Progress brings hope. The signs of progress are everywhere: the UC Irvine Douglas Hospital - a state-of-the-art hospital at UC Irvine Medical Center, ground breaking on a forward-looking telemedicine training center in the Health Sciences complex, and many new education and research buildings on the UC Irvine campus.
However, buildings are but a symbol of the human beings who fill them. The number of faculty and staff dedicated to eliminating, preventing and curing cancer continues to increase. Their main goal is to understand the biological basis of cancer, discover ways to prevent its development, identify and assess those at highest risk, diagnose the disease early, and cure malignancies when they occur.
Our faculty have had national and international impact in such areas as breast and colon cancer research. They have also been highly successful in attracting research funding. In 2006 this amount topped $48 million dollars.
I often hear people question whether we are really making progress, as more and more people it seems are being diagnosed with cancer. Indeed, it may seem as if many cancers have increased, what with our aging population (a major risk factor), earlier diagnoses of cancer and widespread screening. But during my own career, I have seen great progress. Five-year survival rates between 1977 (when I finished my oncology training) and the most recent data from 2003 show impressive improvements in breast (75 versus 90 percent), colorectal (50 versus 65 percent), prostate (68 versus 98 percent) and melanoma (82 versus 92 percent) cancers.
But are these successes enough? Ultimately, progress comes down to the diagnosis, treatment and survivorship of each patient. This is the calling of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. It moves us to provide comfort and compassion and, optimistically, a cure during one of the most difficult times of patients' lives, when they have to bear the burden of those three words, "You have cancer."
Our Web site focuses on our accomplishments, our drive and our quest to continually find new ways to help patients with cancer, and to negate the need for new patients from having to even walk through our doors.
Our success depends on the optimism, inspired innovation and enormous dedication of the members, staff, friends and donors of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. We thank you for your commitment through your perseverance, hard work, generous donations and thoughtful advice.