Cancer Prevention and Control Program

The Cancer Prevention and Control Program (CPC) is a longstanding component of the University of Arizona Cancer Center that is characterized by its highly collaborative, multidisciplinary team science designed to reduce cancer rates and related burden. The scientific goal of the CPC is to develop and implement highly interactive cancer prevention and control research that will lead to progressive reductions in cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. The Cancer Prevention and Control Program is led by H-H. Sherry Chow, PhD, and Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, scientists who work to prevent cancer through research that spans from the laboratory to the clinic to the community.

H-H. Sherry Chow, PhD, is a Research Professor of Medicine in the UA College of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment in the College of Pharmacy, a connection that has supported the longstanding drug development interests of the UACC. A Member of CPC for more than 15 years, Dr. Chow’s research focuses on early phase clinical development of cancer chemopreventive agents and identification of molecular and biochemical biomarkers for risk stratification and efficacy evaluation. 

Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, is a Professor with the Division of Health Promotion Sciences at the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, where she holds joint appointments in the College of Medicine and the Department of Nutritional Sciences. A Member of CPC since 2001 with continuous funding by NIH / NCI since 1998, Dr. Thomson’s research focuses on dietary intervention research, including the implementation of randomized, controlled trials testing bioactive compounds, whole foods, and diet patterns. 

CPC Research Overview

The Program Members’ research focuses on three major themes:

Theme 1.  Cancer Epidemiology – Identify biological, environmental, and lifestyle factors, as well as gene-environment interactions associated with cancer risk, morbidity, and mortality.

Theme 2.  Chemoprevention & Biomarkers – Conduct laboratory, translational, and clinical research studies to identify potential targets for cancer prevention and to evaluate chemoprevention strategies.

Theme 3.  Behavioral, Psychosocial, Quality of Life (QOL) Interventions – Conduct behavioral, psychosocial, and QOL research to develop or test interventions to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality, as well as improve treatment outcomes with an emphasis on cancer survivorship.

The ability to achieve scientific goals of the CPC is rooted in the Program’s strong foundation of interactive research which is operationalized through regular meetings of members as described below:

Weekly Seminar Series. The CPC has a weekly seminar series each Wednesday from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. in Kiewit auditorium. Presentations are video conferenced to sites in Phoenix as well.  The seminar has attracted speakers from around the globe to share their research and build future collaborations. Invited speakers during the 2014-2015 seminar series included Elena Martinez, PhD (UCSD Moores Cancer Center), Jun Yang, PhD (UC Davis Metabolomics Center), Elizabeth Want, PhD (Imperial College, London), and Bette Caan, PhD (Kaiser Permanente Division of Research). Speakers are scheduled to have designated time with students and fellows engaged in cancer-related research.

Membership Meetings. CPC Members meet once per month, on the fourth Wednesday from 9-10 am in Room 2920 of the UACC Campbell Building. These meeting s are design to discuss operational issues, update members on UACC efforts and activities, and announce funding opportunities and to foster CPC research, new collaborations, and programmatic interactions. In this monthly meeting, CPC Members and collaborators make a short presentation of their ongoing research objectives, including highlighted use of the Shared Resources. This approach has fostered new research endeavors and expanded knowledge of novel services provided by the UACC Shared Resources. For example, efforts to enhance recruitment into trials resulted in policies and procedures to establish repeated contact with active trial participants after study termination to inform them of new study participation opportunities.

Annual Retreats. CPC members meet annually for a full-day retreat. The purpose of this retreat is to actively engage in strategic planning and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, and to revisit Program aims and future directions. Interactions during the annual retreat help to inform CPC leaders of how to prioritize resource allocation for the greatest scientific impact and productivity.

Research Group Meetings are held among individual CPC subgroups based upon shared interests including organ site (breast, colon, prostate, skin cancers) research, much of which is translational in nature as well as my scientific interest area such as Biomarkers (imaging, metabolomics) or grant type (Skin Cancer PPG, GI SPORE, Early Phase Chemoprevention Consortium), as well as discipline (e.g., behavioral science, mental, emotional and psychosocial health, and/or survivorship).


Research Highlights

Scientists within the CPC program have made significant contributions to cancer prevention and control research over the past 40 years. here we highlight some of the high-impact accomplishments over the past 3 years.

Theme 1. To Advance Cancer Prevention Knowledge and Inform Interventions Through Epidemiological Science 

Several current CPC Members (Drs. Dennis, Harris, Jacobs, Laukaitis, Roe, Thomson, and new hires Kittles, Menon and Calhoun) are engaged in hypothesis-driven epidemiological research that informs our understanding of cancer risk, morbidity, and mortality. These efforts include the use of archived data and biospecimens (N>400,000) from prior intervention trials and the corresponding linked demographic, lifestyle, and clinical data, as well as participation in national cohort studies and pooling of projects to address issues related to prevention and control of women’s cancers and colorectal cancer.

Theme 1 Accomplishments

  • The UACC has worked across institutions and bi-nationally to better understand breast cancer risk and etiology in Hispanic women.
  • Local Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) investigators, including junior-senior authorship teams, have developed more than 30 approved manuscript proposals and / or published manuscripts informing on cancer risk, morbidity, and mortality in this aging cohort of women.
  • Through the epidemiological study of vitamin D status and breast and colorectal cancer risk and survivorship, Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD, has begun to unfold the mechanistic role of genetics and FGR23 in modulating vitamin D-cancer risk associations.
  • Epidemiological studies within the Colon Cancer Prevention Research Group (CCPRG) have identified the biological, genetic, and environmental risk factors in adenoma and colorectal cancer (CRC).  


    The CPC Members (Drs. Alberts, Curiel, Chow, Dickinson, Funk, Francisco Garcia, Hastings, Lance, Jessica Martinez, Thomson, and Zhang) have devoted concerted efforts in evaluation of novel chemoprevention compounds and development of biomarkers for risk and efficacy evaluation. The major interdisciplinary efforts are organized by disease site (women’s cancers, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer) to integrate cutting-edge research activities.

    Theme 2 Accomplishments

    • Completed multiple early phase clinical trials to assess the clinical activity and biological effects of putative cancer preventive agents that led to identification of promising leads for further clinical development. 
    • Utilized reverse phase protein microarray analysis to identify cell signaling derangements in skin cancer carcinogenesis and identified several interconnected networks for targeted drug therapy.
    • Completed a Phase III clinical trial demonstrating that selenium (Se) intervention, as selenized yeast, did not prevent overall recurrence of colorectal adenomas but was associated with diabetes risk.
    • Completed a series of trials showing that Se intervention had no effect on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) velocity in patients with localized prostate cancer and had no effect on the incidence of prostate cancer in men at high risk.
    Theme 3. To Test Behavioral, Psychosocial, and QOL-Targeted Interventions with High Potential to Reduce Cancer Risk and Improve Cancer Outcomes

    The CPC has made significant strides in expanding its behavioral and psychosocial science research with special emphasis on behavior and survivorship, psychosocial oncology, tobacco cessation, and health disparities to address the weaknesses identified in the last review. Led by Dr. Thomson, Members of the CPC, Drs. Badger, Butler, Carvajal, Gordon, Harris, Krouse, Loescher, Moore, Moreno, Muramoto, Nichter, Shaw, Stone, Weihs, Witte, Zeng, and new hires, Drs. Garcia and Pace, are actively engaged in cancer care / survivorship research. These Members lead independent lines of multidisciplinary research, demonstrating the added value of collaboration in developing novel projects, as well as in advancing survivorship science. The research focuses on lifestyle behaviors, behavioral oncology, and QOL. Important to the CPC’s behavioral scientist group, Dr. Badger is a leader in the use of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) and its application in cancer research.

    Theme 3 Accomplishments

    • CPC Program Members (Drs. Alberts, Krouse, and Thomson) successfully developed and received approval for two funded, ongoing national cooperative group trials examining behavior and cancer survivorship. Activities included initiation of the first large-scale diet-physical activity intervention conducted by the NRG / GOG Cancer Prevention and Control group, with recruitment of 716 ovarian cancer survivors in 29 months, and submission of an R01 (Krouse–PI, R01HS021491) to characterize QOL in patients with cancer-related malignant bowel obstruction.
    • Karen Weihs, MD, has completed data collection for her R01 of Emotions and Depression in Breast Cancer Survivorship, evaluating biomarkers of physiological stress response. Along with complementary research by Terry Badger, PhD, RN, and new program recruits Thaddeus Pace, PhD, and Emily Butler, PhD, this line of pioneering investigation will inform on the mechanistic underpinnings of depression after cancer, as well as effective strategies to reduce this burden.
    • Through a marriage of outreach and research, Drs. Harris and Loescher are using text messaging to promote sun safety in teens, a group particularly vulnerable in terms of “at-risk” behaviors.

    CPC Postdoctoral Training Fellowship

    Cancer Health Disparities Program

    CPC Membership