Cancer Survivor’s Gift Makes New Liver and Pancreas Tumor Center Possible

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Center to Offer New Treatments, Broader Patient Services

(BUFFALO, NY)  A generous donation from a grateful liver cancer survivor has provided the remaining funds necessary to create a $1.1 million Comprehensive Liver and Pancreas Tumor Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Plans for the Center were unveiled today at a Roswell Park dedication ceremony.

Anne Virag, a native of Canada who makes her home in Western New York, has made a gift of $500,000 to initiate the Center’s work. The donation is from Ms. Virag and Mr. Nate Benderson in recognition of Ms. Virag’s Roswell Park doctor, Boris W. Kuvshinoff, MD, MBA. Dr. Kuvshinoff is the co-director along with Dr. Renuka Iyer of the Liver Tumor Program at Roswell Park. The new Center is additionally funded by $600,000 previously committed by Roswell Park. 

According to Kuvshinoff, the new Center will help improve the entry process for patients with a liver or biliary (bile ducts and gallbladder) tract tumor into Roswell Park. “It will also provide our patients with greater access to clinical research studies, expanded treatment options and complementary medicine,” he explained.

Dr. Renuka Iyer added that the Center will collect data needed to analyze clinical outcomes in response to different therapies. In addition, it will advance Roswell Park’s surgical-simulation program to improve the training of surgeons, and community outreach programs will be created to educate potential patients.

Kuvshinoff said that the gift from Virag and Benderson will help the Center to provide new treatments for patients who are not candidates for surgical resection and who have few remaining treatment options. Among the treatments to be offered soon: NanoKnife technology, which uses probes to deliver an electric current to the tumor.

“This technology does not use heat, so it preserves the surrounding vital structures such as ducts, blood vessels and nerves,” explained Kuvshinoff. “We foresee broader applications for the NanoKnife—applications not currently available with existing technology.” 

Ms. Virag said that when she heard about the opportunity to help expand the Center, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I am so grateful for the care I received at Roswell—I know that it saved my life,” said Virag. “Seeing this Center move forward is like a dream come true.  I wanted to make sure others like me could benefit. I am so proud to help bring new options to Western New York patients—and pleased that everything will be offered under a single roof to make care as easy as possible.”

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager