“Yale Cancer Answers,” a weekly radio show created and hosted by members of the Yale Cancer Center, aired an interview on Sunday night with School of Medicine Professor and Yale New Haven Hospital oncologist Stacey Stein, who discussed treatment options for gastric cancers.
The episode was the latest in a 12-year series about cancer and cancer-related topics that airs every Sunday evening on WNPR stations at 7:30 p.m. WNPR estimates that between 7,500 and 10,000 people tune in each week to hear “Cancer Answers” live.
“Gaining an understanding and appreciation of the various aspects of cancer — from the latest discoveries of researchers, or the processes involved from a clinical standpoint, or hearing a patient’s experience — can be really beneficial to a wide audience,” said Anees Chagpar SOM ’14, co-host of “Cancer Answers.”
In the United States, one in two men and one in three women are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, Chagpar said. Even those who do not develop cancer themselves will likely know someone, possibly a family member or co-worker, who does, she added.
Twelve years ago, the Yale Cancer Center was looking for a way to transmit the work it was doing to the general public, said Renee Gaudette, director of public affairs and communications at the center. Ultimately, the staff at the center decided to put together a radio show in which it would invite experts to discuss cancer and cancer-related topics on the AM radio station WTIC. In 2007, the show moved to WNPR, Connecticut’s network of NPR-affiliated stations. Since then, well over 500 shows have aired, on topics ranging from cancer awareness to treatment to survivorship.
The show is co-hosted by two Yale Cancer Center oncologists, Chagpar and Steve Gore ’78. Many of the invited guests are also members of the center; however, episodes of the show also cover topical events, such as awareness campaigns or cancer-related conferences.
“The main value of this program is that we provide viewers with accurate information about what they should be concerned about, and what the appropriate treatment options are,” said Daniel DiMaio ’74, deputy director of the Yale Cancer Center. “There’s a lot of information on the web and elsewhere that’s not terribly accurate, so we try to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information as we can.”
Often, DiMaio continued, patients find information online about alternative therapies, such as nutritional supplements, to use in place of standard cancer treatments. Last year, researchers at the center published a study that found that those therapies were ineffective in reducing mortality rates in patients who were not undergoing standard treatment concurrently. The study’s lead and senior author appeared on Cancer Answers in December.
The Yale Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the state of Connecticut. That designation includes a responsibility to “disseminate knowledge and information,” said Charles Fuchs, director of the center. The center is committed to advancing cancer-related research on the state, national and international levels, he said, and the radio program serves as a way to bring many of those projects to the attention of the general public.
“From our standpoint, in partnership with NPR, I think it’s a great opportunity to share what we are learning with people across the region,” Fuchs said. “I think people want to hear about what’s going on with cancer, from the challenges we’ve faced to the successes we’ve achieved. This is one way we can get that out to a larger audience.”
The show has generated a positive response from the public, Chagpar said. Often, she added, she is approached by people who have heard her on the radio and tell her about episodes that were particularly significant to them. Some, she said, have even mentioned that they decided to get screened for certain cancers after tuning into the show.
“It has garnered more public attention than I initially anticipated,” she said. “But it’s really gratifying to see how many people listen and enjoy the show every week.”
Sunday’s 29-minute show began with a discussion of the prevalence, causes and diagnoses of gastric cancers. The team then took a short break, or “medical minute,” which consisted of a series of factoids about head and neck cancers. After the break, Stein and the hosts returned to dive in to the topic of gastric cancer treatment.
Next Sunday’s show will focus on the topic of stem cell transplantation and feature Stuart Seropian, a professor at the School of Medicine and medical oncologist at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Maya Chandra | firstname.lastname@example.org