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Sanford Cancer Center Chosen to Participate in Pilot Program

Sanford Cancer Center will participate in the pilot phase of a new program that, if fully implemented, will help bring state-of-the-art cancer care to more patients in community hospitals across the United States.

Sanford Cancer Center will participate in the pilot phase of a new program that, if fully implemented, will help bring state-of-the-art cancer care to more patients in community hospitals across the United States.

Sanford Cancer Center is one of the 14 sites named today by The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, to participate in a three-year pilot for the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP). The program is designed to encourage the collaboration of private-practice medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists with close links to NCI research and to the network of 63 NCI-designated Cancer Centers principally based at large research universities.

Evidence from a wide range of studies suggests that cancer patients diagnosed and treated in such a setting of multi-specialty care and clinical research may live longer and have a better quality of life. The pilot program will research new and enhanced ways to assist, educate, and better treat the needs of underserved populations—including elderly, rural, inner-city, and low-income patients—as well as racial and ethnic groups with unusually high cancer rates.

“Sanford Cancer Center is honored to be selected by the National Cancer Institute as a member of this pilot program that will undoubtedly improve cancer care here at Sanford and around the nation,” says Becky Nelson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with Sanford Health. “Being selected by NCI is another demonstration of Sanford’s expertise and experience in cancer care.”

The pilot will begin at eight free-standing community hospitals and six additional locations that are operated by health care systems. The sites will be funded for a collective total of $5 million per year. An NCI panel of experts and an independent group of outside experts will set milestones, monitor progress, and evaluate success of the three-year pilot and then issue recommendations for a full-fledged program.

Sanford Cancer Center is the only program selected in South Dakota. The other hospitals and their cancer centers are:

  •  Billings Clinic, Billings, Mont. (Billings Clinic Cancer Center)
  •  Hartford Hospital, Hartford, Conn. (Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center)
  • St. Joseph’s / Candler, Savannah, Ga. (Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion)
  • Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge, La. (Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center)
  • Spartanburg Regional Hospital, Spartanburg, S.C. (Gibbs Regional Cancer Center)
  • St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, Calif. (St. Joseph Hospital Cancer Center)
  • Christiana Hospital, Newark, Del. (Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care)
  •  Ascension Health of St. Louis, Mo., for the following hospitals: St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, Indianapolis, Ind. (St. Vincent Oncology Center), Columbia St. Mary’s, Milwaukee, WI. (Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer Center) and Brackenridge Hospital, Austin, Texas (Shivers Center)
  • Catholic Health Initiatives of Denver, Colo., for the following hospitals: Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Penrose Cancer Center), St. Joseph Medical Center, Towson, Md. (St. Joseph Cancer Institute) and A coordinated regional program in Nebraska sponsored by Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney (Good Samaritan Cancer Center); St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln (St. Elizabeth Cancer Center); and St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island (St. Francis Cancer Treatment Center

“A key goal of this pilot, and any pilot, is to identify and develop best practices that can be deployed on a broader scale,” says Maria Bell, MD, a gynecologic oncologist with Sanford Clinic Women’s Health. “We look forward to sharing information and gaining knowledge from the other pilot sites around the country.”

NCCCP pilot sites will study how community hospitals and health systems nationwide could most effectively develop and implement a national database of voluntarily-provided electronic medical records accessible to cancer researchers. The sites will also study methods of expanding and standardizing the collection of blood and tissue specimens voluntarily obtained from patients for cancer research.

“In addition, being part of this pilot will allow us to expand clinical trials which are instrumental in patient therapies and outcomes. This pilot will also help reduce cancer care disparities among underserved populations,” says Loren Tschetter, MD, an oncologist/hematologist with Sanford Cancer Center and principal investigator for the Community Cancer Oncology Program (CCOP) of the National Cancer Institute.

“The comprehensive management of easily transferable medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers is a key issue,” said Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “The NCCCP pilot program holds great potential to inform us on the best ways to further the important adoption of electronic medical records at the community level.”

“It is becoming clear that one of the greatest determinants of cancer mortality in the years ahead will be access to care,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, MD. “This program will succeed if it can bring the benefits of our latest science to people in the communities where they live.”

For a Q&A on the NCCCP, please go to

For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at, or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). For more information about the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program, please visit the home page at  

About Sanford Cancer Center
As a leader in the field, Sanford Cancer Center Services offers a unique, full continuum of care with advanced state-of-the-art treatment methods while maintaining highly personalized care that focuses on the emotional, social and spiritual needs of cancer patients and their families. Sanford Cancer Center has one of the largest Breast Centers in the nation. In keeping with a commitment to excellence, Sanford continues to expand its multi-disciplinary approach to cancer care as well as develop its destination cancer center by adding physicians, services, technology and facilities. Sanford Cancer Center physicians are currently members of the (COG) Children’s Oncology Group, (CCOP) Community Clinical Oncology Program (member since 1983 and the lead local organization), and (GOG) Gynecologic Oncology Group. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons (ACOS) has also granted Three-Year Approval with Commendation to the cancer program at Sanford Cancer Center. For more information on Sanford Cancer Center, please visit the Sanford Health website at or call Sanford Cancer Center at 605-328-8003.