Apr 25, 2016 10:00 AM

a graphic shows many tiny people making up the shape of a DNA double helix

For National Cancer Control Month, Bridget Grahmann, BS, and Yelena Wu, PhD, of the Wu Team at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) explain what cancer control is and how it helps people with cancer as well as those who may never have it.

What does cancer control mean?

It means taking steps to reduce the harms cancer can cause in a population. It can include many efforts:

  • Preventing cancer
  • Finding cancer earlier
  • Improving cancer treatment
  • Increasing the number of people who survive cancer
  • Improving future health and quality of life for people who had cancer

Why is cancer control research important?

One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. Cancer control research benefits everyone people who have cancer and those who may get it. Research allows us to plan and create new cancer prevention programs, detect cancer earlier when it is easier to treat, and develop treatments that work better with fewer side effects.

What are some examples of cancer control research?

Cancer control research comes in many different forms. Research often extends beyond the physical impact of cancer to include the emotional, behavioral, economic, or social effects. Here are examples:

  • Behavioral studies to understand how to help people make healthy choices to reduce their cancer risks, and studies about what makes it easier or harder for people with cancer to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors (such as regular exercise and healthy eating) during and after treatment
  • Health services studies that focus on the financial burden cancer has on patients and their families

As other examples, the Wu Team at HCI is developing programs for families affected by melanoma so kids in those families learn skin cancer prevention habits from a young age.

And members of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences program at HCI are studying the experiences of people who take care of a loved one who has cancer, including during end-of-life care.

How is this research used in practice?

Cancer control research findings can help people make positive behavior changes that reduce and prevent cancer in their communities. It can also shape public policies. For example, a 2010 study showed people who used tanning beds before age 30 had a 75% increased risk of melanoma. When researchers saw a surge in melanoma among young adults in Utah, they linked it in part to the high use of tanning beds by Utah teens. This information helped convince Utah legislators to pass a bill in 2012 requiring parents to give consent before teens can visit a tanning salon. According to the Utah Department of Health, usage of tanning beds among Utah teens decreased between 2011 to 2013.

cancer prevention cancer care cancer research cancer center research program cancer control and population sciences

Cancer touches all of us.

Share Your Story