Distinctive Assets and Strengths
In addition to the unique resources at the CIBMTR, MCW Cancer Center is regionally and nationally known for the research-driven treatment of hematological cancers, and for research into the prevention and treatment of graft vs. host disease, which is the major side effect of transplant therapy. The research-led transplantation program at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center is ranked 1+ by the National Marrow Donor Program, meaning our transplant outcomes are well above the national average. Ours is the only program in the state with this ranking, and one of only a handful nationwide. William Drobyski, MD, plays a major role in these excellent outcomes. A nationally renowned physician scientist and expert in graft vs. host disease, his research continues to improve results for those patients who develop this serious post-transplant complication.
The MCW Cancer Center is Wisconsin's largest provider of cancer care and the only academic cancer research center in Eastern Wisconsin – a distinct region that includes large and underserved populations who experience significant disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes. By building strong, bi-directional relationships with the leaders of these communities, the MCW Cancer Center has engaged in innovative population-based and community-engaged research to serve all members of our community.
The MCW Cancer Center invested in the development of maps showing cancer incidence, late-stage incidence and mortality in the eight-county region surrounding the MCW Cancer Center. The maps were created using adaptive spatial filtering where a grid of points is placed over the study area, and for each grid point a rate is calculated, using a circular filter that expands, to obtain data from multiple locations until enough observations are gathered to calculate a stable rate. The resulting maps display disease rates as a smooth surface, allowing researchers to pinpoint areas of focus and need. In addition, the maps reveal the extent of racial and ethnic segregation in the Milwaukee metropolitan area – a factor that likely affects both health care delivery and social determinants of health.
These maps have been disseminated publicly throughout the region and data have been used by multiple researchers and community-based investigators to inform many successful projects, including selecting the 10 zip code targets for SisterPact, a national project piloted in Memphis that is shown to improve breast cancer awareness, screening rates and early detection of breast cancer in African American women. Cancer Health Geographer Kirsten Beyer, PhD, MPH used the data from her spatial mapping to develop an NCI R01 project titled “Racism, Residential Racial Segregation and Breast Cancer Survival Disparities among Black, Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Women.” Her previous work in breast cancer disparities found that racial bias in housing is associated with breast cancer survival among Black women in the Milwaukee area. This current project undertakes a national study of segregation and breast cancer survival among Black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic women by constructing and comparing segregation measures, determining whether segregation is associated with survival via which pathways, and exploring the ways in which Black and Hispanic breast cancer survivors in a highly segregated metropolitan area navigate cancer survivorship in the context of segregation.
Other NCI-funded efforts include Dr. Melinda Stolley’s work with African American breast cancer survivors and a unique lifestyle intervention for metastatic breast cancer patients; showing how incremental changes in physical activity can significantly improve outcomes and quality of life. We are confident that growth in this area will continue at an exponential rate, as the MCW Cancer Center has laid the groundwork by building strong relationships and trust with this unique population.