Monthly Links Roundup: June 2018

Human papillomavirus (HPV) experts from the nation’s top cancer centers met June 7-8 at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City to discuss strategies for reducing barriers to vaccination and eliminating cancers caused by HPV. The meeting immediately followed a call to action by the nation’s 70 NCI-designated cancer centers—supported by AACI—to increase HPV vaccination and screening, with a goal of 80 percent of American young adults completing the full vaccine series by 2020.

Immunotherapy was in the spotlight during Cancer Immunotherapy Month. AACI staff participated in the Cancer Research Institute’s #WearWhite social media campaign on June 15, and we shared news on the latest advances in the treatment, which harnesses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.

To celebrate Pride Month, we shared “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Providing Access to Equitable Health Care for LGBTQI Patients in the Nation’s Capital.” The March 2018 AACI Commentary by Mandi Pratt-Chapman, MA, highlights the Together-Equitable-Accessible-Meaningful (TEAM) education program at GW Cancer Center, which offers technical assistance to 24 health care systems seeking to improve health equity for LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) populations in their clinical service setting.

We also brought attention to the health disparities and unique cancer risks faced by LGBTQI individuals and shared a compelling story about a gay man coming to grips with a breast cancer diagnosis.

AACI also shared other men’s health facts—on everything from prostate cancer to the negative health impacts of smoking—throughout Men’s Health Month.

Coming up in July:

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Answering the Call for Collaboration to Expand Discoveries and Address Disparities

Stanton L. Gerson, MD

AACI President Stanton L. Gerson, MD

Public interest in cancer discovery has incredible traction; many people and institutions across the country are helping to expand the impact of our discoveries and to instill a sense of urgency that every household be included in the benefits of cancer research. I recently learned about some creative, exciting efforts to expand cancer discovery as a panelist at the Biden Cancer Initiative Colloquium, held in April at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018, in Chicago.

The Biden Cancer Initiative is a nonprofit established by former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, PhD in June 2017, to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and care.

During the panel discussion, I highlighted the ways that Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is addressing disparities in cancer, including a tobacco cessation intervention led by Monica Webb Hooper, PhD. Dr. Hooper became director of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center‘s Office of Cancer Disparities Research in 2016 and was closely involved with the vice president’s visit to Cleveland to learn about the city’s contributions to his “Cancer Moonshot” goals.

Read more from Dr. Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland, in AACI’s June 2018 Commentary

Bench to Bedside Recap: The Academic and NCI Difference

Dr. George WeinerThe University of Kansas Cancer Center’s weekly Bench to Bedside Facebook Live video series pairs Roy Jensen, MD, director of the center, with experts on topics ranging from research to the latest developments in cancer treatment.

On Wednesday, June 6, AACI co-hosted a Bench to Bedside conversation between Dr. Jensen and George Weiner, MD, director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa and immediate past president of AACI. In the video, Drs. Jensen and Weiner discussed the unique ways academic and NCI-designated cancer centers—including HCCC and KU Cancer Center—play a lead role in influencing and improving cancer research and care.

The topic was the centerpiece of Dr. Weiner’s presidential initiative—“The Academic Difference”—during his time as AACI president from 2014 to 2016.

“Academic cancer centers are unique,” said Dr. Weiner, “in that they perform a number of roles that are vital for us in our efforts to reduce pain and suffering from cancer.”

Those roles include performing what he described as “basic cancer research to understand the fundamental nature of cancer, and, more importantly, taking that information to develop new approaches to cancer prevention, early detection, and therapy.”

Academic cancer centers are the training hubs for the vast majority of cancer clinicians, where they learn about state-of-the-art medicine. Clinicians also have more opportunities to specialize—and interact with other specialists and sub-specialists—in academic cancer centers than in stand-alone centers.

According to Dr. Weiner, this is becoming increasingly important as we learn how complex cancer is – and the unique ways each patient responds to the disease.

Roy Jensen, MD

Roy Jensen, MD

“We’re coming to realize no two cancer cases are exactly alike,” said Dr. Jensen, who is also president-elect of AACI.

In the past, Dr. Weiner acknowledged, cancers were diagnosed based on their appearance under the microscope, resulting in identical treatments for patients whose cancers may have been the same in appearance, but different in other ways. This often resulted in significant side effects.

“We now can look deeper,” Dr. Weiner added. “We can dig in to the very genetics and the genes that go haywire to cause that cancer to grow out of control, and we’ve learned that two cancers that look identical under the microscope actually can have very different genetic causes and will respond to very different, individualized treatments.”

Bench to Bedside follows news from researchers focused on the study of cancer and clinical trials, physicians, and care team members focused on patient care. Visit KU Cancer Center’s Facebook page to watch live at 10:00 a.m. Central (11:00 a.m. EST) each Wednesday and follow #BenchtoBedside on the center’s social media.

Webinar Tackles Clinical Trial Management at Satellite Sites

AACI CRI logo

On Wednesday, June 6, AACI’s Clinical Research Initiative (CRI) hosted “Satellite Locations,” a webinar presented by Andrea Kruse, clinical trials network manager at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, and Cathy Hugney, RN, CCRP, regional oncology program manager at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center. The discussion was moderated by Laurin Priddy, clinical research manager at Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The webinar followed from a lively discussion of the topic on the CRI Listserv, where staff from our 98 member centers crowd-source information from their peers on best practices. In fact, Priddy says she developed the “Satellite Locations” webinar as she solicited help from colleagues to deal with her own “growing pains” related to efforts to institute efficient satellite site communication and clinical trial portfolio expansion at her cancer center. Clearly a hot topic, the webinar attracted 190 registrants from 59 AACI cancer centers – more than half of our member centers.

In addition to Priddy’s wealth of experience, Kruse and Hugney brought their own specialized knowledge. Kruse oversees the research operations of Dana-Farber’s New England network, which consists of four satellite locations, three physician practices, and multiple community hospital partners. The goal of the network, Kruse says, is to increase patient access to high-quality oncology care in integrated community settings while offering access to cutting-edge therapies that are centralized at Dana-Farber’s main campus in Boston. For the past 40 years, Hugney has worked in various capacities at several Cleveland Clinic facilities. Since 2011, she has managed research at eight of its regional sites, including hospitals, family health centers, stand-alone cancer centers and, most recently, community outreach programs.

Kruse and Hugney covered a range of topics, from the structure of their main campus and satellite sites, to how studies are opened at regional sites, how budgets and monitoring visits are managed, and the ways drugs and live tissue samples are transported between locations for storage at the main campus.

A common theme linking the presentations was the role of technology in maintaining connections among primary sites and satellite locations. For instance, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center uses Skype to loop satellite staff into disease group meetings and other important discussions at the main campus and submits institutional review board applications electronically for trials. The center also uses shared computer drives and SharePoint, a web-based collaborative platform. Both cancer centers manage medical records electronically via Epic.

Other shared practices between the two systems include granting primary investigators the authority to determine which trials are open at satellite locations, making all Phase 1 clinical trials available to satellite patients, and counting trial participant accrual at satellite sites towards the main campus totals.

Slides and video of the webinar will soon be available through the AACI website. The discussion will continue at the 10th Annual CRI Meeting“Leveraging Change to Advance Cures for Cancer Patients”— slated for July 11-12 in Chicago.