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Cancer Center receives $14M grant

By Krista Hopson / Health System Public Relations

The U-M Cancer Center has received a five-year, $14-million research grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that will allow for improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of head and neck cancer.

With the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, the Cancer Center also will advance the use of chemotherapy for an innovative preservation treatment approach pioneered by the center, says Dr. Gregory T. Wolf, professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the U-M Health System.

“Our overall goal with this grant is to build upon our research and translate it into effective treatments for our patients,” says Wolf, the principal investigator for the SPORE grant. “We want to give people a better quality of life by finding new ways to preserve the structures in the mouth and throat affected by cancer.”

The grant will fund eight projects, built upon preliminary clinical data, which will be multi-disciplinary and collaborative efforts between the U-M departments of radiation oncology, otolaryngology, pathology and internal medicine; the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System; the U-M School of Dentistry; and Henry Ford Hospital.

Chuck Coté, a professional speaker who was diagnosed in May 2000 with an advanced stage of throat cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, came to the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and participated in a new clinical trial involving intensive chemotherapy and radiation in place of surgery.

Now a cancer survivor, he wants to provide other head and neck cancer patients with hope and a chance at a better quality of life. To make that happen, he plans to work with researchers at the Cancer Center as a patient advocate for the SPORE grant, which will allow physicians to identify patients like Cot? and treat them without surgery.

“I always knew I’d make it through this,” Coté says. “I had an incredible vision, all while going through this treatment, that I would go on to live a long and healthy life. Without the Cancer Center clinical trial, I don’t think I’d be alive right now.”

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