The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center announced today that St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Ky., has joined the Markey Cancer Center Research Network, a newly launched initiative conducting high priority cancer research through a network of collaborative centers with expertise in the delivery of cancer care and conduct of research studies.
Thousands of patients across eastern Kentucky will have close-to-home access to innovative clinical research studies in the treatment and epidemiology of cancer as well as research studies in the prevention and early detection of cancer.
The team at St. Claire Regional Medical Center was invited to participate based on their previous experience in conducting oncology research. St. Claire has participated in research with Markey for more than 10 years, enrolling more than 120 patients from seven surrounding counties in nearly 20 different cancer clinical studies in that time. St. Claire's clinical research studies included those initiated at UK in priority areas of lung cancer screening and early detection, smoking cessation, treatment therapies for lung cancer, and environmental risk factors for lung cancer.
St. Claire's long-standing oncology research portfolio will expand as a result of joining the Markey Research Network. Clinical research studies currently open at St. Claire include a study to identify the best approaches to help cancer patients quit smoking which will help to improve their response to cancer treatments, with studies coming soon in lung cancer screening and survivorship.
"St. Claire continually works to provide an advanced level of healthcare to the 160,000 plus people in our service area," says Mark J. Neff, President/CEO of St. Claire Regional Medical Center. "The unfortunate truth is that Eastern Kentucky faces some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the nation which is why St. Claire is so excited to join the Markey Cancer Center Research Network in the battle to reduce cancer deaths in our region by offering close-to-home access to some of the most advanced clinical cancer trial treatments available."
Clinical research studies are key to developing new methods to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and most treatments used today are the results of previous clinical studies. These may include studies in which patients who need cancer treatment receive their therapy under the observation of specially trained cancer doctors and staff. Patients who volunteer for cancer treatment studies will either receive standard therapy or a new treatment that represents the researchers' best new ideas for how to improve cancer care.
The portfolio of available clinical research studies for each Markey Research Network member will be targeted, focusing both on the areas with the highest burden of disease, and the types of cancers that most affect these overburdened regions. Appalachia has some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the country, especially for lung, colorectal, and cervical cancers.
As a member of the Markey Research Network, the physicians at St. Claire Regional Medical Center will offer the opportunity to consider participation in clinical research studies to their patients, with the patients remaining under their direct care and closer to home during their treatment.
"Being able to offer not only our own trials on site, but also major NCI trials, is a huge benefit to the members of our Research Network," said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "The patients who chose to enroll in one of these trials at St. Claire should be assured that they are receiving the latest, best treatment options for their disease, with the added benefit of staying much closer to their own support system at home."
By disseminating Markey's clinical research studies across the region, the collaborative Research Network will offer better, more progressive treatment options to patients without the burden of traveling away from home and their physicians.
"Clinical research is the best way to advance cancer treatment protocols and move forward with the most effective new therapies," said Dr. Tim Mullett, medical director of the Markey Cancer Center Research Network. "As the only NCI-designated cancer center serving the Appalachian region of Kentucky, we have an obligation to address the most devastating cancers in this area by continually improving cancer prevention, detection, and treatments. The Markey Research Network will play a vital role in improving the grim cancer mortality rates in our region."
To be invited into the Markey Cancer Center Research Network, medical centers must demonstrate a capacity to deliver the highest caliber of clinical expertise and demonstrate quality work in clinical research and complying with federal regulations. Other medical centers are expected to join the Research Network in the coming months.