Special to Iredell Free News

WINSTON-SALEM – Despite advances in cancer treatment, disparities in cancer outcomes are prevalent, especially for minority, underserved and rural populations.

With a $775,000 one-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), researchers at Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center are working to reduce those disparities.

The grant, entitled CATCH-UP (Create Access to Targeted Cancer Therapy for Underserved Populations), will allow Wake Forest Baptist Health to offer and enroll patients to select trials through the NCI’s Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ETCTN), a collaboration of industry, academic institutions and researchers to evaluate early phase therapeutic clinical trials in areas of unmet medical needs.

“As one of only three Comprehensive Cancer Centers in North Carolina, we are uniquely positioned to reach underserved populations in this region,” said Dr. Alexandra Thomas, professor of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

With the grant, researchers are opening an initial 17 ETCTN clinical trials across a spectrum of cancer types such as lung, leukemia, breast, gastric and lymphoma.

Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only eight NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S. to receive the award.

“The CATCH-UP grant aligns with our commitment to improve cancer outcomes for all patients,” Thomas said. “This grant not only helps us increase clinical trial awareness and participation, but we’re also providing important new treatment options for our patients.”

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