Since my arrival at Anderson Regional Cancer Center in June of 2013, we have seen many changes in the landscape of caring for patients with cancer. In a dream world, we would have no need for cancer centers, providers, or committees. However, in the reality in which we live, cancer care is needed now more than ever. Not only are we seeing an increased incidence of cancer, but we are also seeing it develop at younger ages. We, as cancer care providers, owe it to our patients, their families and friends, and to our community to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art care to the best of our ability. I am certain that we do this here at Anderson Regional Cancer Center, as well as at the Oncology Unit in the hospital.
Cancer therapy continues to improve at a very rapid rate. New chemotherapy agents and radiation treatments are being approved on a continuous basis throughout the year. The most widely known area of advancement over the last couple of years has been in the field of immunotherapy. We have seen an explosion of new agents approved and numerous new combinations of these agents are coming to the forefront of cancer care. Many research centers across the country and globe try to find the best way to use these new agents, and the providers at Anderson Regional Cancer Center are always staying up-to-date on the latest trends. With the number of advertisements being done for these new immune treatments, we have to educate many patients on the appropriate timing for using immunotherapy. The current trend is to add immunotherapy to our standard chemotherapy, and we are seeing impressive improvements in how these medicines work hand in hand.
We are also seeing a rapid increase in the number of targeted oral chemotherapy medicines. Some of these are dramatic improvements over what we were previously doing, particularly in the area of Stage 4 breast cancer, CLL, and advanced lymphomas. Access to these pills can be quite a challenge given the way they are covered by insurance and their quite enormous costs. Our clinical staff at the cancer center is well equipped to “go to bat” for our patients and to obtain the treatments, regardless of the amount of paperwork and red tape they have to get through.
Radiation Oncology also continues to advance each year with improved ways to deliver the radiation and updated protocols for each cancer type. The ability that Radiation Oncology now has to target tumors individually and precisely, allows for longer survival rates, a decreased need for chemotherapy, and lower radiation-related side effects. We are also seeing improvements in the length of time it takes to complete a full course of radiation. This is very appealing to most patients, particularly those that travel many miles each day for their treatment.
We want all of our patients to know that they can count on Anderson Regional Cancer Center and Anderson Regional Medical Center to provide comprehensive and up-to-date oncology care. There is no need in traveling many miles away, when you can receive such high quality cancer care right here locally. We thank you for allowing us to be your cancer care providers, and we will continue striving to be the best cancer center around.
Matthew W. Cassell, MD
Chairman, Oncology Care Committee