Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Major Areas of Research

Prevention and Screening

A major goal of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program is to evaluate early diagnostic techniques and cancer screening programs and to develop interventions that improve utilization of proven techniques. The Stanford Prevention Research Center is an interdisciplinary research program involving several departments in the School of Medicine. Faculty and staff work with local companies to offer a wide range of health promotion and disease prevention programs for the general public. Prevention research includes the areas of tobacco use; physical activity, diet composition, and energy balance for obesity prevention and weight control; and medical interventions, including menopausal hormone, tamoxifen, and related therapies, chemoprevention, and vaccinations. The Healthy Aging Study is an example of the many projects supported by the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Dr Stephen Fortmann (SPRC) is collaborating with Dr Lisa Henriksen in communications research to study the impact of retail tobacco advertising on adolescent smoking. Drs Fortmann and Henriksen have combined a school-based longitudinal Survey of Teen Opinions about Retail Environments (STORE Study), of approximately 2,100 middle school students at baseline and 12 months, with in-store observations from a census of 53 stores in a California community.

Population Sciences researchers participate in the Cancer Information Service (CIS) partnership program for California, operated by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. This Program has trained staff to identify community groups that are struggling to reduce the burden of cancer and to partner with them to support their efforts. The CIS has identified community needs and organizations that may provide valuable information and contacts to scientists as they develop community interventions to address these same issues.

Dr William Haskell's expertise is invaluable to Cancer Prevention and Control Program members conducting research in physical activity and cancer. His current research focuses on evaluating physical activity assessment tools (e.g. actigraphy units, pedometers, etc) for use in community-based research and in determining effective means to build prevention into clinical settings, such as the evaluation of health promotion programs delivered by nurses in county clinics which serve diverse racial and ethnic populations.

Dr Doug Owens has evaluated the cost effectiveness of novel vaccines, including vaccines for H. pylori where he and colleagues used a Markov decision model to compare different screening strategies using abdominal ultrasonography and alpha-foetoprotein levels. They concluded that screening for hepatocelluar carcinoma is as cost effective as other accepted screening protocols and that biannual alpha-foetoprotein/annual ultrasonography gave the most quality-adjusted life-year gain while still maintaining a cost-effectiveness ratio of less than $50,000/quality-adjusted life-year (Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 19;1159, 2004).

Skin cancer screening in older Americans yields many cancers including melanomas. Dr Susan Swetter and colleagues at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto conducted free skin cancer screening to older individuals without regular access to medical care and with skin cancer risk factors and found that one-half of 374 screened individuals had a positive screen for precancer, emphasizing the utility of targeted skin cancer screening in populations at risk (Prev Med 35:164, 2003). These findings are likely to influence the development of national guidelines and health policy, regarding skin cancer screening.

Dr Sylvia Plevritis is conducting research to quantify the impact of screening and treatment interventions on breast cancer incidence and mortality trends in the United States through a collaborative agreement with the NCI’s Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET). Under a previous CISNET award, her group quantified the relative contributions of screening mammography and multiagent chemotherapy to the recent decline in breast cancer mortality. This study extends that analysis of current breast cancer trends to include the impact of screen-detected DCIS. It will also identify the component of current trends in breast cancer incidence and mortality attributable to the subpopulation at high genetic risk for developing the disease.

This document was last modified: Monday, 27-Jun-2011 13:30:13 PDT

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