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December 21, 2012

Communities in Southwest Virginia partner with UVA to Create a ‘Cancer Center Without Walls’

No matter where you live, a cancer diagnosis can be a challenge. And to be miles away from advanced care makes healthcare choices even more difficult. To address the unique challenges faced by cancer patients in rural areas, communities and organizations throughout Appalachia and Southwest Virginia are partnering with University of Virginia Cancer Center to create a virtual hospital — The Cancer Center Without Walls. This effort is designed to better provide patients with advanced cancer care and clinical trials close to home.

Funding for the center comes from an 18-month, $965,000 grant awarded by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission . Funding will begin Jan. 1, 2013.

Because of the rural nature of Virginia’s tobacco regions, many citizens do not have access to clinical trials and specialists available at NCI-designated cancer centers, such as UVA Cancer Center. In this effort, the virtual cancer center will take full advantage of the remarkable broadband network in Southwest Virginia to expand telemedicine initiatives and increase access. While the region has excellent cancer physicians and centers, a partnership with UVA can facilitate two key objectives:

Increase access to advanced care and clinical research: UVA will collaborate with local healthcare providers, health systems and organizations to increase the number of patients with access to advanced cancer care. One example: UVA will collaborate with local health systems to expand telemedicine opportunities for breast and cervical cancer screenings. “By expanding the use of mobile digital mammography and video-coloposcopy in these communities, we will be able to better understand how we can bring screening and prevention options where cancer is prevalent and screening options are limited,” says Michael J. Weber, PhD, Director of the UVA Cancer Center. Bring advanced cancer care and clinical research close to home: UVA will work with the region’s medical centers to train healthcare providers and develop a structure that improves access to advanced care and clinical trials.

“We have a long history with the communities and people of Southwest Virginia and are delighted to help build together this virtual network. By bringing clinical trials to residents locally, we can provide more options for patients so they don’t have to travel as often to Charlottesville. Our goal is to develop a community-based clinical research team to work locally with providers to ensure patients can access the most advanced treatments,” adds Weber. “Fragmented cancer care is not good cancer care. The Cancer Center Without Walls is designed to help create a seamless network for care so that everyone across the Commonwealth from the Coalfields to the Atlantic has access to the very finest resources. We are proud to be part of this effort.”

For Media Inquiries: Michael Weber is available Dec. 21 for interviews between 9:00 a.m. and 12 p.m. Please contact Eric Swensen at 434.924.5770 or by email at .

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