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IU Simon Cancer Center breast, prostate studies underway at Indiana Black Expo's health fair July 17-20

  

INDIANAPOLIS -- (July 14, 2008) -- Men and women who provide a blood sample during the health fair at the Indiana Black Expo may help researchers unlock the mysteries of prostate and breast cancers.

Representatives from the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center will be at the expo’s INShape Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair, participating in the Indiana State Department of Health’s “One Stop-One Stick” program.

The One Stop-One Stick program allows people to donate blood, and they can indicate which screenings – everything from glucose to cholesterol – they are interested in receiving. In addition to regular screenings, men and women can indicate they want their blood samples to be included for prostate and breast cancer studies being conducted at the IU Simon Cancer Center. 

Noah Hahn, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology with the Indiana University School of Medicine and a member of the IU Simon Cancer Center, and his colleagues are heading a study called PROGRESS (PROstate Cancer – Genetic Risk Evaluation of SNPs Study) to identify genetic risk factors which contribute to the development of prostate cancer and response to therapy. 

Men can provide a sample during these times: 5-8 p.m. July 17, 1-8 p.m. July 18, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. July 19, and noon-6 p.m. July 20. 

African-American men are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and more than twice as likely to die from the disease once diagnosed compared to their Caucasian counterparts.

“A portion of this discrepancy may be explained by differences in access to care, but not all,” Dr. Hahn said. “Similar to other cancers, several factors likely contribute to an individual’s total risk of developing prostate cancer, including genetic risk factors present from birth as well as acquired genetic damage over a lifetime through exposure to toxins present in our diet and environment.” 

Dr. Hahn will make use of new genetic research technologies to examine the role of more than 500 genetic mutations simultaneously. Previous studies have not examined large sets of genes simultaneously. Hahn and his colleagues hope to identify what he calls a “high-risk genetic signature” that raises an individual’s risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

Outcomes from this study will be reported at next year’s INShape Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair. 

Meanwhile, representatives with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center will collect blood samples from women from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 18 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19.

By collecting blood from women with and without breast cancer, researchers will be able to determine the differences between these populations, which could lead to a better understanding of the disease. Blood samples taken from women without the disease are especially helpful because there are few collections of so-called "normal" specimens. The bank will ultimately give researchers valuable and unprecedented research data. 

Both studies will take place in the IU Simon Cancer Center booths 118, 120, and 122 in Exhibit Hall D at the Indiana Convention Center.

Each participant for both studies will be asked to provide a one-time blood sample and complete a questionnaire containing basic questions about their medical history.

 "Clinical research is a critical resource for the development of new prevention, diagnosis, and treatment techniques for a number of diseases, including cancer,” Rivienne Shedd-Steele, director of the Office of Health Disparities and Outreach at the IU Simon Cancer Center, said.  “If trials do not include minorities, then there’s a question of whether the results of the studies are relevant to everyone across the board.  It is very important that research include ample numbers of minorities, as well as women, in order to allow for in-depth analyses of minority populations."