Sep 04, 2018
Every day Dr. Alan Lyss pins a bright red “Research Cures Cancer” button on the lapel of his white coat as a reminder of his life’s mission: to save and improve the lives of his patients through research. As a researcher and clinician with Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Lyss provides high-quality care for people with cancer living in both St. Louis and its rural surroundings—and is driven by the goal of connecting as many of his patients as possible to clinical trials.
Rural Americans routinely travel long distances for care, which can lead to dangerous delays in their diagnosis and treatment. But thanks to support from the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), Dr. Lyss is bringing cutting-edge research closer to where his patients live and work. For patients who would otherwise never make their way to an academic cancer center, gaining access to clinical trials in their communities can be a lifesaver.
Dr. Lyss’ specialty is breast cancer prevention and treatment. For example, he is enrolling survivors of node-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer in a collaborative trial to determine whether an over-the-counter drug found in most Americans’ medicine cabinets—aspirin—can help prevent their cancers from recurring. He’s also seeking to improve quality of life for women with locally advanced breast cancer by enrolling them in a study that explores whether it’s possible to decrease the number of lymph nodes that are removed during surgery. His hope is that removing fewer lymph nodes will lower the risk of painful arm swelling (lymphedema), a common and often permanent side effect of lymph node surgery.
Above all, Dr. Lyss believes that every patient should have access to the best possible care—no matter where they live. And he’s grateful the federal government funds clinically relevant studies that might not otherwise be performed and levels the playing field for all Americans with cancer.
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