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Kasiani Myers, MD

Kasiani Myers, MD

Joseph Pressey, MD
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Publish Date: 03/26/15
Media Contact: Katie Pence, 513-558-4561
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Two UC Cancer Institute Survivorship Research Pilot Grants Awarded

Winners of the 2015 UC Cancer Institute Cancer Survivorship Pilot Research Grant were announced during the event, "Transforming Cancer Survivorship: An Evening with Julia Rowland, PhD,” March 26.

The grant, made possible through a gift from The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation, was awarded to Kasiani Myers, MD, and Joseph Pressey, MD, faculty members at the UC College of Medicine and physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in the amount of $50,000 per recipient to gather pilot data for the development of a larger study to address researchable questions and problems regarding cancer treatment effects.

"Survivorship is a necessary component of care as rates of survival continue to climb. It begins after diagnosis and continues throughout a patient’s lifespan,” says Beverly Reigle, PhD, director of the program and associate professor in UC’s College of Nursing. "However, because it is a newer field, there is a huge need for research in order to discover best practices in caring for this population.

"The two winning projects encourage interaction and collaboration and facilitate exploratory research to test interventions, develop research methodologies and explore novel areas in cancer research, which we hope will lead to external funding and make a positive impact on survivorship care.”

Fertility for Stem Cell Transplant Recipients 

Myers, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine and a physician specializing in bone marrow transplant and immune deficiency at Cincinnati Children’s, will be studying fertility in patients who undergo stem cell transplantation.

"Stem cell transplant is used to treat cancers and other conditions through the use of high-dose chemotherapy and radiation,” she says. "Advances in the field have led to an increase in the number of long-term survivors, and improving long-term quality of life through survivorship has become an essential part of care.

"Late effects in these populations are almost universal, especially those related to the endocrine system, as it is extremely sensitive to injury caused by these therapies. Newer therapies, called reduced intensity conditioning, use less intense chemotherapy preparative regimens without radiation to limit toxicities while still being effective. Current understanding of late effects using this regimen with stem cell transplantation is extremely limited, especially in pediatric populations, although many anticipate improvement in comparison to standard regimens.”

Myers says, however, that their preliminary data suggests that the same issues still exist with the alternative treatment.

"We want to know if reduced intensity conditioning regimens still result in significant effects related to reproductive organ function and fertility later in life and if survivors should continue to be counseled and screened aggressively for deficiencies. This pilot study will provide initial data to support a larger longitudinal study evaluating late effects of this regimen in pediatric patients to develop an evidence-based way to monitor effects in these survivors.”

Lack of Activity in Bone Cancer Survivors

Pressey, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine and a physician in the Cancer and Blood Disease Institute at Cincinnati Children’s, will be looking at how lack of physical activity among bone cancer survivors could affect health later in life and will study physical and psychosocial barriers that hinder participation in physical activity.

"The survival rate for pediatric cancer has improved dramatically over the past four decades with 80 percent of patients now ultimately cured of their disease,” he says. "While the survival rate lags for patients with sarcomas such as osteosarcoma, the most common bone cancer of children and young adults, 60 to 70 percent of these patients with non-metastatic disease are ultimately cured with the use of multi-agent chemotherapy and surgical removal.

"With improved surgical limb salvage techniques, patients with extremity osteosarcoma are typically able to avoid amputations while maintaining satisfactory functional mobility. Unfortunately, survivors experience numerous late-effects of therapy including lack of physical activity which may worsen other serious therapy-related diseases such as obesity, hyperlipidemia and heart disease.”

Pressey says that with the majority of osteosarcoma patients now surviving, prevention and treatment of these late-effects of cancer therapy are recognized as critical targets for physicians.

"We think that the lack of physical activity among these survivors is associated with detrimental late effects and that identifiable physical and psychosocial barriers to physical activity correlate with inactivity among these survivors,” he continues. "In order to identify predictors of inactivity, we will measure physical activity and possible adverse effects of inactivity, investigate possible barriers to activity including gait abnormalities, impaired functional independence and lack of participation in post-operative rehabilitation therapy. We will also identify potential psychosocial barriers in order to use initial findings to development a longitudinal trial promoting physical activity in these patients and other sarcoma survivors.” 

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