Bringing Advanced Care to Our Communities
As co-founder and director of the Familial Cancer Program, Arrick leads Norris Cotton Cancer Center's effort to provide comprehensive cancer genetics services throughout the region. The Program offers family history analysis, risk assessment, screening and prevention recommendations, genetic counseling, and genetic testing. "We're the only cancer genetics service in the state," Arrick says. The Familial Cancer Program also provides services at Cancer Center regional locations in Manchester, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT.
Certain genetic mutations can make people more susceptible to cancer. For example, some genes-called tumor suppressor genes-suppress the formation or growth of tumors. When a mutation changes a tumor suppressor gene, that alteration can increase the risk of cancer. In certain instances, those mutations can be inherited by multiple generations. Thanks to the Familial Cancer Program, people at risk of having such a mutation can be tested.
Arrick says that regardless of the outcome, genetic testing provides significant benefits for patients and families. "If they end up testing positive, then we can design a program of prevention and screening and really save them from cancer or catch it in its earliest stages," he says. "And if they're negative, we can give them quite a sense of relief."
The Familial Cancer Program also offers counseling for people whose genes indicate an increased risk of cancer. To help patients decide which treatment is best for them, Arrick has worked on finding innovative and effective methods of talking to patients about their options. "We are focused on trying to look at different ways to convey numerical information," he says. He has found that the use of visual aids makes it easier for people to understand their risks and make informed choices about their treatment.
Arrick is also Chief of the Section of Hematology/ Oncology, which provides care to patients with a wide array of malignancies. Some of the services provided by Norris Cotton Cancer Center are unique in the region. As an example, Arrick cites the Cancer Center's interdisciplinary approach to care. "Generally, most cancers involve not just an oncologist, but a surgeon, radiation oncologist, and possibly a physical therapist, dietitian, and social worker," he says. "Having all those people working together in the same place helps make sure all the bases are covered. That's the kind of interdisciplinary clinic we've been rolling out here. Our goal is to start to bring interdisciplinary clinics to Manchester as well."
Arrick was recently named the third Steven B. Currier Clinical Oncology Scholar, in support of his leadership role in advancing patient care and translational research in the Cancer Center. Philip and Jane Currier of Elkins, NH, endowed the fund in 1996 in memory of their son, Steven.
Arrick believes that philanthropy like that of the Curriers, and that of the Friends and the Prouty, is essential to the success of Norris Cotton Cancer Center research and programs. "Awards through the community, the Friends and the Prouty help fund projects to build new collaborations and move the Cancer Center in new directions," he says. "I think everyone in the Cancer Center is aware of, and grateful for, the many ways in which our communities contribute to our research, and to our efforts to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer and their families throughout our region."
July 10, 2009
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