Essex County Cancer Coalition

Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition

Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition logo

After eight years serving as separate coalitions, the Essex and Passaic County Cancer Coalitions united on July 1, 2012 to form the regional two-county Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition, with an enhanced mission and combined meetings.

Information and resources on cancer survivorship during the COVID-19 pandemic

Coalition Activities

Presentation on Local Cancer Control Efforts to the Livingston League of Women Voters, February 15, 2006

The Livingston League of Women Voters invited the Coalition to present at its February meeting. Audience members were very interested in learning more about general cancer risk factors and symptoms, local cancer data and resources, as well as the Coalition and its activities. Members were informed about an upcoming Coalition Health Fair and the Free Oral Cancer Screening in April, and were encouraged to attend and inform their friends, families, and colleagues about the event.

Members asked very thoughtful questions and were interested in the role of genetics, nutrition, and chemicals in the development of cancer. Members suggested the Coalition target faith-based organizations and schools.

The presentation was videotaped by TV-34 (a local public access channel).

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Presentation to the Essex County Library Directors, March 10, 2006

The co-coordinators conducted a brief presentation to the Essex County Library Directors’ March meeting. Coalition fact sheets were distributed and the coordinators proposed collaborative activities with libraries such as promoting health literacy, conducting presentations on cancer risk factors, early detection, and resources available in the County to various library groups, etc. Flyers about the upcoming Coalition Health Fair and Free Oral Cancer Screening were given to each librarian to distribute to patrons at their respective local libraries. The directors seemed very enthusiastic about the health fair and disseminating cancer information resources at their libraries. Many requested the Coalition participate in their towns' health fairs and host presentations/events at their libraries during various Cancer Awareness months.

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Presentation on Oral and Prostate Cancers to the Essex County Police Academy, March 22, 2006

As part of a vision to educate all members of the emergency service community (i.e., police officers, firefighters, etc.) about cancer screening, early detection, and risk factors, Dr. Arnold Rosenheck, an oral cancer specialist and member of the coalition’s Leadership Council, presented to the Essex County Police Academy on behalf of the Coalition. The education program began with a brief overview of the coalition and its priorities, while the main part of the presentation focused on prostate and oral cancer prevention and early detection.

Oral cancer was chosen as an initial topic of focus for the presentation because it is one of the emerging priority cancers in Essex, due to high death rates, and because of the upcoming Free Oral Cancer Screening Day and 1st Essex County Cancer Coalition Health Fair. This was an opportunity to educate and encourage an "at-risk" population, to attend the fair, where they could learn about other cancer prevention and screening, and receive the free oral cancer screening on that day.

With the passage of the Clean Indoor Air bill, it is feared that many people may substitute chewing tobacco for smoking. Therefore, the Coalition deemed it a priority to educate the community about oral cancer. It is envisioned that the Coalition will continue these education events with other priority cancers.

The police chiefs and officers responded well to the messages in the presentation about protecting one's health; they also seemed favorable toward attending the fair and also bringing their families to receive a free oral cancer screening and learn more about cancer.

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1st Essex County Cancer Coalition Health Fair, April 20, 2006

The Coalition sponsored a health fair at New Jersey Dental School’s (NJDS) on April 20th. The health fair was held in conjunction with Oral Cancer Screening Day, which was sponsored by the Oral Cancer Consortium and NJDS. Approximately 150 attendees received free oral cancer screenings, learned about the prevention and early detection of various types of cancers, local cancer resources, and made appointments for cancer screenings through NJCEED.

Coalition member Dr. Arnold Rosenheck was integral in arranging the health fair in conjunction with free oral cancer screening.

Several Coalition members participated in the health fair: CancerCare, The Prostate Net, Essex CEED agencies (UMDNJ S.A.V.E. Women & Men and St. Michaels Medical Center), Newark Cancer Initiative, Sisters’ Network, and NJ Cancer Clinical Trials Connect. The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service’s regional office provided educational materials for distribution.

Media representatives from UMDNJ, the Star Ledger, and Save Latin America (which runs 17 regional Spanish-language newspapers) attended the event.

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Training of Dental Health Professionals on Oral Cancer, May 2013

The Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition sponsored and organized two professional education programs in May 2013 on oral cancer for dental health professionals. Details and summaries of evaluations of each are available via the following links:

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Educational Presentations conducted at Quarterly Essex County Cancer Coalition Meetings

Summaries and PowerPoint slides (and in some cases full audio/video recordings) of presentations given at quarterly meetings later than those listed below appear on our Presentations page.

June 15, 2006

ExCel Breast Cancer Prevention Trial”, Ms. Lee Dolan, Department of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School

Ms. Dolan informed coalition members about the clinical cancer trial, The ExCel Breast Cancer Prevention Trial. ExCel aims to study of the effectiveness of the drug exemestane (Brand Name: Aromasin) in preventing breast cancer. ExCel is a Phase III, double-blind, randomized, multinational study taking place in the U.S., Canada, and Spain. Study investigators aim to enroll a total of 4,500 women.

The ExCel trial is open to women 35 years and older, who are post-menopausal and who are at increased risk for breast cancer. Women participating in the ExCel trial will take a pill with their morning meal everyday for 5 years, after which they will be followed-up. They will fill out questionnaires periodically.

Dr. Norman Lasser from the Department of Medicine at New Jersey Medical School is the Principal Investigator of the ExCel study at NJMS, which is the only site in New Jersey where the ExCel trial is being conducted. So far, 40 women have been enrolled at this site, and NJMS will easily meet its target enrollment of 50 women. Recruitment is being conducted through churches and senior housing centers.

A video about the ExCel trial (targeted towards potential subjects) was shown. Ms. Dolan also distributed brochures and posters about the study.

For more information about the ExCel trial visit

Lung Cancer Circle of Hope, Susan Levin, President

Ms. Levin educated coalition members about her non-profit organization, the Lung Cancer Circle of Hope, whose mission is to eradicate myths surrounding lung cancer and create knowledge and awareness of lung cancer to the general public. The organization is also committed to working closely with public policy makers, to increase research funding and help to shape policy that impacts lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Circle of Hope is conducting educational symposiums entitled “Dispelling the Myths—Dispensing the Facts” throughout the state. Venues include Morristown Hospital (TBA), Princeton University Medical Center (November 6th), and St. Michael’s Medical Center (TBA).

For more information about this organization visit

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March 16, 2006

Chronic Viral Hepatitis: Stemming the Tide of an Urban Epidemic.” presented by Andrew de la Torre, MD, Liver Transplant & Hepatobiliary Surgeon, UMDNJ-NJMS.

Dr. de la Torre educated the coalition members about the emerging epidemic of liver cancer in Essex and Union counties with a focus on chronic Hepatitis B & C viruses and the effects of these viruses on the development of liver cancer.

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September 8, 2005

"An Evaluation of Cancer Educational Materials with a Focus on those Currently Distributed by Health Departments in New Jersey" presented by Stanley H. Weiss, MD.

The study, which was completed in August 2005, sought to determine publication sources, types of cancers addressed, readability and cultural sensitivity of cancer education materials [English & Spanish] that are currently distributed by local health departments in New Jersey.

A Role for Health Care Professionals in the Fight Against Oral Cancer” presented by Arnold Rosenheck, DMD.

Dr. Rosenheck provided overall education on oral cancer, including the disease stages, early detection, risk factors and prevalence, incidence and mortality statistics for oral cancer locally compared to NJ and nationwide. Essex County has the highest mortality rate of oral cancer among all counties in New Jersey. He emphasizes that although the actual numbers of cases represent a small proportion of all cancers, it is a tragedy that anyone at all is dying of this cancer, since it is completely preventable and treatable if detected in the early stages. There needs to be increased awareness of the prevention and early detection of the disease among healthcare providers and the general public as well as access to screenings.

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June 9, 2005

A Community Approach to Cancer Prevention: Making a Difference Through Education” presented by Ana Natale-Pereira, MD, MPH

Dr. Natale-Pereira educated the coalition on colorectal cancer statistics, disparities in and barriers to screening, and community-based interventions with an emphasis on the African American and Hispanic communities in Newark.

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March 16, 2005

“Going to the Barbershop to Fight Prostate Cancer,” presented by Virgil Simons, President of The Prostate Net.

Mr. Simons educated the coalition about prostate cancer disparities in incidence, mortality, survival rate, and stage of diagnosis in minority men (specifically Blacks and Latinos). He described the The Prostate Net's mission, services, & achievements and presented its national initiative, the Barbershop Initiative--mission, rationale, objectives, program elements, incentives, publicity, past success, and future vision. Coalition members attending this meeting gave enthusiastic support for the Initiative and facilitated expansion of the Initiative to include Essex County.

For more information about The Prostate Net’s Barbershop Initiative visit

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Information Services” presented by
Shari Short, MA, Partnership Program Coordinator, NCI Cancer Information Service (CIS), Atlantic Region

Ms. Short informed the coalition about various services of the NCI Cancer Information Services, a national information and education network which provides free public services such as its toll-free helpline (1-800-4-CANCER), LiveHelp, cancer education materials, and information on clinical trials.

For more information visit

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December 8, 2005

"Major Findings from the Essex County Cancer Capacity and Needs Assessment", presented by Azadeh Tasslimi and Punam Parikh, MPH, Essex County Cancer Coalition Co-Coordinators.

Major findings from the Cancer Capacity and Needs Assessment were presented including demographic data and statistics for the seven priority cancers as determined by the NJ Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. There was an emphasis on cervical, oral, and prostate cancers, which are all priorities in Essex. A review of the Coalition's activities to date was also presented. The floor was then opened to all members and a discussion on future directions followed the presentation.

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