There are over 15 million cancer survivors in the United States alone, and that number is growing every year. Survival rates have improved due to earlier detection and improved treatments. However, cancer survivors face specific challenges linked to their diagnosis and treatment. AICR continues to provide answers to questions that will help people live and thrive beyond a cancer diagnosis.
Funding Research on Survivorship
As the number of cancer survivors has grown, so has the need for research into the potential for lifestyle factors to improve outcomes in cancer survivors. AICR is increasingly addressing these needs. Diet, physical activity and body weight contribute to cancer risk but evidence shows these are also important factors in cancer survivorship. We recently funded seven grants that address issues in cancer survivorship spanning four types of cancer and a range of lifestyle factors across diet, physical activity and body weight.
For example, one researcher is examining how a metabolite of cholesterol might awaken dormant breast cancer cells by interacting with the immune system. This is critical since breast cancer can remain dormant for many years; understanding how to maintain that dormancy could provide ways to reduce the risk of recurrence. Another study is investigating a compound, found in avocados, that could reduce the recurrence of leukemia.
Several grants involve how body weight may affects survivors. One researcher is studying how excess body weight might affect ovarian cancer spreading, and there are a variety of projects looking into ways to help cancer patients achieve a healthy weight after their diagnosis. Other studies involve the effects of beverages, including coffee, tea and sugary drinks, on survivors’ health, and how to reduce “chemo brain,” the cognitive problems experienced by many people during and sometimes after chemotherapy. Each of these projects was chosen because AICR’s panel of expert reviewers recognized that they will make essential contributions to understanding factors that affect cancer survivors.
In addition to funding survivorship research, AICR offers an array of educational programs and tools for survivors to build healthy habits for recovery and a healthy life after cancer. The recently launched AICR’s iTHRIVE Plan helps survivors custom-build a wellness program. The researched-based program leads survivors to longer term healthful behavioral changes, and helps survivors put AICR’s recommendations into action along with addressing other important health and well-being areas impacting their lives. AICR’s brochures on nutrition and physical activity for survivorship explore the research and explain what the evidence shows for eating a healthy diet and building activity into one’s life. AICR’s monthly epublication, Recharge, shares recent articles on survivorship issues.