Clinical Management of Advanced Colorectal Cancer - Episode 5

The Pivotal Role of Cooperative Group Trials

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The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program includes 4 recently restructured cooperative groups that conduct clinical research in adults; SWOG, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, and the NRG Oncology Group. All are now under the umbrella of the National Clinical Trials Network.

A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Colorectal Cancer Care

At this year’s ASCO annual meeting, the plenary session involved several phase III trials that were led by cooperative groups. Each year the NCI’s budget is cut, explains Cathy Eng, MD, and there is a significant impact on what we are able to do as academicians in terms of research and grant funding. Eng says she was grateful to see that the plenary session showed that trials supported by the NCI and cooperative groups are pivotal. It emphasizes the importance of the research conducted by Eng and others like her. We need pharmaceutical company—sponsored studies as well, says Eng, but NCI cooperative group trials have a big impact on what we do for our research.A critical role for oncology nurses in today’s treatment of advanced colorectal cancer is to create an environment where the patient is their own best advocate. Medical technology is improving every day, and there are, unfortunately, more and more patients being diagnosed and treated with metastatic colon cancer, explains Jessica Mitchell, RN.

Mitchell thinks that developing and focusing on a team approach to treating patients is the wave of the future. Patients are no longer treated solely by an oncologist, but rather by a team made up of an oncologist, a nurse or nurse practitioner (or both), and perhaps, a nutritionist and a social worker, so that the patient receives the best care.

“In the center is the patient. It’s not the disease,” says Mitchell. She explains that we must treat the person as a whole, which means considering all that he or she brings to the table, including psychosocial aspects, health aspects, and family aspects. Enormous advances have been made in colorectal cancer, with patients living longer and healthier lives.