Like the “Rose Capital of America,” Texas Oncology-Tyler had humble beginnings, but always mighty ambitions. We opened our practice doors in August 1994, the same year the John Tyler High School Lions beat Plano East on their way to the state football championship, a historic victory that some view as the greatest Texas high school football game ever played.
Driven by the same will to win that propelled the Lions, the people of this community have accomplished major achievements in the advancement of cancer care over the past 25 years. With the introduction of community-based cancer care to Tyler, we’ve had the privilege of engaging with East Texans here to treat their cancer, while also expanding our efforts to help develop pioneering breakthroughs through our research program. Together, we have made great strides in improving patient lives by offering high quality and compassionate care right here in Tyler.
The American Cancer Society reports that the cancer mortality rate in the U.S. dropped more than 26% in the past 25 years. This progress is due in part to reduced smoking, advances in prevention, more screenings and early detection, and remarkable new treatments. In Texas, the estimated mortality rate is about 8% lower than in 1994. That means we’ve made progress, but there is still difficult work to be done.
As unassuming as the natural beauty of East Texas, Texas Oncology-Tyler has become an unlikely hub for leading-edge cancer research. We’ve grown from a department of one volunteer nurse to a multitalented clinical research facility, participating in trials leading to the FDA approval of breakthrough chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments.
Patients now have access to high quality care and national clinical trials in their hometown. Yes, in our backyard! Instead of traveling to academic centers for advanced therapies, patients can stay close to friends and family, continue to work and enjoy the wonder of Tyler’s roses and pines.
Much credit goes to our patients for their vital participation in clinical trials. The ACS estimates around 20% of cancer clinical trials fail due to insufficient patient enrollment. In Tyler, the treatments and cures of the next generation are being tested right here, right now. To date, more than 33% of FDA-approved agents have gone through Texas Oncology’s clinical trial network, many through Tyler.
Today, Texas Oncology-Tyler is one of only a few Phase I clinical research centers in Texas. We’ve been honored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology for excellence in community research. We’ve witnessed and led notable advancements in cancer care, utilizing technology like high-dose rate brachytherapy and immunotherapy. As we look forward to the future, we plan to offer another major breakthrough, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy to local patients.
The driving force behind these achievements? You — the passionate community of supporters in Tyler, including patients, families, advocacy groups and so many other East Texans who care to join us in the fight against cancer. The demonstrated commitment from our community, our staff and our promise to provide high-quality, local care, is what sets us apart here in Tyler and in 175 other locations in Texas.
On our 25th anniversary, we’re renewing our commitment to deliver the high quality care that has become the standard in Tyler. We will continue to be eager champions of cancer research and scientific discovery — helping patients live better, longer lives with your continued trust and support. Our team is committed to serving you with the same personal, compassionate approach that we put in place when we launched the Tyler clinic 25 years ago.
Dr. Donald Richards is a medical oncologist, and Dr. Mark Saunders is a radiation oncologist. The two are co-founders of Texas Oncology-Tyler, along with Dr. Gary Kimmel, who died in 2018.