The City of Cleveland, along with the 15-counties that our Center services, struggles with a high rate of poverty as well as an above-average cancer mortality rate.
To engage as many northern Ohio residents as possible in these types of efforts to advance cancer research and care, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center undertakes culturally sensitive research, education and outreach programs. A prime example: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN), which promotes health in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. One high-priority PRCHN project takes aim at the use of “little cigars” – tobacco products that are harmful and addictive like cigarettes, and are especially popular among young African American males.
To further rivet attention on reducing disparities, a newly formed Case CCC Community Advisory Board for Disparities Cancer Research brings together representatives of the Cancer Center, local community groups and health boards.
Translating Scientific Discoveries into Community Health Benefits
Through its affiliated major health systems in northern Ohio – an area facing high rates of poverty and cancer mortality – the Case CCC has the valuable opportunity to translate its scientific discoveries into health benefits in the community. Meanwhile, the Center’s cancer prevention and control initiatives are likewise reducing the region’s cancer burden.
These examples of Case CCC research projects are among those showing great promise for improving health in diverse populations:
Possible Colonoscopy Alternative
In one major component of the Case CCC GI SPORE program, Cleveland-area residents are participating in a study to determine whether testing the stool for aberrant genetic markers presents an effective colon cancer screening alternative to more invasive colonoscopy.
Lung Cancer Screening Cohort
Focusing on NCI-defined screening criteria for the early detection of lung cancer, the multi-institution Lung Cancer Screening Cohort evaluates the impact and challenges of screening across demographic groups, including minority and underserved populations.
Molecular Test for Prostate Cancer
A prostate cancer test developed by researchers, including Eric Klein, MD, relies on a multi-gene signature to predict cancer aggressiveness much more accurately than traditional methods such as measuring PSA levels. Most men with prostate cancer have a slow-growing type that doesn’t require invasive treatment, but many opt for surgery or radiation for fear that their biopsy missed areas of aggressive cancer, points out Klein, a Cleveland Clinic urology expert. The greater precision of the new test – marketed as Oncotype DX by Genomic Health, Inc. – has the potential to reduce uncertainty and, in turn, overtreatment.
Case CCC researchers, led by Cancer Center member and founding Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute Charis Eng, MD, PhD, have been clarifying the "PTEN" gene mutation's associations with thyroid, breast and several other cancers. Finding unexpectedly high risks for some cancers, Eng proposed updated PTEN-related screening guidelines, and is working in the clinic and the lab on what she calls the “holy grail” question: Who among those known to be at risk is destined to get PTEN-associated cancers?