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Take Action to Prevent Cancer: Participate in a Prevention Study


As part of National Cancer Prevention Month in February, experts at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center encourage participation in cancer prevention studies to help researchers learn more about the causes of cancer and how to avoid the disease.

“Prevention studies offer participants the best options for individual care, improving one’s overall health and well-being,” says Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., M.P.H, the recently appointed vice president of M. D. Anderson’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. “These studies also offer the best chance for reducing the number of future cancer cases.”

Cancer prevention studies are designed for people who have not been diagnosed with cancer or for those who have successfully completed cancer treatment. Today’s standard cancer prevention recommendations are the results of research data from past prevention studies.

Hawk predicts prevention studies will begin to focus more on populations with a high risk of developing cancer, such as persons with a family history of cancer (mother, father, brother or sister) as well as those with a personal history of cancer.

“Many underestimate the value of taking proactive measures to address the prevention needs of these high-risk populations,” he says.

High-risk populations are likely to benefit most from taking medications, adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors that may reduce risk or both. Studies involving high-risk populations also can lay the groundwork for follow-up studies addressing those at lower risk of developing cancer.

“Participants of prevention studies are not only proactively taking steps to improve their health, but also generating research results that may increase cancer prevention options for family members and future generations,” Hawk says.

A large percentage of the nation’s cancer prevention trials are taking place at M. D. Anderson. Hawk’s extensive involvement in cancer prevention studies gives him insight into ways to expand and enhance M. D. Anderson’s role in the field.

People who participate in prevention studies at M. D. Anderson may take medicines, vitamins or other supplements, or obtain screening exams that may lower their risks of developing cancer. Some prevention studies may collect demographic, lifestyle, medical and family history information to learn more about the causes of cancer and how to prevent them.

“M. D. Anderson’s leadership is committed to making cancer prevention a clinical reality,” Hawk says. “With this support, we have an exciting future ahead of us.”

The Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences is one the largest cancer prevention programs in the nation. It was established to learn more about the causes of cancer, encourage people to adopt health lifestyle habits that may prevent cancer and develop effective medication that lowers cancer risk.


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