Working toward a cure

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Suffolk and Western Tidewater outpace the state and the nation in rates of cancer occurrence and death.

The reasons for that are complex, but most everybody agrees on one thing: Access to care could make a big difference.

Access to care involves not only the financial ability to pay for it but also the ability to physically get to it. That has been a daunting prospect for local residents, and it gets worse the farther west you go.

Email newsletter signup

Add in the impacts of tunnel tolls to people trying to reach treatment centers in Norfolk, and it’s no wonder that more people get and die of cancer here than in other areas.

But there is good news on the horizon. Local health systems have been working diligently for several years to improve treatment options for patients in Suffolk and Western Tidewater.

Bon Secours celebrated the official opening of its new cancer institute at the Harbour View Medical Plaza on Tuesday. The building will offer chemotherapy and radiation services for patients fighting cancer.

Earlier this year, Sentara announced it had applied for permission to add new radiation technologies at Obici Hospital, which will improve access for patients needing precisely targeted radiation.

While scientists work on discovering new ways people can prevent cancer and what causes people in some areas, like Suffolk and Western Tidewater, to be more likely to get it, it’s comforting to know that local health care professionals are working on making sure those who do get it have access to the best treatments possible.

We congratulate Bon Secours on the opening of their new cancer institute and look forward to the good work it will do to help patients find a cure.