Friday January 11, 2019 0 comments
By Steve Porter
FORT COLLINS -- Northern Colorado is rapidly becoming a focal point for cancer research and clinical trials, according to Steven Schuster, UCHealth’s medical director for oncology clinical research.
During an Innovation After Hours presentation Jan. 10 at Innosphere, Schuster detailed the advances in cancer research in Northern Colorado made over the last few years as UCHealth has expanded its oncology treatment efforts across the northern Front Range.
UCHealth, with its main University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, is spreading its cancer research collaboration efforts with Colorado State University and Northern Colorado oncology service providers, Schuster said.
UCHealth currently has 68 open clinical oncology trials ongoing in Northern Colorado.
“What we’re really trying to provide is local access (to oncology trials and treatment) for people in Northern Colorado and southern Wyoming,” Schuster said.
“We want to try to find a cure for cancer, but to also do these trials at the highest possible standards. We want to help people get the best trials close to home.”
Sara Twombly, UCHealth’s director of research administration for Northern Colorado, said the goal is to locally provide the world-class cancer treatment and research UCHealth is known for throughout the state and nation.
To that end, clinical trials are being conducted in Northern Colorado at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and other cancer treatment facilities in Fort Collins and Greeley.
“We want to make it easier for Northern Colorado residents to access these technologies at our local community hospitals.”
Twombly said UCHealth aims to establish a cancer research site network up and down the Front Range with a strong early emphasis on Northern Colorado.
“You can enroll in clinical trials at our hospitals in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, so you don’t have to take your trial across state lines but instead (they) are available locally to you,” she said.
Twombly said more information on UCHealth’s cancer trials can be found at https://www.uchealth.org/clinical-trials/
Schuster said UCHealth’s cancer research and treatment team is growing rapidly.
“I think a big part of that is the growth of the services we can offer locally,” he said.
Schuster noted that targeted cancer treatments through immunotherapy and other new medical advances are the future of cancer clinical trials.
"Matching the treatment to the genetic abnormality rather than where the cancer is located (is the future),” he said.
“What we want to do is speed up the development of targeted and immunotherapies.”
Schuster acknowledged the rate of cancer infection has been going down over the last two decades, but the battle is far from over.
“Yes, the rate of cancer is going down, but with an aging population there are more people at risk of getting it,” he said.
And while “cures” have been discovered for some cancers, most are still outside medicine’s ability to rid them from the body.
“The cure rate is definitely going up, but the huge benefit is in controlling it,” he said.
Schuster acknowledged that, even with UCHealth’s vaunted cancer treatment programs, there remain areas that are beyond the health system’s expertise and resources.
When that happens, Schuster said UCHealth is plugged into a national community of world-famous cancer treatment hospitals with their own ongoing clinical trials.
“The oncology research community is a small world,” he said. “We’re aware of what others are doing.
“We’ve sent (patients) to Seattle, and to (the) Mayo (Clinic) of course. If we don’t have something (in Colorado), we will send them elsewhere.”