Diagnostics & Treatment

Diagnostics & Treatment

Call Shaw Cancer Center at (970) 569-7429 with questions or to schedule an appointment.

Cancer diagnostics vary and typically begin with a thorough personal and family medical history and physical examination followed by the appropriately prescribed diagnostic testing. Many tests are needed to determine whether a patient has cancer, or if another condition (such as an infection) is simulating the symptoms of cancer.
Effective diagnostic testing is used to confirm or eliminate the presence of disease, monitor the disease process, and plan for and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. Diagnostic procedures may include imaging, laboratory tests, biopsy, surgery or genetic testing, or a combination of multiple methods.
Once a cancer diagnosis is determined, Shaw Cancer Center's medical professionals specialize in finding the best cancer treatment options for each patient. Our care team recognizes that becoming a cancer survivor requires personalized cancer treatments based on the individual patient's needs. A cancer treatment that works for one person may not be appropriate for another.
Our team intimately engages with every patient to determine the best form of cancer treatment, taking into account the effectiveness, side effects, quality-of-life implications and other considerations that are significant to the patient.
To discuss how to get involved in clinical cancer research, contact Shaw's clinical research coordinator:
Paige Bordelon, MPH at (970) 569-7608 or paige.bordelon@vailhealth.org 
Clinical Cancer Research Supports Val Health's Mission of "excellence in specialized care supported by comprehensive research and education".

While receiving cancer treatment at Shaw Cancer Center, patients may have the opportunity to participate in our clinical research program.

Clinical trials are the bridge between discoveries made in a research lab and providing patients with innovative disease management and treatment. Trials cannot happen without volunteers. Volunteering for a trial means contributing to a body of knowledge that will ultimately improve patient outcomes, effect health policy and allow providers to tailor treatment to an individual's needs. Research volunteers are given access to cutting-edge treatments and supported by a comprehensive medical team. Unfortunately, 37% of trials can't happen because of a lack of volunteers, slowing progress towards medical breakthroughs and limiting discoveries to those populations represented in the data.

In cooperation with the University of Colorado, Shaw offers patients a selection of clinical trials funded by the National Cancer Institute that allow patients access to new methods of treating cancer with chemotherapy, biotherapy or radiation. Shaw also offers industry-sponsored and investigator-initiated trials that evaluate patient quality of care and translational research objectives. All clinical cancer research is imperative to reducing cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality.
Shaw Cancer Center is pleased to offer genetic counseling services and facilitate genetic testing for patients, as indicated. For more information, please call (970) 569-7600 or email shawpatientreferrals@vailhealth.org.

To schedule an appointment:
  1. Complete the Family History Questionnaire and return it via fax to 970-470-6675 or email it to shawpatientreferrals@vailhealth.org. We must receive your Family History Questionnaire and have a copy of the results of any genetic testing of family members, as applicable, prior to scheduling a visit with our genetic counselor. 
  2. Once we receive your completed Family History Questionnaire, we will contact you to schedule your appointment. 

If you have a family history of cancer, your chances of getting some types of cancer may be higher than that of the average person. The Hereditary Cancer Service evaluates patients' risks and provides guidance for reducing those risks.

We know that genetic factors, in combination with environmental influences, play a role in the development of cancer. Many cancers are random occurrences. However, some people inherit changes in their genes called mutations, which put them at greater risk for developing cancer. This is called hereditary cancer predisposition.

Many types of cancer can have a hereditary basis. Genetic testing is most commonly ordered for family histories of breast, colon, ovarian and uterine cancers, but is also available for other types of cancer, including thyroid, stomach and pancreatic cancers. We are still finding genes linked to cancer. In some cases, testing through a genetic research study is available.
More frequent screening, medications or surgeries can help prevent genetically predisposed cancers or detect them earlier. Early detection leads to a better chance of successful treatment.
Dr. Alec Urquhart and Genetic Counselor Christine Barth are specially trained to evaluate personal and family medical histories and help patients understand the genetic testing process and test results. A genetic counseling appointment includes discussion of hereditary cancer syndromes in general, patient-specific risks, risks to family members, and discussion of genetic testing, if applicable. 

What's Your Risk for Hereditary Cancer?
Use this checklist to evaluate your risk for hereditary cancer. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions, cancer genetic counseling may be appropriate for you.
    Have several family members had cancer?
    Have you or a relative had cancer before age 50?
    Has more than one family member had the same type of cancer?
    Have you or a relative had more than one type of cancer?
    Have you or a relative had a rare or unusual cancer?
(970) 569-7429
Shaw Cancer Center's Positron Emission Tomography Imaging (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT) scan allows physicians to measure the body's abnormal molecular cell activity to detect cancer (such as breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma and other skin cancers). PET/CT scans are simple, painless and fast, providing physicians the information they need to diagnose disease early so that treatment can begin quickly.
In one continuous full-body scan (usually about 30 minutes), PET captures images of miniscule changes in the body's metabolism caused by the growth of abnormal cells, while CT images simultaneously allow physicians to pinpoint the exact location, size and shape of the diseased tissue or tumor.
PET/CT Applications
    Determine extent of disease
    Determine location of disease for biopsy, surgery or treatment planning
    Assess response to and effectiveness of treatments
    Detect residual or recurrent disease
    May assist in avoiding invasive diagnostic procedures
There are tremendous benefits to having a combined PET/CT scan, including early cancer detection, accurate staging and localization, and precise treatment and monitoring. With the high-tech images that the PET/CT scanner provides, patients have a better chance for a positive outcome and for avoiding unnecessary procedures.
A PET/CT image also provides early detection of the recurrence of cancer, revealing tumors that might otherwise be obscured by scar tissue resulting from surgery and radiation therapy, particularly in the head and neck. The combination PET/CT provides physicians a more complete picture of what is occurring in the body - both anatomically and metabolically. 
Shaw Cancer Center is a service of Vail Health Hospital.