Cary Medical Center Kicks off New Testing Program for Cancer Patients

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--Approximately 9 thousand new cancer cases occur each year in Maine. Oncologists and other healthcare providers often struggle with finding the best therapies for cancer patients. Cary Medical Center is now collaborating with a new program which will allow them to learn how testing cancer patients tumors will impact cancer care.

"This will be the first time that patients can participate in research right here from home instead of having to go away to another center to participate. So we’re quite excited about that," said Cary Medical Center’s Chief Medical Regen Gallagher.

That was the reaction from Gallagher as she described how The Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) could positively impact the hospital.

"When they approached us a little bit over a year ago we were actually really excited about it because we are trying to move forward in being able to provide some trial participation for our patients here and this is one of our first steps," said Gallagher.

The program will allow oncologists at Cary Medical Center to provide personalized therapy options for cancer patients.

"This genomic testing will help potentially with oncologists to have a better interpretation of the genomic information and how it can inform them to apply follow-up therapies as a result of the testing that will be provided," said Program Director of MCGI, Andrey Antov.

"We identify by looking very deeply into the cancer’s gene and be able to identify specific mutations that make the cancer susceptible to drugs so that we can treat the cancer based on those profiles rather than just treating it like we would any other cancer as well," said MCGI Medical Director Jens Rueter.

The program itself offers multiple benefits for bot the hospital, and its patients.

"his testing is available through companies currently outside of Maine. But it is very expensive and not always covered by insurance so the nicest thing about this is that in exchange for them participating in the study with the MCGI, they will be receiving that testing for free," said Gallagher.

The Maine Cancer Genomics initiative reaches out to rural communities as well as city centers.

"We at Jax have taken it to another level now because we are working with rural communities to really implement this and practice this that otherwise would not have access to it," said Reuter.

"In a rural area such as this it’s almost never available in our area they always have to travel. And we’re always looking for new ways to be able to keep our patients here at home where their support systems are," said Gallagher.

Cary Medical Center hopes that in addition to allowing their patients to participate in their research, the program will help to add to the general knowledge about cancer treatment and care.