Other Voices

We’ve reached some major milestones in North Texas’ fight against cancer

The Moncrief Cancer Institute is at 400 W. Magnolia in Fort Worth.
The Moncrief Cancer Institute is at 400 W. Magnolia in Fort Worth. STAR-TELEGRAM

We are halfway through a $3 billion investment in cancer research and programs in Texas.

What do we have to show for it? Plenty! And a good chunk of it right here in North Texas.

Since 2009, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded more than $1.5 billion to fight cancer, after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 bond issue.

Here are just a few programs this important agency funded at Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth and our partner UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center in Dallas:

▪ $4,800,000 for colorectal screening for the under-served, offering free tests for 165,000 qualifying residents in Tarrant and 20 surrounding counties. It’s part of a multiyear research collaboration between JPS Health Network and Moncrief Cancer Institute. This is the largest CPRIT prevention grant awarded to date.

▪ 30,000 women have received mammograms and follow-up treatment as a result of CPRIT awards starting in 2010 at Moncrief/UT Southwestern. Since then we have detected 450 cancers, most at an early stage when cancer is most curable.

▪ $1,499,800 for enhanced genetic counseling and testing services for under-served populations in Fort Worth, Dallas and other rural counties. This grant enabled us to identify and help patients with DNA mutations that could lead to breast, ovarian or colon cancer.

▪ $803,800 for our Community Survivorship program. This initial grant allowed us to “prove the concept,” showing that cancer survivors can thrive with exercise, nutrition and psychological counseling, along with visits to oncology-trained specialists and genetic counselors at no cost to the patient.

We used that initial Survivorship funding to secure a larger federal grant in partnership with UT Southwestern. The grant enabled Moncrief to design, build and deploy a first-of-its-kind Mobile Cancer Survivor Clinic, which travels to reach cancer survivors in their home communities in Tarrant and eight nearby counties.

Before CPRIT, MD Anderson in Houston was the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Texas. Now, UT Southwestern’s Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center has achieved NCI top-tier status, considered the gold standard in cancer care.

Without CPRIT programs, we would not have been able to reach so many people, save lives through early detection and raise the quality of life for cancer survivors.

The number of cancer survivors nationwide has topped 15 million and continues to rise.

Thanks to Texas voters who funded CPRIT, our state is leading the way in the fight against cancer.

Already, 110 top cancer researchers and their labs have moved to Texas.

As we take time to celebrate our nation’s independence, we also celebrate the vision we share with all Texans — one that is independent of cancer.

Dr. Keith E. Argenbright is director of the Moncrief Cancer Institute and a professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.