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NHRMC, Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology get $1.5 million grant from National Cancer Institute

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WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -- New Hanover Regional Medical Center's Zimmer Cancer Center and Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology have been awarded a $1.58 million grant over the next three years from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The purpose of the grant, called "Advancing Clinical Trials in Coastal North Carolina," is to involve the community in more clinical trials aimed at cancer prevention, treatment and disease management.

The grant also names the partnership between NHRMC Zimmer Cancer Center and Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology as a Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), one of only two in North Carolina. This designation is given to the top community cancer programs in the country and allows programs within the CCOP network to have access to more clinical trials than may have otherwise been available.

"Cancer care is improved through clinical trials. This grant gives us the opportunity to involve more people in those trials, so we can decrease the burden of cancer on the population," said Patrick Maguire, MD, a radiation oncologist with Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology and the principal investigator for the grant. "The National Cancer Institute has awarded us this grant as recognition of the abilities and expertise of the medical community right here in Wilmington. That says a lot about the relationships among the providers in our area."

Because part of the focus of this grant is cancer prevention, a larger number of people in southeastern North Carolina will be able to participate. Some of the clinical trials that will be available through this grant focus on preventing cancer prior to diagnosis, and are open to the general public. This means that clinicians at the Zimmer Cancer Center and Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology will be able to partner with other physicians in the area, such as primary care physicians and gynecologists, to identify patients who may be at risk, even if they are never diagnosed with cancer. If the patients are willing to participate and an appropriate clinical trial is open at the time, they could then be enrolled in one of these studies.

"Through this grant, we will have additional resources to focus more on cancer prevention trials for those individuals that are at a higher risk for getting cancer," said Cyrus Kotwall, MD, surgical oncologist and medical director of the NHRMC Zimmer Cancer Center. "Because of these trials, we will hopefully move closer to the ultimate goal of being able to prevent certain cancers in the future. It is a wonderful grant for the community, allowing our patients to benefit from the latest cancer treatments, right here in our own community."

Another goal of this grant is to involve more patients in clinical trials aimed at increasing the quality of life for those already diagnosed with cancer. Some of the trials that will be available focus on managing symptoms during treatment. In addition, Zimmer Cancer Center will continue to offer clinical trials that test and validate the latest interventions against cancer.

"By partnering with providers throughout the region to enroll patients who are interested in participating in these clinical trials, we will be taking a huge step toward improving the future of cancer medicine," said Lynette Racco, manager of the cancer research program at the NHRMC Zimmer Cancer Center and manager of operations for this grant. "Not only will we be helping to reduce the incidence of cancer for future generations in our own community, but our work can help move cancer research forward on a national level."

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