Cancer Center Hosts Women’s Health and Cancer Conference at UVM Sept. 30

September 12, 2022 by Janet Essman Franz

Cancer researchers, clinicians, survivors, and caregivers will convene on September 30 for the 25th annual Women’s Health and Cancer Conference. Hosted by the University of Vermont Cancer Center, the event takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Dudley H. Davis Center at the University of Vermont and on live stream via Zoom. Attendance is free and open to the public and continuing medical education credits are offered at no cost, but registration is required. 

This event aims to empower and support individuals with knowledge about cancer prevention, detection and survivorship. Cancer patients, integrative oncology experts and physicians will share their best practices and latest evidence-based information. Researchers will discuss the evolution of cancer science during the past quarter-century and reveal what the future of cancer research looks like.
When Patti O’Brien, M.D., organized the first Women’s Health and Cancer Conference in 1987, the UVM Cancer Center event was among the first meetings in the world devoted to the information needs of patients, who, in those days, were often kept in the dark about their treatments. 
Now, in the 25th anniversary of the conference, patients can access information about myriad treatment options and, as a result of that pervasiveness, the need for accurate patient education is greater than ever. Looking ahead, the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation established the Patti O’Brien, M.D., Women’s Health and Cancer Fund to support the conference on an ongoing basis through a $1 million endowment.  
A primary theme of this year’s conference is whole-person, integrative health care, which uses all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, health care professionals and self-care to achieve optimal well-being. Participants can explore integrative therapies including massage, yoga, and acupuncture. Kim Dittus, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist, UVM Cancer Center member and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, will give a keynote address, titled “Moving from treating cancer to treating the whole person.”
Additional highlights of the program include:
·      A panel of experts, including Randall Holcombe, M.D., MBA, Director of the Vermont Cancer Center, will discuss new technologies to reduce the burden of cancer. These include artificial intelligence and genetic testing to identify cancer before symptoms develop and new cellular therapies to “re-engineer’ the immune system to attack cancer cells. 
·      A session on Rural Cancer Health Disparities in Vermont, led by Jan Carney, M.D. MPH, Associate Dean for Public Health at the Larner College of Medicine.
·      A patient panel focused on creating a survivor’s wellness plan that addresses physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
·      A discussion about current screening guidelines for lung, colorectal and gynecological cancers, and what patients can expect.
·      Tips on how to build an integrative care team for a patient.
·      A talk, led by Stephen Berns, M.D., associate professor and UVM director of education for palliative medicine, about when and how to have goals of care conversations with cancer patients.
The conference is co-chaired by Cancer Center member Jessica Cintolo-Gonzalez, M.D., and Michelle Machesky, PA-C. Physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, radiologic technologists, social workers and other health care providers can earn continuing education credits for participating at no charge courtesy of the UVM Cancer Center.
This educational event follows UVM’s COVID-19 policies in expecting that in-person participants will be vaccinated and masks are optional but strongly encouraged. For later viewing of sessions, recording links will be added as soon as they are available. 
The 2022 Women's Health and Cancer Conference is sponsored by the Victoria Buffum Fund at the UVM Cancer Center, the Eleanor B. Daniels Fund, and Vox Radio Group.