Skip to Content

Innovations in Cancer Care

May 17, 2018

Photo by Joe Howell

Fortitude is threaded through the stories in this Momentum. Fortitude is what gives people battling cancer the strength to scale their obstacles. It is what cancer survivors use to lift up new patients. And it is what our researchers grip as they pursue research projects that can span years.

Thomas Brewer has fortitude. Having beat esophageal cancer 17 years ago, he recently underwent treatment for colon cancer. In sharing his story about being diagnosed with a secondary cancer, he gives this advice: “A positive outlook is the greatest medicine against cancer.” As the population of cancer survivors continues to grow, it is important that survivors be checked for secondary cancers in addition to being monitored for recurrence of primary cancers. Nearly one in five newly diagnosed cancers occurs in someone who has had a previous cancer.

Orrin Ingram, chair of the Board of Overseers for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), also has fortitude. After devoting more than 20 years to making VICC one of the nation’s best cancer centers, he became a patient. He reflects on that experience in this issue.

A team of researchers here at VICC has devoted decades of research to gastric cancer, a global killer. They have trials underway to determine if they can prevent precancerous tissue from progressing to cancer. Their research is being conducted with collaborators in South Korea and Latin America, where the disease is more predominant. Although the number of new gastric cancer cases in the United States has declined over the last century, evidence suggests it may now be on the rise here because of the nation’s changing demographics.

Innovations in cancer care come in many forms. Read how a protective hydrogel used in combination with a state-of-the art radiation delivery system can shorten daily treatment time frames for some cancers from more than a month to just three to five days.

In this issue, you can also meet members of the Vanderbilt Sewing Club who stitch together gifts of comfort for cancer patients, get to know the nurse leader at VICC and learn how a community educator reaches out to people.

Fortitude is crucial to our mission at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center where we’re committed to alleviating cancer death and suffering through pioneering research, delivering innovative and patient-centered care and providing education about evidence-based prevention to the communities we serve.