Cancer Prevention at UCI

The UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is currently conducting preventative cancer clinical trials with an initial grant from the National Cancer Institute of $2.2 million.
Frank Meyskens Jr., director of the center, believes that cancer prevention, or chemoprevention, is the most effective tool to fight cancer.
‘One goal of the National Cancer Institute is to lower the mortality rate of cancer patients and one of the most effective ways to do this is to treat the causes of cancer before the onset of illness,’ Meyskens said.
The grant money from the NCI allows the center to establish an entirely new chemoprevention center as part of the comprehensive center.
‘Chemoprevention will be supported as a center, not just as a program within the [UCI Chao Family] Comprehensive Cancer Center,’ said Susie Hsieh, the cancer prevention recruitment coordinator for the center.
Chemoprevention is the next important step in the continuing fight against cancer and a new emphasis from the NCI is one very important example.
‘[The grant] just shows how hot cancer prevention is, how important the federal government thinks it is and how Frank Meyskens has demonstrated his ability to conduct elegant research,’ said Westley Lagerberg, the registered nurse in charge of coordinating the actual clinical trials for the center.
The actual grant that the comprehensive center will receive includes an initial grant with the opportunity to earn more grant money depending on the future clinical trials.
‘We get an initial grant for $2.2 million and for each one of the studies we are going to take on and test we’ll get more money for that,’ Susie Hsieh explained.
The grant will allow the center to expand its current research capability to focus on cancer prevention.
‘With this remarkable amount of funding and support from NCI, we can make a big difference in advancing our ability to prevent cancer,’ Meyskens explained.
According to Hsieh, the total amount awarded by the NCI for the chemoprevention trials between the six institutions involved will be $42 million.
Clinical chemoprevention trials are nothing new to the center.
‘The UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center has been successfully undertaking cancer prevention trials for the past decade, so this current effort is an extension of our overall mission,’ Meyskens said.
According to Peter Greenwald, director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention, the NCI chose the UCI center because of its valuable experience and expertise with cancer prevention techniques.
‘Each of these institutions was selected based on its proven ability to conduct cancer prevention research,’ explained Peter Greenwald, the director of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention.
The Chao Family Cancer Center will create an entirely separate center to handle the new clinical trials.
The new trials, funded by the NCI, will investigate possible ways to prevent cancer through a combination of synthetic and natural compounds.
Hsieh explained that for the last 30 years the war on cancer has been the fight against the already-ill cancer patient. Chemoprevention is a relatively new idea that was nationally recognized as recently as the mid-1980s.
‘The National Cancer Institute’s chemoprevention research effort started in the early 1980s and has grown considerably since that time,’ Hsieh said.
The current ongoing clinical trials that the center is recruiting for include a breast cancer study, a prostate cancer study, a mouth cancer study and a colon cancer clinical study.
Lagerberg said it takes a very dedicated type of individual to participate in the chemo-prevention clinical trials.
‘The people who join our research weren’t sick when they decided to help; they are doing it for others, for the future, for society, true altruism,’ Lagerberg said. ‘They are a remarkable group and we really enjoy them.’
Hsieh said the new center is currently seeking individuals to participate in the studies if they meet the study’s criteria. There are also many more studies planned for the future.
‘There will be more trials open in the future but those are not open yet,’ Hsieh said.