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Study may lead to new cancer treatment standard

New Britain [November 12 2007] - A major cancer institute has accepted a Hospital of Central Connecticut physician’s study proposal that aims to improve identification and treatment of a cancer specific to women.

The study, authorized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will examine blood samples to help determine if a woman has a type of gynecological cancer that starts in the uterus, known as gestational trophoblastic tumor, and the best treatment for it. The study will be led by Hospital of Central Connecticut gynecologic oncologist James Hoffman, M.D.

Initially, the Gynecology Oncology Group (GOG), part of the NCI, accepted the proposal developed by Hoffman and Laurence A. Cole, M.D., Ph.D., University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the study’s research co-chair.

The research is expected to last several years and will be conducted in GOG centers throughout the country, including The Hospital of Central Connecticut. It will secure blood samples of women who, though not pregnant, have higher than normal levels of the substance human chorionic gonadotropin. This is an indicator of two types of the cancer, molar pregnancy and choriocarcinoma, that can develop from an early, unsuccessful pregnancy. Both are highly curable with chemotherapy.

The conditions are more prevalent among Asian and Native American populations, says Hoffman. According to the American Cancer Society, a molar pregnancy occurs in about one out of 1,000 pregnancies in the United States and Europe, and choriocarcinoma in about one out of 20,000 to 40,000 pregnancies in the United States.

After the testing period, researchers will compare initial blood samples with treatment methods and results.

“I am quite enthusiastic about this investigation moving forward, with the hope of providing treatments that are more tailored to our patients’ cancers,” says Hoffman, who is working to find the most appropriate study candidates.

Hoffman and Maureen Bracco, APRN, a GOG cancer clinical researcher at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, direct the Central Connecticut GOG group, comprised of The Hospital of Central Connecticut, and Middlesex, Hartford and St. Francis hospitals.

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507

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