Comprehensive Cancer Care: The Patient Experence
Cancer patients requiring surgery benefit from Simmons Cancer Center’s:
- Highly skilled surgical oncologists who specialize in treating cancers in specific locations in the body;
- Broad and deep e xpertise in minimally invasive procedures; and
- Access to leading-edge technology in advanced surgical suites in the new Clements University Hospital.
Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT)
Patients undergoing blood or marrow transplantation are cared for in Clements University Hospital’s state-of-the-art, 32-bed BMT unit. The nationally accredited program is recognized as a Center of Excellence by major insurance carriers, and it:
- Offers the latest therapies, some of which are not available in every hospital’s program;
- Leads in North Texas for one-year survival rates in transplants involving donor cells; and
- Provides blood or marr ow transplants for children at a 12-bed pediatric unit at Children’s Medical Center.
Patients undergoing radiation therapy at the Cancer Center have access to specialists providing therapies not widely offered elsewhere. Care includes:
- Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, in which tumors are bombarded by radiation from multiple directions—concentrating the radiation on the tumor, minimizing dose to surrounding tissue, and adjusting for motion such as breathing in the body (see page 20);
- Stereotactic radiosurgery/stereotactic radiotherapy for brain tumors, which similarly applies high doses of radiation to the cancer while minimizing dose to adjacent tissue;
- Brachytherapy, or placement of a r adiation source in direct contact with a tumor or treatment area;
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which “sculpts” the radiation field so it conforms to a tumor’s shape;
- Four-dimensional radiation treatment planning, using a CT scanner that simulates tumor dimensions, location, and movement for each patient, ensuring extreme accuracy;
- Vision RT video monitoring to help protect the heart during whole-breast radiation to the left breast; and
- Pediatric care, including an anesthesiologist to help treat very young patients.
Richard, diagnosed with kidney cancer at age 40 in 2008, was running out of treatment options. After enrolling in a clinical trial at Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, he was the first patient in Texas to receive a new, promising medication that he credits with saving his life. “I truly believe that if I had not come to UT Southwestern, I would not be here.”
Clements University Hospital
In their own individual rooms, patients at Clements University Hospital can:
- Control the lights, temperature, and window shades, and even order a snack, from their bed;
- Access Wi-Fi;
- Review with their canc er-care providers personal test results and scans on a largescreen TV monitor or watch an educational video with loved ones; and
- Rest and recover quietly, away from the clamor of high-traffic locations in the hospital.
Family members can:
- Stay overnight on custom sleeper sofas;
- Discuss patient care in private conference rooms; and
- Learn more about medical c onditions and clinical trials in a staffed, interactive Patient and Family Resource Center.
Moncrief Cancer Institute
At UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute, patients in or near Fort Worth benefit from:
- Brand-new facilities, including exam rooms and private chemotherapy infusion rooms;
- The latest imaging technologies;
- On-site laboratory and pharmacy services;
- Preventive care and cancer screening;
- Programs to promote health in canc er survivors, including nutritional counseling and cooking classes; and
- Secure telemedicine consultation with specialists at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
Children and teens with cancer are treated by UT Southwestern physicians at the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center, which:
- Treats the full range of pediatric cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, brain and other nervous system tumors, Wilms tumor, musculoskeletal tumors, and sarcoma;
- Provides long-term monitoring for children, adolescents, and young adult survivors of childhood cancer through its ACE (After the Cancer Experience) program;
- Offers early-phase clinical trials, bringing promising new treatment options to fight some of the most challenging childhood cancers; and
- Treats one in five children in Texas diagnosed with cancer.
Parkland Health & Hospital System
Cancer patients at Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas County’s safety net system for patients who cannot easily access health care, likewise receive care from Simmons Cancer Center experts and other UT Southwestern physicians.
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Throughout the Cancer Center, patients have the benefit of:
- Expert physicians and other pr oviders who treat each patient’s disease and coordinate other aspects of care;
- Clinical trials providing access to the latest therapies—and new possibilities for patients who have exhausted standard treatment options;
- Advanced genetics screening and counseling based on personal and family history of cancer;
- Support from psychologists, chaplains, social workers, dietitians, and others; An electronic medical record that encompasses all care patients have received at UT Southwestern, giving physicians instant access to patient information and test results across hospitals, clinics, and disciplines— and allowing patients to view test results and communicate with care providers through the university’s MyChart portal; and
- Excellence in research, prevention, and patient care that is the hallmark of a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The paternal side of Denise’s family had a history of cancer. Genetic testing in 2014 at the Simmons Cancer Center revealed that the 50-year-old had a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, meaning she had a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. When she underwent surgery to prevent cancer from developing, two small but aggressive tumors were found in her fallopian tubes. Of her cancer journey at UT Southwestern, she says, “Everything I needed was right here.”
With partner health systems in Dallas and Fort Worth, Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is able to offer North Texas cancer patients access to many of the latest therapies available in clinical trials. Simmons Cancer Center has a thriving and nationally recognized clinical trials program with achievements including:
- The launch of a new Phase I Clinical Trials Unit, which helps speed the translation of scientific discoveries made at UT Southwestern for potential patient benefit;
- Recognition as a Lead Academic Participating Site for the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network, which means Cancer Center patients have access to the most cutting-edge drugs that are undergoing testing;
- More than twice the number of patients than a decade ago enrolling in trials to test new cancer therapies, with participants including a substantial representation of racial and ethnic minorities; and
- More than 200 patients a year participating in national cooperative group trials.
Clinical Research Office
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Office provides research infrastructure for cancer-related clinical trials at UT Southwestern. Besides managing numerous details related to each trial and its patients, the office coordinates with partner facilities including Parkland, other participating institutions, and cooperative groups. The office’s research nurses, coordinators, and other staff collaborate with the Cancer Center’s disease-oriented teams to provide specialized care and expertise based on the site or sites of cancers that are targeted in each study. The office has a staff of more than 80, nearly 30 percent of whom speak another language in addition to English—including Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, French, Italian, Arabic, Urdu, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Yoruba, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Japanese, and Korean.
|Number of cancer clinical trials
open and accruing
|Number of patients accrued to all
SCC clinical trials (excl. pop sci)
|Number of patients accrued to
therapeutic clinical trials
|Number of participants in
population science studies
Eight-year-old Shadiamond told her mother she was having “painful, painful headaches” that led to the discovery of her brain cancer in 2014. After treatment, she’s looking forward to growing up and becoming a lawyer. One aspect of her medical care that she found very important was “just to know you always have somebody near you.”