Oct 27, 2020 12:00 PM


the varley lab

Dear Patient,

You might not see us during your visit to Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), but we want to let you know that we are working hard in the Varley Lab in the HCI research building next door. We conduct research that improves the treatment and care of patients like you. We are a small group of dedicated young men and women who are developing new strategies to diagnose and treat breast and ovarian cancer.

One study we are very excited about involves developing a blood test for cancer. Tumors naturally shed small amounts of DNA into the bloodstream as the cancer cells grow and die. When we look closely at this DNA, we can see changes in the DNA caused by the cancer. Healthy people don’t have these changes in the DNA in their blood. We are using this knowledge to develop a blood test to detect breast and ovarian cancer. Our first use of this test will help doctors monitor breast and ovarian cancer patients who are in remission. The hope is that the blood test will help doctors find cancer recurrence early before it spreads or causes symptoms. Our long-term goal is for this blood test to be used during annual wellness exams to enable early detection of breast and ovarian cancer.

We have been affected by cancer in our personal lives too. Katherine Varley, PhD, the head investigator of our lab, has devoted her career to cancer research in honor of her mother, who died of breast cancer at the age of 50. Our job is not always easy, but you and the people around you inspire us to work hard. We want to make it so that if your friends or loved ones walk through the HCI doors in the future, their care will be even better than it is today. We really appreciate that you participate in research studies when you can, and we thank you for supporting HCI. By working together, we will improve the lives of future patients.

The next time you visit HCI, remember we are sending you courage and hope from next door.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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