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A Holistic Approach to Cancer: An Interview with the Team from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Interview by Andrea McCloud

Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) was founded as a single hospital in 1988 by Richard J Stephenson, current CTCA chairman of the board, and since has expanded into a network of 4 facilities in different parts of the country. Each facility is devoted to treating cancer through an integrated combination of medical, nutritional, physical, psychological, and spiritual therapies.

Edgar D. Staren, MD, a practicing surgical oncologist, joined CTCA as the chief medical officer in 2005. He graduated in 1982 from Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago and stayed in Chicago to comple his general-surgery internship and residency at Rush University Medical Center. Dr Staren then completed an oncology fellowship at Rush and Cook County Hospitals, completing all of this training by 1988. However, he wasn’t done yet. Dr Staren then went on to receive a PhD in tumor immunobiology from Rush University in 1991 and in 1999 earned an MBA from Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill. Most recently, Dr Staren was a professor as well as medical and surgical director of the Medical College of Ohio Cancer Institute in Toledo. He also served as chairman of the Department of Surgery and surgery clinical service chief at the Medical College of Ohio hospitals.

Dr Staren is nationally recognized for his clinical and research activities and as an academic surgical oncologist with expertise in diseases of the breast, liver, and endocrine glands. He has published more than 200 scientific works. Timothy C. Birdsall, ND, is vice president of Integrative Medicine for CTCA, where he is responsible for coordinating the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) programs and services. He is a 1985 graduate of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash, where he later served on the faculty for 5 years. Before accepting his current post at CTCA, Dr Birdsall was the center’s national director of Naturopathic Medicine and Research. Before joining CTCA, he was the technical director for Thorne Research Inc and the founding editor-in-chief of Alternative Medicine Review, the first peer-reviewed medical journal edited by naturopathic physicians to be indexed on Medline.

Dr Birdsall’s work has been published in numerous journals. He is coauthor of How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine (Riverhead Books, 2002). Roger C. Cary, MHA, is the chief operating officer of CTCA and the former president and CEO of the Midwestern Regional Medical Center, CTCA’s flagship hospital in Zion, Ill. For more than 10 years, Mr Cary has led the hospital team to recordbreaking success in patient growth and quality service, as measured by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

Mr Cary oversaw construction and acquisition of CTCA’s newest hospitals in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Prior to his tenure at CTCA, he served as chief executive officer and senior executive of single and multi-hospital operations. Mr Cary received his Masters of Healthcare Administration from Loma Linda University, in Loma Linda, Calif, in 1983.

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