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