H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute’s new Total Cancer Care program foresees a new approach on treating cancer patients throughout the state of Florida. The new program plans on helping doctors make better decisions on cancer treatment.
“TCC is a very holistic approach to cancer care delivery that puts the emphasis on the patient, not just the disease. Primarily, it is a system designed to translate new scientific discoveries into clinical benefit and integrate new approaches into the standard of care in such a way as to create evidence for the value of new approaches, and ultimately learn how to properly use newly discovered therapies for cancer care,” said William Dalton, chief executive officer and center director for Moffitt.
The primary component of TCC is the process of gaining molecular signatures from patients to put into the database. With the permission of patients, doctors obtain molecular fingerprints during a clinical trial by extracting RNA to put into a gene ship, creating a molecular fingerprint, said Timothy Yeatman, associate director for translational research and TCC director. A gene ship, he added, is an array that measures thirty thousand genes in an experiment.
“By using these molecular fingerprints and by creating this large central database, we hope to be able to personalize medicine,” Yeatman said.
Typically, when doctors put patients on treatments, it is unsure if the patients will respond to the particular method or drug given to them. By storing data on a large amount of patients and keeping records of which treatment worked on which disease, doctors will be able to research treatments using the TCC database. This will assist doctors in deciding which treatment is appropriate for a disease.
“This, we think, will begin to raise the standard of care across Florida, because if we have new findings based on new evidence, then we will communicate those findings,” said Jan Marshburn, administrative director of TCC.
The second component of TCC is improving and increasing clinical trials. Around 15 percent of Moffitt’s cancer patients participate in clinical trials. The primary reason is because clinical trials are not accessible at all hospitals, and patients have to travel to Moffitt to participate.
“We believe if we can offer that treatmant through our affiliate partners, the patient will more likely consider going on a clinical trial, they can stay home and do it,” Yeatman said. “Clinical trials are the cornerstone of modern cancer care; that’s the way we make our advances.”
Through TCC, Moffitt wants to increase the levels of people taking part in clinical trials and encourage them to participate in trying new drugs and therapies. This will allow doctors to take more blood samples and examine proteins and DNA to record into the database, making it more comprehensive.
TCC is also aiming to homogenize the treatment of cancer patients by doctors, said Yeatman.
Many doctors treat patients differently, even if they have the same disease. Through TCC, Moffitt hopes to have a system where Moffitt and its affiliates use the same treatment for the same disease.
Moffitt plans to enhance clinical trials with technology and touch-screen approaches.
“It’s all about trying to deliver state-of-the-art cancer care and technology to patients throughout the state of Florida, using the community physicians and the community hospitals,” Yeatman said.Moffitt is affiliated with 16 other hospitals in the state of Florida. They will be expanding TCC so their affiliates can participate.
“The concept of Total Cancer Care is that cancer patients can get their treatment in their community with their affiliated physician,” Marshburn said.