Current Research at the Phyllis F. Cantor Center

The Cantor Center conducts research with the goal of improving quality of life for patients, survivors, families, clinicians, and caregivers.

Research Examples

  • Leveraging patient knowledge to improve practice models
  • Creating decision-support algorithms for patients and providers
  • Measuring the impact of identifying and screening individuals at a high risk for hereditary cancer
  • Designing a system to support caregivers of individuals undergoing cancer treatment
  • Addressing communication disparities in cancer care
  • Lifestyle and systems-level interventions for lung cancer

Research Projects

A Digitally-Enhanced Smoking Cessation Intervention for High-Risk Smokers

Principal Investigator: Mary E. Cooley, PhD, RN, FAAN

The primary goal of this study is to introduce LDCT screening to high-risk smokers eligible for lung cancer screening. The specific aims for the proposed study are: 1) Determine the efficacy of an Enhanced Smoking Cessation Approach to Promote Empowerment (ESCAPE) as compared to standard care (brief advice and referral to Quitline) on 7-day point prevalence abstinence, number of cigarettes smoked/day, and lung cancer screening behaviors at 1, 3-and 6-month follow-up. 2) Calculate a smoking behavior PRS and examine the relationship between the PRS and cessation outcomes at 6 months and 3) Describe participant perceptions and experiences related to obtaining a smoking behavior PRS and identify recommendations for incorporating the information into clinical care. The results from this study will provide information needed to refine the intervention and facilitate integration of precision health into future lung health interventions.


Determining Mechanisms and Measures for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Clinical Trials in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

Principal Investigator: Robert Knoerl, PhD, RN

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) (e.g., numbness/tingling in hands/feet) is a common complication of vincristine/paclitaxel chemotherapy that is associated with reductions in chemotherapy dosing, thereby increasing the risk of mortality. Yet, there are no recommended treatments for CIPN prevention and little is known about CIPN in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) to guide the development of clinical trials. The overall objective of this longitudinal study is to determine factors crucial to the design of CIPN prevention clinical trials for AYAs with cancer.


Patient-Centered Communication in Ovarian Cancer Care

Principal Investigator: Rachel Pozzar, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

Despite the apparent influence of patient-provider communication on ovarian cancer outcomes, no known studies have sought to directly assess patient-provider communication in the ovarian cancer care setting. This research aims to answer the following questions: (1) To what extent do women with ovarian cancer perceive that patient-centered communication occurs in the cancer care setting? (2) Is there a relationship between perceived patient-centered communication and treatment characteristics, clinical characteristics, self-efficacy, or health-related quality of life among women with ovarian cancer? (3) What are the contexts in which unmet patient-provider communication needs occur? The answers to these questions may inform future interventions that promote patient-centered communication and improved health outcomes for individuals with ovarian cancer.


Exploring the Feasibility of a Mindfulness-Music Intervention to Reduce Anxiety in Adolescents and Young Adults Receiving Cancer Treatment

Primary Investigator: Robert Knoerl, PhD, RN

Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) (15 – 39 years old) with cancer experience significant anxiety and stress due to disruptions in age-related developmental tasks such as education/career plans, autonomy from parents, and family planning. However, little is known regarding optimal interventions to support the psychosocial needs of AYAs during cancer treatment. The long-term goal of this research is to decrease suffering in AYAs with cancer by addressing the critical need for integrative interventions to support the psychosocial needs of AYAs during cancer treatment.


Enabling Clinical Decision Support for Guideline-Based Cancer Symptom Management

Primary Investigator: Mary Cooley, PhD, CRNP, FAAN (Site PI)

The objective of this contract is to develop an EMR-integrated software product that uses national clinical practice guidelines in decision support for clinicians to manage cancer symptoms. We will convene multidisciplinary panels of clinician experts to develop computable algorithms for cancer-related fatigue and constipation; conduct formative usability testing with clinicians and patients using screen prototypes; and determine the software requirements to deliver decision support at the point of care. Dr. Cooley and her collaborators at Dana-Farber and Partners Health Care are the research institution partners in this SBIR with medical informatics colleagues led by Dr. David Lobach of Klesis, LLC, as the business partner.


Patient Reported Outcomes in Individuals Living with Familial Pancreatic Cancer

Principal Investigator: Meghan Underhill, PhD, APRN, AOCNS

Though it is known that identifying pancreatic cancer at an earlier stage can lead to improved surgical treatment outcomes, no standard of care exists to guide clinicians with surveillance or prevention. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program is testing mechanisms to identify and screen individuals at high risk for pancreatic cancer. This is a cross-sectional survey study aimed at describing participant outcomes and the relationships between demographic and personal factors (age, gender, family history, cancer risk perception, cancer worry, PROMIS Social Support scale) and psychosocial outcome measure scores (PROMIS Global Health and Health Belief Model, and Impact of Event scales) and engagement in self-care or wellness behaviors (i.e., yoga, meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, support group attendance, healthy lifestyle choices, and engaging in cancer screening).


Yoga for Chronic Painful Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Principal Investigator: Robert Knoerl, PhD, RN
Funding: Oncology Nursing Foundation

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) symptoms become chronically (>3 months) painful and impair physical function long after treatment completion. Decreased physical function attributed to painful CIPN is associated with an increased risk of falls, difficulty completing daily activities, and an inability to return to work. Yet, a gap in our knowledge to date is that there are no evidence-based treatments to support physical functioning in individuals with chronic painful CIPN. The overall objective of this explanatory sequential, mixed-methods, pilot study is to determine the feasibility of implementing an eight-week yoga intervention to improve worst pain intensity, CIPN symptom severity, and physical function in individuals with chronic painful CIPN.