In a new approach to cancer research funding, doctors, researchers, nurses and patients from Magee-Womens Research Institute
Hospital of UPMC
came together this month to discuss the direction of obesity-related
cancer prevention. The dinner marked the
first time Pittsburgh-area cancer patients have been invited to participate as
stakeholders to address major cancer research concerns.
The group explored different ways to help endometrial cancer
patients, and those at risk for the disease, reduce their risk for recurrence
or developing the disease in the first place. Because obesity is the leading risk factor for endometrial cancer, the
meeting focused primarily on weight loss, exercise and physician-patient
communication as tools for cancer prevention.
Endometrial cancer begins in the layer of cells that forms the lining (the endometrium) of the uterus. Occasionally it is referred to as uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage because it frequently produces abnormal bleeding, which women report to their doctor. If caught early, endometrial cancer can often be cured through surgery alone.
“Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths
in the U.S., and it is associated with a wide range of health problems,
including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke,” said Faina Linkov
professor in the division of hematology and oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of
and the dinner’s coordinator. “While physicians generally do a
good job of discussing the risks between heart disease and obesity, they don’t
often address its link to cancer, particularly endometrial cancer. We want
women to understand there is an established link between cancer and obesity,
and we want to help them control this risk factor.”
In addition to discussing the roles weight control and
exercise play in cancer prevention, dinner attendees took preliminary steps in
formulating research questions that Magee physicians and researchers will use
to inform future grant applications. According to Dr. Linkov, involving patients in the research process from
its inception could potentially impact cancer research and care.
“We are witnessing dramatic shifts in the practice of
medicine,” Dr. Linkov said. “More and
more, patients and patient advocacy groups are engaged in helping us formulate
research questions, monitoring research progress and sharing results throughout
the community. We want to make sure our
patients and community members are engaged participants in our quest to
understand the causes of and treatments for cancer.”