UH Cancer Center coordinated breast cancer clinical trials may improve routine care

November 2, 2018

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center is coordinating breast cancer clinical trials that may critically improve routine care and treatments.

“These trials are very important because breast cancer is a significant issue in Hawai‘i. Racial and ethnic minority groups are severely under-represented in breast cancer clinical trials in the rest of the United States, so participation of patients from Hawai‘i is doubly important,” said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director.

“The best way to improve breast cancer care that leads to better outcomes for patients is to increase enrollment onto clinical trials that test new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. Findings from these clinical trials could establish new and improved standards of care,” said Jessica Rhee, MD, UH Cancer Center’s Clinical Trials Office medical director.

Aspirin Breast Cancer Clinical Trial
The ABC Trial

Sandra Hee

The ABC trial is an NCI-sponsored national clinical trial provided locally by the UH Cancer Center to determine if the addition of daily aspirin for five years will decrease the likelihood of cancer returning post-treatment for breast cancer patients who are at significant risk of recurrence despite completing all standard treatments.

“There is significant data to support the potential benefits of aspirin in breast cancer survivors. Aspirin is inexpensive and widely available, so this treatment could be used worldwide to improve breast cancer outcomes. The results will help determine if aspirin can become part of routine care for breast cancer patients. The only way to evaluate this is to conduct this very important clinical trial,” said Rhee.

"Highly skilled medical professionals and women who participated in earlier research and trials are foundational to my remission of cancer. It is now my responsibility and opportunity to participate in ongoing research, namely the aspirin trial, to benefit others diagnosed, and to contribute to the quest of conquering cancer," said Sandra Hee, ABC clinical trial participant.

Digital Mammography Breast Cancer Clinical Trial
Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST)

Tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, was FDA approved in 2012 and is becoming more widely used in the United States. However, 2-D mammography has been the standard method for breast cancer screening since 2005. The TMIST trial compares the two different mammography technologies to determine which is better at detecting breast cancers, and more impactful in reducing breast cancer deaths.

Although screening mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer death rates, there has been recent controversy regarding the benefits and recommended schedule of screening mammograms especially in women younger than 50 years of age. This clinical trial will provide relevant information so women and their physicians better understand the impact of modern breast cancer screening.

“After helplessly watching my mother’s own cancer struggle, I decided to participate in the TMIST clinical trial during my regularly scheduled mammogram at the Queen’s Women’s Health Center. It was only a few questions and a blood test. I felt happy to help because not enough people are taking advantage of this opportunity to be part of a clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and provided here as fruit of the partnership between the Queen’s Medical Center and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center,” said Cathy Morris, TMIST clinical trial participant. “It was something I could do to have an actual impact on the fight against cancer. The researchers and doctors need our help to give them the data they need to study. I wish more women knew how easy it is to help through TMIST.”