Nation's first prevention pavilion at Fox Chase Cancer Center offers genetic counseling and prevention programs for families at risk of cancer

March 07, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Families concerned about their risk of getting cancer can explore their genetic and environmental risk at the nation's first Prevention Pavilion now open on the Fox Chase Cancer Center campus. The mission of the new Research Institute for Cancer Prevention is to discover new ways of helping healthy people avoid cancer, before it strikes.

"Accomplishing this mission will help save thousands of lives each year in the United States and also eliminate much of the pain and suffering that cancer patients and their families must now endure as part of treating the disease," said Dr. Robert C. Young, president of Fox Chase Cancer Center.

As an advanced research center, the Research Institute for Cancer Prevention will allow laboratory scientists to integrate their work with a growing network of prevention-related clinical trials and risk-assessment programs. In terms of clinical care, the Prevention Pavilion will provide a dedicated setting for healthy people at high risk of developing cancer and will offer risk profiling, genetic testing, access to cancer prevention clinical trials, family counseling and diagnostic screening.

Since the incidence of cancer is closely associated with the aging process, many millions of Americans, including the Baby Boom generation, are at risk for various types of cancer. Genetic history, unhealthy lifestyles, and/or exposure to carcinogenic substances are also significant factors that contribute to cancer incidence.

"The goal of the clinicians and researchers at Fox Chase is to help make the threat of cancer a distant memory for future generations, just as the fear of polio is today, thanks to the invention of preventive vaccines," Young added.

Cancer risk programs include the Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program for breast and ovarian cancer, the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program, the Gastrointestinal Tumor Risk Assessment Program, and the Pulmonary Cancer Detection and Prevention Program. A skin cancer program will be added by summer.

The Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program is for women with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Participants should be at least 20 years old and have at least one first-degree relative -- mother, sister, or daughter -- with breast cancer.

Developed by Dr. Mary B. Daly of Fox Chase Cancer Center, the goal is to help women learn more about risk factors associated with breast and ovarian cancer. The program provides participants with up-to-date information on the familial patterns of these cancers and information on how pregnancy history, hormone use and diet may be related to breast or ovarian cancer.

Participants will learn about screening guidelines and prevention options. For more information, call Fox Chase Cancer Center at 800-325-4145.

The Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program is open to men aged 35 to 69 who have an increased risk of prostate cancer because of their family history or because they are African American.

The program has three goals: to provide close monitoring to detect any prostate tumors at the earliest, most curable stage; to offer clients education about prostate cancer risks, clustering of cancers within a family and why this occurs (depending on personal risk factors and family history, counseling may include individual dietary advice and recommendations on what age other family members should start prostate cancer screening); and to help the next generation of men likely to be affected by prostate cancer.

Dr. Gerald E. Hanks, and internationally known expert on prostate cancer and chairman of radiation oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, developed the program. For more information, call Fox Chase Cancer Center at 215-728-2406.

The Gastrointestinal Tumor Risk Assessment Program is designed to detect colon and other gastrointestinal cancers at early, treatable stages-and possibly keep cancerous tumors from developing in the first place.

Tailored to individual medical needs, the program starts by determining a person's risk and creating a personal screening schedule. Dr. Neal J. Meropol, a medical oncologist, directs this risk-assessment program as well as the Fox Chase treatment program for gastrointestinal cancers.

The tumor risk assessment program includes a comprehensive diagnostic work-up and access to family counseling. The counseling team will explain risk factors for colon cancer, such as a high-fat diet, and discuss opportunities for genetic testing for those who are interested. Participants may also be eligible to take part in clinical studies aimed at preventing colorectal tumors.

For more information, call Fox Chase Cancer Center at 215-728-3600.

The Pulmonary Cancer Detection and Prevention Program is designed for those at highest risk of developing lung cancer-smokers, workers exposed to asbestos or uranium, individuals with a family history of lung cancer and patients previously treated for head and neck cancer. The program provides counseling and screening to participants. Key to this program is the use of a computerized, laser-equipped imaging system-LIFE (lung imaging fluorescent endoscopy)-that detects cancer and precancerous abnormalities at earlier stages.

Dr. Michael Unger, a pulmonologist, is director of Fox Chase Cancer Center's pulmonary cancer detection and prevention program and also directs the Center's pulmonary endoscopy and high-risk lung cancer program. He is internationally recognized as an expert in laser therapy, photodynamic therapy, pulmonary critical care and the use of novel methods to detect cancer and precancerous conditions. Currently, Unger is conducting an early detection study for women smokers.

For more about the pulmonary detection and prevention program, call 1-888-FOX CHASE. For more information about the early detection study, call 1-800-ENROLL ME.

In addition to dedicated clinical space for the risk assessment programs, the $38 million initiative in cancer prevention research offers state-of-the-art laboratories as well as 16 new research programs, all housed in the five-level, 120,000-square-foot Prevention Pavilion on Fox Chase's main campus. It is the first research program of its kind to focus on a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention.

"Bringing together new and existing programs ranging from basic science to clinical applications all under one roof will create a truly collaborative working environment for our scientists and clinical staff. As we enter the next century, the concept of prevention will continue to become an integral part of modern cancer care. Fox Chase is leading the way in this effort," said Young.
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Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach programs. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at: http://www.fccc.edu.

Fox Chase Cancer Center

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