South Carolina has some of the worst health indicators in the United States, and for a number of cancers, we have the highest incidence rates in the world. Much of what drives South Carolina’s high rates of diseases are the marked health and social disparities between the African-American population and its European-American counterpart. The Cancer Prevention and Control Program was founded in 2003 in an effort to investigate and begin to alleviate this problem. Housed in the Discovery Building within the Arnold School of Public Health, we are an interdisciplinary team with faculty, staff, students and affiliate members from various departments and schools across the university.
Virtually all of the University of South Carolina’s epidemiological cancer research is conducted in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program, furthering our mission to link the basic science laboratory, clinic and community through community-based participatory research. Much of our work focuses on modifiable risk factors and their relationships to disparities, primarily those risk factors related to diet and physical activity, gene-environment interactions, circadian biology and social deprivation. However, we realize that accumulation of new knowledge through epidemiological studies cannot be our only goal. We must also work with communities to disseminate successful programs that can alter an individual’s likelihood of getting, or succumbing to, cancer, such as tobacco cessation, cancer screening and community-based dietary and physical activity programs. The Cancer Prevention and Control Program currently supports and conducts projects in each of these areas.
Our leadership strongly believes that research can and should be conducted as a part of serving our constituency, which includes improved access to both preventive services and curative care. Our ultimate goal is to address the full range of health outcomes, from primary prevention to palliation of symptoms and reduction of suffering. We also strive to go beyond outreach. Our intention is to engage: a central tenant of community-based participatory research is that the community engages with researchers as equal partners. We are strongly committed to integrating service, education and research and in engaging the community to further our mission of reducing the burden of cancer in our state.