Cancer Clinical Trial Participants Honored

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The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center hosted its 4th annual Helping Enhance Research in Oncology (HERO) appreciation event to honor more than 150 cancer clinical trial participants on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

4th Annual Helping Enhance Research in Oncology appreciation event. PC: UH Mānoa.

“I suffer from survivor’s guilt because I was first diagnosed in 2004,” said Karen Koles, clinical trial participant. I should have died, but thanks to the clinical trials and a great oncologist I am still here, so to see other people who have survived as well is just so uplifting.”

The UH Cancer Center coordinates about 150 active national clinical trials of new treatments and technologies for adults and children and is currently monitoring about 1,000 participants and enrolling more than 300 new clinical trial participants annually.

UH Cancer Center coordinates clinical trials through a robust network on O‘ahu including the Hawai‘i Cancer Consortium with oversight of trials at The Queen’s Health Systems, Hawai‘i Pacific Health hospitals, Kuakini Health System and numerous private practitioners statewide.


Cancer clinical trials offer the highest level of care and better outcomes for cancer patients. The studies undergo rigorous scientific review and provide access to novel treatments. Nationally, about 70 to 75% of children with cancer are treated on clinical trials compared to only about 2 to 3% of adults. The high participation rate of children has contributed to their high cure rates.

UH Cancer Center is focused on increasing accruals to clinical trials in Hawai‘i through its 20BY25 educational statewide campaign dedicated to the initiative to achieve enrollment to cancer clinical trials of 20% of all individuals with newly diagnosed and relapsed cancers each year by 2025. If Hawai‘i achieves this goal, it will be the only state in the U.S. to achieve this high proportion of enrollment to clinical trials statewide.

A high proportion of enrollment on trials as well as including Hawai‘i’s diverse multiethnic population in the trials is important for creating better treatments. Most clinical trial participants nationwide are white. The results of those studies may not apply to Hawai‘i’s population.


“Without a diversity of patients participating in trials, no knowledge is obtained about the effectiveness and side effects in non-white populations,” said Jessica Rhee, medical director, UH Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office. “This is why it is even more significant that cancer patients in Hawai‘i participate in clinical trials so the knowledge that is gained can be applied to all ethnic groups.”

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