Each year more than 500,000 women in the United States receive a diagnosis of breast cancer or gynecologic cancer including ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and cervical cancer. When standard therapies stop working, or if the cancer spreads to vital organs or other parts of the body, women need treatment options. The University of Colorado Cancer Center’s Women’s Cancer Developmental Therapeutics (WCDT) program can help women find the specialty care they need in the Denver metro area.
“We started this program a couple years ago to give women affected by breast and gynecologic cancers more treatment choices when they think there are no other options,” says Jennifer Diamond, MD, co-director of the WCDT program. “We offer access to clinical trials investigating new cancer drugs, including studies geared specifically towards breast and gynecologic cancers. Our team specializes in women’s cancers and can provide multidisciplinary, individualized treatment plans for patients. The options we have continue to expand and often can stabilize and sometimes improve the disease. Some therapies have lesser side effects and in turn offer better quality of life.”
The CU Cancer Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in the state of Colorado designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This NCI designation means the center has integrated laboratory, clinical, and population-based research that leads to clinical trial development and therapies that are not available at community hospitals. This is a unique and tailored approach to cancer therapy.
“When a woman comes to see us, they get the expertise from a team of providers,” says Diamond. “We have experts in surgery, radiation therapy, pathology, and nutrition to collaborate on the best treatment options. We also will work to identify a clinical trial therapy that may be the next best option for treating their type of cancer.”
The WCDT program offers clinical trials and therapies that are disease specific to breast and/or gynecologic cancers. Available trials include targeted and immune directed therapies, as well as combination therapies with chemotherapy. The continued hope is to identify more effective, less toxic cancer therapies.
“Our goal is to make more patients aware of clinical trials,” says Diamond. “If more patients participate in clinical trial research, we can continue to learn about new therapies that may extend life and treat their cancer in new and better ways. People who take part in clinical research make it possible for this to occur.”
The WCDT program is growing and now has a nurse navigator dedicated to getting patients to the right team of physicians.
“Sometimes when a patient calls or comes to see us, they feel hopeless,” says Aurora Davis, BSN, RN, OCN. “Patients shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to us to discuss what their next steps should be. The conversation is worth having.”
Davis says one challenge involved in getting the word out about this program is that many people diagnosed with cancer don’t realize there may be clinical trial options when it comes to how their cancer is treated.
She says that is starting to change. “We are seeing more and more patients wanting a dialog with their physician about alternative treatment options. Patients are interested in cancer vaccines and immunotherapy. We want women and their families to learn and know about all available options.”
Another advantage to the WCDT program is that each physician is a specialist. Dr. Diamond is a medical oncologist that specializes in patients with breast cancer and other gynecological cancers. Co-director Christine Fisher, MD, is a radiation oncologist who specializes in the treatment of women-specific cancers. Bradley Corr, MD, is a gynecologic oncologist that specializes in treating gynecologic cancers with a multi-modal approach with chemotherapy and surgery. All the WCDT physicians specialize in clinical trial research.
“The best cancer specialists in the state of Colorado will be part of your care,” says Davis. “It is also possible to have our cancer experts work in conjunction with your local oncologist to come up with the best plan for you.”
To learn whether this program is the next step in your cancer experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 720-848-9264.