Tip Sheet: Personalizing cancer treatment, cancer and the LGBTQ+ community – and expanded Medicaid coverage linked to increased participation in cancer clinical trials

SEATTLE — Sept. 6, 2023 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center research findings and other news.

Reporting on wildfire smoke? Fred Hutch clinicians and researchers are available to share their expertise. Dr. Trang VoPham is an epidemiologist focusing on environmental exposures and risk; follow her on social media or reach out to media@fredhutch.org for more information.

September is an awareness month for leukemia and lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, thyroid and uterine cancers. If you’re looking for resources who can comment on these topics , see our list of experts and contact  media@fredhutch.org to set up interviews.

Cancer research and care

Don’t forget the F/U after your lung cancer screening
Screening early significantly reduces lung cancer mortality risk, but the lung cancer screening rate for those at high risk is just 5.7%, according to the American Lung Association. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises adults aged 50-80 who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years should receive a low-dose computed tomography (CT) every year to check for lung cancer. Two major leaks in the screening pipeline are a lack of people getting screened and a drop off of people not following up on their next steps, according to pulmonologist and prevention researcher Dr. Matthew Triplette.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Focusing on prostate cancer treatment without surgery
Fred Hutch patient, Ken Cleary, was born with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys a person’s blood-clotting platelets. He’s had many surgeries related to this autoimmune disorder, which made surgery to treat his prostate cancer inadvisable. But another treatment, high-intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU, a noninvasive type of focal therapy, proved successful.
Media contact: Heather Platisha, hplatisha@fredhutch.org

Sleep can be a cancer patient’s best elixir
 A third of cancer survivors experience long-term sleep disturbances, yet very few are evaluated for sleep disorders. According to epidemiologist Dr. Amanda Phipps, there are clinical and biological impacts for patients with cancer who are not getting as much sleep as their bodies need. Recently, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network updated their survivorship guidelines to include new recommendations for clinicians to check in with patients about their sleep. 
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Policy to expand Medicaid coverage linked to higher participation in cancer clinical trials among people insured by Medicaid
The Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act resulted in a 19% annual increase in Medicaid-insured cancer patients participating in publicly funded clinical trials, according to researchers. The study explored the impact of Medicaid expansion in 2014 and 2015 on cancer clinical trial participation. Researchers found that the 19% annual increase, compounded over time, resulted in 52% more patients with Medicaid insurance participating in cancer clinical trials than was projected during the same time period had the policy not been implemented. 
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Big-picture approach helps identify experimental diagnostic to personalize ovarian cancer treatment
Precision oncology research is typically about finding ways to match patients with a treatment tailored to their tumors. But in new work published in Cell, a research team instead developed a potential diagnostic that can identify patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer who won’t benefit from standard treatment. The researchers hope that the results could someday be used to help these patients access alternative treatments. 
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Cancer and the LGBTQ+ community
 Although 7% of Americans are lesbian, gay or bisexual (and another 5% of adults under 30 are trans or nonbinary), LGBTQ+ patients with cancer are not well researched, often experience discrimination,  and may face higher risk of cancer recurrence. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2022 showed sexual and gender minority patients with breast cancer experienced delays to diagnosis and treatment, and also had a higher chance of cancer recurrence — around 31% as compared to 14% for non LGBTQ+ folks. 
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Awards and grants

Grant King named a 2023 Damon Runyon Fellow
Dr. Grant King was named a 2023 Postdoctoral Fellow by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. The four-year, $300,000 award will allow King to study how extra-chromosomal DNA, or DNA that breaks away from larger chromosomes, can persist long-term in cells. Pieces of DNA that reside outside chromosomes can help promote the evolution that cancer cells need to grow unchecked, spread and evade treatment. Understanding the biological processes that enable extra-chromosomal DNA to persist will help researchers looking for ways to hinder tumor evolution. 
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem awarded amfAR grant for research on HIV gene therapy
The most meaningful HIV cure will be not only safe and effective but also widely accessible for the 39 million people with HIV worldwide. Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem is pursuing such a cure in the form of in vivo gene therapy that confers HIV resistance to a specific subset of a person’s hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs, the building blocks of our blood and immune systems. He was awarded $480,000 by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, to support the next stage of his work.. 
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Science spotlight
Science Spotlight is a monthly installment of articles written by postdoctoral fellows that summarize new research papers from Fred Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact media@fredhutch.org

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center unites individualized care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options and accelerate discoveries that prevent, treat and cure cancer and infectious diseases worldwide.

Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch is an independent, nonprofit organization and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington. We have earned a global reputation for our track record of discoveries in cancer, infectious disease and basic research, including important advances in bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, HIV/AIDS prevention, and COVID-19 vaccines. Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services and has network affiliations with hospitals in four states. Fred Hutch also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer