Cancer care continuumPrevention > Detection > Diagnosis > Treatment > Survivorship

Prevention is the first phase in the cancer care continuum. Many of our faculty members’ research revolves around prevention, and working to educate the public of ways to reduce cancer risk. This message is communicated through our many community events and mass media campaigns. Our faculty focus their prevention messaging on modifiable lifestyle behaviors community members can change to reduce their cancer risk, while increasing their health knowledge.

Research topics

  • Diet
  • Limited alcohol consumption
  • Physical activity
  • Sun protection
  • Tobacco control
  • HPV vaccine
  • Cancer screenings
  • Chemoprevention

Related research projects

Browse the prevention-related projects below to learn about past and ongoing research led by faculty in the Division of Public Health Sciences in the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Addressing Rural Cancer Health Disparities: SCC-SIUSM Partnership

Faculty involved: Graham Colditz, Aimee James, Erin Linnenbringer, Mary Politi, Siobhan Sutcliffe

The partnership between The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center investigates rural cancer disparities and ways to help educate, train, and implement effective strategies to reduce the disparities seen in rural communities.

Building Capacity for Chronic Kidney Disease Research in Guatemala

Faculty involved: Joaquin Barnoya

In this study, Dr. Barnoya and colleagues hope to identify potential causes of chronic kidney disease in specific ethnic populations and geographical locations. Outcomes will help physicians understand ethnic disparities for chronic kidney disease patients, and improving prevention and screening interventions.

Chronic Diseases Related to Obesity

Faculty involved: Su-Hsin Chang, Graham Colditz

The project will study obesity, the coexistence of obesity-related chronic diseases, and mortality in the United States in terms of life expectancy and lifetime healthcare.

Communicating Multiple Disease Risks

Faculty involved: Erika Waters

This study, Communicating Multiple Disease Risks: A Translation of Risk Prediction Science, translates epidemiological data about five major health consequences of insufficient physical activity into a visual display that conveys individualized risk estimates in a way that is understandable and meaningful to diverse lay audiences and motivates physical activity behavior.

Community Engagement in Research

Faculty involved: Mary Politi, Bettina Drake, Esther Lu, Aimee James, Jean Hunleth, Erika Waters, Vetta Sanders Thompson, Graham Colditz

This line of research strives to engage all members of the community throughout the research process to help navigate the healthcare process.

Community Outreach: Mobile Mammography Van

Faculty involved: Bettina Drake, Graham Colditz, Su-Hsin Chang

This project worked towards increasing and providing effective mammography screening for women in the St. Louis area.

Dietary Habits in Rural Guatemala Adolescent Women

Faculty involved: Joaquin Barnoya, Yikyung Park

This project addresses poor dietary and physical activity habits in rural Guatemalan adolescent women.

Disparities in Adherence to Adjuvant Therapy for DCIS and Outcomes

Faculty involved: Ying Liu

Ying Liu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery, has received a three-year, research scholar grant from the American Cancer Society to study disparities associated wtih ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Disparities in Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Survival

Faculty involved: Yin Cao

Dr. Yin Cao received a Young Investigator Award from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. This two-year award will support Dr. Cao in her work addressing colorectal cancer survival disparities among patients diagnosed under age 50 through integrating patients, treatment, and tumor molecular characteristics.

Effect of Diabetes & Obesity on Disparities in Prostate Cancer Outcomes

Faculty involved: Bettina Drake

In this Department of Defense project, Dr. Drake and colleagues utilize a prostate cancer cohort from the VA hospitals to explore the association between obesity and prostate cancer recurrence, and its outcome on patient health.

Electronic cigarettes in Latin America

Faculty involved: Joaquin Barnoya

Electronic cigarettes, also known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), are rapidly spreading around the world, including to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study will help understand the impacts of ENDS and the policies to regulate them. We will collaborate with the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, which recently received a large grant to evaluate the impact of ENDS use and its regulations across high-income countries (i.e., Canada, England, US) with contrasting policies. The proposed project would collect original data in Mexico and Guatemala in order to integrate them into this effort. Read more.

Etiology of Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer

Faculty involved: Yin Cao

About 11% of colon cancers (CRC) and 18% of rectal cancers occur in adults younger than 50 years. In contrast to the recent population decline in CRC incidence in adults aged 50 and above, CRC incidence has increased in all 5-year age groups between 20 and 49 years. The majority of young-onset CRCs are diagnosed symptomatically with more advanced tumors. Dr. Cao is leading research to discover the genomic landscape of young-onset CRCs and the underlying lifestyle factors that may drive the rising incidence.

Health Literacy in the Context of Kidney Cancer & Smoking

Faculty involved: Erin Linnenbringer

This pilot project examined health literacy in the context of kidney cancer and smoking among rural populations in southern and central Illinois.

Improving Rural Colon Cancer Screening

Faculty involved: Aimee James, Esther Lu, Graham Colditz, Jean Hunleth

This project will address colorectal cancer mortality rates in rural Southern Illinois by  improving the screening process and follow-up for patients who have a positive fecal blood test (FOBT, FIT).

Integration of Genomic & Social Science in Breast Cancer Disparities Research

Faculty involved: Erin Linnenbringer

This four-year project examines existing data to investigate potential interplay among state-level inequalities (defined by race and/or gender), individual-level health behaviors, and genomic markers associated with estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer.

Optimizing the Impact of Aspirin for Chemoprevention

Faculty involved: Yin Cao, Graham Colditz, Aimee James

Yin Cao, ScD, MPH, and colleagues will analyze the efficacy of aspirin for chemoprevention in colorectal cancer cases.

Precision-based Aspirin Chemoprevention

Faculty involved: Yin Cao

Dr. Yin Cao is leading efforts surround aspirin-based chemoprevention to inform future  multi-level interventions to improve the implementation of precision aspirin primary prevention strategies across systems, providers, and patients.

Preventing NCD in Guatemala through sugary drink reduction and capacity building

Faculty involved: Joaquin Barnoya

The long term goal and its focus on capacity building is to train the Cancer Center of Guatemala faculty and trainees to evaluate policy interventions that effect community members, and ultimately consider health impacts in future research studies.

Program Evaluation of Community Engagement

Faculty involved: Aimee James, Graham Colditz, Vetta Sanders Thompson, Bettina Drake, Esther Lu, Jean Hunleth

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) helps give community members voice in academic research. These projects evaluated current and past CBPR projects to discovery future best practices.

Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD)

Faculty involved: Graham Colditz, Aimee James, Bettina Drake, Vetta Sanders Thompson, Kia Davis

The mission of Siteman Cancer Center’s Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) is to create a national model for eliminating local and regional disparities in cancer education, prevention and treatment. Through a community advisory committee and community partnerships, PECaD works with community representatives to find solutions that reduce disparities.

Prostate Cancer Biorepository Network

Faculty involved: Bettina Drake

The Prostate Cancer Biorepository Network (PCBN) is a Department of Defense (DOD)/ Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) bioresource that provides tissue and other biospecimens to all prostate cancer investigators.

Prostate Cancer Prospective Cohort

Faculty involved: Bettina Drake, Graham Colditz

The long-term goal of this collaboration between Dr. Drake and The St. Louis Mens Group Against Cancer is to be able to identify patients with increased risk for dying of prostate cancer while they are still treatable.

RANK Pathway and Mammographic Breast Density

Faculty involved: Adetunji Toriola, Graham Colditz, Rosy Luo

A very dense breast on mammogram is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, and many women in the United States have extremely dense breasts. There is, however, very limited knowledge on how to modify breast density to reduce breast cancer risk

The ColoCare Study

Faculty involved: Adetunji Toriola, Graham Colditz

The ColoCare Study follows a cohort of men and women who have been newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer (stages I-IV). This project’s main interest is in quality-of-life and in rates of cancer recurrence and death.

The New Face of Homelessness: A CRFT Project

Faculty involved: Vetta Sanders Thompson

Alumni of the first Community Research Fellows Training (CRFT) program created this project, which focused on identifying the health needs and concerns of homeless women ages 45-64 living in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Understanding & Addressing Cost Related Nonadherence to Medication

Faculty involved: Aimee James

Nonadherence can have significant negative health effects for the individual and contribute to increases in hospitalization, healthcare costs, and mortality. Adherence is a complex issue, but cost and affordability of medication is a common and critical barrier.The short-term objective is to identify how patients and healthcare providers approach affordability and adherence and use those data to refine and pilot test an intervention promoting patient-provider discussion about cost, affordability, and adherence. The long- term objective is to deliver interventions to reduce cost-related nonadherence.

Your Disease Risk

Faculty involved: Graham Colditz, Erika Waters, Adetunji Toriola, Bettina Drake, Siobhan Sutcliffe, Yikyung Park

Personalized health assessment tool that allows people to see their risk for common chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer risk.