Columbia Basin Hematology & Oncology in Kennewick has been picked to join a new network of sites around the country that soon will begin testing blood cancer therapies.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which is Harvard's cancer institute, established the new network. It includes nine other clinics and hospitals across the U.S., largely in the Midwest and eastern states. None of the other sites are in Washington.
The first clinical trials through the new partnership should begin in the next few months, with a total of seven trials expected to open during the next year.
"In order to make progress, in order to move toward being able to cure different types of cancer, we use clinical trials where potentially valuable drugs are actually tested against the current gold standard of treatment," said Dr. Thomas Rado of Columbia Basin Hematology & Oncology.
Clinical trials dealing with less common kinds of cancer are more difficult to do in smaller communities with fewer eligible patients, Rado said. And that means patients in those smaller areas often don't have access or must travel a long way to get it.
"Having to travel long distances from home to a major medical center is a major deterrent to patients' participation in cancer clinical trials. ... We are optimistic that this (new) program will increase trial enrollment, more rapidly advance innovative blood cancer therapies and save lives," Louis J. DeGennaro, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's chief mission officer, said in a news release.
The New York-based nonprofit is contributing $1.05 million for the program, the release said.
Rado and Heather Johansen, research manager for Columbia Basin Hematology, will participate in designing the trials.
Clinical trials aren't new to the Kennewick oncology practice. It also partners with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and a consortium out of Southwest Oncology Group.
The practice started with a couple of trials in 2005 and now has about 20 available, Johansen said. She added that the new trials will round out the practice's trial offerings.
"It's really important for patients to have trials available," Johansen said. The new arrangement provides "such a great opportunity for the community to be able to have access to these drugs that normally they would have to travel such a long distance (for)."
Columbia Basin Hematology, which shares a campus on West Deschutes Avenue with the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, sees about 1,000 new patients a year.
In a statement, cancer center CEO Tom Corley said Columbia Basin Hematology's inclusion in the new network is a sign of the quality of care the local practice provides.
"The Mid-Columbia is fortunate to have a practice of this caliber locally. Dr. Rado and his group of practitioners at CBHO are to be commended for their commitment to furthering cancer research and providing the highest level of care," he said.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald