According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 15 million people in the United States were cancer survivors in 2016. The number testifies to the rapid development of new treatments for the disease and improvements in techniques for managing it. However, in Colorado, cancer is the leading cause of death, and about 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the state will be diagnosed with the disease at least once. These numbers raise important questions for public health experts. What can medical providers, businesses, and government do to construct a society that allows individuals not only to survive cancer but also to thrive? And what more can be done to prevent cancer in the first place?
Several Colorado School of Public Health researchers are focused on the science of cancer prevention and control, with an overall goal to decrease the burden of cancer in Colorado. Coordinated through the University of Colorado Cancer Center, many of the school’s faculty are actively involved in cancer research and screening programs. From genetic epidemiology to nutrition and environmental health, ColoradoSPH faculty are advancing our collective understanding of what causes cancer, how to better detect the disease, and how behavior can impact survivorship.
Get to know a few of our public health researchers and their contributions:
- Dr. Cathy Bradley is the Deputy Director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and ColoradoSPH's Associate Dean for Research. Dr. Bradley's research is in health and labor market outcomes, productivity costs of disease, health insurance, healthcare disparities, healthcare delivery and Medicaid.
- Dr. Myles Cockburn is a cancer epidemiologist and co-director of programs for Cancer Prevention and Control in the CU Cancer Center. Dr. Cockburn's research focuses on the prevention of skin cancer by changing the behaviors of school children in high-risk communities and in cancer registry data to identify and fill gaps in cancer prevention and clinical care.
- Dr. Alison Bauer examines the role of environmental and occupational exposures to respiratory diseases and carcinogenesis.
- Dr. Anna Baron is a biostatistician who develops prediction models for early detection of lung cancer. She applies both data models (e.g. logistic and Cox regression) and algorithmic approaches (e.g. machine learning) to integrate clinical characteristics, biomarker levels, and imaging features, with the goal of improving medical decision making for individuals who are at high risk of lung cancer.
- Andrea (Andi) Dwyer is one of the founding members and director of the statewide colorectal cancer screening program, which has provided more than 20,000 low- and no-cost screenings for colorectal cancer through community clinics. ColoradoSPH alumni Nichole Harty, MPH '15, and Kirstin Le Grice, MPH '15, hold the positions of program coordinator and patient navigation coordinator.
- Dr. Arnold Levinson directs the University of Colorado Hospital's tobacco cessation program and conducts research into tobacco policy.
- Dr. Lisa McKenzie is an environmental epidemiologist who researches the role of environmental stressors on cancer incidence and prevention.
- Dr. Lee Newman and Dr. Bradley are collaborating on finding ways to help employers develop policies and a work culture that addresses the needs of cancer survivors in the workplace.
- Dr. Betsy Risendal's research is focused on cancer survivorship and serves on national and state projects related to the patient navigator training program in partnership with Denver Health, the Denver Prevention Training Center, and our Center for Public Health Practice.
- ColoradoSPH's Center for Public Health Practice and its Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center worked with national cancer experts and faculty to develop the Cancer Control Video Series, a 17-part video series that serves as a primer on cancer for the public health professional. Topics are organized under cancer sites, cancer risk factors and methods and coalitions for improving cancer outcomes.
- And while we recognize that research is critical, we also know that training plays an important role in battling cancer. Our two year Preventive Medicine Residency Program’s cancer prevention track involves completion of the Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree, broad training in preventive medicine, and intensive practicum experiences involving the development of clinical, research and teaching skills relevant to a career in cancer prevention. To learn more about our training program, visit our Preventive Medicine Residency Program's website.
- Read more about the work our faculty do in cancer prevention and control in an article that appeared in ColoradoSPH's 10th anniversary magazine.