Northwest Arkansas-based Highlands Oncology Group, as a community oncology provider, has offered clinical trials that have led to advances in treatments for lung, breast, ovarian and Hodgkin lymphoma cancers.
“Over the past 15 years, Highlands has been involved in hundreds of clinical trials,” said Dr. Thaddeus Beck of Highlands Oncology Group. “Some of them have been published in major journals and have changed the standard of care.”
About 2,000 patients have enrolled in the trials over the past four years. In 2015, 400 patients participated. This year, 500 patients are expected to take part.
“Most patients don’t expect that the local, community oncologist will have research and clinical trials as an option,” Beck said. A benefit of a patient participating in the trials here is the travel time it saves, instead of driving to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in Little Rock, for example.
Beck said he’s grateful to Northwest Arkansas patients for their willingness to help cure cancer by participating in the trials.
“Without community oncology, trials would never be completed in a timely fashion and new drugs would take years longer to be FDA approved,” said Dr. Eric Schaefer of Highlands Oncology Group.
One trial in which Highlands Oncology Group participated regarded the study of a treatment that specifically targets cancer. The treatment is used to overcome resistance to standard therapy for patients with recurrent breast cancer. The result of the study showed that the treatment doubled the duration of remission.
“It was published in The New England Journal of Medicine and received an award for most outstanding bioclinical research project for 2011,” Beck said.
Highlands Oncology Group has 15 full-time staff dedicated to research and working on clinical trials.