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UH researcher is a voice for Hawai‘i residents in cancer clinical trials

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Erin Bantum. Photo Courtesy: University of Hawai‘i

University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center researcher, Erin Bantum, has been re-elected to serve another three-year term on the National Cancer Institute’s Symptom Management and Quality of Life Steering Committee. Her initial appointment was in October 2020.

The committee addresses the design, prioritization and evaluation of concepts for phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials to control cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. In addition, the Symptom Management and Quality of Life Steering Committee decides on the types of symptom management and quality-of-life clinical trials that are offered at the 72 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers across the nation, including the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center.

As the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program representative on this committee, Bantum works to ensure that the proposed clinical trials are inclusive for the people of Hawai‘i. She provides a voice for Hawai‘i residents to emphasize the importance of diversity and equity in these trials. Her participation may lead to access to more culturally appropriate cancer clinical trials for Hawai‘i’s multiethnic population, resulting in a better quality of life for cancer survivors.

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“I see my role on the committee as one where I want to think about how trials that are designed are relevant, inclusive and considerate for people from Hawai‘i,” said Bantum. “I think it’s important for me to continue learning from our community here and taking that back to this national committee, as designing trials that are relevant and impactful for all is a goal that needs to continue to be fulfilled.”

The National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program is a national network that brings cancer clinical trials and care delivery studies to people in their communities. Nationwide, minority populations are often underrepresented in clinical trials.

The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center says it’s dedicated to finding relevant cancer clinical trials for Hawai‘i’s diverse population, especially for those with a disproportionate burden of cancer compared to others.

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Bantum’s research at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center focuses on cancer survivorship and better understanding factors related to adjustment of diagnosis and treatment. Her recent research includes the impact of hula for cancer survivors and the role of mindfulness meditation in positively impacting anxiety and cancer-related neuropathy for cancer survivors.

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