Hawaii doctors study cancer
Hawaii radiation oncologists are participating in a national breast cancer study to demonstrate the effectiveness of treating only part of a breast with radiation.
"It has been fairly well received by patients," said Dr. Paul DeMare, oncologist with Pacific Radiation Oncology Inc. and associate professor of radiation oncology at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii. "They seem to have less acute side effects and less skin reaction from the treatment."
DeMare will be among cancer specialists and researchers discussing advances in cancer treatments at the third annual Cancer Research Information Day from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
The free public event will begin with registration at 8 a.m.
The partial breast radiation study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, began about two years ago and has 3,000 or more patients nationwide, said DeMare.
He is principal investigator for the Hawaii study at the Queen's Medical Center. Ten patients are participating and "doing well," he said in an interview.
Normally after a lumpectomy, the entire breast is treated daily with radiation for about 6 1/2 weeks, DeMare said. The new radiation techniques generally involve treatments twice a day for one week -- 10 sessions instead of 30 to 33, he said.
"Certainly, it is a big timesaver for the individual patient."
He said partial breast radiation is being done two ways, with external and internal treatments.
With the internal method, intense radiation is delivered to the area where the tumor was removed. "You put a radioactive source inside the breast, essentially," he said.
With the external method, the radiation beam is concentrated on the affected area, but nothing is put inside the breast tissue, he said.
He said both methods are being tested in the study, and some patients are being treated with the internal technique who are not in the study.
"Long-term results are the key here," he said, explaining it will take at least five years and probably 10 years to determine whether partial breast radiation is effective.
He is still accepting patients for the study, but it is limited now to high-risk older women and pre-menopausal women.
Among other topics covered during Cancer Research Information Day will be colorectal cancer risk in Japanese Americans, complementary and alternative cancer medicines, prostate cancer and diet, soy foods and breast cancer risk, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chronic viral hepatitis and liver cancer.
Ten minutes of questions and answers will follow each presentation.
About 5,500 isle residents are diagnosed with cancer annually, a number that is expected to increase in the years ahead, according to the Cancer Research Center.
Free exhibit booths with health- and cancer-related information will be open to the public.
Participating will be the American Cancer Society; AstraZeneca Oncology; Cancer Information Service, Pacific region; Eli Lilly and Co.; and the Hawaii Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.
The Information Day is supported by the Friends of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and sponsored in part by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Reservations are recommended because a light lunch will be served. Call 275-3011 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.