The Huntsman Cancer Institute is launching a new program that combines genetic research with lifelong treatment for cancer patients. It’s is a part of the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s membership in the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN.
More than a dozen of the nation’s top cancer research centers are part of the network, which was built to share data about cancer between the institutions.
Dr. Neli Ulrich is a researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She says the program, which is called HCI-Total Cancer Care, is meant to be a lifelong partnership between the research hospital’s doctors and patients.
“We want to engage our patients to be partners over their lives to help us understand what causes cancer, how we can identify better treatments, and how we can impact the health and well-being of our patients,” Ulrich says.
Ulrich says the goal is to study blood and tissue from cancer patients and people who have a strong family history of cancer.
“They will not have to do much more than giving an extra blood sample and filling out questionnaires so that we can also understand how health behaviors impact their well-being,” Ulrich says.
She says that extra information can go into a database shared by cancer researchers in the ORIEN network. Then they can study the genetics of a growing tumor, for example, and how it responds to treatment.
“In addition, we are looking at how inherited genetic susceptibility plays a role,” Ulrich says, “That will also be investigated as part of Total Cancer Care.”
Dr. Ulrich says being able to securely share so much information can help doctors match patients with clinical trials, provide targeted therapies, and continue to learn even more about cancer.