Cancer Care Centers 
of South Texas: Clinical Depth, Geographic Breadth

By: Jennifer Webster
Monday, June 2, 2014
Specialty: 

From the Texas Hill Country to San Antonio to South Texas, Cancer Care Centers of South Texas (CCCST) brings state-of-the-art treatments, personalized, compassionate and comprehensive care, and access to clinical trials — close to where patients live and work.

For more than three decades, CCCST has helped patients access treatment for cancer and disorders of the blood in their home communities. The practice has expanded its geographic reach, number of specialists and scope of services, now including nearly 30 physicians seeing patients at 17 locations throughout the region. Sites of service include seven locations in San Antonio and others in Boerne, Floresville, Fredericksburg, Hondo, Kerrville, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Pleasanton/Jourdanton, Seguin and Uvalde.

Manuel Santiago, MD, CCCST Joint Policy Board Member, has been present for much of this expansion.

“I joined CCCST in 1998, leaving a full-time position at the University of Texas Health Science Center,” he says. “Working with CCCST leadership, we have hired numerous physicians and extended the range of services to include radiation oncology, gynecologic oncology and breast surgery. We have opened new locations across the area. Our physician membership across all sites of service has expanded to approximately 30 physicians. The volume of physicians and services within CCCST has allowed us to reverse the concept of having a central hub for the practice.”

Rather than making trips to multiple locations or distant referral centers, patients receive integrated care at CCCST’s local clinics. CCCST optimizes services to flow into the community while still delivering the multidisciplinary integration a major medical center provides.

Dr De Leon 175
Mark DeLeon, MD, the only medical oncologist and hematologist in Fredericksburg, sees patients at 204 W. Schubert St.

“Care is designed to be as close as possible to patients’ homes,” Dr. Santiago says. “That’s where they have the support of their family and loved ones. Cancer treatment, with its months of tightly scheduled appointments, is enough of a burden without long commutes to multiple sites. By fusing those services in all the centers and partnering with local hospitals throughout our catchment area, we have been able to offer a wide distribution of support and services, including, when needed, hospital admission, biopsy and evaluation by other specialists.”

“In our outlying clinics, we have patients’ lab work drawn and processed at the local site, and more complicated testing is sent to our central laboratory,” Dr. Santiago says. “Even in the case of sophisticated genetics studies, we try to help the patient stay close to home.”

Advanced Technology, Community-centered Care

When Abram Trevino, MD, hematologist and oncologist with CCCST, reviews the highlights of what CCCST offers his patients, he lists the linear accelerator, evidence-based protocols and clinical trials, high ethical standards — and the annual barbecue CCCST’s New Braunfels cancer center holds for patients and families each year.

Dr Lawson 175
R. Scott Lawson, MD, radiation oncologist, 
New Braunfels

The New Braunfels barbecue fits within the care model, too; it’s part of CCCST’s focus on patients and families. When patients receive treatment close to home, their highly experienced physicians are often their neighbors. This lends a personal dimension to cancer care for CCCST patients.

“We want to thank family members for their hard work,” Dr. Trevino says. “They make up an important part of our treatment team, and we acknowledge that in a nonclinical setting. Last year, more than 100 patients and family members attended the annual event. As a CCCST oncologist at our patient barbecue, it is great to feel you are part of a wider community.”

At New Braunfels, the recently acquired Varian Clinac 21EX linear accelerator offers nuanced radiation therapy to target tumors and spare healthy tissue, Dr. Trevino says. With a range of dosage and electronic energy choices, the linear accelerator has the ability to conform radiation to irregular tumor shapes. Treatments last only a few minutes, making them significantly quicker than conventional radiation therapy, Dr. Trevino says.

For cancer diagnosis, combined PET/CT offers detailed images of the body’s interior while locating cancers with pinpoint accuracy. Traditionally, patients would have to travel for diagnostics with such advanced technology and wait at the imaging center for contrast dye and radioactive imaging media to be absorbed by the body. CCCST provides PET/CT diagnosis to patients at a variety of locations, including New Braunfels and Kerrville, by means of a mobile unit, which travels from one practice location to another.

Dr Santiago 175
Manuel A. Santiago, MD, medical oncologist, 
San Antonio and Uvalde

In addition to advanced radiotherapy and imaging, CCCST offers personalized medicine to many cancer patients, tailoring treatments to the patients’ genetic makeup or the molecular pathways involved in the creation of a particular tumor. Even for such highly specialized care, patients may not have to leave their own communities.

“I am excited to be affiliated with this reputable and ethical group of physicians who are highly recognized,” Dr. Trevino says. “Many are internationally known and well-published.

“We offer standardized care according to proven guidelines, keep patients informed about their prognosis and treatment options, and get to know patients so we can understand their quality-of-life goals and concerns,” he continues. “The level of trust between physicians and patients is unprecedented in my experience.”

CCCST gives back to communities in many ways, including participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night, as well as hosting regular patient and family events at the clinics, such as annual Patient Days.

Geographically Dispersed, Medically Connected

CCCST’s model of integrated medicine distributed among multiple locations means providers live in many of the communities they serve and know their patients well, while offering innovative technology and treatments.

“We offer the same level of care patients will find in a large city or a major academic center,” Dr. Trevino says. “The treatment plans we provide parallel evidence-based clinical pathways — the same National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines followed by the nation’s largest cancer centers.”

CCCST’s partnership with McKesson Specialty Health and the US Oncology Network means that even though affiliated practice sites are geographically dispersed, they are interconnected and form a nationwide cancer care network that, in many ways, functions as a major academic hub.

The US Oncology Network provides standardized, evidence-based guidelines for cancer care. It offers the opportunity for physicians to collaborate via an oncology portal, pooling experience and obtaining advice so patients benefit from a wide range of experience. Access to research studies is without parallel; in fact, the US Oncology Network has helped more than 55,000 patients join clinical trials.

Dr Trevino 175
Abram Trevino, MD, medical oncologist, 
New Braunfels

“Often, these are the same trials underway at tertiary referral centers in Texas,” Dr. Trevino says. “The difference for our patients is that they do not have to drive to Houston or farther to access the same research trials.”

Partnership with the US Oncology Network also enhances medicine availability and quality control, Dr. Santiago says. He delves deeply into supply chain logistics and understands how important it is for patients to have reliable access to medications with verified integrity.

“Through the US Oncology Network, we have close pharmaceutical oversight, managing acquisition, cost, distribution and quality,” he says. “We provide significant oversight to help ensure the availability, affordability and safety of the medications provided to patients in our clinics.”

Attracting More Expert Physicians Every Year

As CCCST continues its mission of extending cancer care in San Antonio and the surrounding areas, the practice aims to add to its roster of physicians and patient treatment services.

CCCST750

“We continually expand our services by adding physicians and diminishing the distance patients have to travel to secure services,” Dr. Santiago says. “From San Antonio and south central Texas, we continue to be the largest referral center for sophisticated medical oncology, hematology, radiation oncology, gynecologic oncology and breast surgery. We will continue to develop as a dynamic practice and expand and strengthen our network locally, advancing the care of patients in San Antonio and in their home communities.”


Visit www.cancercaresouthtexas.com to learn more.