Annual Report 2022 | Page 17

In 2020 , the COVID-19 pandemic caused a tremendous decline of cancer patient participation in clinical trials and a shortage of cancer center staffing locally and nationwide . This crisis slowed the progression of life-saving clinical research which became especially disheartening for patients who rely on clinical trial treatments in their hope for a cure .

The UH Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office ( CTO ) provides the infrastructure and operational support for cancer clinical trials at the UH Cancer Center and hospitals which are part of the Hawai ‘ i Cancer Consortium . In 2022 , the CTO ramped up efforts to bring patient participation back to prepandemic levels through reorganization , implementing new strategies , and increasing staff resources , especially Clinical Research Professionals ( CRP ) who are critical to expanding clinical trials availability in Hawai ‘ i .

CRPs are responsible for coordinating and monitoring clinical trials and aids in the improvement of cancer patient outcomes . Courtney Chun , CRP and lead Cancer Care Delivery Coordinator helps navigate patients throughout their cancer journey from diagnosis and beyond .
A clinical trials patient of Courtney ’ s described the importance of this relationship . “ When I was diagnosed with cancer and learned I would need chemotherapy , I was very nervous . I knew there were loads of terrible side effects that I might experience ,” she said . “ I chose to participate in a clinical trial that tracks side effects during and after chemotherapy . Courtney was there at my chemotherapy visits and continued to see me even after my treatment was over . She was a source of comfort throughout my treatment .”
The UH Cancer Center offers different types of clinical trials , such as cancer care delivery trials which focus on improving the development and delivery of treatments , and emotional support trials which help cancer survivors cope with long-term effects . Some trials are also available for healthy people considered at high-risk for cancer . The UH Cancer Center offers opportunities to cancer patients of all stages and addresses specific gaps in oncologic clinical care that need improvement . “ Being able to offer unique opportunities and novel treatments to oncology patients is something I am grateful to be a part of every day ,” said Courtney . “ Seeing patients benefit in any way from our trials is one of the best feelings as a CRP .”
The UH Cancer Center remains dedicated to investigating new ways of delivering cancer care to Hawai ‘ i ’ s multiethnic population , often underrepresented in clinical trials nationwide . As a result , Hawai ‘ i is contributing significantly to expanding the knowledge of how various cancers affect different races , including minority populations . Looking ahead , the UH Cancer Center hopes to expand clinical trial access to neighbor island patients .
Courtney Chun