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St. Mary's partnership brings new cancer treatment to western Colorado patients

September 18, 2014

September 17, 2014               
For Immediate Release      

For more information call: 
Diana Morneault, St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, 970-298-2435
Dan Weaver, CU Cancer Center, 720-848-7852

St. Mary’s Partnership Brings New Cancer Treatment to West Slope Patients

Grand Junction, Colorado --- St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center is excited to announce a partnership with the University of Colorado Cancer Center and University of Colorado Hospital to establish a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. This joint program is the result of two years of close collaboration and will provide high quality, complex services for BMT patients close to their homes.

BMT is a life-saving procedure that replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. It is a proven and essential therapy for many patients battling such blood cancers as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and multiple myeloma. The healthy bone marrow cells that are transplanted into the patient’s body come from either the patient himself (autologous), from a donor (allogeneic), or from cord blood. St. Mary’s Hospital is offering an autologous BMT program for adults.

Previous experience with BMT in the Grand Junction area has been limited to BMT specialists traveling to St. Mary’s for evaluation of potential transplant patients and for post-transplant care. Patients and their families were required to travel to University of Colorado Hospital for the transplant process, which could keep them away from home for 30-60 days. By providing BMT services in Grand Junction, St. Mary’s will be able to relieve patients of some of the emotional and financial strain during the transplant process.

“We know that many patients in our area need bone marrow transplants but aren’t getting the potentially life-saving procedure simply because it hasn’t been convenient,” said Marty Jacobson, PhD, director of St. Mary’s Saccomanno Research Institute.  “I’m convinced that bringing BMT capabilities to the western slope will save lives each year.”

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center – one of only 41 in the nation.  CU Cancer Center has nationally recognized experts focused on treating BMT patients resulting in  superior outcomes.  It also is dedicated to bringing more specialty cancer care to the Western Slope, making the CU Cancer Center an ideal partner for St. Mary’s.

“We’re excited and proud to partner with St. Mary’s to bring a new level of cancer care to patients near Grand Junction,” said Clay Smith, MD, director of CU Cancer Center’s Blood Cancer and BMT Program. “We want  patients throughout our region to have access to the highest level of care and the best outcomes.”

This important collaboration also fosters:
• Coordination of patient care and services in their own community
• Shared clinical expertise with St. Mary’s Hospital personnel
• Development of treatment algorithms, research, and monitoring outcomes
• Accreditation as a joint program by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)

A BMT Program Manager has been hired at St. Mary’s Hospital and recruitment is currently underway for hiring a transplant physician for Grand Junction. Further program development is underway with the goal for the first autologous transplant by mid-2015. Although only autologous transplants will be performed in Grand Junction, allogeneic transplant patients will be coming back to this community sooner for post-transplant care. It is anticipated that this life-saving procedure will impact approximately 25 patients per year.

About St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center 
Since the early 1940s, St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center has played an integral part in the detection and treatment of cancer for thousands of patients in western Colorado and eastern Utah. St. Mary's comprehensive cancer program includes board-certified medical and radiation oncologists, certified oncology nurses, radiation therapists, radiation physicists/dosimetrists, oncology pharmacists and a board-certified genetic counselor. Through research relationships with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Colorado Cancer Center, St. Mary’s patients have access to clinical trials, the latest drug and treatment advances available. Our multidisciplinary care team provides social work services, clinical nutrition, rehabilitation, spiritual support, and a fully developed Survivorship Program. Recognizing the high standard of care, St. Mary's cancer care program is accredited by The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.

About University of Colorado Cancer Center 
Located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Cancer Center is Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, a distinction recognizing its outstanding contributions to research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. CU Cancer Center is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network®, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers working to establish and deliver the gold standard in cancer clinical guidelines. CU Cancer Center is a consortium of more than 400 researchers and physicians at three state universities and six institutions, all working toward one goal: Translating science into life. For more information visit Coloradocancercenter.org and follow CU Cancer Center on Facebook and Twitter

About University of Colorado Hospital
University of Colorado Hospital is the Rocky Mountain region's leading academic medical center.  UCH is best known as an innovator in patient care and often as one of the first hospitals to bring new medicine to the patients’ bedside.  University HealthSystem Consortium named UCH the #1 Academic Medical Center in quality in the nation in both 2011 and 2012, and U.S. News & World Report calls University of Colorado Hospital the best hospital in the state.  UCH is one of five Colorado hospitals that make up University of Colorado Health.  The hospital’s physicians are affiliated with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, part of the University of Colorado system.  Based on the expansive Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO, the hospital is where patient care, research and education converge to establish the future of health care delivery.