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Cancer Research
Saint Joseph's Hospital approved for clinical trials as RTOG partner

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Virginia L. Anderson

Saint Joseph's Hospital has become the newest satellite member of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), an international research organization dedicated to the testing and application of the highest-quality cancer treatment. This means that cancer patients treated at Saint Joseph's will be able to enroll in clinical trials at Saint Joseph's that focus on discovering the best treatment options for a number of common types of cancer. It also means that residents in the northern part of Atlanta have easier access to the latest care provided at Emory University Hospital, the number one ranked hospital in the state by U.S. News & World Report.

"This approval comes as affirmation of our promise to the community that Saint Joseph's Hospital and Emory are committed to progress and improving outcomes against all cancers," says Peter Rossi, MD, medical director of radiation oncology at Saint Joseph's and assistant professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute. "With credentialing now for enrollment on national studies, this is a statement of the quality of cancer care that we can offer, which is unrivaled north of Emory. We are excited to link our clinical trials program to the community in this way."

Through the RTOG affiliation, Rossi says, Saint Joseph's "will be able to offer high-quality clinical trials aiming to improve survival and quality of life, to evaluate new forms of radiotherapy delivery, including stereotactic radiotherapy and brachytherapy in the context of clinical research and to test new systemic therapies, including chemotherapeutic drugs, hormonal strategies, biologic agents, and new classes of cytostatic, cytotoxic and targeted therapies" on the campus of Saint Joseph's Hospital.

RTOG, headed by the executive director of Winship, Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, is currently conducting more than 45 clinical trials seeking to identify best therapies for patients with many malignancies, including brain tumors, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, prostate and breast cancer. Nearly every major cancer center in North America is a member of this research group.  

The RTOG approval for clinical trials means that patients at Saint Joseph's also will have access to trials conducted by the National Cancer Institute as well as to the multidisciplinary coordination of care for which Winship has been repeatedly recognized. Winship Cancer Institute is the region's only NCI- designated cancer center and is the second largest accruer to the RTOG in the nation. Winship is home to world-renowned physicians and physician-investigators who have helped pioneer the latest advances in cancer diagnosis and care. That is particularly so in the treatment of urologic cancers, an area in which Saint Joseph's physicians are leading the way with such things as dynamic MRI for cancer diagnostics, urine testing for prostate cancer, bladder-sparing techniques for bladder cancer, a multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinic, and leading-edge robotic, radiotherapy and brachytherapy technology.

For the fifth year in a row, Winship Cancer Institute's cancer program at Emory University Hospital is ranked as one of the best cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.  Winship's NCI-designated cancer center is the only program in Georgia to be ranked in the top 50 in the country in the magazine's annual survey of the nation's best hospitals. Only one other center in all of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, or Alabama was named on this list. 

In addition, Men's Health magazine recently listed Winship as one of the top 20 cancer treatment centers in the nation, and one of only three in the Southeast.

"Having Saint Joseph's become a research member of RTOG strengthens our ability to provide the best cancer care possible to all the people of Atlanta by allowing us to share the expertise of Winship with those who live north of Clifton Road," says Curran. "This is a tremendous step toward bridging the distance and bringing the best care available from the best physicians."

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