$4 million NCI grant funds comparative effectiveness research at Southwest Oncology Group

October 15, 2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A $4 million National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant will help position the Southwest Oncology Group, one of the largest NCI-funded clinical trial cooperative groups, as a national leader in comparative effectiveness research on cancer.

The Grand Opportunities (GO) award supports the development of the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research in Cancer Genomics, or CANCERGEN, under the direction of Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Researchers at the University of Washington, Cancer Research And Biostatistics (CRAB) in Seattle, and the Center for Medical Technology Policy in Baltimore will co-lead the effort.

CANCERGEN will create a comprehensive process to evaluate emerging cancer genomics technologies and identify those that are most promising. The University of Michigan-based Southwest Oncology Group, or SWOG, will use this process to help it select and launch those clinical trials that will have the greatest impact.

"CANCERGEN will provide us objective tools to determine which proposed trials are most likely to have a significant clinical benefit for patients," says SWOG Group Chair Laurence H. Baker, D.O., "and we will commit to doing only those trials that meet this new standard."

Comparative effectiveness research, or CER, has gained national attention and a surge of federal stimulus funding because it is seen as a means of slowing the growth of runaway health care costs in the U.S. by moving the system away from expensive but marginally effective treatments.

A recent Institute of Medicine report on comparative effectiveness research has influenced many of the health care reform proposals now wending their way through the U.S Congress.

"Realizing [CANCERGEN's] vision will go a long way to help achieve the health care reform goal of making cancer treatment more effective and less expensive," says the Hutchinson's Ramsey.

The first SWOG clinical trial proposal slated for support under CANCERGEN will assess whether a genetic test known as the Oncotype DX assay can predict which patients with node-positive breast cancer - breast cancer that has spread to their lymph nodes - will benefit from chemotherapy and which patients will not.

The study was one of five comparative effectiveness trial proposals NCI Director John Niederhuber, M.D., submitted to the National Institutes of Health in January of 2009 as candidates for federal stimulus funding. It is expected to serve as a model for future comparative effectiveness studies of cancer genomics technologies.

More about CANCERGEN's first trial:

The Oncotype DX genetic assay is now routinely used to test the tumors of patients whose breast cancer has not spread to their lymph nodes - node-negative breast cancer. By measuring the expression or activity level of 21 specific genes within the tumor, the assay helps oncologists decide on treatment options by predicting whether a patient is likely to benefit from a course of chemotherapy.

SWOG 0930 is a proposed nationwide phase 3 clinical trial to determine whether this genetic test has the same predictive value for patients with node-positive breast cancer -- those whose cancer has spread to their lymph nodes. In 2008 about one-third of the 184,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. had cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis.

The genetic assay is expensive, costing about $3,500 per test. Yet the chemotherapy treatment now routinely given to node-positive breast cancer patients costs on the order of $50,000 per year. If the Oncotype DX assay does prove to predict which node-positive patients will see no benefit from this chemotherapy, it could spare thousands of women the grisly effects of a course of chemotherapy that will not help lengthen their life, while at the same time saving hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs each year.
-end-
The Southwest Oncology Group (swog.org) is one of the largest cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States. Funded primarily by the National Cancer Institute, the group designs and conducts clinical trials to advance the science of cancer prevention and treatment and to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. The almost 5,000 researchers in the Group's network practice at more than 500 institutions, including 19 of the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. The Group is headquartered at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. (734-998-7140). The Group has an operations office in San Antonio, Texas and a statistical center in Seattle, Wash.

University of Michigan Health System

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.