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Comprehensive Approach

January 28, 2016

Photo by Joe Howell

Photo by Joe Howell

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s robust quest of discovery and extensive delivery of new treatment options for patients will continue to receive significant support from the National Cancer Institute. The NCI has renewed Vanderbilt-Ingram’s Cancer Center Support Grant and our designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center with an overall “exceptional” score and almost $30 million of funding support over the next five years.

The Cancer Center Support Grant provides the infrastructure support for our world-class researchers and their programs. It covers shared resources, administration and centralized scientific oversight of cancer clinical trials. Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) is one of only 45 institutions in the United States to merit the highest NCI cancer center designation of “Comprehensive” and the only one treating both children and adults in Tennessee. VICC also serves people from across the Southeast and the United States.

Our teams of scientists and clinicians are devoted to the comprehensive health of our cancer patients and discovering ways to provide more effective and precise treatments with reduced side effects. In this issue, we highlight some examples of how we do that.

Heart disease can be an unintended consequence of cancer treatment given that some chemotherapy, molecular-targeted therapies and radiotherapy can lead to cardiovascular complications. There are now more than 14 million cancer survivors in the United States, and the incidence of heart disease has increased in their ranks because of adverse effects from therapy. Described in this issue, VICC has established protocols for protecting patients’ hearts, and its doctors are leading a national effort to establish cardiovascular wellness guidelines for cancer survivors.

Another article profiles four of our world-class researchers devoted to basic science. They talk about the impact of shrinking federal budgets on discovery and the need for more funding for investigator-initiated grants. Philanthropic support often provides the seed funding that positions our investigators to compete successfully for dwindling federal resources, and we are very grateful to our donors.

This Momentum also explores how VICC is working to address issues with implementing a high-quality, accessible and comprehensive lung screening service for informed, at-risk individuals. This is critical given the potential benefits and harms of such a program. Our researchers are committed to helping doctors better determine when to do an early intervention to save a patient’s life and when not to put a patient at unnecessary risk through overtreatment.

We also detail our team science approach to treating breast cancer. And we hear from one of our patients who, with the help of a creative writing workshop supported by VICC, shares her two-year cancer journey.

At VICC, through our comprehensive approach, we translate cancer research discoveries into longer and better lives for the people we serve.

– Jennifer Pietenpol