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NCI Approves SBU Thoracic Surgery Program For Conducting Lung Cancer Clinical Trials


The Thoracic Surgery Program at Stony Brook University Medical Center gained approval from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct clinical trials of experimental lung cancer treatments. The NCI-approved status is a three-year renewal that was initially approved in 2002. The NCI designation provides patients with the only available access to certain trials for lung cancer in Suffolk County.

Since 2002, the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery has been an active member of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, enabling thoracic surgeons to participate in multi-center clinical trials of thoracic surgery for the treatment of lung cancer and other cancers of the chest. Such trials include: treatment to determine how well surgery and internal radiation therapy work together compared to surgery alone in treating patients with stage I non-small lung cancer; and how radiofrequency ablation, a minimally invasive procedure, is effective in treating high-risk patients with stage IA non-small cell lung cancer, as well as to determine two-year survival rates after radiofrequency ablation treatment.

"Lung cancer clinical trials are the only category with NCI-approved status in the Department of Surgery," says Todd K. Rosengart, M.D., Interim Chair of Surgery, Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. "Reacquiring this status is a testament to the lung cancer team of specialists and their meeting the stringent NCI criteria."

"The NCI status is confirmation that our practice model is correct in that we integrate surgery with radiology, radiation oncology, and all our oncology services," says Thomas V. Bilfinger, M.D., Professor of Surgery, Director of Thoracic Surgery, and Co-Director of the Lung Cancer Evaluation Center (LCEC). "We hope to include additional clinical trials for lung cancer that offer our patients hope during various stages of disease."

The newly approved status is based on a routine audit of the Clinical Trials Monitoring Branch of the NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program.

Thoracic surgeons play an active role in the LCEC, which provides comprehensive services for those who have imaging studies suspicious for lung cancer or with a known cancer diagnosis. The LCEC uses a multidisciplinary team approach involving different medical specialties to devise a treatment plan, which may include enrollment in a clinical trial.

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