What is the UMass Memorial/Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative?

In January, we kicked off our recruitment for Team True North – our team that is cycling in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) this year to benefit the UMass Memorial/Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative. As the team captain for Team True North (see photo below), I often get questions about where the money goes that Team True North raises (we raised $60,000 last year). Many are surprised by the answer: All funds that we raise go to the UMass Memorial/Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative to help patients right here in Central Massachusetts. The next question I get is: “What is the Collaborative?” To answer this question, I’ve asked Jonathan Gerber, MD, chief of the Hematology/Oncology Division and medical director of the UMass Memorial Health Care Cancer Center, to be our guest blogger this week to shed some light on the relationship we have with Dana-Farber and why we’ve chosen to participate in the PMC.PanMass 2019_2

Jonathan Gerber, MD, chief of the Hematology/Oncology Division and medical director of the UMass Memorial Health Care Cancer Center

UMass Memorial Medical Center has been a part of the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative for the past three years – an important relationship that benefits the thousands of cancer patients we treat in this region. In fact, we were the first and remain the only academic medical center that is a full-fledged member of the collaborative.

There are three main reasons this relationship is important:

  1. Standard of excellence in cancer care: UMass Memorial Medical Center, through our Cancer Center, has been providing exceptional care to cancer patients in Central Massachusetts for many years. Membership in the Dana-Farber Cancer Collaborative – like that of our other accreditations for cancer care, including the Commission on Cancer, the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy – signals to the general public that cancer care at the Medical Center is of the highest quality.
  2. Access to resources: Being part of the Collaborative gives our cancer clinicians and trainees access to educational resources to further their expertise. Conferences, workshops, online presentations, and other unique educational opportunities are available through Dana-Farber, typically at a reduced price or altogether free for eligible applicants. The Collaborative also provides access to the Dana-Farber clinical pathway system – an online platform of treatment guidelines that can help optimize and standardize the expert care we provide to our patients. In addition, the Collaborative offers the ability to open many of Dana-Farber’s clinical trials here at the Medical Center, an option we are currently exploring.
  3. Quick access to experts at Dana-Farber: While our UMass Memorial Cancer Center physicians are experts in their specialties, there are a variety of reasons when it makes sense to consult our colleagues at Dana-Farber, such as: for treating particularly rare or complicated types of cancer, to gain access to a clinical trial or other treatment that is not available here at the Medical Center, or per a patient’s request. For such patients, expedited referrals from our team to the experts and clinical trials at Dana-Farber are available. One great plus of the Collaborative is the ability to present patient cases at Dana-Farber tumor boards – effectively obtaining second opinions without patients having to leave the comfort of their own homes. That peace of mind and convenience are priceless during such a stressful time, allowing patients and their caregivers to focus their efforts on fighting the disease.

The bottom line is that the value of this relationship is in the name: The UMass Memorial/Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative. With the expertise of our surgeons, medical oncologists, hematologists and radiation oncologists, combined with that of the Dana-Farber specialists, we are a strong team, with a wide variety of knowledge, experience and resources to provide the very best cancer care for the people of our region.

As Dr. Dickson mentioned in his introduction, our participation through Team True North in the Pan-Mass Challenge benefits the patients we serve right here in Central Massachusetts. The PMC isn’t just a fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – in this case, it benefits UMass Memorial, too. If you are interested in learning more about Team True North and our fundraising goals or other ways you can participate, visit the Team True North PMC page.

To schedule a Hematology/Oncology appointment with one of our experts, please call 855-UMASS-MD (855-862-7763); or to reach one of our providers, please call the HOPE line at 866-597-HOPE (866-597-4673).

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