795 Middle Street, Fall River, MA 02721 508-674-5600
Fall River, MA – In its latest advance in offering local cancer patients access to leading-edge cancer care, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center has announced that it will maintain its longstanding relationship with Boston Medical Center as an affiliate member of the newly formed National Cancer Institute (NCI) network group, NRG Oncology.
The area’s most experienced provider of access to national clinical trials for cancer care
As a comprehensive cancer care center for nearly four decades, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center has provided a spectrum of high-level patient services to thousands of area residents. In addition to medical, radiation, and surgical care for a range of cancers and blood disorders, Saint Anne’s has offered access to clinical trials sponsored by Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Care, plus those sponsored by the NCI through Saint Anne’s longstanding affiliation with Boston Medical Center.
Now, the NCI is restructuring its clinical research trial system in an effort to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, explains John Yang, MD, (right), chair of medical oncology and hematology at the hospital’s Hudner Oncology Center and principal investigator for medical oncology studies offered at Saint Anne’s.
“The goal of the new NRG Oncology network group is to conduct treatment and advanced imaging clinical trials across a broad range of cancer types and diverse patient populations,” says Dr. Yang.
“By consolidating several separate organizations into five network groups, the NCI aims to improve the speed of trial development, increase the participation of patients and physicians, and improve the integration of operations and data management.”
NRG Oncology comprises three long-term independent research groups: the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). Together, these groups have more than 150 years cumulative experience in conducting NCI-sponsored trials that investigate more effective ways of preventing or treating a range of cancers. Saint Anne’s has been a member of NSABP and RTOG for many years.
NRG Oncology also plans to increase development in studies on cancer control, symptom management, prevention, and quality-of-life issues.
Clinical trials: The road to new cancer treatments
Rosemarie Baylies, RN, BSN, MHP, OCN, a longtime radiation oncology nurse and now a research nurse at Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center, notes that clinical trials, also known as clinical studies, are one of the most effective ways that health care providers can improve health care, explains.
“These studies look at new ways of treating diseases or conditions, such as cancer, as well as examining new combinations of existing drugs,” says Baylies. “Trials are a necessary step to developing new medications or approaches, but just as importantly, they can also help patients be among the first to benefit.”
Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center: Offering clinical trials since 1976
Although its membership as a Boston Medical Center affiliate member of NRG Oncology is new, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center has offered cancer research clinical trials to patients since 1976 through its longstanding affiliation with Boston Medical Center.
Through this affiliation, hundreds of area patients have participated in National Cancer Institute-sponsored studies, which have investigated better approaches to not only cancer treatment, but also cancer prevention. Many of these studies established state-of-the-art treatments that are now considered the national standard of care.
Locally and nationally, many patients have benefited from studies that have been considered landmark findings in cancer care. For example, several local patients participated in one of the NCI’s largest-ever and most well-known breast cancer prevention studies, the “STAR” trial (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene). This study demonstrated that the drug raloxifene, previously used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, works as well as tamoxifen in reducing breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
Today, Saint Anne’s offers participation in more than a dozen national clinical trials for qualifying patients with breast, colon, bladder, and prostate cancers. In addition, the hospital continues to follow patients who have participated in dozens of trials since 1976.
“Although some studies may now be closed to new patients, patients who participated continue to be evaluated, even long after they have completed therapy,” explains Baylies. “This is an important component of comprehensive cancer care.”
About Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center
Nationally accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons as a comprehensive community cancer program, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Center provides the expertise of university cancer centers with the care and convenience of a community setting to patients at its sites in Fall River and North Dartmouth.
As a provider of comprehensive oncology services, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Care offers advanced radiation therapy; hematology, chemotherapy, biotherapy, and other medical oncology therapies; access to select national clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute and Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s CancerCare; numerous patient and family education and support programs; free health screening activities; and community and professional education.
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Saint Anne’s Hospital is a community hospital with comprehensive inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care services, serving adults and children from southeastern Massachusetts and nearby Rhode Island at its main campus in Fall River and its community satellites. Founded in 1906 by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, Saint Anne's Hospital is a member of Steward Health Care, the largest fully integrated community care organization in New England. Saint Anne’s has been recognized time and again for quality, safety and service by such organizations as The Joint Commission, Healthgrades, The Leapfrog Group, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Steward Health Care System LLC is the largest integrated community care organization in New England which combines more than 3,000 physicians, 11 acute care hospitals, managed care, insurance programs, home care, an imaging operation, and a number of other post-acute services, to provide the most cost effective and highest quality of integrated patient care.