‘Precision Prevention’ Aims to Uncover Cancer Prevention Markers

generations of a family
In the coming years, Public Health Science research at Henry Ford will focus on “precision prevention,” a strategy that could make more family photos like this one possible. On this special day, four generations gathered and a great grandmother met her great granddaughter for the first time.

Public Health Science researchers at Henry Ford are preparing to recruit more than 16,000 people beginning in 2021 as part of a significant investment of the National Cancer Institute into the next generation of large-group studies. Investigators will enroll and follow healthy people, then look closely at the data to determine risk factors for development of cancer. The hope is to find biologic, environmental and other types of markers that could lead to earlier cancer detection and are amenable to prevention. Ben Rybicki, Ph.D., and Christine Neslund-Dudas, Ph.D., Henry Ford Public Health Sciences, co-lead this study, which could produce findings that lead to “precision prevention” for cancer.

“We will collect biologic data and ask lifestyle questions, then link that information with the electronic medical health record, taking advantage of technology in the world we live in,” says Rybicki. “Every individual is unique, but looking at information collectively enables us to better understand why certain individuals are susceptible to certain cancers. This effort will also enable additional future research that ‘piggybacks’ off this study.”

"Every individual is unique, but looking at information collectively enables us to better understand why certain individuals are susceptible to certain cancers..."

The study will run through 2030 and nationally, involve 200,000 people. Henry Ford is one of eight health systems nationwide selected to participate

Neslund-Dudas says, “This study will be important for both public health and the economy. Prevention is more cost effective than treating and curing disease, and results in better outcomes for patients. Even if there is a small elevated risk of cancer, it equates to thousands of future cancers that can be diagnosed earlier or prevented.”

Henry Ford leads the Midwest Consortium of the study together with health partners at Marshfield Clinic, located in Wisconsin and Minneapolis.

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