Population Science and Cancer Control 


To understand and impact factors associated with cancer risk in clinical, safety-net, and community settings, among diverse populations.


Glass sculpture at Simmons Cancer Center
Cancer burden and disparities in North Texas are the program's focus.

Drawing from the large and diverse population that the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center serves, the Population Science and Cancer Control Program has a special focus on uninsured residents served by local public health systems. Studies are centered on cancer disparities among subpopulations of individuals who traditionally are medically underserved.

Research focuses on processes of care, with the goal of translating findings into improved cancer care in local health systems. The 25 members of the Population Science Program are based in five departments plus at the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Dallas campus.


  • Cancer prevention (including the study of biomarkers for colon and liver cancers, and of risk prevention behaviors)
  • Screening for early detection of colon, liver, and esophageal cancers
  • Cancer survivorship

Research Highlights

Map showing PROSPR sites
Spanning Dallas County, Parkland Health & Hospital System’s community-oriented primary care clinics and women’s health clinics (green and purple symbols) and hospital (blue star) partner with the PROSPR Center to conduct outreach and research to advance evidence-based cervical and colorectal cancer screening.

Parkland-UT Southwestern PROSPR Center. Supported by the establishment in 2011 of the Parkland-UT Southwestern PROSPR Center, researchers in the Population Science and Cancer Control Program are identifying efficient strategies for increasing routine screening that will reduce colorectal cancer incidence and mortality, especially among under—and uninsured patients. Program members’ research has shown, for instance, that colorectal screening rates can be substantially increased among patients who receive mailed fecal immunochemical test kits compared with usual care or an invitation for colonoscopy.

Investigators also are tracking all aspects of the colon cancer screening process for a racially/ethnically diverse group of about 70,000 primary-care patients seen in Parkland Health and Hospital System’s 12 community-based clinics—from identification of need for screening through test outcomes, follow-up, treatment and surveillance, or return to a routine screening schedule. In 2014, the PROSPR Center’s funding was expanded to incorporate cervical cancer screening research, enabling investigators to follow a diverse group of about 178,000 screening-eligible women in the Parkland system, and to develop educational and routine practice interventions to boost HPV vaccination rates.

Ultrasound showing a liver cancer
Ultrasound shows a lesion (darker, round area near center) on a patient’s liver, which was determined on follow-up to be hepatocellular carcinoma.

Early detection of liver cancer. A thriving research effort is evaluating strategies to improve screening effectiveness and ensure that more people at high risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer, receive appropriate testing so tumors can be detected earlier and treated more effectively. Population Science program members are key investigators for the multi-institution Texas HCC Consortium, a $9.7 million initiative funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Consortium projects include characterizing factors that predict liver cancer in a diverse group of patients with cirrhosis, evaluating novel biomarkers to increase sensitivity for early tumor detection, and a trial comparing interventions to boost screening rates in at-risk patients.

To Get Involved

The program seeks additional scientists and physicians with training in a broad range of population science disciplines to develop collaborative cancer prevention and control research projects.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, identification of risk factors across the cancer continuum; development and evaluation of interventions to improve health behaviors, health care practices, and patient-provider communication; and surveillance of cancer care delivery along the disease spectrum from prevention and early detection through survivorship.

Contact Dr. Lee for more details about the program, meetings, and more. SimonCraddock.Lee@UTSouthwestern.edu

Selected Publications

Beaber, E.F. et al. Unifying screening processes within the PROSPR consortium: a conceptual model for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. J Natl Cancer Inst 107:djv120 (2015).

Bishop, W.P. et al. Effectiveness of a community research registry to recruit minority and underserved adults for health research. Clin Transl Sci 8, 82-4 (2015).

Guda, K. et al. Novel recurrently mutated genes in African American colon cancers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112, 1149-1154 (2015).

Kendzor, D.E. et al. Financial incentives for abstinence among socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals in smoking cessation treatment. Am J Public Health 105, 1198-205 (2015).

Koshy, M. et al. Prevalence and predictors of inappropriate delivery of palliative thoracic radiotherapy for metastatic lung cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 107, djv278 (2015).

Laccetti, A.L. et al. Effect of prior cancer on outcomes in advanced lung cancer: implications for clinical trial eligibility and accrual. J Natl Cancer Inst 107, djv002 (2015).

Lee, S.J. et al. Assessing race and ethnicity data quality across cancer registries and EMRs in two hospitals. J Am Med Inform Assoc 23, 627-34 (2016).

Pruitt, S.L. et al. Residential racial segregation and mortality among black, white, and Hispanic urban breast cancer patients in Texas, 1995-2009. Cancer 121, 1845-1855 (2015).

Rhodes, R.L. et al. Initial development of a computer algorithm to identify patients with breast and jung cancer having poor prognosis in a safety net hospital. Am J Hosp Palliat Care 33, 678-83 (2016).

Rhodes, R.L. et al. Barriers to end-of-life care for African Americans from the providers' perspective: opportunity for intervention development. Am J Hosp Palliat Care 32,137-43 (2015).

Sher, D.J. et al. Comparative effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy versus chemotherapy alone followed by surgery for patients with stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer. Lung Cancer 88, 267-74 (2015).

Singal, A.G. et al. Outreach invitations for FIT and colonoscopy improve colorectal cancer screening rates: A randomized controlled trial in a safety-net health system. Cancer 122, 456-63 (2016).

Singal, A.G. et al. Racial, social, and clinical determinants of hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance. Am J Med 128, 90.e1-7 (2015).

Skinner, C.S. et al. Development of the Parkland-UT Southwestern Colonoscopy Reporting System (CoRS) for evidence-based colon cancer surveillance recommendations. J Am Med Inform Assoc 23, 402-6 (2016).

Skinner, C.S. et al. Impact of risk assessment and tailored versus nontailored risk information on colorectal cancer testing in primary care: A randomized controlled trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 24, 1523-1530 (2015).

Tiro, J.A. et al. Promoting HPV vaccination in safety-net clinics: a randomized trial. Pediatrics 136, 850-9 (2015).

Tosteson, A.N. et al. Variation in screening abnormality rates and follow-up of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening within the PROSPR Consortium. J Gen Intern Med 31, 372-9 (2016).

Zhu, H. et al. A semi-stationary copula model approach for bivariate survival data with interval sampling. Int J Biostat 11, 151-73 (2015).