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SJHS, ''U'' merge to extend cancer care for patients

BY MICHAEL OSINSKI
Daily Staff Reporter
Published June 17, 2001

Numerous cancer patients across southeast Michigan who are under the care of St. John"s Health System may have a new ray of hope for recieving the best treatment available.

SJHS signed an affiliation agreement to become part of the University of Michigan Cancer Center Network last Monday.

The affiliation will make the two centers the leaders in cancer care, Zoila Brown spokeswoman for SJHS said.

The University"s center treats 9,000 and combined with SJHS, the two will treat about 14,400 patients.

Max Wicha, director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the affiliation is important because now the UMCCC has a wider reach across the metropolitan Detroit area.

Joseph Stella, research director at UMCCC and medical director of the McAuley Cancer Center at St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor, said that reaching many patients increases patient access to clinical trials and research.

It also ensures that patients are treated similarly at all hospitals in the network.

The UMCCC, linked to 19 cancer centers across the nation, offers access to many of the newest treatments, such as bone marrow transplants and gene therapy, Wicha said.

About 90 percent of cancer patients are in the care of the community hospitals, which might not perform the newest treatments, Stella said.

"Clinical research represents the best treatment available. Sometimes it is the only treatment available," Stella said.

Brown said with the new affiliation "a patient could receive specialized treatment at U of M, but still have managed care close to home."

Another advantage is that the affiliation "assures that patients are treated according to a standardized set of guidelines," Stella said.

Patients at any hospital in the network will be treated similarly, receiving the best treatment available, he said.