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Stephenson Cancer Center No. 1 in Clinical Trials Enrollment


Published: Thursday, May 28, 2020

For the fourth year in a row, Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Medicine is No. 1 in enrolling patients in clinical trials for the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network.

The distinction is among the network’s Lead Academic Participating Sites, which represent the top cancer centers in the nation. Over the past year, Stephenson Cancer Center enrolled 330 patients to clinical trials, nearly 100 more than the next closest participant in the network. Robert Mannel, M.D., director of Stephenson Cancer Center, said this achievement reflects the center’s mission to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer for all Oklahomans.

“The best treatment for any patient with cancer is on a clinical trial,” Mannel said. “Part of our mission is to give Oklahomans access to these trials. They can feel confident that they have the widest array of options and the most innovative therapy right here at home.”

“Achieving this elite distinction for the fourth consecutive year underscores the Stephenson Cancer Center’s commitment to provide access to the most innovative, personalized treatment options and the highest standard of care,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “This designation is evidence of the tireless dedication of our clinicians and researchers, who expertly combine their skill and compassion to substantially lessen the burden of cancer for all Oklahomans.”

Patients are being treated for many different types of cancer through clinical trials, and by taking part in these research studies, they are not only receiving the highest-quality care but are contributing to the future of cancer treatment. Clinical trials have led to lifesaving new cancer treatments, but progress must still be made, Mannel said.

“Today, 35% of patients with a cancer diagnosis will die of their disease,” he said. “We need to do better not just in curing patients, but in designing treatments that are better tolerated with fewer side effects. The only way to do that is through clinical trials.”

One in four patients at Stephenson Cancer Center is treated on a clinical trial. Stephenson offers trials ranging from early-phase to late-phase, allowing patients to access new drugs at all stages of investigation. The Oklahoma TSET Phase 1 Program at Stephenson, the only in the state, allows patients to enroll in “first-in-human” trials to receive new drugs, often years before they become widely available. Patients who participate are closely monitored by a dedicated team of physicians, research nurses, study coordinators and navigators.

“We consider clinical research mission-critical to our cancer center,” said Kathleen Moore, M.D., director of the Oklahoma TSET Phase 1 Program and Associate Director for Clinical Research at Stephenson. “Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not shut down. We have been very thoughtful about how to keep our patients safe because, in many cases, they are accessing cancer therapies that are keeping them alive. That culture and commitment to research shows in our continued accrual strength across all sorts of clinical trials – investigator-initiated, pharmaceutical, and through the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network, where we are No. 1 in enrollment.”

Since becoming a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center in 2018, Stephenson Cancer Center has significantly increased its options for patients to receive advanced treatments and participate in clinical trials. Stephenson houses more than 100 experts specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of cancer, and the center supports nearly 150 investigators who conduct research in the basic, clinical, behavioral and population sciences.