Norton Cancer Institute Celebrates Year 1 Accomplishments for Community Cancer Centers Program
Eighty-five percent of cancer patients are diagnosed and receive initial treatment in a community hospital. In 2007, the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP) was formed through the National Institutes of Health to create a network of community-based cancer centers that support research, enhance access to care and increase quality for more Americans.
NCCCP goals for the next two years include:
- Reducing cancer health care disparities
- Drawing more patients into clinical trials in community-based hospitals
- Preparing facilities for standardizing the collection and storage of voluntarily donated biological specimens for cancer research
- Linking facilities to national computer networks that support basic, clinical and population-based cancer research
- Improving the overall quality of care
- Improving survivorship, palliative care services and patient advocacy
Norton Cancer Institute is one of 14 sites in the nation – and the only site in Kentucky – selected to join the NCCCP network. This program will enhance and expand cancer services in the Louisville area and will further an important national effort to expand cancer research and offer the latest, most advanced cancer care to more Americans in their home communities.
What are the goals of the NCCCP?
- Reduce cancer health care disparities. A major focus of the NCCCP is to reduce the cancer burden among underserved populations. That means Norton Cancer Institute will extend its reach into our community to bring more patients into a system of high-quality cancer care and to better understand why some populations experience higher cancer rates than others.
- Expand access to clinical trials. Norton Cancer Institute will be able to provide access to the most promising advances in cancer prevention and treatment through National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials. This benefits patients globally, as recruiting more patients into clinical trials means researchers can speed the development of effective cancer prevention and treatment strategies.
- Improve collection, storage and sharing of blood and tissue samples needed for research. With access to a broad cross-section of patients who voluntarily provide tissue and blood samples, researchers have a greater opportunity to study both normal and cancerous cells. The NCCCP is assessing how the National Cancer Institute’s guidelines for collection and storage of biospecimens can be applied nationwide to benefit the entire cancer research community.
- Evaluate use of electronic health records. Greater access to electronic patient data is contributing to researchers’ knowledge about cancer and its treatment. The NCCCP is assessing how member facilities can implement electronic health records and link this medical information, provided with patient consent, to the caBIG® (cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid).
- Improve quality of care. Norton Cancer Institute is investigating methods to enhance several components of quality of care, including defining high-quality cancer care in a community setting and identifying ways to measure quality of cancer care.
- Enhance cancer survivorship and palliative care services. The NCCCP is assessing ways to expand survivorship and palliative care services in community hospital settings, including expanded psychosocial initiatives for cancer survivors.
How does the NCCCP compare to other National Cancer Institute community cancer initiatives?
The National Cancer Institute sponsors or conducts several community-based cancer research programs. The NCCCP shares many components of these programs, including:
- The National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Centers Program, which offers clinical trials and advanced cancer treatment and prevention services at 65 of the nation's largest academic-based medical facilities
- The National Cancer Institute Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), which links community cancer specialists to the designated cancer centers and National Cancer Institute cooperative groups to conduct clinical trials
- The National Cancer Institute Minority-Based CCOP (MB-CCOP), which expands access to clinical research in minority and underserved communities
The NCCCP combines components of these programs with other National Cancer Institute-sponsored research activities, such as biospecimen collection procedures and electronic health records implementation, into one initiative under a model involving private practice medical oncologists.
What are the expected benefits of the NCCCP to patients?
Norton Cancer Institute is providing patients with comprehensive cancer screening, prevention, treatment, survivorship and palliative care. Patients diagnosed with cancer receive medical, surgical and radiation oncology services, and have access to National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials. In addition, patient navigators assist patients in coordinating financial support, transportation services, records transfers and other services.
What are the benefits to hospitals and communities?
The NCCCP is improving the quality of cancer care in our region by enhancing the clinical research expertise of Norton Cancer Institute’s staff and implementing new programs. Norton Cancer Institute benefits from staff training in cancer management, stronger links to National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, genetic and molecular testing capabilities, and support for outreach to underserved populations.
How were the NCCCP facilities chosen, and how are they being evaluated?
The sites are community hospital-based cancer centers that offer medical, surgical and radiation oncology care; manage a patient volume of more than 1,000 new cancer cases each year; already enroll patients in clinical trials; and take part in outreach to underserved populations.
An independent evaluation contractor is conducting an evaluation of the pilot program, and an evaluation oversight committee with expert external advisers is providing input into the program and the evaluation. National Cancer Institute is using this advice to continually refine the NCCCP and develop options for the future.