"At the OU Cancer Institute, we want to make the patient the center of focus so the physicians, nurses, research activities and support services are brought to the patient rather than requiring them to navigate a very complicated system," said Robert Mannel, director of the OU Cancer Institute.
Taking the helm at the cancer institute in March of 2006, Mannel is a gynecological oncologist and chair of OUHSC's OB/GYN department. He said the OUCI will use a multidisciplinary team approach to develop an individualized comprehensive treatment plan for each client.
"Our goal is for patients to have one appointment, one location, one day," he said.
Located on the OUHSC campus at NE 19 Street and Phillips, the OUCI facility will stand seven stories with 213,000 square feet. Architects are Ellerbe Becket and the Benham Companies LLC, while the general contractor is Manhattan Construction. Groundbreaking for the $120 million project is scheduled for November 2007. The estimated completion date is December 2009.
"Many of our patients are referred to us through outside entities, so it can be a confusing environment," Mannel said. "That building will become the hub of a wheel that will centralize care."
The physical structure will house a host of multidisciplinary clinics, including a radiation oncology department with a proton therapy unit; a clinical trials office that will investigate a variety of new therapies; as well as chemotherapy infusion services which also will include research infusion in a phase I study center for drug development.
Also in the works is the Tobacco Research Center, which will focus on cancer prevention and control as it relates to tobacco; a patient resource center for education, counseling and support groups; as well as a research arm for epidemiology and biostatistics.
"Our goal is to be a statewide resource for all Oklahomans," Mannel said. "We're developing collaborative relationships with researchers and clinicians at many institutions, and we're also in the process of developing the Oklahoma Clinical Trials network that will allow patients access to clinical research trials in their own community."
Wade Williams, administrative director of OUCI, said the organization is currently recognized as a National Cancer Institute-funded cancer care center. However, the goal is to achieve designation as an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Care Center by 2012.
The benefits of these centers are many. As hubs for cancer research and treatment, its economic impact is estimated to exceed $90 million annually. In addition to raising the standard of cancer care regionally, they provide patients with greater access to cutting-edge therapies, while generating high paying jobs that further the education and knowledge of clinicians and researchers involved in the field of oncology.
Currently, the annual cost of cancer is estimated to exceed $209 billion, while overall survival rates are about 50/50. But modern treatment modalities have drastically improved the long-term prognosis in more than one type of cancer. And as biomedical researchers steadily gain insight into both normal and abnormal mechanisms that occur in the development of malignancies, hope is on the horizon for treatment options that are more individually targeted, significantly raising the potential for successful treatment outcomes.
The bottom line is that an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Care Center brings together a unique mix of scientists, clinicians, community networks and patient groups that have the potential to revolutionize patient outcomes while contributing to the state's economy. And bottom lines don't get much better than that.