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Doctor tells cancer survivors research is the key

| Thursday, June 13, 2002

EAST FRANKLIN - Cancer has always been with us says Dr. Jeffrey Brodsky.

Speaking to an audience of cancer survivors at a breakfast meeting held Wednesday at Kings Restaurant, Brodsky said that while it may be impossible to eliminate cancer, a more realistic goal is to make the disease more manageable and increase the survivor rate.

And the solution to that problem, Brodsky said is research. It is the key to unlocking the secrets of cancer's cause and growth, he said, emphasizing that research, most of which is funded through organizations like the American Cancer Society (ACS), is always a team effort.

"We depend in funding from the ACS," he said, "and we also interface with scientists of different disciplines. That's how great discoveries come about."

Brodsky pointed out that cancer is extremely complex.

"Let's take colon cancer for example," he said. "There may be as many as 50 different types of colon cancer, and each one will respond to a different treatment.

"The fact that we are able to now understand these complexities is due to research that has been going on since the 1940s. What this enables a physician to do is to tell a patient 'OK, you have colon cancer type 48,' for example, and knowing this the physician can recommend an effective treatment.

"Through research, I believe that in the next 10 years we will know why some treatments work and some don't. That's why research is so vital."

According to Lorry Dinsel, donor development officer for the ACS Pennsylvania Division, Southwest Region, the ACS has awarded more than $25 billion in research grants to Pennsylvania institutions since July, 2001.

Brodsky said the road to obtaining a research grant is tough and fraught with criticism and rejection.

"You begin by writing a 30- to 40-page grant application," he said. "About 200 or so applications go to a grant application center in Atlanta and each undergoes a very intense two-day review process. From several hundreds of applications, 10 are chosen."

He said these final 10 the review team, comprised of doctors, biochemical researchers and cancer survivors, have chosen are the 'Top 10.'

Brodsky noted that unlike research funded by pharmaceutical companies, ACS grants are earmarked for the most effective or most vital areas of research.

Brodsky said that cancer research is not a high-paying field as far as the medical profession is concerned.

"We could make more money in private practice,' he said. "but the reason why I have been here at the University of Pittsburgh since 1994 is that I guess I'm a person who likes to get to the root of a problem. I like to put my ideas into action."

Dinsel said anyone wishing to donate to cancer research or who would like more information on programs available to cancer victims, may call the ACS at:1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the ACS Web site at:www.cancer.org.

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