Cancer Prevention and Control

Cancer Prevention and Control

Making a difference in the community

The Cancer Prevention and Control program consists of a cohesive and interactive group of investigators focused on reducing cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality across the cancer continuum, from basic bench science to community-engaged research. Within with program is a nexus of expertise in high-risk populations including cancer survivors, permitting us to address our state's unusually high incidence of melanoma and breast cancer, high smoking rates, and underserved communities, including at-risk youth, American Indians (AI), Alaskan Natives (AN), Hispanic, Asian, rural populations and our growing survivor community. Cancer Prevention and Control program members conduct work that spans three major scientific themes:

1. Cancer prevention/risk reduction:To address the complex problems of cancer prevention and control, this focus group works within the translational research paradigm of incorporating human epidemiologic findings to inform mechanistic discovery, followed by controlled human studies. Our researchers work in non-human primates and rodent models to uncover novel mechanisms of increased cancer risk including nicotine mediated dysregulated lung development, genetic predisposition for UV-induced oxidative stress in melanocytes, nutrient regulation of histone deacetylase activity, and COX-2-dependent stromal remodeling in the normal breast, with each of these teams translating to clinical studies. Linkage to our survivorship research focus is direct, as survivors are readily identifiable populations at high risk for secondary cancers.

2. Screening/early detection: Keys to successful population-level cancer prevention and control are screening adoption by target populations and screening technologies capable of distinguishing indolent from aggressive disease. Here, we advance these goals by investigating barriers to screening in underserved populations, advancing best practices, exploring consequences of over diagnosis in screened populations, and developing novel detection methods capable of discriminating lethal from non-lethal disease. Investigators, exploring barriers to cancer screening among our underserved youth (risky behaviors and HIV), rural, Asian, and AI/NA populations, have acquired impactful information regarding population-specific screening barriers and developed culturally-tailored education programs to promote cancer screening uptake. Investigators also lead in the development of national screening recommendations and best practices within the areas of mammography, melanoma, colon and lung. Innovative imaging technologies in computed tomography performance, phone-based apps, and high-end multiplex IHC analyses of the tumor microenvironment strive to discriminate indolent from aggressive disease and directly bridge relationship with the three other research programs. 

3. Survivorship: With a projected doubling of cancer survivors by 2050, the acute and chronic needs of cancer survivors, including the threat of recurrence, remain unknown and unmet. We address this urgent public health need by investigating the impact of cancer and treatment on the quality and quantity of life of cancer survivors and developing targeted strategies and approaches to improve health care and outcomes. We use animal and human models to understand how cancer treatment disrupts neuroendocrine and metabolic function and leads to inflammatory-mediated changes in body composition (i.e, cachexia or obesity), increases in fatigue, and decreased cognition. These mechanisms become targets in clinical trials of rehabilitative interventions for cancer survivors at risk of poor health outcomes. This group has particular expertise in clinical trials that apply exercise as a countermeasure to reduce inflammation and restore energy balance and musculoskeletal health. Investigators also conduct formative research to address the strain of cancer on patients and families, including the difficulty shared by providers, patients and families with decision making at the end of life.

Cancer Prevention and Control program co-leaders
Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D.   Pepper Schedin, Ph.D.
Kerri Winters-Stone Headshot                      Pepper Schedin Headshot