Letter to the Editor—July

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Andrea L. Butler

Thank you for covering cancer treatment and research in Virginia in the latest edition of Virginia Business [“Innovations in cancer care,” May issue]. With one of every two men and one of every three women facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, cancer is a topic important to us all. We appreciate the interview with Dr. Tom Smith at VCU Massey Cancer Center regarding our nationally recognized palliative care program.

I find it surprising that the article did not point out how much research comes out of the two leading cancer centers in Virginia — VCU and the University of Virginia. We are the only ones in the state to be designated by the National Cancer Institute. Sixty-three of 1,500 cancer centers nationwide have such a designation, putting us in the top 4 percent of all cancer centers based on our cutting-edge research and clinical programs.

At Massey, 500 researchers (175 whom are faculty) help to lead the nation’s fight against cancer. We offer more than 100 clinical trials, many of which are based on discoveries made in our laboratories or in collaboration with other NCI centers such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering or M.D. Anderson. Our multimillion-dollar enterprise is one of the best examples of a public-private partnership in the commonwealth, as more than 50 percent of our funding comes from private philanthropy. We are also fueling biotech partnerships, such as a recent $1 million clinical study we announced with an Israeli company for a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.

By covering only our palliative care program and not mentioning our 1,000-person institution that offers the latest in cancer treatment and technology, it might appear to readers who are not familiar with us that Massey only excels in end-of-life care. In fact, the vast majority of what we do is focused on extending and saving lives.

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