Ever since President Nixon declared war on cancer almost 40 years ago, we have discovered new medicines that have both increased the cure rate for some cancers and extended survival for others. But how do we take it from here and move forward? We have recognized that cancers are like snowflakes; no two are alike. However, despite the differences, we are essentially applying the same medicine to everyone. This practice is our current “standard of care.”
Moving away from this medicine model towards truly personalized medicine is both our greatest challenge and our most exciting opportunity. While the “standard of care” is important to ensure our patients receive at least the best care we have today, we must acknowledge the shortcomings of not moving beyond this concept.
In partnership with our patients, the Ruesch Center team is wholly focused on making significant improvements in gastrointestinal cancer outcomes. Our patient partners are becoming “part of the answer” through participation in clinical trials, giving an extra tube of blood so that we can explore why their response is different from their neighbors. Patients also partner in the support of our work by joining in community action, such as participation in the Chris4Life Scope it Out 5K race, Colon Cancer Alliance’s Undy 5000 walk/run, PanCAN’s 5K Purple Stride, and even visits to Capitol Hill! Events such as these enable us to boost advocacy and promote research funding for the deadliest of cancers.
We encourage you to become part of our center, and to help us set the new standard of care for gastrointestinal cancers that relies on personalized medical therapies, rather than a one-size-fits (or does not fit) -all approach. As a group, cancers of the digestive tract present a major global health problem. Find out how the Ruesch Center, in partnership with our patients, community, and advocacy groups, is making a significant impact.
John L. Marshall, MD
Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers