Bioscience

Radiation Therapy Oncology Group and US Oncology Enter Collaboration to Increase Patient Access to National Clinical Trials

October 27, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Collaboration Brings Cooperative Group Level Radiation Therapy Trials to US Oncology Affiliates’ Patients for First Time

The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) and US Oncology, Inc. today announced they have entered into a collaboration to increase patient access to national cancer clinical trials with a radiation focus in the community setting.

The collaboration means patients receiving cancer care at practices affiliated with US Oncology have access to RTOG trials for disease sites including brain, head & neck, lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, cervix, and breast cancers. RTOG trials focus on testing the integration of radiation therapy with new systemic therapies and surgery.

The collaboration also marks the first time US Oncology, as a network of member practices, has participated in cooperative group trials in radiation oncology. In addition, US Oncology is the first multi-state, national organization to become an affiliate member of RTOG. Current members include large regional practices and academic practices with several facilities in metropolitan areas.

“Our collaboration with US Oncology and its network of member practices is attractive due to the organization’s strong commitment to clinical trial participation, leadership and accrual,” said Walter Curran, MD, Group Chairman of RTOG and professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology of Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Curran also serves as Chief Medical Officer of the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University. “We were confident their track record as a multi-site organization with significant accruals in a variety of clinical trials would be a good fit,” said Dr. Curran.

Following infrastructure development to centralize the IRB, data collection, reporting, credentialing and quality assurance to operate as a network, US Oncology was granted affiliate member status in the RTOG late last year.

The collaboration began with 10 US Oncology affiliated practices working as a network; due to interest from radiation oncologists, the number expanded to 14 sites. The participating affiliated practices include: Texas Oncology practices at Sugar Land, Medical City Dallas, Sherman, Methodist Dallas, Klabzuba, and Bedford Harris; Kansas City Cancer Center’s North, South, and Southwest sites; Willamette Valley (Oregon) Cancer Center; Central Indian Cancer Center-South; Arizona Oncology Associates-Tucson; Rocky Mountain Cancer Center-Aurora, and New York Oncology Hematology-Albany.

The first US Oncology patient was enrolled in an RTOG trial in March 2008. From March to mid-October of this year, a total of 17 patients from eight fully credentialed sites have been enrolled, exceeding the minimum requirement of five enrolled patients during the first year of membership. Among the eight sites, an average of six studies are open to enrollment at any given time.

Benefits for patients participating in the radiation therapy trials include increased access to new investigational therapies, the state-of-the-art in standard care, and close monitoring by physicians and other clinicians during the trial.

US Oncology has developed a robust medical oncology research program over the past 12 years. Affiliated radiation oncologists expressed the desire to increase the breadth of the research network and provide patients with access to radiation therapy combined modality studies to offer an integrated care environment for patients.

“We are excited about the relationship between Radiation Therapy Oncology Group and US Oncology,” said Vivek Kavadi, MD, medical director of radiation research for US Oncology. “You have one of the nation’s foremost cancer treatment and research networks working with the premier organization for radiation trials to provide a clinical offering beneficial to patients and both organizations.”

The collaboration provides RTOG access to US Oncology’s significant patient population, making radiation therapy trials more accessible to cancer patients in the community setting nationwide. US Oncology’s strong presence in certain parts of the country helps RTOG expand clinical trial participation into areas where it has few or no enrolling members, giving patients access to trials previously unavailable to them.

“We at Radiation Therapy Oncology Group are always interested in opportunities to expand our portfolio of trials to the greatest number of patients and we are excited that US Oncology’s investigators will help us in that mission,” said Dr. Curran.

US Oncology affiliated practices participating in the RTOG trials program have increased access to new investigational radiation therapy treatments, and the ability to work with other oncologists and leading researchers to advance the quality of care for cancer patients.

“We’re on a substantially strong growth track with the RTOG trials,” said Dr. Kavadi. “We hope to have 30 affiliated practices participating by next year, and to become a full RTOG member by early 2010. We’re delighted this relationship is going to be a central part of the overall growth for the US Oncology Research network.”