Every day, there are new advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Step by step, physicians and clinical researchers continue to search for the answers to unlock ways to halt this disease. The Sentara Health Research Center continues to expand its research capabilities in conjunction with medical school partners in order to change the future of cancer.
For today's patients, physicians in the Sentara network can provide access to numerous clinical trials, both local and national. Promising clinical trials are being conducted all over the country for patients with cancer, and some of these are being conducted within the Sentara Cancer Network. Some people think that clinical research is intended as a last resort, but many of these trials are looking at promising new first-line treatments. In addition, many studies are not focused on increased treatments, but adjustments in treatments and options for less invasive options. Please do not hesitate to talk with your physician about participation in appropriate clinical trials. You have a right to know what trials are available.
In addition to clinical trials that are administered as part of cancer treatment for patients now, the Sentara Cancer Network also participates in research that could lead to more and better options for prevention, diagnosis and treatment in the future. A number of standard treatments used today were first shown to be effective in clinical trials. As patients continue to participate in these valuable studies, new and better treatments for cancer are being discovered.
Sentara Health Research Center offers clinical trials in many types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, gynecological, head & neck, hematology/oncology, lymphoma/leukemia, lung, melanoma, neuro (brain, pituitary, skull based), phase 1 trials, pancreatic, prostate, solid tumors, supportive care and thoracic.
Molecular Testing Laboratory
A molecular testing lab is one of the many behind-the-scenes benefits for patients in the Sentara Health Research Center. Having an in-house molecular laboratory, staffed by a board-certified Molecular Genetic Pathologist, allows critical test results to be made available quickly.
The future of cancer medicine appears to be heavily reliant on the genetics of the person and their cancer. With so much complexity and numerous subtypes within types of cancer, having molecular information can be extremely helpful. With nearly 70 percent of medical decisions based on lab results, it's important to have a state-of-the-art lab to assist with cancer care.
As the laboratory technology advances, other health care providers may need to send their samples to a lab out of state, across the country or many hours away, while the Sentara Lab allows for quicker, coordinated care.
The implementation of Next Generation Molecular Sequencing will allow the lab to analyze in parallel multiple genes in support of diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The technology will improve turnaround time and decrease costs compared with traditional sequencing methods.
At the tissue repository, the tissue removed for diagnosis is preserved in a block of paraffin. Should the patient ever need additional tests, the tissue is readily available. The Sentara Histology Lab has preserved the tissue of thousands of patients dating back to the 1980s. While this can benefit the patient who provided the tissue, it could also be used for research into the particular disease states in a retrospective study, preserving patient anonymity and potentially benefiting future oncology patients.