Cancer is a word that holds different meanings for different people. For Dr. Luke Nordquist, making cancer a part of his life means guiding his patients and providing comfort in what they face. With nearly 20 years of experience as a urologic medical oncologist in Omaha, he founded XCancer (formerly Urology Cancer Center) in 2010 to conduct research, educate the public, and expand access to affordable care.
As the nation’s only community cancer center dedicated to prostate cancer research and treatment, the XCancer difference stems from providing the most advanced cancer treatments for each patient while minimizing financial burdens. “Most cancer doctors don’t participate in research and they are commonly treating all cancer types,” Nordquist said. “This makes it very difficult for those cancer doctors to stay familiar with the latest cancer research for so many types of cancer.”
Beyond his title as oncologist, he immerses himself in science and entrepreneurism. Nordquist has founded nearly ten business entities affiliated with the XCancer brand and mission. “Being an entrepreneur is considered unique among most doctors. Our strong focus on clinical trials as the foundation of our organization is the driving force behind our significant success, but beyond research, we always do what’s best for the patient.”
Nordquist explained that during a time of economic turmoil for the nation’s healthcare system, which has led to the closing of many cancer centers, cancer research trials continue to provide a sustainable business model for cancer centers to thrive. Along with access to cutting-edge treatments and reducing financial toxicity, cancer research benefits patients, society, the drug pipeline, pharmaceutical companies, and cancer centers. Few patients know these benefits, and many fear research misconceptions.
XCancer is determined to dispel these myths by serving as an educational resource and helping patients access proper care. “If a patient wants to do research, they either have to seek out a research trial themselves or rely on the limited number of FDA-approved drugs,” Nordquist said.
What differentiates XCancer from other cancer research centers is XCancer can open trials quickly, within weeks, versus a year or more that it can take other cancer centers to open the same trial. Because participation in clinical trials is competitive, often with only a few cancer centers selectively chosen to participate, XCancer’s strong track record globally allows Nordquist’s team access to the most innovative trials. “Our heavy focus on research and reputation for the highest quality work allows us to be competitive even with the largest cancer centers, like Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins,” Nordquist explained.
According to Nordquist, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States and play a vital role in the reason so many cancer patients don’t receive proper care. Because XCancer’s research, foundations, and drug replacement programs bring in over $6 million per year in free treatments, Nordquist and his team provide almost 80% of their patients with treatments at no cost at some point during their care.
In 19 years, the oncologist has never turned a person away for lack of insurance or had someone file for medical bankruptcy. Fighting for his patients to get the care they need, Nordquist advocates for more community cancer centers to participate in research so cancer patients can receive more options and more affordable care.
Since inception, Nordquist and his team have enrolled nearly 2,000 patients in clinical trials, including 16 first-in-world treatments for prostate cancer advances. As a global leader in research and clinical trial options, XCancer research expands access to cutting-edge therapies to reach cancer patients nationwide. “We are the backbone for other community cancer centers,” Nordquist said. “We provide the staffing, software, and resources so trials can be conducted at more cancer centers around the country, which helps save money, keeps cancer centers afloat, and creates more access to affordable drugs.”
Whereas the average oncologist employs roughly five employees, Nordquist employs over 50 people and provides monthly care to more than 450 men with prostate cancer nationwide, including Canada. The XCancer team consists of dozens of professional research staff, theranostic specialists, and even software developers and marketers, all working together to locate the best trials, negotiate budgets, file FDA regulatory documents, and return data to pharmaceutical sponsors.
Through research, XCancer has also surfaced as a leader in theranostic treatments for prostate cancer. Theranostics is a new way of treating many types of cancer that is resulting in cancer resolution and even cure in some patients that were deemed non-curable and even close to requiring hospice. Last year, XCancer launched TheranosticTrials digital platform to improve access and education for theranostic clinical trials globally.
From the moment a patient steps inside the center, the comforts of home will greet them in a positive environment rooted in cutting-edge care. Rather than long wait times or rushed interactions with the doctor, XCancer schedules visits based on the anticipated time needed with Nordquist. This way, patients will leave with all questions answered and a clear plan. All patients are given Nordquist’s personal cell phone number, an example of the center’s strong family culture rooted in care. Some patients will even stop by on unscheduled days for coffee or homemade cookies that are regularly baked by his youngest daughter. “I don’t know of many patients who stop by their doctor’s office on a day off just to say hi and grab a cup of coffee,” Nordquist said.
To offer additional support for patients, the XCancer Store was created to provide cancer-related merchandise for patients, caregivers, family members, and supporters. Proceeds benefit the XCancer Foundation, which offers worldwide support for cancer patients. Currently, the foundation is financing the construction of a cancer housing facility for the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Tanzania.
Eager to educate the public about cancer and misconceptions surrounding research trials, XCancer University was created so Nordquist could continue to be an educational resource. For several years, he hosted “Cancer Opinions with Dr. Luke,” a radio show where he discussed the impact of cancer, new treatments, and advocacy issues. As the oncologist’s programs continue to gain international recognition, he continues to share his expertise with other cancer centers around the U.S. all to help lift the burdens that cancer patients experience.
Whether it’s a conversation over a cup of coffee with a patient or participating in cutting-edge research, XCancer continues to broaden its fight against cancer by putting its patients first and providing the most innovative cancer care in a positive culture. “No other field has as much continuity of care as oncology, patients become like family,” Nordquist shared. “All fields of medicine have their share of sad and depressing situations, but in general cancer patients have a different outlook on life, and they stop taking many things for granted. They are often scared initially, but they’re leaving here as a brand-new person because we’re giving them hope again.”
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