NCI Expands Clinical Trial Access to Patients and Oncologists Nationwide

June 1, 2002

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced recently that it is expanding access to its clinical trials to more oncologists around the country. This new policy will allow cancer patients anywhere in the United States to participate more easily in advanced (phase III) treatment trials.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI)announced recently that it is expanding access to its clinical trials to moreoncologists around the country. This new policy will allow cancer patientsanywhere in the United States to participate more easily in advanced (phase III)treatment trials.

Under the new system, oncologists can become credentialed asinvestigators and then can enroll patients in trials through the NCI’s CancerTrials Support Unit (CTSU). Until now, the CTSU has been open only to members ofNCI’s Cooperative Groups. The CTSU makes it easier for oncologists andpatients to participate in important trials that define the standard of care forlung, breast, prostate, colorectal, and other cancers.

"This expansion allows every practicing oncologist inthe country the opportunity to take part in some of the most advanced cancertreatment research," said Jeffrey S. Abrams, MD, NCI project officer."Soon, patients who seek the new treatments available in clinical trials,whether they live in the largest metropolis or the smallest rural community,will not be forced to travel long distances to receive critical care."

Streamlining the Clinical Trials Process

Through the Web-based CTSU, oncologists are able to downloadprotocols, case report forms, and other documents associated with trials. Inaddition, participating oncologists are reimbursed for research costs, and theirstaffs can benefit from on-line educational opportunities developed by the CTSUfor which continuing education credit is available.

"Since July of 2000, the US Cooperative Groups have beenworking with the CTSU to develop and test systems ultimately designed tostreamline the clinical trials process for group physicians and theirpatients," said Robert L. Comis, md, president of the Coalition of NationalCancer Cooperative Groups, which has worked with the NCI to develop the CTSU."Expanding the opportunity for participation of interested physiciansoutside the Group structure through the CTSU is a bold, new strategy to broadenaccess, which will hopefully lead to more rapid trial completion whilemaintaining the high quality of care associated with clinical trialparticipation."

Interested physicians will undergo a two-phase applicationand credentialing process, including a site visit, to ensure their ability tomeet all regulatory requirements and collect research data successfully.

For more information on the CTSU or to learn more about participating in theprogram, visit www.ctsu.org or call 1-888-823-5923.