Offering hope through research: Dr. von Holzen


What makes Goshen Center for Cancer Care physicians different? They go above and beyond for their patients. Take Director of Surgical Oncology Urs von Holzen, MD, MBA, FACS. Not only is Dr. von Holzen a board certified and fellowship trained surgical and thoracic oncologist, he brings with him a tireless commitment to actively find solutions for the cancers he fights on a daily basis. 

Dr. von Holzen leads a cancer research laboratory at Harper Cancer Research Institute in South Bend, Indiana, where he studies esophageal cancer to find new therapies for overcoming resistance to chemotherapy and other therapeutic agents. He also led a collaborative effort to develop a free lung cancer screening program for Goshen and the surrounding communities. 

Why go to all this extra effort? Because, Dr. von Holzen says, he saw a need in the community –– and he decided to do something about it.

Working toward solutions

Due to high rates of smoking and tobacco use, lung cancer is one of the most prevalent health issues in Elkhart County, where Goshen Center for Cancer Care is located. When Dr. von Holzen relocated to Elkhart County from Switzerland over four years ago, he witnessed the health issue firsthand in his patients. In an effort to find a solution, the team used knowledge from a landmark trial that proved, for the first time ever, that if the tumors are detected early you can actually save lives.

Even with this knowledge, Dr. von Holzen knew that for many of his patients a nominal fee for a screening could be too much. Which is why he helped launch the lung cancer screening program in Goshen – free for those who meet the screening criteria.

“We see a big need in our community,” says Dr. von Holzen. “We know that early detection actually saves lives, so it can make a significant impact.”

With over 1,000 free scans administered so far, the program’s impact is already being felt.

“To be at the cutting edge, you have to have a research background”

One of Dr. von Holzen’s personal interests has always been cancer research. 

“My personal opinion is if you want to be at the cutting edge of treating cancer patients, you have to have a research background,” he says. “All the research we're doing is aimed at helping patients.”

With clinical trials, an interdisciplinary approach and an expert team behind him, Dr. von Holzen says he sees the results of the team’s hard work by offering hope to his patients.

“I aspire to give my patients hope,” says Dr. von Holzen. “Getting diagnosed with cancer is very difficult. If I can show patients there's a way through the situation, I can give them the hope to move forward so they can live a good life. For me, hope is one of the most important things.”

For more information about our team at Goshen Center for Cancer Care, visit the Cancer Care section of our website.