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First-of-a-kind medical and research team created in Hawaii to fight liver cancer

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Physicians and cancer researchers in Hawai‘i have formed a first-of-a-kind team to address the growing rate of liver cancer in the state, and this month two key members of the group brought top experts from around the world to the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center for an in depth look at treating and understanding the disease.

In addition, long-time singer and performer, Jimmy Borges, spoke about his journey with liver cancer at the conference on May 22 at noon. Liver transplant surgeon Linda Wong, MD, who founded and heads the only liver transplant program in Hawai‘i, spoke on May 23.

The formation of the liver cancer disease group and the staging of the first-ever liver cancer conference in Hawai‘i are important developments for a state that has the highest rate of liver cancer in the nation. Hepatitis B and C infections can lead to liver cancer, and these infections are found in high rates among Asian and Pacific Islander populations. This is why Hawai‘i plays a unique role as the bridge between Asia and the U.S. in the fight against liver cancer.

“Hawai‘i's multi-ethnic groups put us in a unique position to study liver cancer,” said Junfang Ji, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Cancer Biology Program at the UH Cancer Center.

Nearly 20 people, including researchers at the UH Cancer Center and physicians at The Queen's Medical Center and Hawai‘i Pacific Health, have joined forces to fight liver cancer. Every year about 126 people in the state are diagnosed with the disease, and the incidence rates have been increasing in Hawai‘i for decades.

“The purpose of sitting together to talk is so that the clinicians can learn about what's going on at the forefront of research, and the researchers can tailor their research to something that's going to be clinically relevant,” said Dr. Wong.

The conference was from May 22 to May 23 in the Cancer Center's Sullivan Conference Center, 701 Ilalo St., Kakaako. International experts from China, Japan, and the U.S. spoke about the latest in research and treatments.

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