|Medical students' clinical research projects presented and published|
Fourth-year medical students Miran Blanchard, Kelsey Hoffman, and Justin LeBlanc presented their abstract, “The Association of Distance from Cancer Center and Season of Diagnosis with Receipt of Optimal Therapy for Breast Cancer,” at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference held in San Francisco, Calif., on Oct. 8–10.
Through their research, the students found that distance from cancer center has a detrimental effect on the receipt of optimal breast cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In addition, diagnosis during the fall and winter season has a detrimental effect on optimal receipt of radiotherapy. A physician’s choice of therapy may play a role in suboptimal pursuit of radiotherapy.
“ASCO is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who treat people with cancer,” said Abe Sahmoun, assistant professor, internal medicine, at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Medical Education Center in Fargo, N.D.
On Sept. 10–11, Blanchard was the only UND medical student who, along with six doctors from the Mayo Clinic, presented an abstract at the Neuro-Oncology 2009: Current Concepts Conference in Cleveland, Ohio: “Intracranial Non-Germinomatous Germ Cell Tumors: An Update of a Prospective Institutional Protocol with Comparison of Local Radiotherapy to Extensive Radiotherapy.”
The research, conducted at the Mayo Clinic, found that children receiving more local radiation had similar survival outcomes as those who received more extensive radiation for intracranial non-germinomatous germ cell tumors except in a subset of patients with elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein in their cerebrospinal fluid. It also found that those with spinal recurrence usually had elevated alpha-fetoprotein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid at their original diagnosis.
Fourth-year medical students Erica Martin, Megan Miller, and Lacey Krebsbach had their paper “Serum calcium levels are elevated among women with untreated postmenopausal breast cancer” recently accepted for publication in Cancer Causes and Control, a highly visible journal in cancer epidemiology. The research, conducted at MeritCare Hospital, found a small, but significantly higher mean serum calcium level among postmenopausal Caucasian women with newly diagnosed, untreated breast cancer. These findings are consistent with an effect of early breast tumors on calcium homeostasis. The lack of association between serum calcium levels and tumor size or stage supports the hypothesis that subclinical hyperparathyroidism may increase the risk for breast cancer.
“There are only few medical students in this country who complete a clinical research project during their third year and have it presented at a prestigious conference and publish in specialized journals,” said Sahmoun. “We should expect the UND medical education program to continue to produce high caliber doctors in the future.”
-- Denis F. MacLeod, Communications Coordinator, Center for Rural Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3300