CDC funds new breast cancer survivorship research at UIC

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Nursing Collegiate Professor Ardith Doorenbos is a co-principal investigator on the program

Ardith Doorenbos

Researchers from the UIC College of Nursing and UI Cancer Center are helping young breast cancer survivors navigate post-treatment care and survival using $1.8 million in funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The award will specifically support a new University of Illinois Cancer Center program called Young And A Survivor, or YAAS, which will bring together survivors, families, clinicians, support service providers, researchers, and local and national patient advocacy organizations to brainstorm and implement new processes for making sure patients have easy access to resources beyond treatment.

Ardith Doorenbos, Nursing Collegiate Professor and co-leader of the UI Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control program, is a co-principal investigator on the program, supporting PI Tamara Hamlish, research scientist at the UI Cancer Center. Susan Hong, director of survivorship at the UI Cancer Center, is also a co-principal investigator.

The researchers say access to these additional resources can help reduce disparities in survival and quality-of-life due to race, ethnicity and other social factors among breast cancer survivors and survivors of metastatic breast cancer ages 18 to 44.

“The U.S. healthcare system is fragmented, placing an additional burden on survivors and co-survivors, particularly those in underserved communities whose resources may already be limited,” Hamlish said “Barriers to care persist into survivorship. Removing barriers and creating an environment of health equity requires strong partnerships … to strengthen the safety net and increase capacity for comprehensive survivorship care.”

The program’s partners will include experts in survivorship, primary and palliative care, physical therapy, sexual health and fertility, disability rights and chronic pain management. Community-based organizations that deliver support services and education for cancer survivors also will be involved.

The program also will include an advisory board composed of young and metastatic cancer survivors from diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives who share a common commitment to ensuring that other young survivors do not have to struggle to locate — or go without — crucial resources and support services.