National Cancer Institute selects Georgia cancer partnership to lead new research program

A partnership between the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion and Northside Hospital Cancer Institute in Atlanta has been selected to implement a new cancer research program that aims to reach more Georgians in their own cities and towns.

Developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) expands on the success of two previous programs that led U.S. efforts in cancer research. The selection includes a five-year, $5.85 million grant.

The partnership application was developed jointly by Northside Hospital Cancer Institute and the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion, part of St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah. The partnership, which will implement the new research program, also includes the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE).

The Georgia NCORP partnership will provide Georgians with deeper cancer services and broader regional accessibility, with 110 oncology clinical providers in 41 different locations throughout the state, as well as the clinical trial leadership and research management services of Georgia CORE.

The National Cancer Institute created NCORP as a comprehensive initiative to provide access to cancer trials, as well as cancer care delivery research, to individuals in their own local communities. The NCI selection team evaluated the Georgia NCORP capabilities as excellent or outstanding in each area.

“We know that 85 percent of cancer patients in the United States are diagnosed in or near the communities in which they live, which tells us that easier access to care is critical,” said Nancy Johnson, who leads the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion at St. Joseph’s/Candler in Savannah, which serves a 32-county area in Georgia and South Carolina. “Very simply, this partnership means that cancer patients will not have to travel long distances or leave loved ones to take part in an NCI-sponsored trial. The positive implications for minority, elderly, underserved and rural populations, in particular, are likely to be substantial.”

“Historically, many breakthroughs in cancer research and treatment have happened because of collaboration, and we believe the Georgia NCORP is poised to build on that legacy,” said Nancy M. Paris, president and CEO of Georgia CORE, which is a non-profit leader in improving the quality of cancer care through clinical research and education. “No matter where they live, Georgians now will have access to clinical trials and cancer care delivery research.”

Ms. Paris said that the importance of bringing this program to the local community level is significant. “Many of our citizens have been challenged to find cancer care resources, but today that will begin to change.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia is ranked 25th in cancer incidence and 23rd in cancer deaths in U.S. – and cancer remains the second leading cause of death in Georgia. Among the state’s males, prostate cancer accounts for 30 percent of new cancer cases, with the highest concentration in southwest Georgia. Among the state’s females, breast cancer represents 31 percent of all new cancer cases, with the highest concentration in metro Atlanta. Lung cancer is the second most common among both males and females and is diagnosed most frequently in rural Georgia.

Last year, the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute experienced tremendous growth in newly diagnosed cancer cases, and at the same time expanded its statewide presence in Georgia. The Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion and the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute each hold the distinction of being two of only 30 U.S. hospitals ever to be selected for the NCI Community Cancer Center Program, providing a foundation of expertise from which all of Georgia will benefit.

“Our partnership with the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion and Georgia CORE evolved within a practical and thoughtful process, and this collaboration will have a very meaningful impact on Georgians today and in the future,” said Patti Owen, director of oncology services for the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.

Five key cancer programs and Georgia CORE research network affiliates were selected to participate based on their leadership and track record in community-based oncology research: John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus; DeKalb Medical in Atlanta; Harbin Clinic in Rome; Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG), Cancer Life Center in Macon; and Northeast Georgia Hospital System (NGHS) in Gainesville.

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases. People who take part in cancer clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of improved cancer treatments. They also receive state-of-the-art care from cancer experts.

Patients with cancer or increased risks of cancer in Georgia will have access to NCI-funded clinical trials through their cancer physicians at a participating NCORP network site. Through the NCORP network, community physicians will be able to collaborate with the NCI Clinical Trials Network Research Bases (NCTN) and Lead Academic Participating Sites

Nancy N. and J.C.
Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion
225 Candler Dr.,
Savannah, GA 31405
912-819-5704

St. Joseph's Hospital Campus 
11705 Mercy Blvd.,
Savannah, GA 31419
912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus 
5353 Reynolds St.,
Savannah, GA 31405
912-819-6000