Cancer care is just a click away: New website provides information for cancer patients in the state of Georgia

kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 25, 2012 

It's now easier than ever to gather information about cancer treatments near you -- at least in the state of Georgia.

The Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE) has recently launched an online information center that profiles clinical trials and the oncologists running them in the state of Georgia.

Georgia CORE is "a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of cancer care in Georgia by expanding access to clinical research," according to organization literature.

Columbus' John B. Amos Cancer Center hosts regular clinical trials which will appear on the site, GeorgiaCancerInfo.org, along with oncologist profiles, information about the importance of clinical trials and how to find doctors and treatment sites in the state of Georgia.

Nancy Paris, president and CEO of Georiga CORE, said that people would often call the center for information about treatments and trials, but there was no comprehensive place for them to go online to access the information.

She said they consider it a huge accomplishment to make this kind of information available to patients in Georgia in an online, easily-accessible format.

While the site has been live for about four months, Paris said it took about two years to develop it because there was no other website comparable to it.

"I think it helps put Columbus on the map," she said, when asked how it might promote the cancer care available locally at the John B. Amos Cancer Center.

She added that while people who have visited the local facility are impressed by it, there are plenty of people in the outlying areas who don't know that it's here. Adding the profiles and services of the oncologists to the website also helps make the facility more "visible and accessible" to those from out of town, she said.

"The doctors and nurses and educators who are board members of Georgia CORE came together to get this website together," Paris said, noting that local oncologist Dr. Andrew Pippas was central to the site's development.

Pippas, clinical oncology research director at John B. Amos Cancer Center, is a lead investigator in several clinical trials currently taking place at John B. Amos and is an advocate for their continued presence in the community.

"Any one of the 20 or 30 systems types of cancers, (the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines) all recommend as the best treatment available as enrollment on a high-priority clinical trial," Pippas said. "We (at the John B. Amos Cancer Center) believe that. We do. We really believe that. We think that if a patient is eligible for a clinical trial and there's a trial for them that they should go on a clinical trial. We just think that's the best care."

Pippas said that GeorgiaCancerInfo.org is "the first website in the country to have that kind of a statewide presence," noting that controlling for geography first makes searching for cancer treatment easier for the patient.

Though he said some patients will have done some research before he talks to them, he still often has to talk to them about the benefits of participating in a clinical trial.

"Unless you educate them, most patients are still leery of going onto clinical trials," Pippas said, noting that approximately only 20-30 percent of eligible and interested patients will actually enroll in a trial.

The website not only puts information about oncology treatments and clinical trials into the hands of the patients and their family members, but also into the hands of other doctors who may reference the site to make referrals to their patients.

Said Paris, "The whole goal is to empower patients to make the best decisions."

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