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MALLINCKRODT INSTITUTE CELEBRATES LONG-TERM CANCER SURVIVORS

 MALLINCKRODT INSTITUTE CELEBRATES LONG-TERM CANCER SURVIVORS
 ST. LOUIS, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In 1978, cancer threatened the dreams of 15-year-old Chris Bowman. Today she's a thriving mother of three, thanks to treatment based on what was then relatively new technology.
 On May 16, Chris will join more than 300 fellow cancer survivors for a "Celebration of Life" hosted by Washington University's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. "Cancer is not necessarily a fatal disease," said Bowman. "I always get on my soap box when I hear people speak as if it is. There are thousands of survivors out there. We're living proof."
 The event brings together former institute cancer patients who are disease-free five or more years after radiation treatment.
 "This is the largest known gathering of long-term cancer survivors treated by a single institution," said Todd H. Wasserman, M.D., professor of radiation oncology at the Mallinckrodt Institute. More than 1,000 patients treated with radiation at the institute are known to be doing well five or more years after treatment, he said.
 "When soldiers come home from a war," Bowman added, "they have a parade. Many of us feel as if we've been through a battle, and this is our parade."
 These veterans, many of whom have been well for more than 10 years, are among the first patients in the country to have received radiation treatment using second-generation linear accelerators developed by medical equipment manufacturer, Varian Associates Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.). Linear accelerators create high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells. High-energy linear accelerators, introduced in the early 1970s at Mallinckrodt Institute and a few other institutions, have contributed to dramatic improvements in cancer treatment by providing more precise and better tolerated radiotherapy. Hodgkin's disease, for example, now boasts a cure rate of 90 percent, where as just 20 years ago, the cure rate was 30 percent.
 Testicular cancer in young men has a five-year survival rate of 91 percent, up from 63 percent 20 years ago.
 The five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer has risen from 78 percent in the 1940s to 92 percent today.
 Survival rates for all stages of prostate cancers have steadily improved, and in the past 30 years have increased from 50 percent to 74 percent.
 Cancer strikes one in three people nationwide. With current treatment methods -- including radiation, surgery, drugs, or a combination of therapies -- more than 50 percent of patients treated now have a good chance of surviving long term. A century ago, few cancer patients had any hope of long-term survival. In the 1930s, fewer than one in five was alive five years after treatment. By the 1940s, that number rose to one in four, and by the 1960s, one in three.
 The celebration is just one part of a comprehensive program for cancer patients at Mallinckrodt Institute. The Institute's Radiation Oncology Center will open in July, the St. Louis region's first three- dimensional treatment planning facility in for cancer therapy. Three- dimensional treatment planning enables physicians to tailor radiation dosage for each individual tumor type, delivering higher and more accurate doses with new sophisticated monitoring techniques.
 "We've made great strides in cancer treatment in the last decade," Wasserman said. "The goal of cancer therapy research here at Mallinckrodt Institute is to make the odds for survival even greater."
 -0- 4/29/92
 /CONTACT: Michaele Gold of Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, 314-362-2866; or Christine Oliver of Varian Associates Inc., 415-424-5033/
 (VAR) CO: Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology; Varian Associates Inc. ST: Missouri; California IN: HEA SU:


DG-MM -- SJ002 -- 4300 04/29/92 11:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 29, 1992
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