Press Release

For Immediate Release
Feb 27, 2012
Contact : Robert Cavanaugh, Manager of Public Affairs  

Meridian Health Partners with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey on Colorectal Cancer Study

Effort Examines Post-Treatment Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors  

New Brunswick, NJ -  The five hospitals of Meridian Health, a System Partner of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), have joined forces with CINJ in offering a clinical research study that examines physical activity patterns and eating habits in colorectal cancer patients who have recently finished treatment. The goal of the study is to build the groundwork for future research on health promotion among individuals with colorectal and other cancers. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Not counting skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.  The death rate from colorectal cancer has been on the decline for the past 15 years, which means more patients are surviving their disease. But are they surviving it in a way that enhances quality of life and minimizes the risk of cancer recurrence? That is one of the questions researchers at CINJ hope to answer in an effort to promote positive health behavior changes in this population.

Elliot J. Coups, PhD, behavioral scientist at CINJ and an associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the lead investigator. Previous research by Dr. Coups shows that 80 percent of colorectal cancer survivors do not take part in regular physical activity, while 57 percent do not meet recommendations for consuming enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. Because physical inactivity and poor diet may be risk factors for colorectal cancer recurrence, Coups notes further exploration in this area is needed.

“We hope to have a better understanding of the degree to which patients modify their physical activity and dietary behaviors as a result of their diagnosis, treatment and potential emotional reactions to their illness,” said Coups. “The information collected from this study will help us determine what interventions may be successful in helping patients in this population make healthy behavior changes. It could also serve as an intervention template for other cancers.”

Within the Meridian system, the study is being offered at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital.  “We are pleased that the collective strength of Meridian Health will help provide key data for this study,” noted Howard Ross, MD, chair of the Meridian Health Oncology Quality Council. “By offering this trial at Meridian’s hospitals, we are helping participants have access to this trial experience at CINJ while remaining close to home.”

Study participants will fill out three surveys over a six-month period to document information such as beliefs about disease recurrence, current physical activity, and dietary intake.  The influence of friends and family on the participant’s physical activity and eating habits also will be measured.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with stage I, II or III colorectal cancer and are within six weeks of having completed their cancer treatment are eligible to participate, though other criteria also must be met. The study is offered through the CINJ Oncology Group (CINJOG), which is comprised of physicians throughout New Jersey from the CINJ Network of hospitals.  For additional information on how to participate, individuals should call 877-512-8928.

The study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical trials, often called cancer research studies, test new treatments and new ways of using existing treatments for cancer.  At CINJ, researchers use these studies to answer questions about how a treatment affects the human body and to make sure it is safe and effective.  There are several types of clinical trials that are currently underway at CINJ, including those that diagnose, treat, prevent, and manage symptoms of cancer. Many treatments used today, whether they are drugs or vaccines; ways to do surgery or give radiation therapy; or combinations of treatments, are the results of past clinical trials.

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, CINJ offers patients access to treatment options not available at other institutions within the state.  CINJ currently enrolls more than 2,300 patients in clinical trials annually, including approximately 15 percent of all new adult cancer patients and approximately 70 percent of all pediatric cancer patients. Enrollment in these studies nationwide is fewer than five percent of all adult cancer patients.

About The Cancer Institute of New Jersey
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. CINJ’s physician-scientists engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life.  To make a tax-deductible gift to support CINJ, call 732-235-8614 or visit CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  

The CINJ Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: CentraState Healthcare System, JFK Medical Center, Mountainside Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center at Princeton. *Academic Affiliate

About Meridian Health
Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For”, and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence, including the distinction of being the first health system in the country to receive Magnet designation for nursing. For more information, visit us at