BENNINGTON -- Patients fighting lung cancer, leukemia, urinary tract cancer, and breast cancer will have an opportunity to advance science and take part in new treatment options at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center.

The cancer center has opened seven new clinical trials in collaboration with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

"We are thrilled that our relationship with Dartmouth-Hitchcock has allowed us to offer clinical trials through the Norris Cotton Cancer Center," said Dr. Orion Howard, medical director of Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. "The Norris Cotton Cancer Center is one of the premier cancer programs in the country, and one of only three in New England designated as comprehensive cancer centers by the National Cancer Institute. Together we can offer patients new treatment options right here in Bennington and advance the science of cancer treatment at the same time."

Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center is actively enrolling patients in seven new clinical trials: four different breast cancer trials as well as a trial for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, one for urinary tract cancer, and a trial for late-stage or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer.

"We have a variety of clinical trials open, particularly for breast cancer," explained Theresa Keefer, clinical trials coordinator at the cancer center. "Unlike what people may have learned about research in school, in cancer clinical trials everyone gets the standard cancer treatment for their disease.


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The goal is to compare the standard treatment against the standard treatment plus the new treatment."

The breast cancer trials include three designed to tackle invasive cancer and a fourth designed to determine whether adding a drug called Herceptin to surgery and radiation improves outcomes for women with ductal carcinoma in situ.

"Oncologists are constantly searching for more and better options for patients with aggressive forms of cancer," explained Dr. Howard. "Three of our new clinical trials will test new combinations of therapy for patients with different types of invasive breast cancer. Our goal is to see if these therapies improve their initial outcomes or reduce the risk of cancer recurrence long term. Other trials we have open focus on late-stage cancers for which we have limited treatment options, such as recurrent lung cancer."

The announcement of new clinical trials is music to the ears of Erica Rogers, one of the organizers of a new group focused on raising money to support cancer patients receiving treatment at SVMC.

On May 31 from 2 p.m. to dark, the Cancer Center Community Crusaders is hosting its first Cupcake Crusade and Community Remembrance on the campus of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

This public event will consist of a special cupcake contest with local judges, children’s activities, basket bingo, remembrance doves, and a special candlelight ceremony. All the money raised will support Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, with the majority of the funds allocated to help cancer patients cope with day-to-day stressors, such as transportation costs and lost wages during treatment. A portion of the funds also will support local cancer research, such as the new clinical trials.

"These new clinical trials remind us what a wonderful local resource our cancer center is," Rogers explained. "We are excited that our cancer program is working together with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

This event helps support patients in our community by ensuring that they can focus on themselves and their care.

The community is invited to join the event by calling the SVHC Foundation at 802-447-5017 or by emailing foundation@svhealthcare.org.