Arizona Oncology - The US Oncology Network

Arizona Oncology Physician Named Lead Clinical Trial Investigator for Acute Form of Leukemia

6/04/2013

Arizona Oncology Physician Named Lead Clinical Trial Investigator for Acute Form of Leukemia

Trial Examines Effectiveness of Life-extending Drug

PHOENIX (June 3, 2013) –Mahesh Seetharam, M.D., oncologist and hematologist with Arizona Oncology, will lead an international, Phase III clinical trial for US Oncology Research to test a drug that may lengthen the lives of those in remission after treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML)—a form of cancer that, if left untreated, could be fatal within weeks or months.

AML is a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells, which causes rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in bone marrow and hinder the production of normal blood cells. It is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults, and it is more likely to occur as a person ages. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 14,590 new cases of AML will be diagnosed this year.

“For people age 60 and over, a leukemia diagnoses is devastating because a patient’s survival rate is very low,” Dr. Seetharam said. “However, this study may prove that AML patients can indeed live longer, better lives.”

Symptoms of AML include fatigue, easy bruising, shortness of breath and an increased risk of infection. While scientists have identified several risk factors and chromosomal abnormalities, a specific cause is unknown.

Patients who have suffered from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), another form of leukemia, have experienced significant success with this trial’s test drug, azacitidine, sold under the trade name Vidaza. While not a cure, it may prove effective in increasing survival rates, Dr. Seetharam said.

The study is open to those AML patients age 55 and over who have experienced complete remission up to 90 days after intensive treatment to be eligible for enrollment. Patients must also be ineligible for a bone marrow transplant to qualify for the trial. It is a randomized, double-blind study—meaning doctors or participants do not know if the patient is receiving the drug or a placebo.

The trial, to take place at more than 100 medical facilities worldwide (including sites affiliated with US Oncology Research), requires 450 patient participants. The enrollment period is expected to take up to three years and the trial itself may last five years. Seetharam believes the trial may find a higher percentage of participants in Arizona compared to other areas due to the state’s large population of seniors.

“As lead investigator, I’ll be responsible for oversight and eligibility of the trial for all US Oncology Research sites,” Seetharam said. “It’s a great honor to have been chosen, and I’m looking forward to supporting the outcomes of this study.”

Dr. Seetharam provides comprehensive care as part of Arizona Oncology, which treats more cancer patients than any other cancer care provider in the state of Arizona. Arizona Oncology is affiliated with The US Oncology Network and US Oncology Research, a nationwide resource offering access to cutting-edge research and clinical trials. US Oncology Research has played a role in the development of 46 cancer-fighting drugs approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

“Dr. Seetharam is passionate about patient care, and he understands how research and clinical trials can enhance that care for his current patients and future ones,” said Steve Jones, M.D., medical director of US Oncology Research. “I’m excited about the work he is doing and looking forward to the results of this trial.”

Patients may benefit from the trial by receiving individualized and focused care from Arizona Oncology. For more information about participation in this clinical trial, contact the Arizona Oncology Biltmore Cancer Center location in Phoenix at (602) 277-4868.

About Arizona Oncology
Arizona Oncology is one of the largest medical groups in Arizona, with more than 50 practicing
physicians devoted exclusively to comprehensive, compassionate and high-quality cancer care to patients in several communities throughout the state, including: Chandler, Cottonwood, Deer Valley, Flagstaff, Glendale, Green Valley, Marana, Nogales, Oro Valley, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Safford, Scottsdale, Sedona, Sierra Vista and Tucson.

Arizona Oncology believes it is beneficial to provide cancer therapies in a community setting close to patients' homes and support systems. The physicians are supported by a talented clinical team sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. For more information, visit www.ArizonaOncology.com.

Arizona Oncology is united in healing with The US Oncology Network, one of the nation’s largest community-based cancer treatment and research networks focused on advancing cancer care in America. As an affiliate of The US Oncology Network, Arizona Oncology is united with nearly 1,000 physicians and 10,000 cancer professionals nationwide. Arizona Oncology participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in the development of 46 FDA approved cancer therapies. For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.

About US Oncology Research
Supported by McKesson Specialty Health and The US Oncology Network, US Oncology Research draws from a network of experienced investigators and dedicated clinical staff who specialize in Phase I through Phase IV oncology clinical trials. US Oncology Research serves approximately 8o research sites and nearly 225 locations managing about 225 active trials at any given time. Physicians in the research network have enrolled more than 55,000 patients in over 1,200 trials since inception in 1992 and have contributed to the development of 46 cancer therapies approved by the FDA. For more information call (800) 482-6700, option 4 or visit www.usoncology.com/oncologists.