Cancer Institute

  • About the Cancer Institute

    vejay - deskDay by day members of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute work to defeat cancer.

    Whether they’re searching DNA samples to find out how cancer starts and grows, helping a cancer patient through treatment or urging members of a community group to be screened, their goal is the same: find a way to end cancer.

    Mississippi has one of the highest death rates from cancer in the United States. While our incidence of cancer is somewhat normal, death from it is much higher. Each day, Cancer Institute employees work to enable more people to survive cancer. Mississippi’s cancer mortality rate is especially high for some common cancers such as prostate, breast, lung and colorectal.

    Cancer is a term that covers hundreds of different diseases with one common element: the uncontrolled growth of cells. To help our patients, their families and our community, UMMC’s Cancer Institute must fight cancer in multiple ways.

    The best way is to prevent it. Our goal is to provide the information, the knowledge Mississippians need, so they know how to lower their risk factors for multiple types of cancer whenever possible. Cancer Institute members, as part of an academic medical center, often speak to community groups about ways to lower cancer risk and talk to physicians and medical providers across the state about new ways to detect and treat cancer.

    The Cancer Institute is home to the ACT Tobacco Treatment, Education and Research program that provides medication and counseling to help Mississippians quit using tobacco, a risk factor in dozens of cancers. In fact, it is considered the leading cause of lung cancer, with the American Cancer Society attributing almost 90 percent of lung cancers to smoking.

    The Cancer Institute, through University Cancer Care, its medical arm, also provides screening for multiple cancers in hopes of finding cancer early when chances of successful treatment are highest. In fact University Cancer Care is among the first hospitals to provide low-cost, low-dose CT lung cancer screening for older, heavy smokers, a screening that research shows can detect lung cancer earlier when chances of treating it are better. The Cancer Institute launched this website with these goals in mind: help educate Mississippians about cancer and urge them to get the appropriate screening for cancers we can detect early.

    For those who have cancer, University Cancer Care offers aggressive treatment through teams with expertise in that particular cancer. This means your surgeon, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologist, pathologist and allied health care professionals meet to discuss each patient’s case so they can offer the best treatment recommendation for that person. These teams offer state-of-the-art treatment for adults and children. And, should a patient have other conditions their team can call on multiple specialists at UMMC for help or recommendations. To find members of our cancer care teams, go to our website and search for care teams.

    University Cancer Care is the only hospital in the state that can offer some cancer treatments including bone marrow or stem cell transplants, liver transplants and radiation oncology to pediatric patients.

    Adult and pediatric medical caregivers are doing more research on life after cancer too. Cancer or treatment for it can affect people for the rest of their lives. Researchers want to find ways to minimize or eliminate those after effects and they work with patients on the mental and emotional fallout from cancer.

    Through all this, our doctors, medical staff and scientists are helping train this state’s next generation of caregivers. Most oncologists in Mississippi were trained here. Today, University Cancer Care has residency and fellowship programs in hematology-oncology, in medical radiation oncology and in medical physics education. The radiation oncology program is the only one offered in three states and the radiation medical physics program, offered in cooperation with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Louisiana, is the only one offered in the Deep South. A new dermatology residency program will help train even more doctors to battle skin cancers.

    Cancer Institute researchers work with about 20 graduate and post-doctoral students to find new ways to stop cancer. Researchers search for genetic links that will help families, for new targets for medication and working with the Cancer Drug Discovery Core at the National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford, they search for new drugs that will attack cancer’s weak link.

    In treatment, many University Cancer Care adult and pediatric patients volunteer to take part in clinical trials that help physicians and researchers develop the next generation of therapy. This year, adult patients with breast, lung or colorectal cancers for whom other treatments haven’t worked may be offered access to a Phase I clinical trial. This trial may be offered to patients whose cancer has particular pathologic characteristics. Adult and pediatric patients have access to multiple clinical trials offered through cooperative groups sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, pharmaceutical companies and our own researchers. All are monitored to ensure a patients safety and privacy.

    Cancer researchers here come from multiple departments at UMMC and from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, combining their knowledge of biophysics, pharmacology, pathology, radiation oncology, biochemistry, microbiology, neurosurgery, neurobiology, anatomical sciences, mathematics, nursing, pharmaceutics, pharmacognosy, dentistry and psychology to help find a cure for cancer.

    Teams of researchers and physicians with interest in a specific cancer meet regularly to share their knowledge and observations and to work together to solve cancer’s puzzle.

    Defeating cancer takes a team. At the Cancer Institute, we want to continue to see our researchers, our doctors and our allied medical staff work together with our patients to provide better access to screening, to treatment and to provide better treatment, all with a goal of ending cancer.
    Please join us in this goal. Help us lower the cancer deaths in Mississippi, help us prevent it from starting. Help us defeat cancer.







    Dr. Srinivasan Vijayakumar
    Cancer Institute Director
    Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology