Announcement: DoD/National Cancer Institute

DoD

Honor the Contract

From the Defense Press

By Douglas J. Gillert

American Forces Press Service

Washington- The Defense Department

and National Cancer Institute have expanded access to clinical trials

for DoD health care beneficiaries.

Since 1996, the DoD/NCI Cancer

Clinical Trials Demonstration Project has provided patients with an

opportunity to participate in NCI-sponsored cancer treatment

clinicall trials Phases II and III. They can receive the care either

in military medical facilities or through participating civilian

providers. DoD covers the cost of these trials under its managed

health plan, TRICARE. Now, DoD also will cover the costs for

participation in early detection and prevention clinical trials.

“To underscore our commitment

to wellness and prevention, we feel we must provide reimbursement for

clinical trials that offer some of the most promising advances in

cancer prevention and treatment research,” said Dr. Sue Bailey,

assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “For some

TRICARE beneficiaries with an increased risk of developing cancer,

the experimental trials offer new choices to minimize chances of

developing cancer. It is another way to keep our troops and families healthy.”

Clinical trials are research studies

that help find ways to prevent, diagnose or treat illnesses and

improve health care. People enrolled in the studies receive care that

is considered the latest medicine or therapy but is not yet approved

as standard care.

Two types of prevention clinical

trials study ways to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Action

studies focus on finding out whether actions people take – exercising

more or quitting smoking, for example – can prevent cancer. Agent, or

chemoprevention, studies are designed to learn whether taking certain

medicines, vitamins or food supplements can prevent cancer.

This is the first time any health

plan has agreed formally to cover the cost of clinical cancer

prevention trials, according to Dr. Richard Klausner, NCI director.

“This agreement will become a model for providing access to the

best possible health care for people, while ensuring that cancer

research can continue to make progress,” he said.

Nearly 12,000 TRICARE beneficiaries

are diagnosed with cancer each year, Bailey said. Meanwhile, other

military patients are seeking ways to lower their risk.

“Prevention and early

detection,” she said, “are two of the most important and

effective strategies for reaching the American Cancer Society’s goals

of saving lives lost from cancer as a major health problem.

“When people hear the words,

‘You have cancer,’ they experience a wide and frightening range of

emotions. They enter a world of bewildering choices about treatment,

pain management, health maintenance and financial burden.”

This agreement give DoD patients

access to the most promising advances in cancer research, Bailey

said. More than 2,000 sites throughout the United States, including

military hospitals and clinics, comprehensive and clinical cancer

centers, community hospitals and practives, will conduct the clinical

trials. In some cases, patients may be able to get part of their care

from their own physicians.

To obtain more information about

cancer prevention, early detection or clinical trials covered by the

DoD/NCI demonstration, contact the NCI Cancer Information Service

or the demonstration coodinator .

Information also is available on the Military Health System