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News Release

May 14, 2018

UH Cancer Center's Hawai`i Tumor Registry awarded $1.8M

The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center’s Hawai‘i Tumor Registry was awarded $1.8 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to continue to participate in the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. The Hawai‘i Tumor Registry has provided incidence and survival data on all cases of cancer in Hawai‘i since 1973. The award includes a potential of additional nine years of funding for a total award of more than $21 million.

“The UH Cancer Center’s Hawai‘i Tumor Registry plays a vital role in cancer research and cancer control activities in Hawai‘i and nationally. The registry is particularly notable for its contribution to addressing the burden of cancer in Asian and Pacific Island ethnic groups that are not well-represented in the U.S.,” said Brenda Hernandez, PhD, MPH, Hawai‘i Tumor Registry principal investigator.

As one of only 16 newly funded NCI-SEER regions nationwide, the Hawai‘i Tumor Registry collects detailed information on the more than 7,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Hawai‘i residents annually, as well as follow-up and survival data. Since its inception as a SEER registry in 1973, the Hawai‘i Tumor Registry's surveillance has covered approximately 200,000 Hawaii cancer cases.

“For nearly 50 years, the Hawai‘i Tumor Registry has provided valuable insight that informs cancer prevention and research efforts, especially in Asian American and Pacific Islander populations. This federal funding will allow the Cancer Center to continue this important work toward developing new treatments, and eventually, a cure,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono.

“The first step to beating cancer is to understand the disease, and that’s exactly what the Hawai‘i Tumor Registry allows us to do,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “With this funding, our state will have the resources we need to collect data—including information about how cancer affects minorities—to help researchers, doctors, and others fight for a cure.”

UH Cancer Center Hawai‘i Tumor Registry
The Hawai‘i Tumor Registry maintains a confidential database of information on all reportable cases of cancer, benign brain tumors, many blood disorders and other reportable "neoplasms" diagnosed in Hawai‘i, and data are published to inform local prevention and control efforts, as well as national and international research efforts. Founded in 1960, the Registry is jointly operated by the UH Cancer Center and the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.

The Registry's database contains more cancer cases of Native Hawaiians than any other registry nationwide. It also contains sizable numbers of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Pacific Islanders and Whites, including smaller numbers of other ethnic groups. This racially-diverse and unique population resource has been invaluable in demonstrating ethnic variations in cancer incidence and survival. The database information is used by cancer control partners, hospitals, researchers, physicians and many others.

Since 1973, the Registry has been a coveted and founding member of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER), the nation's cancer surveillance and reporting system and it receives its primary financial support from the National Institute's of Health, National Cancer Institute (NCI). HTR is also recognized as a high-quality central cancer registry, receiving GOLD standard awards from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) on an annual basis.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN261201800011I

View HTR cancer booklet

View Cancer at a Glance brochure

Graphical image showing the average annual number of newly diagnosed cancer cases by county (Kauai county: 336 or 5%; Honolulu County: 4,719 or 70%; Maui County, includes Maui, Molokai, Lanai: 744 or 11%; Hawaii County: 905 or 14%), 2009-2013

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. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.


News Release

August 3, 2017

SUMMER INTERNS CONDUCT CANCER RESEARCH IN HAWAI'I

HONOLULU – Nineteen high school and undergraduate students conducted cancer research at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center during the 2017 summer.

"The internship program characterizes the community engagement that is very important to the UH Cancer Center. We are able to reach out to young students across the island and help them get exposed to new research advances and cutting edge biomedical research. These students will become a part of Hawai'i's science and technology workforce," said Dr. Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director.

The interns were chosen through a highly competitive process from public and private schools across the state and the nation. Out of 74 total applications 19 students were selected with an average GPA of 3.77. The internship projects include focuses such as cancer prevention and control measures, cancer epidemiology, bioinformatics, and basic cancer biology.

The internship program provides valuable research experience, exposes young people to possible careers in the life sciences. Past program interns have gone on to earn advanced degrees from top universities before returning to work in Hawai'i as physicians or scientists.

The Cancer Center's program places interns under the guidance of faculty mentors, who help them gain research experience and complete an independent project. Interns also present their research findings to their peers and to Cancer Center faculty through a poster session. The students receive a stipend for their work, which takes place over a two-month span. More than half of the Center's summer interns were underrepresented minority students who are interested in pursuing careers in science.

A 2017 follow-up of 72 previous students showed:
  • 73 percent obtained an undergraduate degree in a science field,
  • 5 percent completed a medical degree,
  • 5 percent had finished graduate school education in a research-oriented field,
  • 34 percent are enrolled in an undergraduate science program,
  • 13 percent are enrolled in a Master's program and
  • 23 percent are enrolled in a Medical School.

Lauren Muraoka (Hanalani Schools) attending UH Mānoa
"As a cancer survivor, I grew up hearing and learning about cancer since before I can remember. I've gotten to meet a lot of other cancer patients, survivors, and families and anything that contributes to ending and lessening the burden they have to go through is something that I want to be a part of."

"I wanted to experience a research environment first-hand to get a better understanding of what actually happens when planning and executing research. I was also really interested in the fact that a lot of what the Cancer Center is doing is focused on the Pacific, so it's neat to see the community-focused aspect of research as well."

Phyllis Raquinio (Maui High School) attending UH Mānoa
"This internship means learning how cancer impacts people around the world and how other health- and non-health related issues play into cancer. It means learning new things about cancer that many people might not know and using that knowledge to fight back against cancer."

Jasmine Padamada (Kea'au High School) attending UH Mānoa
"I wanted to be a part of this internship mostly because I wanted to experience how research and medicine work together. I was also interested in applying the skills that I learned during my lab classes at UH Manoa. Ultimately, this internship is a great way for me to take in as much knowledge as I can while contributing to a new discovery."

Jommel Macaraeg (Waipahu High School)
"There are numerous individuals who are working around the clock to investigate cancer in terms of prevention, epidemiology, and biology. I want to be a part of these individuals who are trying to understand the mechanisms behind cancer and find a way to fight against it."

Dylan Combs (Punahou) attending Harvard
"I am interested in cancer research because I feel there is so much to be discovered, and even more to gain from these discoveries. It is an incredible opportunity to gain research skills and learn new concepts from not only faculty but also other other interns of unique backgrounds."

2017 Cancer Center Summer Interns

Two High School Students

Funding

Jommel Macaraeg (Waipahu High School)

CURE

Daven Ruggles (Kalaheo High School)

CURE

17 Undergraduate Students


Larissa Ault (Charter School of San Diego) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Ivy Fernandes (Mid-Pacific Institute) attending Santa Clara University

CURE

Megan Ishii (Punahou) attending Scripps College

CURE

Jethro Macaraeg (Waipahu High School) attending Creighton

CURE

Jasmine Padamada (Kea'au High School) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Phyllis Raquinio (Maui High School) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Nicholas Siu-Li (Hawaii Baptist Academy) attending Santa Clara University

CURE

Makana Williams (Punahou) attending Yales

CURE

Casie Kubota (St. Andrews) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Victoria Mak (Punahou) attending Saint Louis University

Meiji

Lynn Nguyen (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Mari Ogino (Pearl City) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Dylan Combs (Punahou) attending Harvard

Friends

Connor Goo (Punahou) attending USC

Friends

Nicholas Liu ('Iolani) attending University of British Columbia

Friends

Lauren Muraoka (Hanalani) attending UH Mānoa

Friends

Dabe Sobol (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa

Friends

The Center's internship program is supported in part by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) CURE Supplement, an endowment from the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, and the Friends of the UH Cancer Center.

For photos:
http://owl.li/k66230e9DQZ

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. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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News Release

April 14, 2018

Expert medical imager joins UH Cancer Center

Expert medical imager joins UH Cancer Center

John Shepherd, PhD, joins the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center as a senior researcher in Epidemiology from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. He was at UCSF in the Radiology Department for 19 years and is a National Institutes of Health Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Fellow, a 2013 Fulbright Scholar, and a frequent consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He is most known for his expertise in quantitative X-ray imaging using machine learning for bone densitometry, body composition and mammography applications.

What are some of your research goals?

Ultimately, I want to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals. I approach this by studying risk factors for cancer using medical imaging.

Some examples of my work include using 3-dimensional optical scans of the body to measure body shape and how it relates to obesity and cancer risk. We do this by comparing body shape to fat, muscle and bone distributions that currently can only be measured using less accessible x-ray imaging scans. Another example is the use of screening mammograms to estimate not just if the person has cancer, but how likely she is to develop breast cancer in the future. The most exciting tool we use in these investigations is a type of artificial intelligence called “deep learning.” Using deep learning, we are extracting so much more information from medical images than we could even five years ago.

How will your research be beneficial to the people of Hawai‘i?

Women in Hawai‘i have not been included in any of the U.S. breast cancer risk models because there has not been a large scale effort to collect screening mammograms. I am working with my colleagues at the UH Cancer Center to create the first Hawai‘i and Pacific Islands Mammography Registry. Our goal is to teach deep learning algorithms how to read mammograms to not only detect cancer but to identify the women who will develop cancer in the next five years. This requires literally several hundred thousand mammograms to train the algorithms, but we end up with very accurate models to predict who is at high risk of breast cancer that are specific to our unique ethnically-diverse population of women in Hawai‘i. Once identified, women at high risk can then work with their doctors to reduce their breast cancer risk and hopefully avoid getting breast cancer.

I also study obesity using X-ray and 3-D optical images, the kind that are used for fitting clothes and video games. Obesity is a strong risk factor for cancers in general including breast cancer and our 3-D optical methods are a very accessible and accurate way to assess a person’s fat and muscle status.

What does it mean to you to join the UH Cancer Center?

There is lots of terrific work going on in the UH Cancer Center and I am honored to join the effort. I have been working with the Center on various projects for more than 10 years now. First, it was to develop a way to measure breast density in young girls with Gertraud Maskerinec, MD, PhD and Rachel Novotny, PhD. Later, I worked with Loic Le Marchand, MD, PhD and Unhee Lim, PhD on the Multiethnic Cohort Study to quantify body composition and cancer risk using dual-energy X-ray and MRI images. Many of my current projects were inspired by these collaborations. I hope to go much deeper into my research now that I am faculty at the Center.

Are you excited to move to Hawai‘i?

I am a surfer and that should say it all! Cowabunga! But before coming, I was only really familiar with the Waikīkī area. I am super excited about getting to know the people, culture, and food of all of Hawai‘i. Since arriving, I have been enjoying swimming the length of Ala Moana Park, biking to work from Mānoa, and eating lots and lots of poke!

My wife Jessica and my three daughters, Hewson, Maggie and Sarah are just very honored and happy to be part of the UH Cancer Center ‘ohana.

News Release

July 28, 2017

Study Shows High-Quality Diet Related to Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

HONOLULU – A high-quality diet was related to a lower risk of colorectal cancer as well as other chronic diseases by University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers using data from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study.

A high-quality diet was assessed by scores computed for four key diet quality indexes (DQIs), which measure compliance with dietary guidelines that have been issued to the United States population.

Dietary data scores consist of adequacy components

  • Foods to eat more of, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes: higher score for higher intake and moderation components
  • Foods to eat less of, such as red and processed meat, alcohol, refined grains, sodium, and sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g., sodas): higher score for lower intake

The MEC is a prospective epidemiological study in which 215,000 residents of Hawai'i and Los Angeles, aged 45-75 at recruitment in 1993-1996, completed a questionnaire about their dietary habits. The participants are being followed for occurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

"After an average follow-up of 16 years, participants with the highest scores for the four indexes experienced a lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared with those with the lowest scores," said Dr. Song Yi Park, the lead author of the study.

The study also shows that improvement in diet quality between middle age and late adulthood was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer in most racial/ethnic subgroups.

High-quality diet was related to a colorectal cancer risk reduction of:

  • 16 to 31 percent in men
  • 4 to 18 percent in women
  • 22 to 30 percent in Native Hawaiians
  • 6 to 24 percent in Japanese Americans
  • 17 to 31 percent in Whites

Colorectal cancer in Hawai'i

  • Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most frequently diagnosed cancer in Hawai'i
  • There are 722 new cases and 224 deaths annually.
  • Colorectal cancer mortality is highest among Native Hawaiians.

"The study is one of the first to investigate how overall diet quality is in relation to colorectal cancer risk. We are seeking to find the best approach to achieving a health promoting diet in Hawai'i and across the nation," said Dr. Loic Le Marchand, study lead and professor in the UH Cancer Center's Cancer Epidemiology Program.

The analysis was performed as part of the Dietary Patterns Methods Project, which is led and supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Publication
http://owl.li/lS5D30dypny

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. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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