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Tunnell Cancer Center Annual Report 2009-2010

Tunnell Cancer Center Annual Report 2009-2010

Performance Improvement & Clinical Research

Because of the susceptibility of cancer patients to infection, Tunnell Cancer Center has concentrated on infection control as it strives to attain the highest standards of the National Patient Safety Goals. Data collected over the past year has shown the center’s success in attaining these standards.

Team members have attained a 99 percent compliance rate in the use of the Universal Protocol for high-risk invasive procedures such as radiation treatment and bone marrow biopsy procedures. This protocol includes following established guidelines for the verification of the correct site, the correct procedure, and the correct patient.

Tunnell Cancer Center team members also have maintained a 99.6 percent compliance rate for hand hygiene policies. Hand washing is the most important action taken that reduces the risk of infection.

Photo of Harry Vercoe
Through the Patient’s Eyes

“We’re busy volunteering. That’s what keeps me alive.”

Harry Vercoe, 80, and an active volunteer at Tunnell Cancer Center, was diagnosed in 1997 with prostate cancer and given external beam radiation. In 2002, when his PSA began to rise, he was treated with hormone injections, which brought his PSA back down. Last year his PSA began to rise again, and in July 2010 he had a bone scan, which showed the cancer had metastasized to the bone.

Harry says that when research coordinator Donna Miskin told him that the trial drug Zometa may help control the cancer by increasing bone strength and decreasing bone complications, he decided to give it a try. He entered the trial in July 2010. “I’ve got good days and bad,” says Harry, who points out that it is volunteering at Tunnell Cancer Center and at his church that keeps him going.

Read more Cancer Survivor Stories >

Clinical Research

Beebe Medical Center’s ability to offer patients a clinical trial as a treatment option is enhanced through its affiliation with the Delaware/Christiana Care Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP). Through the CCOP network, community physicians work with scientists to conduct National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials. This collaboration helps to offer the latest research findings to the community level and provide quality care to participating communities.

In 2009, 3.85 percent of Tunnell Cancer Center patients participated in clinical trials, which exceeds the national average of 2–3 percent.

Tunnell Cancer Center’s percentage is due to its focus on bringing the best care to its patients. Donna Miskin, RN, and Kari Souder, RN, OCN, the center’s two research coordinators remain up to date on the ongoing National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials taking place across the nation. Miskin and Souder screen all newly diagnosed patients for their eligibility in these trials and discuss their evaluations with Tunnell Cancer Center medical oncologists. Through the affiliation with CCOP, Tunnell Cancer Center participates in 60 open trials and has patients on about 20 trials at any one time. Patients were enrolled in trials related to lymphoma, breast, lung, colon, rectal, prostate, multiple myeloma, bladder, endometrial, renal (kidney), and ovarian cancers.

Zoledronic Acid in Treating Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer, Metastatic Prostate Cancer, or Multiple Myeloma with Bone Involvement

This Cancer Control trial (CALGB 70604) is one of many that Tunnell Cancer Center patients are enrolled in. It is a randomized, phase III trial comparing the standard dose of Zoledronic Acid versus a longer dose interval in metastatic cancer patients. Skeletal complications are a major cause of morbidity in patients with metastatic cancer. Zoledronic Acid (Zometa) is a drug that helps prevent bone loss and reduces the risk of fractures. This is very important in providing symptom relief and comfort for metastatic cancer patients. This trial is targeted specifically for patients with metastatic multiple myeloma, breast cancer, or prostate cancer.

Zometa is currently given intravenously every four weeks. The drug is costly and has some side effects. This trial is trying to determine if the drug can be given every 12 weeks with the same efficacy and outcomes without the added expense or increased risk of side effects as with therapy every four weeks.

The objectives of this trial are:

Primary Objective—to determine whether therapy every 12 weeks with Zometa is not inferior to therapy every four weeks for patients with metastatic breast cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, or multiple myeloma involving bone, as measured by the proportion who experience at least one skeletal-related event within 24 months after randomization. Secondary Objectives—to compare the following between therapy every 12 weeks with Zometa versus therapy every four weeks with Zometa: Pain scores Functional status Incidence of osteonecrosis of the jaw Incidence of renal dysfunction

Patients are randomized on this trial to either monthly treatment or treatment every three months. Treatments continue for two years.