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Bevers Is Detective for Prevention

Annual Report - Winter 2011

(From left) Valerie Sepeda, Carol Rosenblum, Therese Bevers, M.D.
Photos: Wyatt McSpadden

She pushes personalized, precise screening guidelines

By Katrina Burton

Cancer prevention is a driving force in Therese Bevers’ life.

Medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center and Prevention Outreach Programs, Bevers, M.D., works with multidisciplinary panels of MD Anderson disease site experts to update cancer screening guidelines and make them available to the public.

“For me, the driving factor is that a lot of communities and community physicians don’t always understand the risks that people have for cancer,” she says. 

“Cancer screening is not one-size-fits-all. Our risk-based recommendations are markedly more personalized and precise, offering more detailed guidance than what has previously been made available.”

The guidelines define risk and offer recommendations for those at increased and high risk of developing cancer. They also recommend when a person may stop undergoing screening.

New risk check tool available

In addition, Bevers was instrumental in helping develop MD Anderson’s Cancer Risk Check, an online survey.

“We created Cancer Risk Check to be simple to use and to empower people to take actions for a more healthful lifestyle, whether that’s increasing physical activity or making a cancer screening appointment,” she says.

“Our goal is to have screening guidelines that are a resource. It’s what we’re doing to keep people from dying of cancer.”

Sepeda helps to empower patients

By Julie Penne

For Valerie Sepeda, there’s nothing beyond her realm of responsibility when it comes to patients.

Whether it’s changing a pillowcase, cleaning an exam room, getting a fax to a colleague or talking about a clinical trial, if it’s for a patient, the senior research nurse in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention views it as part of her patient care.

She works on a range of clinical trials with Therese Bevers, M.D., professor in the department and medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center. 

Among them are a breast cancer detection study, which involves collecting saliva — long-term, follow-up care for the national STAR (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene) trial — and a colorectal cancer prevention study using Crestor® versus placebo.

Research nurse earns patients' trust

It’s her responsibility, Sepeda says, to speak candidly, accurately and neutrally to patients about trials.

“What I give to patients is little compared to what they contribute to science or endure with treatment,” she says. “In exchange, I hope to earn their trust so they might participate in a study that ultimately could benefit so many.”

The high-energy nurse says her daily fuel is the opportunity to see and talk to survivors and know that she and her colleagues are working to reduce the risk of cancer in the future.

Rosenblum moves from lab to front line

By Katrina Burton

Carol Rosenblum makes shared resources a onestop shop.

With 26 years of experience at MD Anderson, she understands that there is no such thing as a typical day — at least not for her.

As project manager of an institutional shared resource — Patient-Reported Outcomes, Survey and Population Research (PROSPR), whose purpose is to support investigators throughout the institution in their research — she credits her good fortune to being versatile.

After years of working with mice in the laboratory, she yearned for more interaction with people. 

Focus on people-oriented research

So she went back for a master’s degree in public health that allowed her to switch gears from basic science to people-orientated research and began working with behavioral science programs.

Not only did her experience and background in public health pique her interest to serve on several projects, but it also led her to enact some healthy initiatives of her own.

“My mother was a breast cancer survivor,” she says. “Working on prevention initiatives was the perfect fit for me.”

Using her years of experience and dedication to manage staff, coordinate studies, advise investigators, create agreements and bill make for a long, but fruitful day. 

“It’s encouraging to see how helpful this type of resource is to investigators,” she says. “It was definitely worth giving up my lab coat.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center