Partnership to reduce cancer patients’ trips north

by Symptom Advice on April 28, 2012

McALLEN — Valeria Garcia, 16, of Brownsville has been given a second chance at life after overcoming a malignant tumor in her liver. the thin girl had a tumor the size of a basketball close to other important organs, putting her life at risk.

After Garcia made several trips to San Antonio, Dr. Jose Almeda of University Transplant Center was able to remove it successfully.

“Valeria is this year’s medical miracle,” Almeda said.

As Garcia’s mother noted, making those trips was a challenge.

“We had to leave our jobs,” Maria Lara said. “We left Valeria’s twin brother here, too, and it was difficult.”

But now, patients with liver and pancreatic tumors may need only one trip to San Antonio thanks to a collaboration announced Thursday between Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg and University Transplant Center of UT Health Science Center of San Antonio. that means they can forego the extra travel — and travel expenses — taken on by Garcia and her family.

To treat a cancer, people need either radiation or chemotherapy treatment or surgery, or a combination of treatments, said Anabel Arellano-Rodriguez, director of Renaissance Cancer Center, which treats between 500 and 700 patients a year.

With this collaboration, patients will do their pre-treatment studies — and even their radiation and chemotherapy — here, but if they need surgery, they will travel to San Antonio, Arellano-Rodriguez said.

The symptoms to be aware of for liver or pancreatic tumors are pain, abnormal weight loss, jaundice or problems with the flow of bile going into the intestine, said Carlos Cardenas, chairman of the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance board.

The surgeries in San Antonio are performed by a team of surgeons headed by Almeda.

“We don’t really do a lot of general procedures, so you don’t want me to fix your hernia,” Almeda said. “But if you have a problem with your liver or your pancreas, (I am the person to call) because that is all we do.”

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