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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on September 14, 2005

Georgetown Hospital System Joins Research Network

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Georgetown Hospital System’s Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center has joined the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s Research Network. The Research Network is a program unique to South Carolina. It establishes the infrastructure for bridging access to cancer clinical trials research across the state and enables sites to share resources and work together in delivering quality clinical trials.

“This is a win-win situation for the cancer center, the people of Georgetown and surrounding counties, the Hollings Cancer Center and ultimately everyone in South Carolina,” according to Carolyn Reed, M.D., Clinical Director of Outreach at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston.

A recent panel report to the National Cancer Institute indicated that many discoveries in the area of cancer therapy unfortunately are not reaching the patients who can benefit from them. About 20 percent of cancer patients in the United States are medically eligible for clinical trials, but only three percent actually enroll in these potentially beneficial programs, according to Reed. The primary reason for this is that clinical trials for the most part are conducted through academic medical centers, while 80 percent of cancer patients are treated by community oncologists. In South Carolina, the Research Network can play a crucial role in breaking down this access barrier by fostering partnerships between community medical centers and the academic medical center in Charleston.

The partnership between the Georgetown Hospital System Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center and the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center will provide cancer patients in the Georgetown area access to new and innovative cancer treatments that are not yet available to the general public.

“This is an important opportunity and represents another milestone in furthering local access to various components of cancer treatment. Georgetown Hospital System’s affiliation with MUSC Hollings Cancer Center affords advantages that truly bring additional dimensions of cancer care and treatment to local patients,” according to Bruce P. Bailey, Georgetown Hospital System CEO. Patients will be able to access treatment in their own community, see their own doctors, remain close to their families and avoid transportation problems and other inconveniences associated with having to travel to Charleston for treatment under a clinical trial protocol.

Georgetown Hospital System doctors and other healthcare professionals will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of seminars, conferences, and internet-based education programs through affiliation with the Hollings Cancer Center. The Research Network also provides the doctors and study coordinators additional guidance and support to promote a successful clinical trials program.

Network participation will help the Hollings Cancer Center expand its clinical trial program by providing a larger patient base. As more and more centers across the state join the network, the number of patients available for participation in clinical trials increases. “When we seek support for conducting clinical trials, we need to show we have sufficient numbers of participants,” said Reed. “Our network of partners will greatly expand our potential participant base and enhance South Carolina’s ability to attract additional resources and opportunities to promote cancer research.”

The Hollings Cancer Center has for the past few years been positioning itself to achieve the status of an NCI-designated Cancer cCenter. Many of the requirements for this elite designation are already in place and the clinical trials network with its emphasis on community based collaboration will strengthen the center’s application for NCI designation.

Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center was developed in affiliation with the Hollings Cancer Center. An MUSC faculty medical physicist and radiation oncologist are on the staff of the Georgetown facility. The radiation oncologist, Eric G. Aguero, M.D., will be the principal investigator for many of the Research Network studies planned for Georgetown. “The clinical trial program is a very positive addition to the overall cancer treatment program offered by Georgetown Hospital System. Providing local access is critical to success,” Aguero said.

“We are proud of our existing relationship with the Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center and look forward to furthering this relationship through their participation in our Research Network,” said Reed.

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Tidelands Health is the largest health care provider in Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties. With three hospitals and more than 50 outpatient locations that stretch from Andrews to North Myrtle Beach, Tidelands Health is helping people across the Tidelands region live better lives through better health.