Date: 11/8/2000

Community Hospital establishes cancer research fund

Eight years after establishing the Community Oncology Center to offer comprehensive care for patients with cancer, The Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., has taken another important step to ensure the local community has continued and improved access to the latest advances in cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

The hospital has established The Community Hospital Cancer Research Fund to support the important cancer research initiatives being offered there. This comes on the heels of being recognized nationally for contributions in breast cancer prevention research and the introduction of two new research trial involving breast conservation surgery.

“The establishment of this fund will help us broaden the scope of research done in our community,” says Donald S. Powers, Chairman of The Community Hospital Cancer Research Fund Board. “We want to be able to offer our patients not just our best, but the best anyone in the field of cancer treatment has to offer.”

While more people are surviving cancer today because of advances made through clinical research trials, the efforts are largely concentrated at university-based hospitals and not highly accessible at the community level, said Andrej Zajac, M.D., a fund board member and Chairman of the Institutional Review Board that oversees research trials at Community Hospital.

“Most people are treated for cancer in the community setting, and in some ways, research done here is more valid that in a sub-population of highly motivated individuals who are willing to drive 90 miles to a research center,” said Zajac, also Director of Radiation Therapy at Community Hospital. “This is real life here, with real people who have much to gain from cancer research.”


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Community Hospital has been working to bridge this gap since 1994 with the development of a stem cell transplant clinical trial program, now affiliated with the Rush Cancer Institute at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke Medical Center in Chicago. Most recently, the hospital has worked cooperatively on research with the Rush Cancer Institute, the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the National Cancer Institute, and the H. Lee Moffit Cancer Research Institute in Tampa, Fla.

In August, the NSABP accepted Community Hospital as a research affiliate, and recognized the Munster hospital’s contributions to STAR, a breast cancer prevention trial currently underway. This affiliation with NSABP, one of the country’s foremost research cooperatives, will enable Community Hospital to offer more clinical trials involving breast and colorectal cancer, says Erwin Robin, cancer fund board member and a principal investigator for some of the clinical trials at Community Hospital. Results from the NSABP clinical trials have been a major factor in altering breast cancer management. Among these advances supported by NSABP research was a change from radical mastectomies to less invasive surgical approaches.

“It takes a lot of commitment to do research, to try new techniques, use new technology and perform all the necessary follow-up to establish the benefits of these advances,” Robin said. “Community Hospital has demonstrated this commitment and in doing so, has earned the respect of some of the leading forces in cancer research.

“The creation of this charitable fund will provide the backing the hospital needs to continue to break down barriers, providing area residents with the best possible treatment options,” Robin said.

Other cancer fund board members are Rosita Ngo, M.D.; Paula Nellans; Edward P. Robinson, Administrator of Community Hospital; and Nabil Shabeeb, M.D.

Donations may be made payable to The Community Hospital Cancer Research Fund, and sent to The Community Hospital, ATT: Cancer Research Fund, 901 MacArthur Blvd., Munster, IN, 46321. For more information, call 219-836-4582.