Extending Cancer Care throughout Utah
Utah is a vast medley of red rock, plain, forest, and mountain that covers more than 80,000 square miles. Though the capital, Salt Lake City, is a growing metropolis, 96% of the state is rural (fewer than 100 people per square mile) and 70% is frontier (fewer than seven people per square mile). In addition, Utah has seven Native American tribes or nations.
Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is the official Cancer Center of Utah and a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center. Rural, frontier, and Native American populations are historically underserved and generally exhibit poor cancer outcomes compared to the U.S. average. The area from which HCI attracts patients—the catchment area—includes these populations, the rest of Utah, and places throughout the Intermountain West.
|HCI is the only NCI-Designated Cancer Center in the Intermountain West. |
In 2011, HCI treated patients from 49 of the 50 United States,
in addition to Washington D.C. and three U.S. territories.
HCI's Alliance with Intermountain Healthcare
Huntsman-Intermountain Cancer Care Program Facilities
For HCI's research and cancer care to better reach this expansive catchment area, HCI joined forces with Intermountain Healthcare (Intermountain), the five-state Intermountain West's largest health care system, in 2005. The Huntsman-Intermountain Cancer Care Program (HICCP) combines HCI's leadership in laboratory, population sciences, and clinical research with Intermountain's nationally recognized expertise in clinical quality improvement and program development. Together, HCI and Intermountain serve more than 85% of cancer patients in Utah and many from surrounding states.
HICCP has three main goals: to raise the standard of cancer care, to advance cancer research, and to make these services available across the state.
The Master Linkage Project
In 2011, HICCP enabled completion of the Master Linkage Project. This project takes HCI and Intermountain's clinical outcome data and combines it with the Utah Population Database (UPDB), an extensive record of Utah families. "This had been a major objective," says Sean Mulvihill, MD, Senior Director of Clinical Affairs at HCI and Co-Chair of HICCP's credentialing committee. "The completion of the Master Linkage Project is an important tool to do gene discovery and to understand the genetic basis of certain diseases."
Via the UPDB, cancer researchers have the ability to access up to 11 generations of Utah family records and link them to medical histories. "We've done projects using the combined database to look at the relationships of individuals with colon cancer," says Randall Burt, MD, Senior Director of Prevention and Outreach at HCI and Director of Outreach with HICCP. "By looking at the combinations of cancer in a family, we can precisely determine the risk of an individual to develop cancer." A greater understanding of why cancer occurs and why it develops in one person and not another will lead to new approaches to treatment and prevention.
|Sean Mulvihill, MD, HCI's Senior Director of Clinical Affairs and co-chair of the|
Huntsman-Intermountain Cancer Care Program's credentialing committee
Statewide Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are studies that test how findings from laboratory research work in specific groups of patients. From these trials, physicians can collect data of a new treatment's efficacy and safety. In 2008, HICCP enabled the major accomplishment of statewide clinical trials. "One of the initiatives of the program is to create greater access across the state to trials that are being developed," says Cory Jones, Executive Director of HICCP, Director of Intermountain Healthcare Oncology Clinical Program, and Business Manager of Intermountain Medical Group Radiation Oncology. "With HICCP, we are able to open up trials from St. George all the way up to Logan."
Clinical trials in lung and colon cancer were recently opened through the program, and in 2011 a lung cancer trial was completed, resulting in new treatment for the disease. "We see HICCP as a vehicle to allow us to help get patients throughout the region access to the latest research innovations," says Mulvihill.
In the last six years, eight cancer centers, eight education centers, and three cancer care clinics throughout Utah have been designated HICCP facilities. These institutions allow patients from all areas to more easily participate in statewide clinical trials, receive the most advanced treatments, and access free cancer education resources.
HCI and Intermountain's alliance was a positive move in the quest to cure cancer. By combining both institutions' clinical outcome data with the UPDB and making clinical trials accessible statewide, HICCP has made significant progress in reaching the entirety of its catchment area and making available the most recent research discoveries and advancements in cancer treatment.