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

Friday, October 17, 2008 General News
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HOUSTON, Oct. 16 The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group(RTOG) and US Oncology, Inc. today announced they have entered into acollaboration to increase patient access to national cancer clinical trialswith a radiation focus in the community setting.

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

The collaboration also marks the first time US Oncology, as a network ofmember practices, has participated in cooperative group trials in radiationoncology. In addition, US Oncology is the first multi-state, nationalorganization to become an affiliate member of RTOG. Current members includelarge regional practices and academic practices with several facilities inmetropolitan areas.

"Our collaboration with US Oncology and its network of member practices isattractive due to the organization's strong commitment to clinical trialparticipation, leadership and accrual," said Walter Curran, MD, Group Chairmanof RTOG and professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology ofEmory University School of Medicine. Dr. Curran also serves as Chief MedicalOfficer of the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University. "We were confidenttheir track record as a multi-site organization with significant accruals in avariety of clinical trials would be a good fit," said Dr. Curran.

Following infrastructure development to centralize the IRB, datacollection, reporting, credentialing and quality assurance to operate as anetwork, US Oncology was granted affiliate member status in the RTOG late lastyear.

The collaboration began with 10 US Oncology affiliated practices workingas a network; due to interest from radiation oncologists, the number expandedto 14 sites. The participating affiliated practices include: Texas Oncologypractices at Sugar Land, Medical City Dallas, Sherman, Methodist Dallas,Klabzuba, and Bedford Harris; Kansas City Cancer Center's North, South, andSouthwest sites; Willamette Valley (Oregon) Cancer Center; Central IndianCancer Center-South; Arizona Oncology Associates-Tucson; Rocky Mountain CancerCenter-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 eightfully-credentialed sites have been enrolled, exceeding the minimum requirementof five enrolled patients during the first year of membership. Among theeight sites, an average of six studies are open to enrollment at any giventime.

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

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

"We are excited about the relationship between Radiation Therapy OncologyGroup and US Oncology," said Vivek Kavadi, MD, medical director of radiationresearch for US Oncology. "You have one of the nation's foremost cancertreatment and research networks working with the premier organization forradiation trials to provide a clinical offering beneficial to patients andboth organizations."

The collaboration provides RTOG access to US Oncology's significantpatient population, making radiation therapy trials more accessible to cancerpatients in the community setting nationwide. US Oncology's strong presence incertain parts of the country helps RTOG expand clinical trial participationinto areas where it has few or no enrolling members, giving patients access totrials previously unavailable to them.

"We at Radiation Therapy Oncology Group are always interested inopportunities to expand our portfolio of trials to the greatest number ofpatients and we are excited that US Oncology's investigators will help us inthat mission," said Dr. Curran.

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

"We're on a substantially strong growth track with the RTOG trials," saidDr. Kavadi. "We hope to have 30 affiliated practices participating by nextyear, and to become a full RTOG member by early 2010. We're delighted thisrelationship is going to be a central part of the overall growth for the USOncology Research network."

About The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group

The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) is a clinical researchenterprise of the American College of Radiology (ACR), located in the ACRPhiladelphia, PA office. RTOG is a multi-institutional international clinicalcooperative group funded primarily by National Cancer Institute grantsCA21661, CA32115 and CA37422. RTOG has 40 years of experience in conductingclinical trials and is comprised of over 300 major research institutions inthe United States, Canada, and internationally. The group is currentlyaccruing to 40 studies that involve radiation therapy alone or in conjunctionwith surgery and/or chemotherapeutic drugs or which investigatequality-of-life issues and their effects on the cancer patient. Visit thegroup's Web site, http://www.rtog.org.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) is a national professionalorganization serving more than 32,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists,interventional radiologists and medical physicists with programs focusing onthe practice of radiology and the delivery of comprehensive health careservices.

About US Oncology

US Oncology, headquartered in Houston, works closely with physicians,manufacturers and payers to identify and deliver innovative services thatenhance patient access to advanced cancer care. US Oncology supports one ofthe nation's foremost cancer treatment and research networks, accelerating theavailability and use of evidence-based medicine and shared best practices.

US Oncology's expertise in supporting every aspect of the cancer caredelivery system -- from drug development to treatment and outcomesmeasurement, enables the company to help increase the efficiency and safety ofcancer care. According to the company's last quarterly earnings report, USOncology is affiliated with 1,220 physicians operating in 480 locations,including 92 radiation oncology facilities in 39 states. For more information,visit the company's Web site, http://www.usoncology.com.

About US Oncology Research

The US Oncology Research network is an established community-basedresearch operation specializing in comprehensive Phase I-IV trials andtranslational Phase I research. The research network is currently enrollingpatients at 109 research sites, and is involved in 63 open trials. Supportedby US Oncology, the network has played a pivotal role in 24 of the last 30cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration and more than 32,000patients have participated in clinical trials. For more information, visit the"Research" section under "Our Services" on the company's Web site,http://www.usoncology.com.

SOURCE US Oncology

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