When Online Matchmaking and Cancer Treatment Collide
More than 600 types of drugs exist to treat cancer. A new tool will help doctors supercharge their searches for the ones that will work best for their patients.
Imagine a future where the latest research on the safety and efficacy of different cancer medications is just a keystroke away, allowing doctors to design a treatment plan that may be matched to a patient’s unique cancer type and genetic “signature”.
That future is anow reality at Sutter, thanks to the integrated network’s implementation ofClinical Pathways—a tool that oncologistscan use to assess the latest publications and best practices of physiciansnationwide, helping to standardize care and connect cancer patients to clinicaltrials. Developed by ViaOncology, Clinical Pathways was acquired in 2018 by Elsevier, a global information analytics businessspecializing in science and health.
“Caring for cancer patients with the right treatment at the right time helps improve the odds for cure,” says Deepti Behl, M.D., medical oncologist, medical director of the Sutter Institute for Medical Research in Sacramento. “Clinical Pathways helps Sutter oncologists design treatment plans that aim to provide optimal, evidence-based, tolerable, and cost-effective treatment to every patient—even those with rare types of cancer or patients who reside in rural or small communities.”
“Sutter’s adoption of Clinical Pathways demonstrates ourcommitment to delivering cancer care that is safe, affordable, personal, andaccessible,” says Jennifer Reddy, PharmD, BCPS,BCOP, Sutter Health Bay Area Oncology Service Line Executive, who led the implementation of ClinicalPathways at Sutter with David Atkins, MD, Associate Medical Director, SutterHealth Valley Area.
Using Clinical Pathways, Sutter oncologists can review the decision paths and data supporting a particular drug’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and also review a list of drugs being tested in clinical trials—including targeted immunotherapies, some of which have shown promise in treating patients with drugs customized to their tumor type and genetics.
For cancer, these clinical trials help researchers understandthe effects of various treatments and can help create new ways to prevent,detect and treat the illness.
Sutterpatient Ashleigh Evans, forexample, was treated by John Chan, MD, a gynecologic oncologist, surgeon, andresearcher at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center. “With so muchexciting cancer research underway, nobody knows more than the people who have thisdisease how important that is. We can’t afford to wait 10 years for the nextbig thing, and with new options made possible through clinical research andclinical trials, I might not have to.”
MORE ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALS
What is a clinical trial? Clinical research involves groups of patients who voluntarily agree to participate in tests evaluating new drugs, surgical procedures, devices, or new uses for existing treatments. For cancer, these tests help researchers understand the effects of various treatments and can help create new ways to prevent, detect and treat the illness.
Why do they matter? New drugs, procedures, and other treatmentstested in clinical trials may help improve outcomes for study participants and mayhelp researchers find better treatments for future patients. “It’s importantfor oncologists to understand what does and doesn’t work when treating cancerin individual patients, and to weigh side effects against the benefits of thetreatment,” says Dr. Behl.