Cancer Centers in the News

The following links highlight some of the most up-to-date news from the 27 NCCN Member Institutions. The media coverage below includes major national news outlets, industry magazines, medical journals, and press releases.

The news is listed in reverse chronological order for ease of use.

06/04/2018
STAT: A new cancer care dilemma: Patients want immunotherapy even when evidence is lacking
>View Article<



06/04/2018
Text Messaging Intervention Improves Quality of Life, Lowers Distress Related to Chemotherapy in Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients
>View Article<



05/02/2018
Two UAB recipients awarded prestigious honors from NCCN
>View Article<



05/01/2018
Real Estate Industry Luminary Yat-Pang Au of Veritas Investments To Be Honored with City of Hope’s Prestigious Spirit of Life® Award at Dinner Gala on Sept. 26
>View Article<



04/27/2018
Physician's Weekly: Emergency Department Care for Older Adults With Cancer
>View Article<



04/24/2018
The Chronicle: Duke professor helps produce new guidelines to treat cancer patients with HIV
>View Article<



04/12/2018
Lifetime Achievement Award for Cancer Prevention Presented to Paul F. Engstrom
>View Article<



04/12/2018
Want to Help Beat Colon Cancer? Live Healthy
>View Article<



04/04/2018
NCCN Helps Strengthen Cancer Research Pipeline by Awarding Grants to Five Young Investigators

Award recipients to spend two years researching various new ways to support the NCCN mission of improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care.

FORT WASHINGTON, PA [April 4, 2018] — The NCCN Foundation® has announced five recipients for this year’s Young Investigator Awards. The grantees come from National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Member Institutions, and will each receive up to $150,000 in funding over a two-year period. This marks the eighth year for the NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards supporting career development for innovative cancer researchers.

“It is so inspiring to learn about the new ways these up-and-coming researchers are trying to solve today’s cancer treatment problems,” said Deborah Armstrong, MD of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Armstrong chaired the 2018 YIA Proposal Review Committee. “Not only do we have a chance to identify where tomorrow’s game changing discoveries will come from, but we can also provide funding to support this potentially life-saving research.”

The 2018 awardees are:

Rebecca Arend, MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Canter Yin Cao, MPH, ScD, Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine Tim Luetkens, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Edwin R. Manuel, PhD, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center Cecilia Yeung, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Rebecca Arend, MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center Yin Cao, MPH, ScD, Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine Tim Luetkens, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Edwin R. Manuel, PhD, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center Cecilia Yeung, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

 

These five awardees were selected out of a pool of 48 applicants nominated from across the 27 NCCN Member Institutions. The NCCN Oncology Research Program (ORP) will manage and oversee the projects for the next two years. The awardees will then present the results from their research at the NCCN 25th Annual Conference in 2020.

Several past YIA Awardees participated in this year’s NCCN Conference, presenting their work as part of the general poster session. Those presenters included:

“With past Young Investigator Awards, we’ve seen researchers more than deliver on their promise to make significant contributions to the cancer care landscape,” said Marcie R. Reeder, MPH, Executive Director, NCCN Foundation. “Awardees have gone on to be published in high-impact journals, have distinguished research careers, and some have wound up on NCCN Guidelines Panels. By giving them a leg-up at this early point in their career, we can make sure to keep the research pipeline primed for future breakthroughs. That means more cures, better prevention, and improved care for the next generation of people with cancer.”

The 2018 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards were made possible through support from AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Genentech, Inc., Gilead Sciences, Merck & Co. Inc., Sharp & Dohme Corp., Takeda Oncology, and Pfizer Inc.

For more information about the NCCN Young Investigator Awards, visit NCCN.org/patients.

# # #

About NCCN Foundation

NCCN Foundation® was founded by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) to empower people with cancer and advance oncology innovation. NCCN Foundation supports people with cancer and their caregivers at every step of their treatment journey by delivering unbiased expert guidance from the world’s leading cancer experts through the library of NCCN Guidelines for Patients® and other patient education resources. NCCN Foundation is also committed to advancing cancer treatment by funding the nation’s promising young investigators at the forefront of cancer research, initiating momentum in their careers and furthering the betterment of patients through their groundbreaking innovations. For more information about NCCN Foundation, visit http://www.nccnfoundation.org.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a not-for-profit alliance of 27 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education, is dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers.

The NCCN Member Institutions are: Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Omaha, NE; Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland, OH; City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center | Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA; Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, WA; The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD; Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ, Jacksonville, FL, and Rochester, MN; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Columbus, OH; Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY; Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN; Stanford Cancer Institute, Stanford, CA; University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham, AL; UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA; UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA; University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, CO; University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Madison, WI; Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN; and Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital, New Haven, CT.

Clinicians, visit NCCN.org. Patients and caregivers, visit NCCN.org/patients. Media, visit NCCN.org/news. Follow NCCN on Twitter @NCCNnews and Facebook @National.Comprehensive.Cancer.Network.

>View Article<



03/30/2018
Gradishar Named Chief of Hematology and Oncology
>View Article<



03/06/2018
Guidelines needed to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations for older adults with cancer
>View Article<



03/05/2018
City of Hope study published in Nature Medicine reports on promising new drug to fight chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
>View Article<



02/28/2018
On Rare Disease Day, experts say ‘Don’t give up’
>View Article<



02/26/2018
Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH Receives K-Award
>View Article<



02/22/2018
Dr. Kevin Cheung receives prestigious ‘Era of Hope’ Scholar Award
>View Article<



01/15/2018
Socioeconomic, Racial Disparities Persist in Management of Brain Metastases
>View Article<



12/19/2017
Study Finds Growing Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities in Management of Brain Metastases

A new study in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network highlights the need to improve access to care for minority and lower-income populations

FORT WASHINGTON, PA [December 19, 2017] — Increasing use of a potentially life-saving treatment for metastatic cancer is leaving too many vulnerable patients behind, according to a new study from Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital published in JNCCNJournal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The researchers looked into use of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) following radiotherapy (RT) to treat brain metastases in patients with melanoma, lung, breast, or colorectal cancers. They found that the use of SRS has increased dramatically, but unevenly, in recent years.

“The upfront costs, infrastructure, and multidisciplinary expertise needed for SRS delivery compared with traditional whole-brain radiation may be contributing to racial and socioeconomic barriers to access,” according to lead researcher, Benjamin H. Kann, MD, Yale University School of Medicine. “Investment in a dedicated radiosurgery system, whether using Gamma Knife Radiosurgery or linear accelerator-based modifications, can cost several millions of dollars upfront. Additionally, physician, physicist, and therapist training is required, which involves time commitment and often off-site course attendance.”

More than 20% of patients with cancer develop brain metastases.[1] This study examined data from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) between 2004 and 2014, focusing on people over age 18, who were treated with radiation to the brain for one of the four malignancies most associated with brain metastases in the United States. 75,953 patients met the criteria for inclusion, 12,250 (16.1%) of whom received SRS.

They found the overall utilization rate for SRS increased from 9.8% in 2004 to 25.6% in 2014, with the rate of uptake accelerating after 2008. SRS use increased more for patients with income levels of $63,000 and above, as well as those treated at academic facilities, living in areas with higher percentages of high school graduates, or possessing private insurance. There were lower rates of SRS among patients with Medicare, Medicaid, or no insurance. Moreover, patients of black race or Hispanic ethnicity were less likely to be treated with SRS even when the researchers excluded the melanoma data (which has a predominantly white population).

Benjamin H. Kann, MD
Yale University School of Medicine

“Increased education surrounding SRS for referring providers and patients, networking and relationship-building between community practices and larger cancer centers, as well as offering SRS training programs for providers may help to improve access for minority patients and those in lower income regions,” said Kann. “Transportation to an SRS facility may also be challenging for underprivileged patients, so it could be helpful to strengthen social programs that help patients travel to SRS centers.”

The study found that from 2004-2013, one-year actuarial survival improved from 24.1% to 49.6% for patients selected for SRS, but only from 21.0% to 26.3% for non-SRS patients. However, it’s not clear whether SRS-receipt itself improves survival, or if this association is due to the favorable prognosis of the patients selected.

“Over the past decade, advances in cancer treatment offering better control of systemic disease have increasingly led to patients living longer following a diagnosis of metastatic disease,” said Christine Tsien, MD, a radiation oncologist at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Tsien is a member of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) Panel for Central Nervous System cancers, and a contributor to the NCCN Radiation Therapy Compendium™. “Recent randomized studies have also demonstrated that treatment of a small number of brain metastases (1-3) with stereotactic radiosurgery showed a decrease in neurocognitive decline compared to whole brain radiotherapy without compromising overall survival[2]. Based on these results, there has been a recent, dramatic shift towards the use of stereotactic radiosurgery instead of whole brain radiotherapy in patients diagnosed with brain metastases of limited volume. How SRS technology is being made available, including any sociodemographic disparities, is of significant interest not only to oncologists but also to the greater community.”

Further research is needed, in order to determine the reasons for these worsening disparities and their clinical implications on intracranial control, neurocognitive toxicities, quality of life, and survival for patients with brain metastases.

Complimentary access to the study, “Radiosurgery for Brain Metastases: Changing Practice Patterns and Disparities in the United States” is available until February 11, 2018 at JNCCN.org

# # #

About JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
More than 25,000 oncologists and other cancer care professionals across the United States read JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. This peer-reviewed, indexed medical journal provides the latest information about best clinical practices, health services research, and translational medicine. JNCCN features updates on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), review articles elaborating on guidelines recommendations, health services research, and case reports highlighting molecular insights in patient care. JNCCN is published by Harborside Press. Visit JNCCN.org. To inquire if you are eligible for a FREE subscription to JNCCN, visit http://www.nccn.org/jnccn/subscribe.asp. Follow JNCCN on Twitter @JNCCN.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a not-for-profit alliance of 27 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education, is dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers.

The NCCN Member Institutions are: Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Omaha, NE; Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland, OH; City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center | Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA; Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, WA; The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD; Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ, Jacksonville, FL, and Rochester, MN; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Columbus, OH; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY; Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN; Stanford Cancer Institute, Stanford, CA; University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham, AL; UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA; UCSF Helen Diller Famly Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA; University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, CO; University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Madison, WI; Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN; and Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital, New Haven, CT.

Clinicians, visit NCCN.org. Patients and caregivers, visit NCCN.org/patients. Media, visit NCCN.org/news. Follow NCCN on Twitter @NCCNnews and Facebook @National.Comprehensive.Cancer.Network.


[1] Barnholtz-Sloan JS, Sloan AE, Davis FG, et al. Incidence proportions of brain metastases in patients diagnosed (1971-2001) in the Metropolitan Detroit Cancer Surveillance System. J Clin Oncol 2004;22:2865-2872

[2] Brown P et al, JAMA 316(4):401-409, 2016

>View Article<



11/20/2017
NCCN, in Collaboration with Pfizer, Awards Nine Grants for Quality Improvement in Breast Cancer Care

NCCN and Pfizer announce funding for projects evaluating different clinical care pathways to improve breast cancer care, with a particular emphasis on underserved patients.

FORT WASHINGTON, PA [November 20, 2017] — The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Oncology Research Program (ORP) and Pfizer Global Medical Grants today announced they have awarded funding to nine projects that use clinical care pathways to implement quality improvement (QI) initiatives along the continuum of care for underserved patients with breast cancer.

Some of the selected projects examine care choices, including how to optimize chemotherapy delivery, manage symptoms, adhere to guidelines, improve clinical pathways, and utilize shared decision-making. Other projects concentrate on specific patient groups, such as African Americans, younger women, and patients living in rural areas.

“Our Request for Proposals (RFP) specifically sought out centers that focus on treating underserved patients with cancer,” explained Susan Most, RN, MBA, director of clinical operations, NCCN ORP. “By highlighting technological advances and multidisciplinary collaboration, we hope to encourage the widespread adoption of best practices for reducing costs and improving quality in breast cancer patient care.”

More than 90 letters of intent were submitted to the RFP and subsequently 23 full proposals were requested for review.

“The volume of proposals submitted speaks to the significant unmet need in this area,” said Julia Perkins Smith, MD, vice president, Oncology Medical North America, Pfizer. “We were very impressed with the quality of the proposals we received from academic and community medical systems across the country and are very excited to announce the grant recipients.”

A review committee – led by NCCN and including a medical representative from Pfizer – approved the following proposals:

  • East Carolina University; Improving the Quality of Breast Cancer Care in an Underserved Rural Setting
  • Emory University School of Medicine; Care Pathway Development, Implementation and Assessment to Improve Outcomes in African American (AA) Breast Cancer Patients
  • Intermountain Healthcare; Improving Clinical Pathways and Care Delivery in Breast Cancer
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Reducing Discontinuation Rate of Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy through Symptom Monitoring and Management
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Optimizing Delivery of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy to Breast Cancer Patients who are Appropriate Candidates at Johns Hopkins
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Innovating Patient-Facing Care Pathways in Breast Cancer using the 4R model, 4R = Right Information / Care / Patient / Time
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Statewide Learning Collaborative to Improve Adherence to Breast Cancer Guidelines
  • Roswell Park Alliance Foundation; Breast Cancer Pathways Impact on Shared Decision Making and Patient Experience In Academic and Community Practice
  • University of Nebraska Board of Regents dba University of Nebraska Medical Center; Clinical Pathway for the Timely & Appropriate Treatment and Support of Young Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

“We are pleased to work with Pfizer to help bring about better experiences and results for patients with breast cancer,” said Most.

The projects are set to begin in January 2018 and run for two years. Each program is required to provide evidence of scalability and sustainability. Data based on the project outcomes will be evaluated and disseminated in early 2020.

This is the third collaboration between NCCN ORP and Pfizer. NCCN ORP has a history of strong and enduring collaborations with investigators and industry. For more information about NCCN ORP, visit NCCN.org/ORP.

# # #

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a not-for-profit alliance of 27 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education, is dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers.

The NCCN Member Institutions are: Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Omaha, NE; Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland, OH; City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center | Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA; Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, WA; The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD; Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ, Jacksonville, FL, and Rochester, MN; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Columbus, OH; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY; Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN; Stanford Cancer Institute, Stanford, CA; University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham, AL; UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA; UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA; University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, CO; University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Madison, WI; Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN; and Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital, New Haven, CT.

Clinicians, visit NCCN.org. Patients and caregivers, visit NCCN.org/patients. Media, visit NCCN.org/news. Follow NCCN on Twitter @NCCNnews and Facebook @National.Comprehensive.Cancer.Network.

>View Article<



11/16/2017
Smoking after a cancer diagnosis - Lighting up can be a source of shame and treatment complications for cancer patients, but Fred Hutch researchers are here to help them quit
>View Article<



11/07/2017
The Importance of a Partner in Cancer Therapy

NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award Spotlight
This feature article is part of an ongoing installment highlighting the research and accomplishments of past recipients of the NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards. In 2017, the spotlight series focuses on the 2015 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awardees whose research was presented during the NCCN 22nd Annual Conference.


The Importance of a Partner in Cancer Therapy 

Study finds that married or partnered patients are more likely to receive and complete guidelines-concordant cancer

Whether or not a patient is married is an understood predictor in clinical outcomes, including in patients with cancer. While researchers know that partnered patients have better overall survival than unmarried patients, it is unknown exactly why.

To further investigate this issue, Christine M. Veenstra, MD, MSHP, a medical oncologist at University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, set out to study outcomes among patients with stage III colon cancer, comparing the treatment and outcomes of patients who were married or partnered against those who were not.

Veenstra was a 2015 recipient of the NCCN Foundation® Young Investigator Award, which funds promising researchers early in their careers.

The partnered patient population

Veenstra and colleagues examined medical records for nearly 400 patients within the Michigan Cancer Research Consortium with stage III colon cancer, noting their partnered status, and compared the treatment that the patients received to the recommendations from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) as outlined in the 2015 version of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Colon Cancer.

According to Veenstra, because the NCCN Guidelines® for stage III resected colon cancer are clear, comprehensive, and evidence-based, they provide an excellent case for investigating concordance. The protocol outlined in the 2015 Guidelines included surgery, followed by six months of adjuvant chemotherapy, preferably two-drug combination chemotherapy.

While 85% of the patients studied received either combination or single-agent chemotherapy, partnered patients were far more likely to complete the six-month course, perhaps also increasing their likelihood of overall survival.

“We found that patients who had a partner were almost twice as likely to complete the full six months of chemotherapy. This finding is important as it points to a possible mechanism for improved outcomes that we had not recognized earlier,” said Veenstra.

Although the state of partnership does not change the physical characteristics of one’s cancer or the likelihood of his or her response to treatment, there are theories for this disparity. Regarding the specific treatments outlined in this study, the most common side effect and reason patients give for stopping treatment was neuropathy.

“Partners may help patients manage and cope with the physical side effects of treatment, as well as provide important encouragement and positive support that unpartnered patients do not necessarily have,” explained Veenstra. She also noted that general support could be a factor, such as someone to provide transportation or fill prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Bridging the gap

Now that Veenstra has identified a mechanism behind improved outcomes for a particular patient population, work can immediately be done to improve adherence to NCCN Guidelines-concordant care in unpartnered patients. One way to do this, Veenstra says, is to train clinicians to recognize and be aware of the risks facing unpartnered patients. 

“The unpartnered patient population is at risk of not completing or receiving recommended care. We must work to ensure that support systems are in place so that patients are able to stay the course of treatment,” Veenstra. These support systems can include extended family and friends, as well as local support groups and patient advocacy organizations.

Veenstra acknowledges that there are a few more steps to her research. Next, she plans to work directly with patients and their partners.

“I am interviewing patients and their partners about the role that the partners play and its impact on the patient—I want to be able to look at this from the couple’s perspective—in their own words,” said Veenstra.

She also plans to extend her research across the cancer care continuum, particularly surveillance of high-risk survivors and their partners, to better understand how clinicians can intervene to improve quality of care.

Advancing the care of patients with cancer

In 2015, Veenstra was one of five grant recipients through the NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award program, which funded her research for this project. The NCCN Young Investigator Awards provide vital funding to some of the nation’s top next-generation cancer researchers guiding the course of treatment innovation and advancement. Moreover, the program makes it possible for junior faculty to develop the unique skillset necessary in a today’s competitive research environment by enabling them to balance research and clinical duties early in their careers, as well as introducing them to a network of senior investigators from leading cancer centers.

Through the grant program, young investigators, like Veenstra, are nominated by leaders at NCCN Member Institutions for their dedication to discovering cutting-edge breakthroughs and interventions in cancer care.

“The NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award has been critical in this early point in my research career. It has provided the support for the study, as well as protected my time as a researcher to build my research program in this area so that I can grow to become an independent researcher,” said Veenstra.

Veenstra notes that funding from the NCCN Foundation allowed her to advance her research, and she has since received a National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention, Control, Behavioral Sciences, and Population Sciences Career Development Award (K07), which is supporting the aforementioned interview trial.

“It is important at an early stage of a research career to have the opportunity to grow and attain grants to build and expand studies. It’s the Young Investigator Award that protects this time for me,” said Veenstra.

Dr. Veenstra’s study, Partnered Status & Receipt of NCCN Guideline-Concordant Colon Cancer Care, was presented at the General Poster Session during the NCCN 22nd Annual Conference in March 2017.

More information is available at JNCCN.org.

###

>View Article<