agent” (HIV).ImmunoDeficiency means that AIDS weakens the immune system.Syndrome refers to the fact that the disease is characterized by a group of symptoms.For AIDS, this can mean “the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person’s immune system.”1

There is a difference between being HIV positive, and having AIDS.A definition from the University of Illinois states that “a person is said to be HIV positive if that person is infected with the virus HIV. The person may not be sick at all. A person is said to have AIDS if the person is infected with HIV and has certain signs and symptoms of the disease. In short, HIV is the virus, and AIDS is the disease that it causes.”2


While there are drug medications that slow the progression of HIV into AIDS, and some medication to mitigate the symptoms associated with AIDS, there is currently no cure for the disease.Further, these medications have not been comprehensively introduced in the countries hit hardest by AIDS (primarily due to a lack of financial resources in these countries).3 


However, it is not just foreign countries that are suffering.The devastating effects of AIDS can be seen as locally as Long Island, New York, and as broadly as in the United States, Africa, and the world. Data from Long Island, NY has stated that “at least 5,000 people are living with AIDS on Long Island and, 15,000 are HIV-positive.” 4In 1993, Long Island became the first suburb in the US to qualify for financing through the “Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, a Federal program that has funneled more than $2 million to Nassau and Suffolk Counties for transportation, clinics, food and dental programs for people with AIDS.” 5At this time, the NY times claimed that Long Island had the highest suburban rate of the disease in the nation.The reported number of people living with AIDS in Long Island has decreased significantly (in part to better methods of data collection), as a United Way article estimates the number of people living with AIDS in Long Island at 3,200 for the year 2007. 8 

In the United States, AIDS effects thousands of individuals, their families, and their friends ever year.According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005, there were 40,608 reported diagnoses of AIDS in the US, anda cumulative total of diagnoses of AIDS in the US was 952,629 individuals.Unfortunately, this disease claimed the lives of 16,316 adults and adolescents, and 7 children under the age of 13 in 2005.The cumulative number of deaths caused by AIDS in the US was estimated at 525,442 adults and adolescents, and 4,865 children under age 13. 6


 The general public tends to associate AIDS with Africa.Unfortunately, the statistics for that continent are truly devastating.The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS released an epidemic update in 2007.They found that the Sub-Saharan section of Africa remains the region most affected in the world by AIDS.“Some 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2007, bringing to 22.5 million the total number of people living with the virus.”South Africa is hit especially hard, as a staggering 15% of the adult population in eight South African countries carried the HIV virus in the year 2005.The number of people affected seems almost too high to believe, yet there is some hope that the relief work done in Africa is having a positive effect.According to the UN release, “like most of the countries in Southern, East and West Africa adult HIV prevalence is either stable or has started to decline.”7

The UN release also provided a global perspective, claiming that the total number of cases of AIDS in the world is approximately 33.2 million people. 7This number is a reduction of 6.3 million people from the previous report, largely due to “improved and expanded surveillance, data collection, and methodologies, which have allowed UNAIDS and WHO to present a more detailed and accurate picture of the global AIDS epidemic.” 7 As scientific interest in studying AIDS and epidemiology increases, there has been an increased focus on accuracy in these estimations about AIDS prevalence.While the report notes that the percentage of new cases of AIDS per year has largely remained stagnant, it also demands that we understand that this in no way means that the problem is under control.In 2007, 2.1 million people died as a result of AIDS. 7

Statistics alone do not tell the full story.They merely provide the context for us to understand how monstrous a problem AIDS really is.At local, national, and global levels, we can see how AIDS is a merciless disease.


-Philip Cawkwell










HIV websites


Long Island Association for AIDS Care







Cancer Article

Understanding the General Components of Brain Cancer

By: Grace Giammona

March 8, 2008

Each year, approximately 140,000-190,000 people[2,4] are diagnosed with brain cancer in the United States.This does not include those who have been diagnosed with having a benign (noncancerous) tumor – a slowly growing tumor; the aforementioned statistic strictly measures the amount of malignant tumor cases there currently are in the United States, including both primary and metastatic (also referred to as secondary) tumors.

Primary tumors develop within the brain, – 40,000 cases of brain cancer diagnoses each year[2,11] – whereas metastatic tumors are traveling cancer cells originating from another part of the body[5,6,8,9,10,11,12].

Scientists have concluded that radiation to the brain, immune deficiencies, diet, exposure to vinyl chloride, and genetics[1,4,10] are all risk factors that may cause cancerous tumors in the brain.Such inherited diseases that are associated with brain cancer are:

“Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 (pituitary adenoma),

Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (brain and spinal cord tumors),

Retinoblastoma (malignant retinal glioma),

Tuberous Sclerosis (primary brain tumors),

and Von Hippel-Lindau Disease (retinal tumor, CNS tumors)”[10].

Also, please note, the colorless gas, vinyl chloride is a major component in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which makes plastic products such as “pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials”[3].

Dependent on where the tumor forms, there are a number of varying symptoms.When the frontal lobe portion of the brain is obstructed by a mass, one may experience “behavioral and emotional changes, impaired judgment, impaired sense of smell, memory loss, paralysis on one side of the body (hemiplegia), reduced mental capacity…[and] vision loss and inflammation of the optic nerve (papilledema)….”The parietal lobe effects speech, writing ability, recognition, spatial differentiation, and may cause seizures.The occipital lobe impairs vision and may also cause seizures.If the tumor grows in the temporal lobe, symptoms will not be evident, or asymptomatic.If the tumor should develop in the brainstem, similar to those symptoms of the frontal lobe obstruction will occur: “behavioral and emotional changes” may be experienced, along with “difficulty in speaking or swallowing, drowsiness, [morning] headaches…hearing loss, muscle weakness on one side of the face [or body]…uncoordinated gait, vision loss…[and] vomiting”[10].

Tumors are measured on a grade scale, measuring on a 1-4 gradient, with 1 growing slowly and 4 having an extremely aggressive growth rate.To be able to detect the tumor and measure the growth rate, scientists use CT (computed tomography) Scans or CAT Scans, where dye is either injected or digested and x-rays are taken to highlight the foreign body.Another common detector is the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), where magnetic and radio waves create a 3-D image of the brain on a computer[4,5].

As the neurologist may see fit, basing the assessment on the grade of the tumor and the placement on the brain, the tumors are usually treated by one or more of the three suggested treatments: surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.Such treatments may cause severe side effects and it is important to ask the doctor what they may be.

The top five cancer-specialist hospitals are:

 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston;

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York;

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore;

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN;

and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston[7].

There are organizations that focus mainly on raising funds to assist in funding research on brain tumors and to assist people in providing support and information:

American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA);

Brain Tumor Society;

American Cancer Society;

National Cancer Institute (NCI);

National Brain Tumor Foundation (NBTF);

and Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research and Information[9].


1Eyre HJ, Lange DP, Morris LB.2002.Informed Decisions. 2nd ed.Atlanta (GA): American Cancer Society.p. 576-581. 2http://www.abta.org/siteFiles/SitePages/ 3http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts20.html#bookmark02 4http://www.braintumor.org/upload/contents/330/GuideFINAL2007.pdf 5http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/brain/ 6http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Cancertype/Brainsecondary/ 7http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/best-hospitals/ 8http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_cancer/page4.htm 9http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brainandspinaltumors/ 10http://www.oncologychannel.com/braincancer/index.shtml 11http://www.tbts.org/itemDetail.asp 

12 http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/b/brain_cancer/subtypes.htm

Cancer websites

















Dr. William Tan




One thought on “About AIDS & Cancer

  1. I found the article on “Reality of HIV on Long Island” very informative. I know that HIV is an ubiquitous problem, but I did not realize the proportions of the issue here in the states. This is something that should be brought front-page! Thank you Bobbi Craig. Bless you all of the volunteers of the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation for bringing this to light!

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