Huntsville oncologists stand up to cancer every day

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The American Cancer Society estimates there will be almost 28,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Alabama this year. And almost 11,000 people will die from the disease. As part of the “Stand Up To Cancer” prime time special that aired on WHNT News 19, I talked to a local oncologist, Dr. Jorge Diaz.

I stand up to cancer because I’m a kidney cancer survivor. Being told I had cancer was one of the worst days of my life. And almost two years later, I'm still cancer free. Today, we stand a better chance of winning the battle.

Clearview Cancer Institute is a regional cancer facility. CCI doctors and staff see more than 3,000 new cancer patients a year at the Huntsville campus and its other facilities. Research and clinical trials are an important piece of the puzzle.

While we still can't say we're winning the war against cancer, we are willing some battles. “I would like to think so, yes,” Dr. Diaz told me. “I'm nothing but optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.”

Thanks to new treatments, some types of cancer are no longer a death sentence. “Five or 10 years ago, things would have been completely different,” Dr. Diaz said. “We have a lot more to offer and a lot more things that we can do to help.”

Immunotherapy has become a game changer. It helps your own immune system attack and fight cancer cells. “Cancers like melanoma where you know the prognosis was really not good at all and now we have patients that have been out of immunotherapy treatments for several years without any evidence of disease,” Dr. Diaz said.

That’s allowing patients to live longer and improve their quality of life. Dr. Diaz added, “That's put hope into the possibility of a cure.” And hope is what we all need.