By Annette Pinder

The National Center for Health Statistics reported 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer deaths in the United States in 2022. The American Cancer Society notes that more than 9 out of 10 cancers are diagnosed in people ages 45 and older, and that people ages 74 and older comprise 28% of all new cancer cases. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that 90 to 95% of all cancers are due to environment and lifestyle choices, which means that people can make lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer. More good news is that significant strides are being made in educating people about healthier choices, improvements in screening tools, and treatments.

Still, receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary, leaving most people confused, overwhelmed, depressed, hopeless, and helpless, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. They also don’t know where to turn for treatment, and feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to work with different health providers for different aspects of their care. “When you receive a cancer diagnosis, there are few things you feel you can control,” says Melissa Wanzer, PhD, oncology survivorship program & outcomes manager at Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative (GLCCC).”

In 2018, leaders of 10 Western New York cancer care organizations met to discuss the need for helping cancer patients navigate the complex journeys they will inevitably face. With a goal of enveloping cancer patients and their loved ones in a compassionate continuum of exceptional care, GLCCC now consists of 12 organizations that are fully engaged with patients through initial screenings, to diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. The collaboration also insures 24/7 access to ongoing emergency care at GLCCC’s three acute care hospitals — Erie County Medical Center, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, and Buffalo General Medical Center —for the remainder of their lives. GLCCC assures patients consistency and coordination of their care, and all three member hospitals are accredited by the Commission on Cancer for maintaining a high standard of oncology care.

GLCCC patients receive care from some of the best cancer care surgeons and oncologists in the region from locations close to where they live and work. Additionally, each patient is assigned a dedicated nurse navigator based on their cancer type, who helps with appointment scheduling, responding to questions, links to community resources, and ongoing emotional support.

“This is so important,” says Victor Filadora, MD, MBA, President of GLCCC, “because navigating the complex health system and scheduling appointments can be overwhelming.” Filadora is proud of the exemplary care that GLCCC is providing to Western New Yorkers, saying, “We collaborated to build a coalition that is based on the strengths and specialties of each of our members, with a goal of bringing exceptional patient-centered compassionate cancer care to everyone we treat.”

Learn more about Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative at, including the different types of cancer treated, at To find a physician nearest you, in the area of specialty you require, visit To talk to someone to get started, schedule an appointment, or to learn more, call 716-884-3000.