Local cancer center teams with CU | VailDaily.com

Local cancer center teams with CU

Alex Miller

EDWARDS – It’s not many small counties that have a hospital with their own cancer center, and Eagle County’s intends to get even stronger though a new relationship with the University of Colorado.Shaw Regional Cancer Center, operated by Vail Valley Medical Center, recently announced it has formed a clinical and educational relationship with the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora. “It offers us access to clinical trials, so patients can get some of that cutting-edge treatment that’s out there,” said Scott Boie, spokesman for the hospital. “It also opens up a big education resource for our clinical people. We’re excited about it.”Boie said the cancer center also plans to hire its own full-time oncologist (cancer doctor) in the near future, which will further increase the level of service to cancer patients in the center’s service area, which includes Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, Garfield, Lake and Routt counties. Previously, the center made do with an oncologist from Denver coming up one day a week.

Until the new doctor is on board, the agreement with CU means oncologists will be up two days a week, according to Tracey Samdahl, senior director at Shaw.”We’ll be getting disease-specific specialists,” Samdahl said. “So we’ll have specialists coming up in breast cancer, prostate cancer … it will really serve the community.”While Shaw is in the process of recruiting a full-time oncologist, Samdahl said the CU doctors will bridge the gap treating patients. That gives the center more time to find the right person, and for that doctor to exit his or her previous position – a process that can take several months, Samdahl said.Healing advantageSamdahl said Shaw Regional Cancer Center provides an exceptional level of service to cancer patients for what is essentially a rural community. It makes an enormous difference, she said, for people to receive such care near their home.

“Everyone’s more comfortable in their own home,” she said. “Cancer is very psychological as well as physical; it can be very fatiguing with a lot of side effects.”Traveling down to Denver, for example, adds an additional burden on the patient, especially when treatments require them to spend the night.”It makes a tremendous difference in healing,” Samdahl said of receiving care closer to home.In addition to proximity to its patients, Samdahl said Shaw has the latest in technology for treating cancer – plus a strong team behind it.”We’re incredibly blessed with a team we recruited nationally to serve these patients,” she said. “All that technology doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the people with the patience and the personalities to deliver the treatment.”

Like most cancer centers, Samdahl said Shaw deals primarily with breast and prostate cancer, although she noted the facility sees a fair share of head and neck cancers as well. “We’re not sure why that is,” she said. “But it could have something to do with people getting diagnosed early due to awareness of the center.”Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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