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PRC Program Aids Cancer Control Strategies

Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the United States. However, there have been significant strides in cancer prevention and treatment over the last several decades, and the death rate from cancer continues to decline. Read the following contributions of CDC's Prevention Research Centers (PRC) program to cancer control efforts.

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PRC Research:

PRC Research Supports Making the Healthy Choice Easier

Cigarette smoking causes almost all cases of lung cancer, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Many solutions to public health problems are broad initiatives that make the healthy choice an easier option, which in this case would be making it easier to avoid cigarettes. Research can provide data about approaches that are the most effective and cost-efficient.

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The Internet Cigarette Vendors (ICV) Study through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill PRC examined the sales and marketing practices of vendors and their impact on issues such as cigarette excise tax evasion and youth access to tobacco. The researchers identified, catalogued, and analyzed more than 2,800 ICV websites. In 2010, the U.S. Senate cited the ICV Study in its unanimous decision to pass the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act. The act restricts the sale of untaxed cigarettes and other tobacco products over the Internet, verifies the age and identification of buyers, and bans the delivery of tobacco products through the U.S. Postal Service.

PRC Research Aims to Motivate Us to Make Healthy Choices

Though the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer, only about 1 in 3 girls in the recommended age group finishes the three-dose series.

University of Kentucky PRC researchers wanted to find a way to motivate young women to complete the HPV vaccine series. They developed and tested 1-2-3 Pap, a DVD for Appalachian women that explains the benefits and consequences of vaccination and how to overcome obstacles to complete the vaccine series. The women who watched this 13-minute DVD were 2.44 times more likely to complete the series than the women who did not. Not only does the DVD have the potential to be adapted and used in other underserved areas with high rates of cervical cancer, but it could be used during routine doctor's appointments.

PRC Research Explores Ways to Inform Us About Our Different Options

A cancer diagnosis is no longer an immediate death sentence. A person with a history of cancer is now commonly referred to as a cancer survivor, and there are an estimated 12.5 million cancer survivors as of January 1, 2009. The health care system is faced with the challenge of understanding and meeting the needs of this growing population.

University of Alabama at Birmingham PRC researchers want to understand the factors that women and their physicians consider when making decisions about seeing a gynecologic oncologist for ovarian cancer treatment. Patients who see a gynecologic oncologist generally achieve higher survival rates than those who do not, but less than half of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer do so. By understanding this decision-making process, it may be possible to improve communication regarding treatment options, improve the quality of care, and ultimately achieve longer survival rates of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

PRC Research Raises Cancer Awareness

Photo: Portrait of large familyTracking cases of cancer through cancer registries and analyzing the data can help identify and address trends of different cancers, guide prevention and awareness efforts, determine progress, and improve health programs. This valuable resource is being used in innovative ways through the PRC program.

Three PRCs (University of California at Los Angeles PRC, University of Michigan PRC, and Emory University PRC) are seeking to generate and deliver effective messages about cancer screening specifically to the people most at risk of developing cancer—cancer survivors and their close relatives. Researchers are using cancer registry data from California, Michigan, and Georgia to identify cancer survivors and their relatives and test cancer screening messages with them. Once tested and refined, these messages could be used to increase cancer screening among similar populations in other states and, over time, help to lower death rates related to cancer.

PRC Research Contributes to a Variety of Public Health Topics

Above are a few examples of the PRC Program's contributions to the evidence behind cancer prevention and control strategies. To view more cancer-related examples and research in other areas, visit the online, searchable PRC research projects database. Define your search by selecting one or more of the listed criteria and clicking the search button.

The Prevention Research Centers Program is a network of academic, community, and public health partners that conducts applied public health research to promote health and prevent disease. Congress authorized the program in 1984, and the first 3 centers were funded 2 years later. Today, 37 centers are located in 27 states, and they reach nearly 30 million people in 103 partner communities. Information about their achievements and work in progress is available on the PRC program's website.