National Cancer Act made CTRC, more cures possible

SAN ANTONIO (December 22, 2011) – Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the National Cancer Act, which established funding and designations for cancer centers like the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Partly because of the national support for research set up through this act, several once-deadly cancers are very treatable today.

“Over the past 40 years we have witnessed dramatic improvements in the outcomes of several cancers, including testicular and colon cancers, lymphomas, and childhood malignancies,” said Ethan Argiris, M.D., chief of hematology/oncology in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. “Federal funding for cancer research has certainly played a significant role in these developments.”
The success stories include an elementary school teacher diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia who is responding well to medication. Some years back, she would have faced organ transplants and been “very difficult to treat,” her oncologist, Ting-Wei Lu, M.D., an assistant professor in the School of Medicine. Now she takes a daily pill, and is able to continue her work with children.

“It was a much different picture 40 years ago,” Dr. Lu said.

But it’s also clear that we still have battles to fight.

In 1971 footage of President Richard Nixon’s signing of the act, standing behind Nixon is a smiling Edward Kennedy.

“It’s poignant because Kennedy died of a glioblastoma, the type of brain tumor that Drs. Beth Goins’, Bill Phillips’, and Andrew Brenner’s group is researching here at the Health Science Center,” said Ian Thompson, M.D., director of the CTRC. “Although so much has been accomplished, we still have so much to do as we visualize a cancer-free future.”

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit

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