NEW BRUNSWICK—In an effort to build the groundwork for future research on health promotion among individuals with colorectal and other cancers, a team of investigators at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) has launched a new study examining patterns in physical activity and eating habits of colorectal cancer patients who have recently finished treatment. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Not counting skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. The death rate from colorectal cancer has been on the decline for the past 15 years, which means more patients are surviving their disease. But are they surviving it in a way that enhances quality of life and minimizes the risk of cancer recurrence? That is one of the questions researchers at CINJ hope to answer in an effort to promote positive health behavior changes in this population.
Elliot J. Coups, PhD, behavioral scientist at CINJ and an associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the lead investigator of the study. Previous research by Dr. Coups shows that 80 percent of colorectal cancer survivors do not take part in regular physical activity, while 57 percent do not meet recommendations for consuming enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. Because physical inactivity and poor diet may be risk factors for colorectal cancer recurrence, Coups notes further exploration in this area is needed.
“We hope to have a better understanding of the degree to which patients modify their physical activity and dietary behaviors as a result of their diagnosis, treatment and potential emotional reactions to their illness,” said Coups. “The data collected from this study will help us determine what interventions may be successful in helping patients in this population make healthy behavior changes. It could also serve as an intervention template for other cancers.”
Study participants will fill out three surveys over a six-month period to document information such as beliefs about disease recurrence, current physical activity, and dietary intake. The influence of friends and family on the participant’s physical activity and eating habits also will be measured.
Men or women over age 21 who were diagnosed with stage I, II or III colorectal cancer and are within six weeks of having completed their cancer treatment are eligible to participate, though other criteria also must be met.
The study is offered through the CINJ Oncology Group (CINJOG), which is comprised of physicians throughout New Jersey from the CINJ Network of hospitals. For additional information on how to participate, individuals should call 877-512-8928.
The study is a collaboration among CINJ, CINJOG, and Fox Chase Cancer Center. It is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, CINJ offers patients access to treatment options not available at other institutions within the state.
CINJ currently enrolls more than 1,000 patients on clinical trials, including approximately 15 percent of all new adult cancer patients and approximately 70 percent of all pediatric cancer patients. Enrollment in these studies nationwide is fewer than five percent of all adult cancer patients.
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