TUCSON, Ariz. (January 5, 2012) —Curtis Mack, M.D., an oncologist with Arizona Oncology, has devoted decades of research to understanding how prostate cancer invades the human body and how to stop it. As a board-certified radiation oncologist, he focuses on how best to treat patients with prostate cancer and how to identify which will offer minimal side effects with the maximum therapy.
This is why he and his colleague Andrew Neuschatz, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist, along with their healthcare professional team, work to help patients with prostate cancer deal with the medical and physical effects, as well as the psychological and social impact of cancer. Because Arizona Oncology is affiliated with US Oncology Research, both physicians have the opportunity to work with the National Cancer Institute’s Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG). As a result of this collaboration, Drs. Mack and Neuschatz have spent years dedicated to research and clinical trials helping identify best treatment practices for prostate cancer patients.
“To participate in this research, the Arizona Oncology site near Northwest Medical Center goes through rigorous evaluations, challenging us to meet the highest standards,” said Dr. Mack. “In addition to the extensive staff preparations, all the equipment used goes through ongoing extensive calibration and testing in order to continue to participate in RTOG studies.”
“US Oncology Research reached RTOG full member status earlier this year. This is a huge accomplishment that is usually only afforded to large academic institutions. This truly shows the depth of effort we’ve put into this,” said Dr. Neuschatz, who serves on the national US Oncology ResearchRadiation Oncology committee. “The national standards and treatment for patients are developed from these studies—and we’ve been able to offer them first here in Tucson to patients participating in trials.”
US Oncology Research ranked number one in 2010 in total accruals to the RTOG program. In its three years of participation as a US Oncology Research affiliate, Arizona Oncology has consistently been one of the top accruing practices in the program.
Arizona Oncology is one of 21 sites that participate in this program through The US Oncology Network, one of the nation’s largest community-based cancer treatment and research networks dedicated to advancing cancer care in America.This is also a long-term commitment for patients and families, not only to test out the latest minimally invasive treatments available, but to determine how this affects their quality of life now and later.
“Prostate cancer can be very challenging for men to face,” said Dr. Mack. “Many men don’t talk about it. The treatment options and the potential side effects vary widely; and they are placed into the ‘driver’s seat’ and need to make the decision of how they wish to be treated. For them to step up and say, ‘I want to participate, to be treated and to talk about how the treatment affects me’ is very courageous.”
“Patients are the real heroes,” said Karen Sims, R.N., who is the clinical coordinator for Arizona Oncology’s RTOG trials. “They understand that some of the trials are randomized, meaning it’s the luck of the draw as to which of the trial treatments they’ll get. For these trials, both treatments may be good options, but the trial is to see which one is the most effective.”
“Long after treatment is complete, we monitor these patients because of their participation in a clinical trial,” said Dr. Mack. “They are providing life-saving knowledge for those prostate cancer patients now and in the future.”
The trial just completed provided a comparison of 28 daily treatments over five and a half weeks versus the 43 treatments in eight and a half weeks. This is hypofractionated intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which can deliver higher doses of computer-directed therapy in fewer treatments. For rural patients who would have to travel long distances, knowing they would receive the same effective care with fewer trips, would be very important for their quality of life if the study shows equivalent results, explained Dr. Mack. Additionally, fewer daily treatments means less expense, another important component considering many patients are responsible for a portion of their bill.
“Certainly, safety and effectiveness are first and foremost, but if we can do just as well or better AND save patients time and money, we have hit a home run,” said Dr. Mack. “Only well-controlled trials with closely followed patients will give us this information.”
RTOG has opened a new trial to take this concept even further by comparing five fractions (treatments) to 12 fractions. Whichever treatment does better will be compared again in a third trial to the previous study. Other RTOG studies the site is currently participating in include ones for the central nervous system, head and neck, lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, breast and cervix.
For more information about the RTOG studies, contact the office at 520-544-2919.
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About Arizona Oncology
Arizona Oncology is the largest group of medical professionals in Arizona devoted exclusively to cancer care. With more than 50 practicing physicians, we serve patients at more than 24 locations throughout Arizona, including Cottonwood, Deer Valley, Flagstaff, Glendale, Green Valley, Marana, Nogales, Oro Valley, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Safford, Scottsdale, Sedona, Sierra Vista and Tucson. We are proud to provide comprehensive, compassionate, cancer care in a patient-focused, cost effective, community-based setting. Arizona Oncology provides patients with access to the latest treatments, state-of-the-art technology and access to cutting edge nationwide research and clinical trials. We believe it is beneficial when these therapies are provided in a community setting, close to patients' home and your support system. Our physicians are supported by talented clinical staff members who are sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. For more information, please 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 more than 1,000 physicians and 10,000 cancer professionals nationwide. Arizona Oncologyparticipates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has helped to develop 43 FDA approved cancer therapies.For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.
About US Oncology Research
McKesson Specialty Healthconducts clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which 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 more than 90 sites in over 250 locations managing more than 200 active trials at any given time. Physicians in the research network have enrolled more than 50,000 patients in over 1,200 trials since inception in 1992 and have contributed to the development of 43 cancer therapies approved by the FDA. For more information call (800) 482-6700, option 4 or visit www.usoncology.com/oncologists.
About Radiation Therapy Oncology Group
Radiation Therapy Oncology Group is a dynamic multidisciplinary group with vigorous participation by physicians and other researchers from more than 350 of the leading academic and community medical facilities in the United States, Canada and internationally, including nearly 90 percent of all NCI-designated cancer centers and many of the major academic and regional centers of Canada. This participation includes leadership from medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, and laboratory scientists as well radiation oncologists. All Group research efforts seek to be transformational in nature, with the goal of improving the quantity and quality of survival of cancer patients. For more information, visit www.RTOG.org.