Finding New Ways to Detect and Treat Cancer
At Sanford Health, the best medical minds work together for you. Using innovative science, we’re leading the way to breakthroughs that will change cancer care for generations to come.
We’re exploring better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and improve patients’ quality of life during and after cancer.
Why are Cancer Clinical Trials Important?
Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a possible treatment or prevention technique. Every cancer treatment and medication available today was once part of a clinical trial. Participating in research today shapes the future of care tomorrow.
Patients like you can make a difference by enrolling in a clinical trial or research study. Through research, we discover new treatments, cures and ways to help patients enjoy a higher quality of life.
Cancer Research and Care at Sanford Health
Sanford Health offers cancer clinical trials in six cities across the upper Midwest. We’re based in Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck, Bemidji, Worthington and Thief River Falls.
We’re the only institute in the Dakotas to offer access to Phase 1 clinical trials. Our program gives participants access to some of the newest, most innovative treatments.
Choose Sanford Health for cancer care because:
- We use a multidisciplinary approach. We use our combined experience to give you better care. When first diagnosed, your provider presents your case to a variety of specialists at cancer-specific tumor boards. The tumor board reviews your diagnosis and collaborates on your best plan forward, providing you with a room full of expert opinions. Each case is also screened for clinical trial eligibility and the potential for research involvement. Learn more about tumor boards
- You’ll partner with a research coordinator. A research coordinator collaborates with your providers and helps you navigate available research projects based on your genetics and cancer type.
- We’re an award-winning program. Our team has been recognized by multiple organizations for our commitment to care, especially through our clinical trials program.
- We’ve been an NCI-Sponsored Clinical Research Site since the early 1980s. Sanford Health is one of 34 community programs. At any given time, we have around 93 clinical trials open for patient enrollment.
Cancer Research FAQ
What is a cancer clinical trial?
A cancer clinical trial (also called a research study or research trial) is a scientific study where participants help doctors find ways to improve cancer care. Research studies aim to find better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer while improving quality of life for cancer patients. These trials are the fastest and safest way to find new cancer treatments and better the health of cancer patients. The best treatments we have today were once part of a clinical trial.
Who can participate in a clinical trial?
Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements can participate in a clinical trial. Eligibility requirements may include age, gender, health history and current medications. Patients involved in clinical research are volunteers and can leave the study at any time. Through the informed consent process, we make our participants aware of the risks and benefits of taking part in a specific study before enrolling.
Why should I participate in a clinical trial?
People who participate in clinical trials and other cancer research initiatives:
- Could get access to promising new treatments that may not yet be available to the public
- Play an active role in their health care
- Help researchers and doctors find new or better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat cancer
- Help find new treatments to improve quality of life for cancer patients
- Are assigned to a clinical research team, which will offer support and guidance throughout the research process and offer an additional level of care
Is there a chance I’d receive a placebo during a cancer clinical trial?
Placebos are used in select clinical trials. They’re used when researchers are trying to prove that adding a new treatment in addition to current treatments is more effective than the current treatments alone. One way they do this is by providing all participants with the standard of care (the current best treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation) plus the new treatment or providing some participants with the standard of care and a placebo.
Either way, as a patient, you receive the best current treatments we have to offer through the standard of care. Should the clinical study contain a placebo, we’re required by law to inform you before you join.
Awards and Recognition
QOPI Certification Program
Organizations certified through the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) Certification Program:
- Create a culture of excellence and self-examination that helps medical practices deliver the best care to patients
- Demonstrate the program’s commitment to quality for patients, payors and the medical community
Certificate of Excellence
Sanford Health is recognized by the NCI Children’s Oncology Group for the timely activation of CCDR studies and submission of data and the quality of data submitted.
Sanford Health is proud to have received the Gold Award from the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). We were recognized for combined treatment and cancer control accrual between Aug. 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019.
We’re designated Sanford NCORP of the Central Plains and recognized with an award for overall accrual of cancer control and treatment trials.
Meet Our Investigators
Maria Bell, MD
Jonathan Bleeker, MD
Gastrointestinal, Precision Oncology
Keely Hack, MD
Michele Lohr, MD
Michelle Janania Martinez, MD
Miroslaw Mazurczak, MD
Breast, CNS, NCORP
Steve McGraw, MD
Brianna Murphy, DO
Catherine Nelson, DO
Ryan Nowak, MD
Steven Powell, MD
Early Phase, Head and Neck, Lung, Precision Oncology
A. Abou Zahr, MD
Daniel Almquist, MD
Hematology and Oncology
Miran Blanchard, MD
Melanie Chihak, DO
Jarrett Failing, MD
Anu Gaba, MD
Breast, Precision Oncology
Louis Geeraerts, MD
Head and Neck
Mark Gitau, MD
Gastrointestinal, Lung, Head and Neck, Precision Oncology, Rare Tumor
Gerald Gross, MD
Mahendra Gupta, MD
Ash Jensen, MD
Seth Maliske, MD
Hematology and Oncology
Samuel Milanovich, MD
Sommer Nurkic, MD
Amit Panwalkar, MD
Breast, Gynecologic, Lung
Preston Steen, MD
Gastrointestinal, NCORP, Genitourinary, Lung
Andrew Terrell, MD
Head and Neck
Shelby Terstriep, MD
Matthew Tinguely, MD
Radhakrishna Vegunta, MD
Jeff Wiisanen, MD
Kirk Wyatt, MD