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by Marcie Kagawa, staff writer

The Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i (CRCH) hosted a free public information conference on March 21 at the Japanese Cultural Center in the Manoa Grand Ballroom. A variety of organizations, career specialists, and cancer researchers gave presentations that explored cancer-related issues. Health- and cancer-related exhibits were displayed.
“ There was a great turnout,” said Sharon Shigemasa from CRCH, “mostly by the general public and some college students who study health science.
Shigemasa felt the event was a good opportunity for students: “It was information that they would already be learning,” she said. “But they were also able to talk one-on-one with the researchers.”
She added that most of the concepts that were shared at the conference were directed for specific types of cases, but could also be informational to the general public, many of whom would be interested in the topics. These included high cancer rates among native Hawaiians, updates on ovarian cancer and colorectal cancers, and innovations in the treatments of lung cancer.
Shigemasa said, “While there was a great variety of information to share, one big concept that was discussed by all the researchers was the advancements of current studies that are being performed as well as the clinical trial programs that are occurring.”
The day’s schedule was broken down into 30- to - 60 minute discussion sessions lead by researchers and specialists. Robert Wilkinson, M.D., from Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i led the first seminar, Applying the Advances in Childhood Cancers to Adolescents and Young Adults. His discussion of the current state of pediatric treatments being developed for young adults drew the most attention.
“There has been serious concern,” Wilkins said, “because candidates in the age group of adolescents that we are studying are not responding to the therapy.” He added that recent studies show that the therapy is more effective in young children. He brought up an interesting idea that it’s because the young have a more open mind to treatments as opposed to young adults who “hold an attitude of invincibility; they don’t take treatments as seriously,” he said.
“ Most have a closed mind about these treatments and therapies,” Shigemasa said. “They blame it on not having the insurance to cover the cost or are busy with school, work, and hold a part-time or full-time job.”
“ It was very interactive,” Shigemasa said, adding that many audience members continued to ask questions one-on-one with the panelist even after the seminars were over.

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