Dec 19, 2016 8:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah will head an international study to find out how lifestyle and other health factors impact colon and rectal cancer outcomes. HCI was awarded an $8.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to lead and expand an ongoing project in colon cancer research.

The study, called ColoCare, seeks to identify elements that play a role in the survival and recovery of colorectal cancer patients. The study will evaluate blood, saliva, and tissue samples collected during surgery, from men and women with colorectal cancer. In addition, study participants will fill out questionnaires about their lifestyle habits, including diet and exercise.

Researchers will then analyze whether health and lifestyle factors could help predict which patients improve and which do not. The data could also determine if certain patients might avoid treatments that are not as effective for their particular cancer. The information gathered is expected to help improve the clinical care and well-being of colorectal cancer patients.

Neli Ulrich, PhD, Senior Director of Population Sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute, will coordinate the study in collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany, Cedars Mt. Sinai in Los Angeles, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

The group of institutions working on the project has expanded, which will enable geographic and ethnic diversity, increasing the number of Hispanic and African-American participants. In the first phase, more than 1,400 study participants were recruited to ColoCare. With this grant money, HCI and its collaborators will raise that number to more than 4,000. Nearly 500 patients will come from Utah.

“This study represents a new paradigm in working together as a team to conquer colorectal cancer,” says Ulrich. “ColoCare will provide valuable information on how lifestyle factors impact cancer outcomes. We hope to use what we learn from this study to empower people who are affected by the disease with information about how they can manage their health.”

Colorectal cancer will affect one in 21 individuals over the course of their lifetime and is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The ColoCare study is funded by the National Cancer Institute U01 CA206110, with additional support from National Cancer Institute P30 CA042014, R01 189184, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.


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Heather Simonsen
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
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About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West. The campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital and two buildings dedicated to cancer research. Huntsman Cancer Institute provides patient care, cancer screening, and education at community clinics and affiliate hospitals throughout the Mountain West. It is consistently recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The region’s first proton therapy center opened in 2021 and a major hospital expansion is underway. Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, students, patients, and communities. Advancing cancer research discoveries and treatments to meet the needs of patients who live far away from a major medical center is a unique focus. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center, including genes responsible for breast, ovarian, colon, head and neck cancers, and melanoma. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

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