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Early Diagnosis of Tobacco-Related Cancer

(1) To advance innovative and high impact research in the early diagnosis and molecular characterization of tobacco-related cancer. (2) To advance innovative research aimed at improving the early detection of lung cancer in California’s disproportionately impacted populations.

Early Diagnosis and Molecular Characterization of Tobacco-Related Cancer

The development of early detection strategies often involves characterizing the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of cancer. The more unique the mechanisms are to a particular cancer the more likely they are to be effective biomarkers for early detection. Such characterization also lends itself to precision medicine strategies, which aim to tailor interventions to the molecular features of the   disease and/or the patient. Thus the molecular biomarkers that are discovered during the investigation of new early detection methods may have multiple uses in the management of patients stricken with tobacco-related cancers and therefore have a more broad impact that extends beyond initial diagnosis.

The next generation of TRDRP cancer research support will focus solely on early diagnosis and molecular characterization of tobacco-related cancers. TRDRP is interested in funding research on non- invasive tests or imaging technologies using molecular biomarkers to identify those patients most at risk for developing cancer, or for use as early diagnostic and prognostic screening purposes. Because of the critical lack of effective biomarkers for lung and other tobacco-related cancers, and because of the interest in addressing this void, the TRDRP will only consider applications from projects involving mechanisms that are highly characteristic of a tobacco-related cancer – rather than projects investigating cancer pathogenesis in general. Through a review of Letters of Intent (LOI), proposals that do not investigate mechanisms that are highly characteristic of tobacco-related cancer will not be invited to submit full applications.

NOTE: We encourage California researchers interested in this area to utilize resources available from NIH-funded efforts such as the Cancer Genome Atlas and the Early Detection Research Network in their proposals to the TRDRP.

Example of relevant research topics include:

  • Identification of biomarkers of pre-malignant tobacco-related cancers
  • Identification of biomarkers of tobacco-related carcinoma in situ
  • Development of imaging methods for detecting pre-malignant or early cancerous lesions
  • Development of precision analytical techniques to reliably and economically measure trace levels of biomarkers in non-invasive tissue samples such as blood, serum, expired air, saliva, and urine
  • Identification of genetic signatures that can be reliably associated with variations in disease susceptibility among users of tobacco products
  • Mechanisms of pathogenesis with the potential to inform early diagnostic approaches

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Early detection of lung cancer in California’s disproportionately impacted populations

TRDRP administers contributions to the California Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), box number 413 on California state income taxes. CCRF contributions are to be allocated as grant awards to support research on the causes and treatments for cancer, expanding community-based education on cancer, and providing culturally sensitive and appropriate prevention and awareness activities targeted toward communities that are disproportionately at risk or afflicted by cancer.

Based on recommendations by a TRDRP-convened Strategic Visioning Committee, CCRF funds have been allocated to support a limited number of pilot or exploratory study proposals into the early detection of lung cancer and the early detection of lung cancer in disproportionately impacted California groups that will be submitted in response to this Call for Applications. Lung cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality remain disproportionately high among African Americans, and other priority populations in California. Research is critically needed to address this dramatic disparity among California’s vulnerable populations. Consistent with the State’s goals to achieve tobacco-related health equity among California’s diverse populations, the TRDRP is also requesting application for studies of:

  • Best practices for early lung cancer detection, especially in resource-limited treatment settings
  • Overcoming barriers to lung cancer screening such as:
    • healthcare access issues
    • fatalistic beliefs about screening and a positive diagnosis
  • Culturally sensitive health communications on discussing detection and lung cancer
  • Overcoming financial and other barriers to lung cancer screening and follow-up care
  • Identification of psychosocial and biological correlates of lung cancer detection
  • Cost/benefit analysis of lung cancer screening in disproportionately impacted communities

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