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The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG; Houston) and US Oncology (Houston) reported an agreement between them to increase patient access to national cancer clinical trials with a radiation focus in the community setting.

The collaboration means patients receiving cancer care at practices affiliated with US Oncology have access to RTOG trials for disease sites, including brain, head and neck, lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, cervix, and breast cancers. RTOG said its trials focus on the integration of radiation therapy with new systemic therapies and surgery.

US Oncology said this marks the first time that its network of member practices has participated in cooperative group trials in radiation oncology. It also said it is the first multi-state, national organization to become an affiliate member of RTOG. Current members include large regional practices and academic practices with facilities in metropolitan areas.

"Our collaboration with US Oncology and its network of member practices is attractive due to the organization's strong commitment to clinical trial participation, leadership and accrual," said Walter Curran, MD, group chairman of RTOG and professor and chairman of the department of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta). "We were confident their track record as a multi-site organization with significant accruals in a variety of clinical trials would be a good fit."

The first US Oncology patient was enrolled in an RTOG trial in March 2008. From March to mid-October of this year, a total of 17 patients from eight credentialed sites have been enrolled, exceeding the minimum requirement of five enrolled patients during the first year of membership. Among the eight sites, an average of six studies are open to enrollment at any given time.

Benefits for patients participating in the radiation therapy trials include increased access to new investigational therapies, the state-of-the-art in standard care and close physician monitoring.

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