News Releases

New Radio Campaign Spotlights Cancer-Prevention Research

SEATTLE — Jun. 20, 2002 — Today the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will introduce a series of radio public-service announcements to raise awareness of cancer-prevention research and how the public can help in the fight against cancer.

The statewide PSA campaign, the first of its kind undertaken by Fred Hutchinson — an international leader in cancer treatment and prevention research — revolves around three 60-second radio spots, all designed to educate the public that one doesn't have to have cancer to participate in a cancer-research study.

Research projects currently accepting healthy participants range from an exercise study to assess the effect of physical activity on colon-cancer risk to a food study that will help determine how fruits and vegetables may influence the body's cancer-fighting ability.

"For many, Fred Hutchinson is synonymous with advancements in cancer treatment such as the bone-marrow transplant. But there is another, very important type of world-class research being conducted at Fred Hutchinson: cancer prevention research," said Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., center president and director, who recorded one of the radio spots. "This is one area of the cancer fight in which nearly anyone and everyone can participate."

Fred Hutchinson's Public Health Sciences Division, the largest of the center's four scientific domains, is home to the nation's oldest and largest program devoted to cancer-prevention research.

John Potter, M.D., Ph.D., an international expert on cancer causes and prevention, heads the center's Cancer Prevention Research Program, which was established in 1983.

"It is estimated that 70 percent of all cancers could be prevented through simple lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, watching your weight, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, exercising regularly, and getting screened regularly for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer," Potter said, referring to the importance of Pap smears, mammograms and sigmoidoscopy, respectively.

In addition to raising awareness of the importance of cancer prevention and public-health research, the campaign aims to boost participation in Fred Hutchinson research projects that accept self-referrals by inviting listeners to visit the center's Web site, www.fhcrc.org, and click on "How You Can Help," where they can find a list of prevention studies currently accepting eligible participants. The radio spots also direct listeners to the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER, a valuable source of information on cancer prevention and treatment. The CIS also can provide information about Fred Hutchinson public-health studies that accept self-referrals.

Using large populations as their "laboratory," public-health researchers look for links between cancer and its possible triggers, from diet and lifestyle to environmental and genetic factors. Identifying such cancer causes can lead to better cancer-detection methods and new ways to help people adopt healthier lifestyles to minimize or avoid their risk of getting the disease.

"With the support of radio stations, we aim to broaden awareness of this research — and the need for participants to continue its success — which benefits all of us today and should only get better for future generations," Potter said.

About the Public-Health Sciences: Understanding the Causes of Cancer and How to Prevent It

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Public Health Sciences Division is the largest of the center's four scientific domains, with more than 900 faculty and staff supported by nearly $50 million in federal funding. The goal of the PHS Division is to reduce the incidence and mortality from cancer and other diseases — an objective in line with the center's overall mission to eliminate cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death.

The PHS Division is home to the nation's oldest and largest program devoted to cancer-prevention research — an important endeavor, considering that up to 80 percent of all cancers could be avoided by simple lifestyle factors such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, wearing sunscreen and exercising regularly.

Using large populations as their "laboratory," our public-health researchers look for links between cancer and its possible triggers, from diet and lifestyle to environmental and genetic factors. Identifying such cancer causes can lead to better cancer-detection methods and new ways to help people adopt healthier lifestyles to minimize or avoid their risk of getting the disease in the first place.

Our researchers have found that simple lifestyle changes can go a long way toward catching cancer earlier, while it is more treatable, and preventing it in the first place. Some recent discoveries include:

  • Scheduling a mammogram during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, when breast tissue is less fibrous and dense, may improve the accuracy of such exams — and save lives.

  • Drinking at least five glasses of water a day can reduce a woman's risk of colorectal cancer by more than 50 percent.

  • Eating at least three servings of vegetables a week - especially the cruciferous kind, such as broccoli and cabbage - can reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer by nearly half.

  • Engaging in regular aerobic activity three or four hours a week can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent.

  • Taking a multivitamin daily for 10 years can cut the risk of colorectal cancer by half.

More than a million people worldwide have participated in Fred Hutchinson public-health studies. For example:

  • In Shanghai, China, some 285,000 women are taking part in a study to assess the effectiveness of breast self-examination in reducing death rates from breast cancer. Results of this study are anticipated later this year.

  • In the United States, more than 160,000 women are participating in the Women's Health Initiative, a 15-year, $625 million, federally funded study coordinated through Fred Hutchinson. The largest study ever devoted to women's health, the WHI investigates the effects of diet, hormones and calcium/vitamin D supplements on breast cancer, colorectal cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Results from this massive project are expected in 2005.

  • In the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, some 32,000 men over the next decade will be enrolled in SELECT, the largest prostate-cancer-prevention study ever undertaken. Fred Hutchinson oversees data analysis for this federally funded study, which will assess the effectiveness of vitamin E and selenium in protecting against prostate cancer.

  • In South Africa and other parts of the globe, between 5,000 and 7,000 people at high risk for HIV/AIDS are taking part in prevention trials aimed at developing new methods to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus. Fred Hutchinson serves as the data-coordinating hub of the recently established HIV Prevention Trials Network, an international program dedicated to developing and testing non-vaccine prevention strategies.

For more information about Fred Hutchinson public-health studies seeking local participants, visit www.fhcrc.org and click on the "How You Can Help" link, or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

Media Contact
Kristen Woodward
(206) 667-5095
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home of two Nobel Prize laureates, is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical technology to eliminate cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other independent U.S. research center. Recognized internationally for its pioneering work in bone-marrow transplantation, the center's four scientific divisions collaborate to form a unique environment for conducting basic and applied science. Fred Hutchinson, in collaboration with its clinical and research partners, the University of Washington Academic Medical Center and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and is one of 38 nationwide. For more information, visit the center's Web site at www.fhcrc.org.