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Prevention Briefs

Annual Report - Winter 2011

Health Services Research will look for answers

How do different approaches to cancer prevention and treatment affect patient

To help answer such questions, MD Anderson is creating the Department of Health Services Research in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president and head of the division, says department researchers will address issues like these at the institutional level using MD Anderson data and at the national level by drawing from a variety of sources.

There’s strength to draw upon: 22 MD Anderson investigators already lead 77 projects that focus on patterns of care, medical decision-making, cost and outcomes.

Wu follows trail to colon cancer treatment

Research by Xiangwei Wu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery, has followed a “trail” to a promising drug combination to prevent colon cancer.

As a basic scientist, Wu studies the role of molecular pathways that fuel or inhibit cancer. His research led to combining two drugs, tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and vitamin A acetate (RAc), that together significantly reduced the number of precancerous colon polyps in mice, while sparing normal tissue.

Wu and his clinical colleagues are preparing for the first Phase I chemoprevention clinical trial in people at increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Reported in the April 2010 journal Nature. 

Green tea: gentle preventive for oral cancer?

Green tea extract has shown promise as an agent for preventing oral cancer in patients with oral leukoplakia, a pre-cancerous condition.  

According to a small study conducted by Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, more than half of the high-risk patients who took the two highest doses of green tea extract’s pharmaceutical form had a clinical response of 58.8%.

Based on tissue samples collected during the trial, researchers believe that the agent may spur a mechanism that reduces blood supply to the developing cancer.

Though previous studies have produced mixed reviews of green tea extract as a chemoprevention agent, it is rich in polyphenols, which are known to inhibit the cycle of cancer development, and produces minimal side effects.

Reported in the November 2009 issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center