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News Highlights

January 11, 2017


Statement urges action to increase national vaccination rates

HONOLULU – Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center, John A. Burns School of Medicine, and Hawai'i Department of Health have united with each of the 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in issuing a joint statement in support of recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The Cancer Center is proud to join with all of the NCI-designated centers and other health organizations to bring awareness about the HPV vaccine," said Dr. Randall Holcombe, director of the UH Cancer Center. "There are more than 100 people affected with HPV-associated cancers each year in Hawai'i. The vaccine is an effective strategy for combatting these cancers, so it is important to work to increase HPV vaccination rates in our communities."

According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (back of the throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the U.S., with just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys completing the recommended vaccine series.

"Our research at the UH Cancer Center has affirmed that HPV contributes to genital, anal, and other cancers in Hawai'i. In fact, over the past 10 years, new anal cancers in women have increased by 3 percent each year," said Dr. Brenda Hernandez, associate researcher in the UH Cancer Center's Epidemiology Program. "HPV vaccination is a powerful tool to prevent these cancers."

The new guidelines from the CDC recommend that beginning at ages 11 to 12, children should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. The vaccine works better when given to this age group. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series.

"The revised recommendation of 2 doses for middle school aged children should significantly reduce barriers and could be easily worked into the routine well-child visits for 11-13 year olds," said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, professor of Family Medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Hawai'i's percentage of 13 to 17 year old women and men receiving at least 2 doses of HPV vaccine has increased to 64 percent and 49 percent, respectively. However, these numbers still fall short of the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent of women and men receiving the HPV vaccine by age 15 according to the latest National Immunization Survey-Teen.

"The Hawai'i Department of Health supports the new guidelines for HPV vaccination and urges physicians to talk with parents about the vaccine," said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawai'i State Department of Health. "With this year's start of new physical exam requirements for all Hawai'i students entering the seventh grade, physicians have an excellent opportunity to catch preteens who have not yet received the HPV vaccination."

Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer.

In an effort to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized a continuing series of national summits to share new research, discuss best practices, and identify collective action toward improving vaccination rates. There will also be a Talking Cancer Prevention and HPV Vaccination: Workshop for Health Care Providers held on February 9, 2017 at the UH Cancer Center.

"We have been inspired by the White House Cancer Moonshot to work together in eliminating cancer," said Dr. Electra Paskett, associate director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) Cancer Control Research Program. "Improving HPV vaccination is an example of an evidence-based prevention strategy we can implement today to save thousands of lives in the future."

For more information, you can check out the 2017 HPV Consensus Statement


News Highlights

December 16, 2016

Governor Ige Pledges Support for the UH Cancer Center

Governor David Ige on December 14, announced his commitment and support for the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center at the Hawai'i Comprehensive Cancer Coalition Moonshot Summit.

"As governor, I am committed to providing additional resources to combat cancer and engage in cancer research in Hawai'i," said Ige. "With our rapid advancements in technology and medical research, it's time to find a cure once and for all."

Ige pledged $5 million for the UH Cancer Center in both fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The commitment from the governor supports the Center's distinctive research focused on the ethnic diversity of Hawai'i, and its unique environmental characteristics.

"We are very appreciative of Governor Ige's support for the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center," said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director. "Restoration of support to the level initially proposed by the legislature when the cigarette tax was enacted will enable the Cancer Center to achieve long-term sustainability and allow it to continue its Hawai'i-focused research addressing the cancer problem for people throughout our State."

For photos of the Summit:



News Highlights

December 20, 2016

New Bladder Cancer Test May Help With Early Detection

HONOLULU – A non-invasive bladder cancer detection test developed by Charles Rosser, director of the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center's Translational and Clinical Research Program, and collaborators, had a strong overall performance when tested on participants in Japan. Researchers evaluated the urine-based test to see if it could benefit patients, and potentially benefit healthcare systems as well.

"The development of non-invasive tests that can accurately detect and monitor bladder cancer is clinically urgent," said Rosser. "Bladder cancer patients are under continual surveillance with routine examinations to monitor the disease's development. With the prolonged and invasive nature of follow-up and treatment strategies, bladder cancer is one of the most expensive malignancies to manage."

The study published in Journal of Translational Medicine evaluated the urine-based diagnostic test on 288 people in a Japanese cohort from two independent institutions. To date, Rosser and his team have tested the diagnostic test in more than 1,000 subjects with encouraging results.

Bladder cancer characteristics are similar in Japan as they are in the United States. The disease is often seen in elderly patients, which is becoming a major social issue in an aging Japanese society. In Japan, 2,000 patients are newly diagnosed and 5,000 patients die from the disease annually, according to the study.

The test confirmed the presence of bladder cancer when evaluating samples with the chosen panel of biomarkers. The results reinforce the potential use of the biomarkers for detection of the disease. The test achieved a strong overall diagnostic performance achieving 85 percent sensitivity and 81 percent specificity.

"The diagnostic test performance is encouraging, it can potentially be beneficial for many bladder cancer patients if the results can help with clinical decision making and patient management," said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director. "The Center is focused on cancer prevention and early detection efforts because it is essential to reducing cancer risk, incidence and mortality."

In Hawai'i bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the ninth most deadly cancer in men. There are 228 people who are diagnosed with bladder cancer in the state each year.

DOI: 10.1186/s12967-016-1043-1

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. This is equivalent to supporting 776 jobs. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, the center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care. Learn more at Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.


News Highlights

December 14, 2016

UH Cancer Center Addresses New State Cancer Plan Priorities

HONOLULU – As a member of the Hawai'i Comprehensive Cancer Coalition, the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center actively addresses the cancer burdens unveiled in the Hawai'i State Cancer Plan 2016-2020.

At the plan launch on December 14, guest panelist and UH Cancer Center director, Dr. Randall Holcombe, emphasized the importance of cancer research in Hawai'i. "Hawai'i's racial and ethnic mixture makes us unique in the types, incidence and mortality of cancer we face in our state. This makes it critical for us to continue developing and providing new approaches for cancer prevention and treatment to our communities."

The plan outlines priority objectives under four major goals: prevention, early detection, equitable access to care, and quality of life. It was developed by dozens of key stakeholders across Hawai'i to help reduce the burden of cancer in our state.

More than 6,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Hawai'i each year, while 2,000 die from the disease each year. As the only National Cancer Institute designated center in Hawai'i and the Pacific, the UH Cancer Center provides unique opportunities for research and patient care to support objectives in the new plan.

The plan is in line with the national Cancer Moonshot Initiative highlighted at its unveiling. The goal of the initiative led by Vice President Joe Biden is to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care over the next five years to ultimately end cancer as we know it. The UH Cancer Center held a Cancer Moonshot Summit on June 29, 2016 in conjunction with summits held in Washington, DC and across the nation.

"Many of us have been or will be affected by cancer. Through the power of collaboration, we have an opportunity to fight together and end this disease," said Cancer Coalition Chair Dr. Shane Morita.

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. This is equivalent to supporting 776 jobs. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, the center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care. Learn more at Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.