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Research Highlights for September 2023

Research Highlights

Huntsman Cancer Institute shines the spotlight on new discoveries and cutting-edge cancer research. This month, researchers found that increasing access for Black people with prostate cancer may save lives. Also, the first patient in a new small cell lung cancer clinical trial has been enrolled, researchers are using an app to help adolescents and young adults manage cancer symptoms, and investigators are trying to reduce cognitive side-effects after chemotherapy. 

Increasing access to Black people with prostate cancer may decrease mortality rate

In a study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute found that making care more accessible to Black people with prostate cancer could decrease the mortality rate. Investigators had believed that since Black patients suffer from more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, their mortality rates were lower than White patients. Neeraj Agarwal, MD, FASCO, physician-scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, and his team showed that Black patients had similar survival outcomes to white patients when they had equal access to cancer care and treatment. 

First patient in a small cell lung cancer targeted therapy clinical trial treated

Huntsman Cancer Institute became the first U.S. facility to offer a phase 1 clinical trial for extensive stage small cell lung cancer with a targeted radiopharmaceutical therapy. Because small cell lung cancer is very aggressive, new targeted therapies are needed. When patients are considered for the clinical trial, they undergo a special scan. The scan helps assess whether they have the specific gene targeted by the drug. If the patient’s scan is positive, researchers can move forward with the targeted therapy. Sonam Puri, MD, physician-scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, leads the clinical trial.

Engaging adolescents and young adults with cancer through an app

The National Cancer Institute provided an R01 grant to Huntsman Cancer Institute investigators to conduct a multisite clinical trial to help adolescents and young adults (AYAs) manage their cancer symptoms. Lauri Linder, PhD, APRN, member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences program at Huntsman Cancer Institute, created an app to engage AYAs to report their symptom experiences. AYAs use Dr. Linder’s app to create a diagram that shows the symptoms they are experiencing, how their symptoms are related, and which are most important to them. AYAs will use their symptom diagram during doctor visits to discuss and develop a plan to manage their symptoms. Dr. Linder’s team hopes to improve AYAs’ ability to manage their cancer-related symptoms.

Reducing chemo side-effects after treatment

While receiving chemotherapy, it is common to experience cognitive issues, also known as chemo brain. These symptoms can occur during treatment, but often also persist for months or years post remission. In a study published in Digital Health, researchers found that cognitive games, developed at the University of Utah can improve memory, attention, and mood in women who experienced persistent chemo brain. Huntsman Cancer Institute researcher Sarah Shizuko Morimoto, PSYD, and her team, also noted that patients were able to accurately perceive their abilities and as their cognition improved, so did perception of their cognitive function.

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations
Huntsman Cancer Institute
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801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering the highest standard of care and the most advanced treatments, ensuring world-class cancer care is available to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

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