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Monday, November 27, 2006 - SJH Recognized as “Top Enroller” in National Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

SJH Recognized as “Top Enroller” in
National Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

VINELAND, NJ (November 27) – South Jersey Healthcare Cancer Services, a partner of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, was recently recognized by the Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU) of the National Cancer Institute as one of the top five highest enrollers in a national breast cancer clinical trial. The study, NSABP B-35, compares the effects of two drugs on postmenopausal women with noninvasive breast cancer who have received lumpectomies and radiation therapy.

Under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Fanelle, Medical Director of the South Jersey Healthcare Frank and Edith Scarpa Cancer Pavilion and the study’s principal investigator, 10 SJH patients were enrolled in the clinical trial. All of the women are currently participating in the five year study.

“Clinical trials are an extremely important part of our cancer program that provide benefits to our patients and help advance the science of oncology,” said Fanelle. “Studies like this one refine the treatment of a particular type of breast cancer.”

The women enrolled in the NSABP B-35 study have intraductal breast cancer, also known as noninvasive cancer. In this early stage of breast cancer, the cancer cells are found only in the breast ducts and have not spread to other breast tissue or to other parts of the body. All of the women in the study had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and breast radiation therapy to help prevent the cancer from returning.

Many women with noninvasive breast cancer receive the drug tamoxifen to help prevent their cancer from progressing to invasive cancer. Invasive cancer cells spread outside of the breast ducts into other breast tissue or other parts of the body. The purpose the NSABP B-35 study is to determine whether another drug, anastrozole, is as effective as tamoxifen in preventing invasive breast cancer from occurring, while also comparing the good and bad effects of both drugs.

The NSABP B-35 clinical trial also allows for further testing of anastrozole in patients with this type of breast cancer. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) currently classify anastrozole as an investigational research drug for this type of breast cancer.

The women participating in the clinical trial are randomized into two groups. Every day for five years, one group takes a tamoxifen pill and a placebo. The second group of patients takes an anastrozole pill and a placebo, also for five years. Every six months, patients visit their physicians for follow-up exams and once a year, they receive blood tests, mammograms, and pelvic exams.

“Patients enrolled in these studies receive the latest treatments and benefit from research at cancer centers across the country,” said Fanelle. “This research at South Jersey Healthcare is one more way we are providing top notch cancer care found in big city cancer centers right here in our region.”

To learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients, call SJH Cancer Services at (856) 575-4430.

SJH Cancer Services, located in the Frank and Edith Scarpa Regional Cancer Pavilion, have been affiliated with the Fox Chase Cancer Center since 1995. SJH offers the only cancer program in Cumberland, Salem, or Gloucester counties designated as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons – Commission on Cancer.

The SJH team of board-certified physicians, registered radiation therapists and nationally-certified oncology nurses has provided state-of-the-art radiation therapy, medical oncology and cancer support services to thousands of patients in the region for more than 25 years.

SJH is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of Southern New Jersey residents. Please visit www.sjhealthcare.net to learn more.

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