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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Since the opening of the N.C. Cancer Hospital in September 2009, UNC’s cancer team has seen an increase of almost 30 percent in the number of patients being screened, diagnosed, evaluated and treated for cancer.

Now, thanks to the generosity of private donors, UNC’s cancer care team can do even more. Supporters have given more than $2.2 million to the N.C. Cancer Hospital Endowment Fund, a fund that is invested to provide a perpetual source of revenue to support critical clinical programs, clinical faculty development and clinical research priorities, as well as unique and expanded patient support programs.

In October, a ten member committee from across the hospital, clinical faculty and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center invited proposals for projects that meet these criteria. The committee received 22 innovative proposals and selected eight projects for funding.

“These are the kinds of projects that really benefit patients, but funds are not available from other sources,” said Richard M. Goldberg, MD, the hospital’s Physician-in-Chief.

“The philanthropic spirit of the donors whose gifts helped build the N.C. Cancer Hospital Endowment is what makes it possible for our faculty and staff to do these extra projects that benefit patients both in the short and long-term,” he added.

The eight projects include:

  • An educational video for bone marrow transplant patients and caregivers, delivered on iPads while in the hospital and via the Internet in other locations, which provides hands-on training for the skills needed to care for the transplant patient as well as a way to track symptoms and organize questions about their treatment.
  • A high risk gastrointestinal cancer clinic for patients and families with certain genetic mutations that make them likely to get cancer. The clinic will pull together a team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, geneticists and primary care physicians to provide integrated care and cancer screenings for those at high risk.
  • A project to compare techniques for hand-held and automated ultrasound screenings to determine which mode is best for evaluating suspicious breast lesions that have been identified during mammograms and are scheduled for biopsy.
  • A pilot project to create an electronic system for capturing and relaying patient information about their symptoms, functioning and health-related quality of life. In certain treatment programs, tablet computers will be used to collect the data, the information will be provided to the patient’s care team in real-time and – in the long term – used to monitor and evaluate treatment side effects.
  • A project to help cancer patients, who are about four times more likely to develop a blood clot than the general population, learn strategies for prevention and treatment of blood clots and how to recognize the symptoms of a blood clot and seek treatment. The educational materials will include online learning modules, handouts and downloadable information sheets.
  • The purchase of arm sleeves for 50 cancer patients suffering from Lymphedema, a painfully and potentially debilitating side effect of mastectomy and radiation used to treat breast cancer. These sleeves are not paid for through Medicare or Medicaid and many patients can’t afford these simple devices, which significantly alleviate the discomfort of arm lymphedema.
  • Creation of an oncology patient education series on a wide variety of topics of interest for patients and caregivers ranging from infection control, chemotherapy and central line care to community resources, communication with health care providers, exercise and nutrition.
  • Sending a UNC genetic counselor to Fayetteville, Lumberton and Rockingham to offer cancer genetic counseling and testing, when appropriate, to high-risk individuals at increased risk of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer syndrome. The project will also provide a community education opportunity that will be open to the public.