Emory Report

 December 8, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 15

Studies of endometrial cancer,
others seek volunteers

Women with the most common form of female genital tract cancer typically face other risks once their cancer treatment is completed, including osteoporosis and heart disease.

For many of the 34,000 women who will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer this year, treatment will include a hysterectomy, or the surgical removal of the uterus. A new clinical trial underway at the Winship Cancer Center is looking at the risks endometrial cancer patients face after a hysterectomy.

"Common treatment after a hysterectomy is to give the patient estrogen replacement therapy to make up for the hormones her body no longer produces," said Ira Horowitz, associate professor of gynecology. "This treatment helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease. But once a link was found between estrogen and cancer, patients who had hysterectomies because of endometrial cancer were no longer given estrogen replacement therapy because it was thought the treatment might cause the cancer to recur."

Endometrial cancer typically occurs in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Because about 90 percent of these women are postmenopausal, the early warning sign of endometrial cancer-vaginal bleeding-is easy to detect. This makes the disease easier to catch and treat in the early stages, but the treatment leaves many patients at a higher risk for problems that estrogen replacement therapy can prevent.

Two previous studies looking at patients with early stage endometrial cancer have compared groups treated with estrogen replacement therapy to nontreated groups and found no cancer recurrence in the women who received the estrogen therapy. The Emory study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute through the Gynecology Oncology Group, will look at the effect of estrogen replacement therapy on cancer recurrence and the overall survival rate of women with early stage endometrial cancer.

Patients with early stage cancer will be divided into two groups. One group will be given the hormone therapy and the control group will not receive the medication. Researchers will follow the patients for five years, with each patient being seen in the outpatient clinic every six months for the first three years and then annually for two more years.

"We know estrogen replacement therapy is of great benefit to women who have had hysterectomies," Horowitz said. "In this study, we hope to find whether that benefit outweighs the chance of the cancer recurring."

Women interested in getting more information about the Emory study of estrogen replacement therapy for endometrial cancer should call Betty Jones at 778-5344.

High blood pressure, cholesterol in veterans
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is seeking military veterans to participate in a study of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. The study will evaluate the use of frequently prescribed blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering medications in preventing heart attack and stroke.

Called ALLHAT-Anithypertensive and Lipid Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial-the study will eventually include 40,000 or more volunteers from all over the United States.

Participants should be 55 or older and have high blood pressure as well as another risk factor for heart attack or stroke such as diabetes, heart disease or current cigarette smoking.

Volunteers will be asked to take high blood pressure medicine for five years and visit the VA three or four times a year for the duration of the study. For information, contact Gail Lenahan at 235-3030, ext. 2068.

Athlete's foot, eczema
Dermatology researchers at the School of Medicine are recruiting volunteers for two experimental drug studies.

People with the burning and itching between toes associated with athlete's foot are being recruited for a study of an investigational topical medication. They will visit the Dermatology Research Unit at Emory Hospital four times over a four-month period.

Adults and children over 2 with eczema (atopic dermatitis) are being recruited for a study of an experimental topical medication. Qualified participants will make eight visits over a three-month period.

All medications, tests and examinations associated with the studies will be provided without charge. Compensation for time and travel may be available for some studies.

For information, contact John Kayal at 778-5403 or 778-5408.

Psychiatry studies
Researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Medicine are seeking volunteers for a number of studies testing experimental treatments for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, trichotillomania (an irresistible urge to pull hair out, resulting in noticeable hair loss) and the sexual side effects associated with antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. The researchers are also evaluating possible associations between major depression and heart disease or heart attack.

The studies are open to both men and women age 18 and older with these conditions. Some of the obsessive-compulsive disorder studies are open to children age 8 or older. Pregnant or nursing women are excluded. The studies will last an average of three months and will require several visits; a few may require one or two overnight stays at Emory Hospital. Qualified participants will receive psychiatric evaluations, study-related counseling and medications at no charge.

For information on any of the psychiatry studies, call 727-8968.

-Lorri Preston

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