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Area Cancer Center Tapped For Federal Study In Care

Wendy Rigby
Texas Public Radio

Cancer is a devastating disease that the American Cancer Society predicts will claim more than half a million American lives this year alone.

Now, a San Antonio cancer center has been tapped to be part of a federal study to shape the future of cancer care.

Cancer is an insidious disease that often comes with a large price tag. The National Institutes of Health says based on growth and aging, cancer costs in 2020 will reach $158 billion … an increase of 27 percent over 2010.

South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (otherwise known as the START Center for Cancer Care) is part of the Oncology Care Model, a five-year nationwide study to improve care and control costs. One aspect of the study? Making emergency care more user-friendly for cancer patients. Oncologist Dr. Lon Smith of the START Center explains.

"For instance, on weekends, no one likes to go the emergency room for a 6- to 8-hour wait before they need to come into a hospital. So if there is a way we can avoid that by changing the way we use our resources, it would be better for patients and it might even be more cost effective," Smith says.

Local patients can expect some benefits from the program, including access to patients resources like emotional support groups, pain management and clinical trials.

"We won’t know about the cost benefits of this for some time. But we’re pretty certain as physicians that we’ll have an opportunity to really do a better job of addressing the needs of our patients," Smith says.

San Antonio’s START Center is one of 200 oncology practices around the country taking part.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.