Dr. Minasian has been chief of the Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, which administers the CCOPs, since 1997.
What do you think are the CCOPs' most important contributions to cancer research and prevention?
The first major accomplishment is that we've proven community physicians can be significant contributors (in terms of both quality and quantity) to clinical trials that set the national standards for quality care in cancer. Next, CCOPs have shown that cancer prevention and cancer control trials can be done in the community setting. And finally, the results of the landmark prevention trials themselves are a major contribution - the proof of principle that an agent can reduce a person's risk for developing cancer.
Why are the CCOPs so successful at recruiting patients?
The program succeeds because CCOP physicians and their staffs are motivated to succeed. They believe that clinical trials allow them to offer state-of-the-art care for cancer patients and people at risk for cancer. These trials are carried out in the community setting, not as an exception to everyday care, but rather as part of excellent delivery of cancer care. The program lets stable resources get into the hands of the community physicians who have demonstrated their ability to accrue to clinical trials and provides them with significant, ongoing support so they can continue to do so.
CCOP physicians receive training and support from NCI. What have the CCOPs taught NCI about community oncology?
These physicians, nurses, and support staff are incredibly committed to their patients, as well as to clinical trials. They have taught me that community physicians can integrate clinical research into their very busy practices when they have sufficient resources.