NCI Pilot Project to Speed Cancer Research

Author: Monica Preboth
Date: August 15, 2000

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is conducting a new pilot project, the Expanded Participation Project (EPP), that will speed cancer research by enabling more patients and physicians to participate in clinical studies that advance cancer care.

According to the NCI, Phase III clinical trials are the most reliable way to improve cancer treatment, but relatively few patients have the chance to participate in these studies. Traditionally, only physicians who are members of the NCI Cooperative Groups have had the opportunity to place patients in large-scale clinical trials.

The Cooperative Group system was established in 1955. It enrolls about 20,000 patients in NCI-supported multi-institutional clinical trials each year. Together, the 12 Groups receive more than $140 million in funding annually from the NCI, conduct hundreds of clinical trials among their component institutions at any given time and are the foundation of clinical cancer research in the United States.

The EPP complements the Cooperative Group system by allowing other qualified oncologists to have the same clinical trials privileges. The EPP offers these physicians a variety of important studies with simplified administration and direct reimbursement for the added time and effort involved in enrolling patients and collecting research data.

One major impediment to the Cooperative Group is that members can only enroll patients in studies supported by their own group. The EPP allows physicians to enroll patients in a wide range of NCI-sponsored Cooperative Group studies.

Sixteen clinical studies for the most common cancers--breast, lung, prostate and colorectal--are currently open to EPP physician members. More studies will be available later this year.

For more information, visit the EPP Web site at http://www.light. emmes.com/epp/. For more information on cancer, visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov.

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