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Paving the Way for Community-Based Cancer Research

Publication: Mesquite News

By Shiela Haffar, M.D., Texas Oncology–Mesquite

Sleek medical towers shaping the skylines of bustling large cities. A sea of lab coats on busy researchers spilling out of elevators and hallways, strolling across vast campuses. These images come to mind when you think of where the newest cancer breakthroughs are being discovered.

But I’d like to paint a different picture: A retiree and fitness enthusiast from a suburban community sits in a treatment room in a small office building in Austin talking with an experienced, renowned brain cancer researcher about a life-saving clinical trial. Or, an oncologist in a clinic in Mesquite, partnering in a national pharmaceutical research project, administers to an elementary school teacher a unique combination of one of the most advanced immunotherapy drugs available combined with traditional chemotherapy.

That picture, of leading-edge clinical trials, accessible to patients near their homes and loved ones, requiring no more travel or disruption than an afternoon shopping trip, is the very real image of community-based oncology research. As a pioneering community oncology practice, Texas Oncology offers patients uncompromising quality care that includes a special focus on research. Our physicians, together with our patients, are helping pave the way for new breakthroughs in cancer treatment at many of our locations in large cities, suburbs, and small town across Texas.

To date, Texas Oncology has contributed to more than 60 FDA approved cancer therapies. Each year, we help make it possible for more than 2,000 of our patients to be involved in clinical trials within the areas of breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Our specialists are participants in national and global research consortiums such as the Gynecologic Oncology Group and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. We collaborate with physicians from around the world, to create treatment breakthroughs for patients in Uvalde, Katy, Dallas, or here in Mesquite. And we do that with a community-based approach that removes the feeling of isolation during treatment and eliminates the burden of frequent travel for appointments at distant facilities.

We offer patients promising innovative clinical trials involving new drugs, surgical procedures, vaccines, and therapies. Research may also focus on preventive care, screening processes, and diagnostics —all designed to prevent and treat cancer more effectively. 

There are benefits for patients interested in participating in cancer research or a clinical trial, including playing an active role in your healthcare and getting access to new treatments. Some patients are also inspired by the opportunity to help further medical research in Texas. Clinical trials aren’t right for every patient, but those who are interested should talk to their physician about their eligibility. Age, cancer type and stage of the cancer, as well as previous treatments and overall medical history, all are considerations in determining a patient’s eligibility.

We are committed to providing patients an optimal setting to receive high-quality cancer treatment while also participating in clinical trials that are appropriate for them. These trials exemplify what we believe cancer research should be – accessible to our patients in their own communities, with physicians and care teams they already know and trust.

I’m proud to be a part of the pioneering cancer research happening at Texas Oncology. We’re making it possible for patients to have access to some of the most promising new cancer treatments – all while advancing cancer care for tomorrow.

Shiela Haffar, M.D., MPH, is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Mesquite.

​Click here to read the full story from Mesquite News.

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