Debra L. Barton, RN, PhD, AOCN
Associate Professor, Oncology
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Nestlé Waters North America Award)
Co-Investigator: Charles Loprinzi, MD, Professor, Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester
Drs. Barton and Loprinzi's research focuses on alleviating the negative side effects related to breast cancer treatments that are experienced by patients. Specifically, they are examining the use of natural products, such as ginseng, to relieve chemotherapy-related fatigue. In 2011, this team launched a study that sought to address the physical discomforts faced by female cancer survivors who cannot use estrogen. Vaginal atrophy, causing dryness, discomfort, itching and pain with intercourse, is a significant problem for female cancer survivors who cannot use estrogen. Even low dose estrogen can have effects on tissue outside of the vagina and can present an unknown risk with respect to breast cancer.
A form of steroid called vaginal dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA) is a potentially effective treatment for atrophy symptoms that may not have effects outside of the vagina. Drs. Barton and Loprinzi have now completed enrollment on a study evaluating the effectiveness of DHEA for vaginal dryness and pain, with 464 women enrolled. They are currently analyzing blood and vaginal tissues along with data on the primary outcomes of self-reported pain and/or dryness. In 2013-2014, the team will begin extensive analyses to determine results of this intervention but also to analyze data to plan for new studies to improve sexual health in women with a history of cancer.
Debra Barton is an Associate Professor of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She also serves as program coordinator for the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) Research Base of the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, where she is a clinical investigator. Dr. Barton is a full member of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center and part of the leadership team for Cancer Prevention and Control.
Dr. Barton received her doctoral degree from Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis. Dr. Barton has developed clinical trials to improve the health-related quality of life of cancer survivors in several areas including cognitive function, fatigue, sleep, hot flashes, neuropathy, sexual health, and nausea and vomiting. Her greatest contributions include the generation and dissemination of nursing knowledge which has transformed practice for cancer survivors in non-hormonal alternatives for hot flash management, sexual health and complementary therapies.
Dr. Barton is being inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in November, 2008. She is a member of Mayo Clinic's Institutional Review Board and is on the faculty at Mayo's Graduate School in Clinical and Translational Sciences. Dr. Barton serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is a Director at Large for the Society of Integrative Oncology, and serves as liaison from the National Cancer Institute Symptom Management/Quality of Life steering committee to the Investigational Drug Development Steering Committee. She also is a member of review committees for the National Institute of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and takes an active role in committees and projects with her national specialty organization, the Oncology Nursing Society.