New Types of Cancer Centers Find Success

A new, alternative cancer center model is gaining popularity and attracting established doctors and researchers throughout the country. The hybrid approach combines local access to clinical trials and more multi-disciplinary care than traditional settings. Our team of lung cancer lawyers explores this new model and describes five of the most successful centers to date.

These new cancer centers are all directed by doctors with notable successes in comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. These doctors were recruited to establish new cancer programs in non-profit facilities operating as academic-community hybrids.

These new programs give oncologists a chance to practice medicine and conduct clinical research simultaneously. Normally, clinical oncologists have to publish and secure grants to conduct trials for cancer treatments. With all of its bureaucratic layers, publishing research and conducting clinical trials is a career unto itself, rendering doctors unable to practice medicine at the same time as pursuing academic goals.

By combining academic research with community-based cancer care, patients are granted more access to early-stage clinical trials while still receiving high-quality care. These centers allow patients to see multidisciplinary specialists€“ such as oncologists, surgeons and radiation doctors – all in one visit.

Below, we outline the five most prominent hybrid centers in the U.S.

Baptist Health South Floridas Miami Cancer Institute

Miami Cancer Institute (MCI) recently announced its partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the oldest and most esteemed centers in the country. MCI is run by Dr. Michael Zinner, who was previously surgeon-in-chief at Bingham and Women’s Hospital, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and clinical director of the Brigham/Dana-Farber cancer center.

Zinner'€™s entire career has been spent in academic medical centers. Though he would not have been interested in taking a role at a traditional community hospital, MCI'€™s hybrid model allows him to practice medicine on real cancer patients while maintaining his passion for advancing the science of cancer therapies through academic research.

The terms of the new partnership will require MCI'€™s clinical trials to meet Sloan Kettering'€™s strict standards. Sloan Kettering is also partnering with Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute and Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Christiana Care Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute

The Graham Cancer Center, in Newark, Delaware, was established in 2001. It was selected as one of 14 community center sites under a program with the National Cancer Institute, which ran from 2007 to 2014. Graham has established a High Risk Family Cancer Registry in Delaware, and played a significant role in the state’s reduction in cancer mortality. In 2000, Delaware had the highest cancer mortality; now the state ranks 15th. Graham is currently testing patients for a gene that was recently discovered to be a biomarker for non-small cell lung cancer, using a statewide lung cancer screening program.

Graham also established the Center for Translational Cancer Research, allowing it to register about 20% of its adult patients in clinical trials. Nationally, only about 3% of adult cancer patients are in clinical trials. Graham is the first community-based hospital to collaborate with a basic research center, Philadelphia-based Wistar Institute.

Graham€™ director, Dr. Nicholas Petrelli, formally proposed the partnership model to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in October 2015. NCI will decide whether to grant the two as an NCI-designated Cancer Center in 2018, after on-site program evaluations.

Spartanburg Gibbs Cancer Center

Based South Carolina, Gibbs Cancer Center was also one of NCI€™s Community Cancer Centers Program sites. Directed by Dr. Timothy Yeatman, who spent more than 20 years at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, Gibbs has big plans for the future.

Yeatman established the world’s biggest human tumor bio-repository and database. The database profiles about 20,000 tumor specimens, enabling doctors to find the right patients for the right drug trials. The database matches patients to trials through genetic analysis and comprehensive molecular profiling.

At Moffitt, Yeatman was unable to take his database to the next level, so he created the Guardian Research Network, a health IT network. Yeatman ultimately plans to share patient information among 300 hospitals to match patients with pharmaceutical-industry-run clinical trials.

Gibbs is currently constructing a facility that will support ten multidisciplinary teams, working together by cancer site (lung, skin, bone) rather than by specialty (radiation, surgery, dermatology). Focusing each floor on disease type will allow doctors in different areas to communicate and interact with each other and with patients.

Carolinas Healthcare Levine Cancer Institute

To the immediate north, in North Carolina, a former colleague of Graham Cancer Center’s Dr. Petrelli is building a different type of hybrid cancer center. Dr. Derek Raghaven directs the Carolinas Healthcare Systems’s Levine Cancer Institute with a unique vision.

His vision includes creating an academic-clinical model of cancer care, splitting up Levine’s centralized academic center into multiple sites. Since 2012, he has been building an academic center that fully integrates into the communities it serves, which includes 25 sites in rural and suburban North Carolina.

Among his accomplishments at Levine, Raghaven has recruited 150 clinicians and created oncology fellowship programs, a phase 1 clinical trial unit, a bone marrow transplant center, and a disparities-of-care program. There are various other patient-centered and cancer-support programs, including an artist-in-residence, survivorship services, and palliative care.

He plans to place about a quarter of Levine’s new patients into trials each year. The Institute recently joined the Caris Centers of Excellence for Precision Medicine Network.

Inovas Schar Cancer Institute

Also on the Eastern seaboard, the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute is a new addition to the cancer hybrid model. Directed by Dr. Donald €œSkip€ Trump (no relation), the Institute is dedicated to advancing cancer treatment and personalized care through genomics.

Based in Northern Virginia, the Institute is expanding the women’s health center around a gynecology oncology program. It is also set to launch a molecular tumor board soon, and will be integrating genomics and genetic counseling into its current programs. There are also plans for a new ambulatory cancer center and fellowship programs in medical and surgical oncology.

The Institute is slightly different in its mission to collaborate with the pharmaceutical industry. It hopes to offer small bio-techs aid in designing their drugs, and ultimately develop its own drugs.

The lung cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to update this blog on important breakthroughs and treatment developments out of these hybrid cancer centers. We have been working with lung cancer patients and their families for 30 years, winning millions for our clients throughout the country. If you have any questions about our lung cancer practice, contact us for a free consultation today.

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