HOUSTON, April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On April 12, Aetna announced that a combination of heat and chemotherapy called hyperthermic perfusion, a procedure pioneered by Houston surgical oncologist, Dr. John S. Stehlin in 1969, as "medically necessary" for patients with advanced melanomas (stages II and IIIA) of the extremities. Dr. Stehlin, who established The Foundation for Cancer Research in 1969, was the first to use the combined procedures for the treatment of advanced melanoma of the arms and legs. Dramatically improving survival rates by 300 percent, the procedure virtually eliminated the necessity for amputation. Heat was added to the perfusion operation based on the research findings of Dr. Beppino Giovanella, Laboratory Director of The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research.
"The Stehlin Foundation has always had a specific mission: to find and develop the most effective treatments for the patient suffering from cancer. With Aetna now deeming the treatment first administered by Dr. John Stehlin, a CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation milestone has been reached," says Robert Anderson, President of The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research.
Health insurance companies only provide coverage for health-related services that they define or determine to be medically necessary. According to Aetna, "medically necessary" means that the service or supply is provided by a physician or other health care provider exercising prudent clinical judgment for the purpose of preventing, evaluating, diagnosing or treating an illness, injury or disease or its symptoms. It also must be clinically appropriate and considered effective in accordance with the generally accepted standards of medical practice. Now that hyperthermic perfusion is recognized by Aetna as fulfilling this category, more patients will benefit from this important procedure.
The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation operates a state-of-the-art 27,000 square foot laboratory in Houston, Texas. Stehlin researchers established the only lab devoted exclusively to the study of human cancers. The Foundation has published one of the largest studies of liver cancer ever conducted by a single institution, involving 414 patients. It also developed and utilizes the immuno-deficient nude mouse, an ideal vehicle for growing human tumors and testing anticancer drug compounds and treatments. It has become an unparalleled tool in cancer research and now represents the final non-human studies required by the National Cancer Institute for determining the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs.
"One of the keys to Dr. Stehlin's research was always that we don't treat cancer, we treat the person who has cancer. We take a very personal approach to it. We'd like to cure cancer one day, but we're more concerned about the individuals who have it right now," says Dana Vardeman, the lab supervisor of CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation.
Since 1969, The Foundation has set new standards in chemotherapy and clinical practice in the battle against cancer. Stehlin's researchers have developed scientific breakthroughs noted in medical journals around the world. The Foundation is currently conducting landmark studies in drug development on a variety of human cancers. For more information on the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation, please visit www.stehlin.org.
SOURCE The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research