Medical Oncology

(970) 569-7429
Infusion available Monday-Friday

Shaw Cancer Center's medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer using systemic therapy such as chemotherapy or biologic therapy. Chemotherapy uses medication to destroy cancer cells. Often, it is the only treatment necessary; other times, cancer treatment plans may include chemotherapy plus surgery and/or radiation.

Dr. Alexander Urquhart leads Shaw's medical oncology team and also coordinates with a team from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to provide the most effective and efficient treatments possible.

Treatments

Chemotherapy drugs are administered either by mouth or through injection. Because the drugs are introduced into the blood stream, cancer drug therapy is considered a body-wide (or systemic) treatment option. Chemotherapy drug treatments are often accompanied by side effects like hair loss, nausea and fatigue. The side effects vary based on the type of drugs being used, and from individual to individual. Newer drugs are targeting the cancerous cells more efficiently, and may come with fewer side effects.

Biotherapy is used with or without the addition of chemotherapy to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. Biotherapy is also used to lessen side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatment regimens. Biotherapy agents include monoclonal antibodies and vaccines.  Biologic therapy can also be called immunotherapy and in the last few decades immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer.  Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others.  It’s used by itself for some of these cancers, but for others it seems to work better when used with other types of treatment.  Side effects and how they are managed can vary for biotherapy and immunotherapy from other cancer treatments.  The physicians and team at Shaw work together to determine what the right treatment is for each individual and monitor patients closely through treatment.  

In certain types of cancers (some breast and prostate cancers), tumor growth can be stimulated by hormones that naturally occur in the body such as estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men.  Anti-hormonal therapy involves medications, often in the form of an injection, that are given to block hormone production in the body in order to stop the growth of tumors and also to help decrease the chance of a cancer recurrence.  Anti-hormonal therapy can be given alone or in addition to other forms of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  Our physicians determine if a patient may benefit from anti-hormonal therapy typically at the time of a cancer diagnosis. 
 

Meet Our Team

Alexander Urquhart, MD
After graduating with honors from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dr. Urquhart completed both an internal medicine residency and hematology fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, where he later served as Chief Medical Oncology Fellow. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Urquhart received certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology along with a State of Colorado Licensure in Medicine in 2000.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Dr. Urquhart joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, where his responsibilities included patient care and clinical trial development within the Breast Cancer Clinic. While at the University, Dr. Urquhart was active in the development and patient accrual in cutting edge clinical trials. During this time, Dr. Urquhart was a staff physician at Denver Health Medical Center, where he was Director of the Medical Breast Oncology Clinic. During his work at Denver Health and the University of Colorado, Dr. Urquhart received recognition for his participation in the Denver Health Breast Cancer Treatment Assistance Program.  Working to aid uninsured and underinsured patients with breast cancer, the Denver Health Breast Cancer Treatment Program received $400,000 from Denver Metro Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for their work and research. 

In 2006, Dr. Urquhart joined the Shaw Cancer Center care team as Medical Director of Medical Oncology. Since moving to the Vail Valley, Dr. Urquhart has maintained a clinical faculty appointment at the University of Colorado, allowing Shaw to offer cutting edge clinical trials and treatments. He also provides evaluation for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndromes.
Leesa S. Samuels, RN, BSN, OCN
Leesa, a certified medical oncology nurse, is our clinic nurse. She received her BSN from Vanderbilt University and began her nursing career as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse. Her experience also includes pediatric and neonatal intensive care. With a passion for oncology, Leesa came to Shaw in 2007. She enjoys interacting with her patients and providing education and support to the them during their chemotherapy regimens.
Lynn Tremblay-Ritchey, RN, OCN
Lynn is a medical oncology infusion nurse and charge nurse. She received her nursing degree at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California, and worked as an administrative assistant for 13 years prior to returning to nursing school and then working for a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in La Jolla, California. Lynn moved to Portland, OR, in 2003, where she began working in oncology. She moved to Colorado in 2007 to join the Shaw team.  
Michael Glode, MD
Dr. Glode is the medical oncology specialist for prostate and genitourinary (GU) cancers at Shaw Cancer Center. He was the principal investigator on the study leading to the approval of leuprolide, an injection used for treating prostate cancer. He was also on the only nation-wide National Cancer Institute sponsored adjuvant treatment protocol for high risk prostate cancer patients following surgery. With a longstanding interest in GU oncology, Dr. Glode's laboratory interests include studies on a toxin-conjugate that appears capable of directly killing tumor cells aberrantly expressing the GnRH receptor and eliminating pituitary gonadotropes. He also has pursued additional funded research evaluating the efficacy of a flavanone found in milk thistle. This interesting polyphenol has significant anti-tumor activity in animal models and no apparent toxicity. An ongoing study is evaluating the human tolerance, and lab studies continue to look at its efficacy as a bladder cancer prevention agent and enhancer of chemotherapeutic agents.

Dr. Glode is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American College of Physicians. He has been the principle investigator on numerous basic science and clinical research grants and has been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research for his efforts in organizing a course called "Molecular Biology for Clinical Oncologists." He is a scientific advisor to several pharmaceutical companies, a member of the External Advisory Board for the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program, and he has started three biotechnology companies. He has published more than 150 scientific articles, book chapters and monographs, and he is the Medical Director of the GU Oncology Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Sara L Fleszar, Pharm D Clinical Oncology Pharmacist
Sara earned her doctorate of pharmacy at Shenandoah University and completed a hospital residency at St. Joseph’s Candler Health System, where she managed the out-patient cancer center. She worked in a bone marrow transplant unit at Presbyterian St. Luke’s before joining the Shaw team.
Shaw Cancer Center is a service of Vail Health Hospital.