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World Cancer Day: The importance of expanding access to cancer research and treatment

By Tingting Tan, M.D., Ph.D.

February 4th marks World Cancer Day, a day dedicated to raising global awareness of the importance of equal access to lifesaving cancer treatment and research. This year’s theme is “Close the Care Gap,” and it’s focused on what we can do together to remove barriers to care.

The organization I’m privileged to work for, City of Hope, has long understood the vital need to expand access to highly specialized cancer care and pioneering treatments.

We’re working to reimagine a world where access to advanced cancer care is equitable for all – no matter who you are or where you live.

World Cancer Day Tan

Courtesy of City of Hope

Dr. Tingting Tan

Here are some of the ways we’re doing that:

City of Hope is redefining the delivery of advanced cancer care as our NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center nears completion in Irvine. Opening this year, Lennar Foundation Cancer Center will be a focal point for innovation, providing patients access to the expertise of more than 400 physicians and 1,000 researchers and scientists who are focused on one thing – ending cancer. 

In addition to the cancer campus, City of Hope is developing a care network that expands access to our services. City of Hope’s four current clinical locations – City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island, City of Hope Newport Beach Lido, City of Hope Huntington Beach and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon, are delivering many advanced treatments to Orange County residents. That means advanced cancer care for you in your community.

As an academic research and treatment organization for cancer, City of Hope understands the importance of increasing access to lifesaving clinical trials. Our organization offers access to 1,000 trials. We know clinical trials lead to groundbreaking treatment for cancer and other serious illness. However, some research centers limit access to trial opportunities based on selection criteria that City of Hope regards as outmoded and potentially limiting to study outcomes.

People of different races, ethnicities, ages and sexual orientations have varying physical, genetic and environmental factors and vulnerabilities that come into play with diseases. An estimated 17%-21% of patients cannot enroll in clinical trials due to restrictive and exclusionary criteria. Our leadership and scientists aim to change that.

At the end of the day, patients with cancer want access to experts who specialize in their particular type of cancer, ideally located close to where they live. They want access to clinical trials of advanced therapies, and they want to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. I’m excited about how City of Hope is providing more access for more patients and more families across Orange County.

We are working hard on the all-important goal of ending the disease, in every form.

On this World Cancer Day – and every day – that’s a future all of us want. 

Tingting Tan, M.D., Ph.D., is a medical oncologist who specializes in lung cancer at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island. Visit www.CityofHope.org/OC to learn more.