University of South Carolina

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Experts

Colon cancer is the country’s No. 2 cancer killer. Each year, approximately 150,000 new cases are diagnosed, and 56,000 people die from colon cancer in the United States. In South Carolina in 2010, 2,140 cases were diagnosed, and 700 people died from colon cancer. It is also a preventable form of cancer, with effective screening tests available.

For Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the University of South Carolina Office of Media Relations offers a list of faculty experts and story ideas. For more information or to schedule interviews, call or e-mail Megan Sexton, 803-777-5400,

Screening is key to reducing colon-cancer rates. Colon-cancer rates could be cut by two-thirds if everyone is properly screened. South Carolina is seen as a national leader in outreach programs for colon cancer, with public service and outreach campaigns that have led to more screening. Dr. Frank Berger, director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research at the University of South Carolina, can talk about the need for screening and discuss how South Carolina is getting the word out and getting more people tested. He can also discuss the biology of colon cancer and translational research (applying the outcomes of research to improving colon-cancer prevention and treatment).

Improving colon-cancer survival rates. Thirty to 40 percent of colon-cancer deaths are caused by cachexia: unintended weight loss. Maintaining weight and muscle mass is critical to surviving cancer. Dr. James Carson is an associate professor in the exercise science department in the Arnold School of Public Health and a researcher in USC’s Center for Colon Cancer Research, can discuss the importance of exercise for cancer patients, particularly in the early stages of the disease. Carson is an expert on cancer survival, regulation of weight loss, nutrition for cancer patients and the effect of physical activity on colorectal cancer progression.

Getting the community involved. Dr. Heather Brandt of the Arnold School of Public Health conducts community-based research for USC’s Center for Colon Cancer Research. Her project looks at community-based colorectal-cancer-prevention efforts in South Carolina. Brandt, an assistant professor of health promotion, education and behavior, also leads the We CAN! (Wellness, Education, Community Awareness and Navigation) Colon Cancer Program. Brandt can discuss the importance of community-based research, cancer prevention and control and cancer disparities among underserved populations.

The role of genes. The incidence of colorectal cancer increases among people with a family history of the disease. USC’s Environmental Genomics Core Facility (EnGenCore) does high-tech, rapid DNA sequencing. Dr. Joe Jones, director of EnGenCore, can discuss personalized medicine -- using genetic information to guide a person’s treatment based on that individual’s genetic composition.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 03/09/11 @ 5:30 PM | Updated: 03/09/11 @ 4:57 PM | Permalink