Many cancers can be successfully treated, if detected early, and others can be prevented from developing thanks to advances in technology and research. By studying ways to hinder the initiation of malignancy, deter its progression and inhibit its recurrence, the Cancer Prevention and Control Program, led by Patricia Thompson, PhD, aims to ease the burden of cancer and reduce cancer-related illness and deaths.
Program members of the cross-disciplinary Cancer Prevention and Control Program, the largest program at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, conduct leading basic, clinical and population-based research into prevention, early detection, risk stratification and cancer control. Studies focus on risk factors—genetics, lifestyle, such as diet and physical activity levels, and environmental and occupational hazards—as well as identifying new genetic or blood-based markers of increased cancer risk, developing new preventative interventions and evaluating the efficacy and safety of chemoprevention agents in clinical investigations.
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Additionally, through the Cancer Health Disparities Institute and the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention, members of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program are engaged in major efforts to reach underserved populations, reduce their cancer burden and encourage student interest in cancer- related careers. The Cancer Prevention and Control Program has also been the recipient of an R25 grant for training fellows in cancer prevention research. This program currently supports four postdoctoral fellows and has been a major resource for training the next generation of cancer prevention researchers.
Biomarkers: Over the past several years, our breast cancer prevention members have partnered with therapeutic development and imaging program members to develop novel, minimally invasive imaging modalities for application in breast cancer chemoprevention trials. The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the assessment of breast density has provided novel technology in support of three novel agents for the primary and secondary prevention of breast cancer.
Depression: The development or worsening of depression with a diagnosis of cancer has been identified as a major risk factor for poor outcomes in cancer patients. As part of CPC’s focus on the clinical needs of the cancer survivor population (estimated at 14 million in the US as of 2013), Dr. Karen Weihs and her research team are conducting an RO1-funded observational study to identify the major risk factors of depression or worsening depression in a large cohort of breast cancer survivors.
Risk Assessment: Dr. David S. Alberts and the Skin Cancer Program Project research team continue their decades-long progress in the discovery and testing of new technologies and therapeutic strategies for skin cancer prevention. An exciting focus of the group led by Dr. Clara Curiel are advanced imaging modalities for whole skin scanning and mapping for use in patient screening and early detection.