After several months of not knowing whether the Wichita Community Clinical Oncology Program would be able to continue clinical trials locally, program officials received word Friday morning that they will be funded.
The five-year federal grant will provide $1.7 million each year from the National Cancer Institute.
The program was one of about 60 community clinical oncology programs nationwide that competed for grants in a new system the federal government is implementing through the institute.
As part of the new grant, the Wichita CCOP will now be a part of a group of Kansas providers in the program, which will be called the Cancer Research of Kansas Consortium, Humphries said.
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Providers who are a part of the consortium are Via Christi Health, Wesley Medical Center, West Wichita Family Practice, Associates in Women’s Health, Lawrence Memorial Oncology Center, Lawrence Cancer Center, Hutchinson Clinic, Wichita Surgical Specialists and Cancer Center of Kansas.
“This is historical for Wichita and our cancer research program. This raises the bar for us,” said Keisha Humphries, oncology service line administrator for Via Christi, who oversees operations for the new program.
The group was one of 34 community sites selected from across the country. Not all CCOPs in the U.S. were selected to receive funding as part of the program overhaul, Humphries said.
As part of the grant, the consortium will have to register at least 340 patients into clinical trials in the next year. They currently have 117 open clinical trials and about 400 patients have participated in the last year, Humphries said.
Although there will be a smaller number of patients participating, the clinical trials would have continued on a smaller scale if they had not received the grant, Humphries said.
Under the new program, the local consortium will have an emphasis on minority patients and cancer care delivery.
“That means learning to treat different aspects of cancer – not just the disease portion – but survivorship and navigation,” Humphries said. “We want to improve the overall patient experience.”
Humphries said they have not yet reviewed staffing for the program and will need to review it in the coming months.
Patients currently enrolled in trials will not have a delay or interruption in their care, Humphries said.
Since it started in 1983, the Wichita CCOP has had more than 15,000 patients in clinical trials. The local program has about 1,500 patients in 120 clinical trials that focus on several types of cancers at various stages.
Wichita CCOP has an annual budget of about $2.3 million, mostly from federal grants from the National Cancer Institute. That source of funding has been a mainstay of the CCOP for 30 years, Humphries said.