E-Newsletter - May 2021
Spotlight on Alliance Institutions





By Gary Doolittle, MD
     Co-Principal Investigator, The University of Kansas Cancer Center – MCA Rural MU NCORP
     Priyanka Sharma, MD
     Co-Principal Investigator, The University of Kansas Cancer Center – MCA Rural MU NCORP
     Jamie Wagner, DO, FACOS, FACS
     Principal Investigator, Alliance

In 2019, The University of Kansas Cancer Center and Masonic Cancer Alliance were awarded a grant to expand the reach of cancer clinical trials to Kansas’ rural communities. The six-year grant designated the team as a minority/underserved (MU) community site of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). There are 14 such sites in the U.S., and the cancer center/Masonic Cancer Alliance is the only site funded that focuses on rural communities. NCORP grants are awarded to top institutions that have demonstrated a strong commitment to the communities they serve.

Support from the grant strengthens KU Cancer Center’s ability to advance clinical trial access and quality of care in rural communities and accrues individuals to NCI-approved cancer clinical trials and research studies that encompass cancer prevention, screening, supportive care, and symptom management, treatment, quality of life and cancer care delivery. As the outreach network of the cancer center, Masonic Cancer Alliance has partnered with hospitals, cancer centers, and health care providers across Kansas for more than a decade. As an NCORP site, we are able to further leverage the expertise of our rural providers and KU Cancer Center researchers to expand clinical trials and decrease barriers to participation, with the ultimate goal of eliminating cancer disparities and preventing and treating cancer more effectively.

A Rural Focus
Bringing clinical trials to a broader patient population may reduce disparities in cancer, given that providing clinical trials as a treatment option to cancer patients is considered a standard of care. About 26 percent of Kansans live in rural areas, higher than the national average of 19 percent. Per numerous studies, including a 2017 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, people in rural America are more likely to die from cancer than those in the country’s metropolitan counties.

But we can bridge the gap – a study of nearly 37,000 patients found that urban and rural cancer patients had similar survival outcomes when they were enrolled in a clinical trial. With this grant, we can improve access to quality care, bringing more NCI-supported clinical trials to patients across the state.

While improvements in cancer care have been significant over the last several decades, the need to provide dedicated, comprehensive care continues to grow, particularly in rural areas. We need to ensure that people across the landscape of our area have access to the highest quality cancer care, and this grant enables KU Cancer Center and Masonic Cancer Alliance to help do just that.



For other articles in this issue of the Alliance E-News newsletter, see below.