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  October 4, 2004

Director Of Cancer Center Emphasizes Prevention In New Book

Cancer is a formidable foe. But in a new book, The Answer to Cancer, authors Carolyn D. Runowicz and Sheldon H. Cherry offer a hopeful, science-based approach to help men and women lower their risk and fight back against this widespread disease.

Image: Carolyn Runowicz

Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, presents a gift to the Neags during a formal dedication of the center on September 26. The Neags recently donated $10 million in support of the cancer program at the Health Center. Dr. Runowicz is co-author of a new book on cancer prevention.
Photo by Tina Covensky

The answer, they say, is prevention.

Dr. Runowicz is a nationally recognized expert in gynecologic oncology and director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Health Center. She is also second vice president of the American Cancer Society and will become president of the national organization in 2005.

Dr. Cherry, her husband, is a prominent gynecologist in New York City and is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

"Prevention is the new frontier of cancer research," Runowicz says. She notes that the Food and Drug Administration has already approved drugs for cancer prevention, and several large-scale, national studies are currently looking at new drugs and approaches to prevent cancer.

The Answer to Cancer (Rodale Books) places a strong emphasis on proactive steps people can take to lower their risk of developing cancer. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating five or more servings or fruits and vegetables every day, exercising on most days, and completing all appropriate cancer screening tests.

"We want to empower people and help them use the best knowledge science has discovered to optimize their health," says Runowicz, a breast cancer survivor who is zealous about eating right and exercising regularly.

"Finally, an easily readable book full of sound practical strategies that enable people at risk to participate proactively in their own well-being," says Dr. Peter J. Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs at the Health Center and a breast surgeon with the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Answers to Many Questions
In The Answer to Cancer, Runowicz and Cherry provide a primer on how cancer develops. In the second part of the book, specific chapters are dedicated to nine common cancers. For each cancer, Runowicz and Cherry spell out risk factors, causes, and all necessary screening tests and preventive measures, as well as new and emerging chemopreventive therapies — using natural or synthetic substances, such as a nutrient or a drug, to keep cancer at bay or derail the disease before it becomes invasive.

For example, in the chapter devoted to breast cancer, they explain how the drug Tamoxifen is used to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk, and that two other drugs — Raloxifene, a commonly used medication for osteoporosis, and Celebrex, a commonly used anti-inflammatory medication — are being studied for preventive properties.

"Chemoprevention is one of the most exciting new advances in cancer prevention," Runowicz says.

The Cancer Prevention Plan
In the final section of the book, Runowicz and Cherry synthesize their key recommendations into seven basic steps to improve defenses against cancer which they call the "Cancer Prevention Plan:"

  • Quit smoking;

  • Maintain a healthy weight;

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day — and strive for nine;

  • Exercise most days of the week and incorporate exercise into your daily routines;

  • Practice safe sex;

  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight;

  • Schedule cancer check-ups.

"If you have ever wondered if you are at risk, or what you can do to protect yourself or your loved ones, read on for the answers," says Dr. Judith Reichman, medical correspondent for NBC's Today show and author of Slow Down Your Clock: The Complete Guide to a Healthy, Younger You.

Learn More
To learn more about The Answer to Cancer and meet the authors, attend the Oct. 14 Discovery Series program at the Health Center. Runowicz and Cherry will sign copies of their book from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Keller Lobby. The program, which is sponsored by the Charlotte Johnson Hollfelder Foundation, will begin at 7 p.m. in Keller Auditorium. To register, call 800.535.6232.

Previous books by Runowicz and Cherry include The Menopause Book: A Guide to Women's Health After 40 and Women and Cancer: A Thorough and Compassionate Resource for Patients and Their Families. Runowicz is also the author of To Be Alive: A Woman's Guide to a Full Life After Cancer.