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For Immediate Release:
November 28, 2012

Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care offers new clinical trials through a partnership with Boston Medical Center

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. — Southcoast™ Centers for Cancer Care, part of Southcoast Health System, has partnered with Boston Medical Center (BMC) to offer new clinical trials to Southcoast cancer patients.

The new relationship designates Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MB-CCOP) affiliate site. This allows Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care oncologists to participate in NCI-sponsored cancer prevention, control and treatment clinical trials with special efforts to raise awareness and participation by minorities.

Elizabeth Blanchard, MD
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"This collaboration will provide our patients access to a wider range of new treatments that they otherwise would have to travel long distances to receive," said Elizabeth Blanchard, MD, medical oncologist and Director of the Clinical Trials Program at Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care, located in Fairhaven and Fall River. "This is a great opportunity to bring advanced treatment to an area that does not have these types of trials."

"Our affiliation with Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care allows us to provide state-of-the-art cancer clinical trials to a greater number of patients and to expand our cancer care services into the local communities," said Robyn Souza, Director of Operations for Cancer Care Services at Boston Medical Center.

The Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care Clinical Trials program was established in May 2011 to allow local patients to participate in trials testing new and developing treatments for their cancer.

"Participating in clinical trials is important for the Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care because that is how progress is made," Dr. Blanchard said. "Oncology programs that participate in clinical trials are held to a higher standard, giving patients further confidence that they are receiving the best care available. For patients, this presents an opportunity to participate in a trial which may be defining the next best treatment for a particular cancer."

Dr. Blanchard said initial studies available through this new affiliation include:

  • One study will test whether less chemotherapy works just as well as the standard amount for patients with colon cancer who have undergone surgery. As it stands now, many patients with colon cancer will need six months of chemotherapy, though how much is actually needed is unknown.

  • Another study in breast cancer includes Herceptin — an antibody that works by targeting a specific part (or marker) of the breast cancer cells, though not all breast cancer cells contain this specific part. In women whose tumors have a high expression of this marker, treatment with the antibody controls their disease longer and increases their survival. This study is testing whether women whose tumors have expression of this marker, but not high expression, will have the same benefit from the antibody. This antibody is one of the first really good examples of targeted therapy: smarter therapy that is specific for tumor cells and spares much of the normal cell population. This results in therapy that is more effective and less toxic. Therefore, this study is to determine whether more women with breast cancer can benefit from such therapy.

  • A third study focuses on patients who have very early colon cancer that is surgically removed. Standard treatment for such patients is observation and periodic checking of blood tests. There is some evidence that "statin" drugs, widely used to lower cholesterol, may have anti-cancer effects. This study is testing whether the use of a statin medication (rosuvastatin, or the brand name Crestor) will decrease the chances of cancer recurrence in this population.

In addition to studies done in partnership with Boston Medical Center, the Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care also offers trials testing new medications and supportive measures for patients with cancer. Some of those studies are designed by Southcoast physicians and are testing better ways to deliver cancer care and support cancer patients.

The Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care Clinical Trials program is lead by Dr. Blanchard and supported by a full-time staff member devoted solely to clinical trials research. To date, the Southcoast Clinical Trials program has served 43 patients.

About Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center, the largest safety net health care provider in New England, serves more than 200,000 patients per year. As the primary teaching hospital for Boston University School of Medicine, BMC provides exceptional patient care and conducts innovative research to find new and better ways to treat and cure cancer. Whether a treatment plan includes surgery, medical oncology or radiation, patients have access to an extensive roster of research and clinical trials. Study protocols are being conducted for cancers of the breast, lung, colon, prostate, head and neck, blood cells (leukemia and lymphoma), AIDS malignancies, thyroid, skin and more.

Patients at Boston Medical Center can also access a wide range of support services. Our programs include counseling, support groups, nutrition classes and complementary medicine such as acupuncture and massage — all designed to ease the stress of cancer treatment.

In November 2010, Boston Medical Center received a three-year award from the National Cancer Institute to create a Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program to improve minority access to cancer clinical trials. BMC serves more than 200,000 patients per year, two-thirds of whom are minorities and three-fourths of whom are un- or underinsured.

The BMC Cancer Care Center Clinical Trials Office conducts studies from a variety of sources including physician-initiated research, National Cancer Institute Cooperative Groups, and pharmaceutical-sponsored trials. Since the BMC Cancer Clinical Trials Office (CCTO) was established in 1991, research has focused upon equality of minority access to cancer clinical trials. The types of clinical research studies opened at BMC reflect the diversity of the patient population seen at the Cancer Care Center. These clinical trials are an important source of new drugs that may prove effective in the fight against cancer.

About Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care

Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care located in Fall River and Fairhaven feature the latest technology in radiation therapy and medical oncology. Highlights of the state of the art facilities include the very latest technology in radiation therapy and medical oncology, advanced diagnostic imaging, fully electronic health records, and spacious semi-private infusion bays. Radiation Oncology services include intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) as well as High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR) for Skin and Breast Cancer.

The Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care offer patients a seamless continuum of care throughout Southcoast Health System — a program that supports not only patients' medical needs, but also their emotional and social needs. The care delivered at the centers is complimented by an outstanding cancer team, which includes dedicated medical and radiation oncologists, oncology nurse practitioners and chemotherapy certified nurses, patient navigators, social workers and nutritionists.

Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care has formed an exclusive regional affiliation with MD Anderson Physicians Network®. MD Anderson Physicians Network is a subsidiary of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world's most respected leaders in cancer care and ranked No. 1 in the nation, by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Cancer Hospitals" survey. Combining the region's top cancer provider with the expertise of the nation's leader in cancer care, Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care offers new hope and state-of-the-art care for cancer patients in the South Coast region.

For more information on Southcoast's cancer services visit

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Stephanie Poyant
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5280
Pager: 508-387-2532
Fax: 508-961-5876

Gina DiGravio
Boston Medical Center
Phone: 617-638-8480

Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.

It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, comprehensive cancer care, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery, advanced imaging services and is the only provider of maternity services in the region.

Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services. More information is available online at Connect to Southcoast through social media at

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