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Rural Cancer Center Big City Specialists

Emily Tamberino

VAIL CO — Physicians and staff of the University of Colorado Cancer Center recently renewed a nearly 10-year partnership with Shaw Regional Cancer Center enhancing access to big city specialists and making clinical trials available to patients in the high country.

It's rare to find highly trained cancer specialists advanced technology and comprehensive treatment plans in a rural setting like Vail but Shaw Regional Cancer Center boasts all of the above in the peaceful healing setting of the Rocky Mountains. And with access to specialty physicians and clinical trials through the partnership with CU Cancer Center Shaw patients are getting high-quality care that's close to home.

Clinical trials are studies that allow patients access to new more effective methods of treating cancer with chemotherapy biotherapy or radiation. Many treatments used today are the result of past clinical trials. CU Cancer Center is the only comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute in the Rocky Mountain region and as a result of the partnership there are currently about 10 trials available at Shaw.

“While having a cancer center with Shaw's capabilities in a rural mountain setting like Vail is unique and a great benefit to our community and region we don't have the capability to offer clinical trials on our own” explains Doris Kirchner president and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center of which Shaw is an outpatient department. “That's why this relationship with CU is so remarkable. Our medical staff learns new ways to improve health and cancer treatment and our patients are ensured to receive optimal care.”

In addition to clinical trials Shaw physicians—and in turn their patients—benefit from weekly multi-disciplinary video tumor boards to discuss interesting and unusual cases. This allows the high country physicians to virtually connect with other rural cancer care teams and specialists from CU. The goal of the tumor boards is to enhance collaboration and education.

“One of the goals of CU Cancer Center is to bring the latest in cancer care and clinical trials to people in remote areas of Colorado” said Dan Theodorescu MD PhD the director of the CU Cancer Center. “We need hospital partners like Shaw across the state to make this happen. Without their help we would not be able to share our expertise on this scale.”

The cancer care teams visit one another on an ongoing basis to strengthen communication relationships and collaboration. While Shaw's specialists have trained at some of the most respected medical and cancer treatment centers in the country including Duke Johns Hopkins University Brown University UCLA and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute the partnership has proven valuable.

Michael Glode MD is the associate director of community engagement for CU Cancer Center and a medical oncology specialist for prostate and genitourinary (GU) cancers at Shaw Regional Cancer Center. He explains “Through our interactions with the colleagues at our affiliate sites we not only gain knowledge of the challenges and research opportunities we all face in many cases we also have discovered new ways to approach education and research.”

With the combined expertise of Shaw's nearly 30 cancer specialists and the support of the CU Cancer Center team those who love the mountains are staying here for treatment and through clinical trials could even set new standards for big city cancer centers.

Shaw Regional Cancer Center an outpatient department of Vail Valley Medical Center is for anyone seeking comprehensive cancer care in a peaceful and intimate setting. Patients travel to Shaw for their Ivy League doctors top-of-the-line equipment — including the best technology available for radiation therapy and 3D mammography — and impeccable reputation for breast and prostate cancer treatment. The multidisciplinary approach of their cancer care team benefits each patient's individualized treatment plan supporting the patient and family through treatment all the way to survivorship. One of the country's premiere boutique cancer treatment facilities Shaw Regional Cancer Center has been recognized and accredited by some of the top cancer organizations in the country including the American Society of Clinical Oncology Cancer Foundation® Susan G. Komen for the Cure® American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) and the American College of Radiology (ACR).