Regis Professor of Breast Cancer Research
Co-Investigator: Debra L. Barton, RN, PhD, AOCN, Associate Professor, 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.
Drs. Barton and Loprinzi have completed the study evaluating vaginal DHEA (dehydroepiandosterone) for vaginal symptoms of dryness or pain in women who have been diagnosed with breast or gynecologic cancer. The research team is writing up the study results for the symptoms and the hormone and vaginal health data. At this time, the researchers can say that they have important information to share that will be helpful to women and providers facing unwanted effects of hormone depletion on the vagina. These results will be shared in large cancer conferences in June, 2014. They continue to analyze the data to learn more about what issues predict more severe symptoms and more problems with decreased sexual health in women, and what issues predict which women experience relief from vaginal symptoms.
The researchers have also written a study to evaluate a cognitive behavioral intervention for self-image concerns and are getting ready to implement the intervention in a very small number of women to see whether they have all the correct components before moving to a larger, randomized study. Once they perfect the cognitive behavioral intervention, they will add this treatment to the treatment for vaginal symptoms to begin to develop a comprehensive treatment that can address the complex needs of women who suffer from decreased sexual health as a result of cancer treatment.
Dr. Loprinzi is currently a Professor of Oncology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN where he has completed tours of duty as the chair of the Division of Medical Oncology and the Vice-Chair of the Department of Oncology. He presently is the Director of the NCCTG Cancer Control Program and a Co-Director of the Mayo Cancer Center Prevention and Control Program.
Dr. Loprinzi has served as the principal investigator of the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, CCOP Research base for over a decade. As such, he has run an active cancer control program directed toward both cancer prevention efforts and symptom control efforts. He has conducted multiple placebo-controlled trials which have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and The Lancet. He has published over 250 articles and book chapters, over 60 of which have been published it the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In addition, Dr. Loprinzi serves as the founding editor for the Art of Oncology section of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
His work in this area has lead to him receiving two awards from the Susan B Komen Foundation, the Komen Foundation Brinker award in 2002 and the 2005 Komen Foundation Professor of Survivorship. In the Fall of 2005, he was awarded the 2006 Clinical Research Award by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). In the fall of 2006, he was awarded the North American Menopausal Society (NAMS) Vasomotor Symptoms Research Award.
Lastly, Dr Loprinzi is one of two chief editors for a book geared toward the lay public, entitled Mayo Clinic Guide to Women's Cancers.