SCCA Network News

SCCA Network News, Issue 11 Summer 2011

In this issue:

It was a pleasure to see all of our Network member representatives at the annual Network Summit in June. A heartfelt thank you to all who attended and participated. The room was filled with synergy and high energy, especially during social interactions. The clinical research portion, with pipeline presentations from pharmaceutical companies, were well-received. The guest speaker, Jamie Myers from Novartis, spoke about the value of “networks” in the drug development process. Her talk provided new insights on how we can best work together to increase access to industry sponsored trials evaluating novel therapies.

Presentations from Debby Gentzen, associate vice president of SCCA Strategy and Business Development, provided an overview of Network strategy and its importance to the overall growth of SCCA.

Barb Jagels, director of Quality and Clinical Excellence and Joe Norton, director of Financial Accounting and Decision Support, presented on the clinical quality performance and data analytics pilot project. MultiCare Regional Cancer Center and Skagit Valley Hospital graciously agreed to be our pilot Network sites. We are excited about the outcomes, lessons learned, and want to eventually implement a similar collaboration across all our Network sites.

The 2012 Summit will most likely have a different format as we review your feedback. If you haven’t had a chance to complete the feedback survey, please do so. We value your comments and it will help us plan next year’s event.
Thank you, again. Our collaborative efforts help integrate and strengthen our relationships in providing the best cancer care to our patients. Have a safe and fun-filled summer!


Benjamin E. Greer, MD & Cecelia Zapata, MS

The SCCA Network welcomes Group Health Medical Centers

Group Health Medical Centers became SCCA Network’s tenth member this spring. Their membership focuses on expanding access to cancer treatment options and helping foster advances in cancer care. A multispecialty group practice of more than a thousand primary care doctors and specialists, Group Health provides care to about 400,000 patients in 26 Group Health medical centers across Washington and North Idaho.

Network membership means that Group Health medical oncologists in Bellevue, Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma can now offer their patients access to additional treatment options via select SCCA clinical studies.

“We believe this affiliation has the potential to greatly benefit both our clinical research mission and the clinical cancer care program at Group Health,” said Fred Appelbaum, MD, executive director of SCCA and director of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Group Health Medical Centers

Greatly expanding the reach of the SCCA Network, Group Health Medical Centers provides a robust cancer care program with 16 providers caring for patients at its specialty care locations in Seattle, Bellevue, Olympia, and Tacoma. Diagnosis and treatment includes the latest in imaging, radiation, chemotherapy, medications, and surgery, provided with compassion by a team that also includes extensive support resources. In 2010, the hematology and oncology teams cared for more than 2,500 patients through 20,000 face-to-face visits, while radiation therapy delivered more than 11,500 treatments.

Beyond medical and radiation oncology, Group Health Physicians brings together more than 1,000 doctors including primary care, surgery, radiology, gastroenterology, and orthopedics among its 75 specialties. Making the most of this dynamic mix of expertise is one reason Group Health has invested deeply in a sophisticated electronic medical record system and become a nationally recognized leader in care collaboration and coordination. Group Health Physicians care for more than 400,000 patients in 26 locations across the state of Washington and North Idaho.

Learn more about Group Health Medical Centers and our cancer care program at

Physician Profile: Eric Chen, MD, PhD

Oncology Medical Chief, Group Health Medical Centers

As the medical chief for oncology and the leader for cancer care at Group Health Medical Centers, Eric Chen, MD, PhD, combines his research background with a passion for patient care. Formerly a medical fellow at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Chen was instrumental in making Group Health Medical Centers the tenth Network member at SCCA.

“The Group Health oncology care team is among the best in the area,” says Dr. Chen. “Joining with SCCA as the region’s nationally respected cancer care resource was a natural fit.”

Dr. Chen has been honored by his peers and patients. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, Lymphoma Research Foundation, and others have recognized him. He was named one of Seattle’s “Top Docs” in Seattle Metropolitan magazine for both 2009 and 2010. This spring, Dr. Chen was awarded the Group Health Research Institute’s annual Birnbaum Award for his support of the NCI-funded GHRI Oncology Nurse Navigator Study, Cancer Research Network projects, and his proactive advocacy for clinical studies.

When not advancing cancer care, Dr. Chen enjoys playing the piano, photography, hiking, and traveling with his family.

Novel clinical trial for recurrent ovarian cancer

A new Phase III clinical study called the PROCEED Study will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of EC145, an investigational drug, for treatment of ovarian cancers resistant to standard platinum-based chemotherapy. This is a randomized, double-blind study of EC145 in combination with Doxil compared to Doxil plus placebo. Patients may receive study treatment until there is evidence of disease progression by RECIST criteria or unacceptable toxicity. A maximum of 20 cycles of study treatment is permitted.

EC145 delivers a potent vinca chemotherapy directly to cancer cells by targeting the folate receptor expressed on cancer cells, but not on most normal cells. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of ovarian cancers express the receptor, as do many other types of cancer. In addition, this trial employs a companion SPECT imaging component with EC20 (a folate-targeted molecular imaging agent), which is being used as a noninvasive method to identify patients who over-express the targeted receptor and are most likely to respond to EC145. This represents a personalized, therapeutic approach that in the future may help oncologists direct patients to the most promising treatment.

A recently completed Phase II trial of EC145 in the same patient population was presented at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. This study met its primary endpoint by showing an 85 percent (2.3 month) improvement in median progression-free survival and a 260 percent (4 month) improvement in a subset of folate receptor-positive patients.

The current Phase III trial is statistically powered to evaluate overall survival as a secondary endpoint with projected enrollment in excess of 500 patients. The trial will be conducted at approximately 150 sites in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Currently, this trial is available at SCCA, Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center in Montana, and several MultiCare Regional Cancer Center sites in the Pierce County area. If you are interested in having this trial activated at your site, contact the SCCA Research Office
at (888) 201-0060.

New Director, SCCA’s Lung Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Clinic

David Madtes, MD is the new director of SCCA’s Lung Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Clinic. Madtes is an associate professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Washington. He is also the director of Critical Care Medicine and the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at SCCA.

Dr. Madtes has more than 20 years of experience in treating pulmonary problems among cancer patients. He understands the importance of early diagnosis of lung cancer and has a special interest in using minimally invasive methods for early lung cancer detection. In addition to his clinical expertise, his research focuses on the identification of gene expression profiles in lung cancer and in radiation-induced lung injury.

For more information about the clinic or to refer a patient, visit

Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center

Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center was the first to register with the State of Montana Board of Pharmacy and is now participating in the new Montana State Cancer Drug Donation Program. “This program allows patients or caregivers the opportunity to donate cancer and cancer support drugs back to our center for compassionate use for those in need,” says Wendy Gwinner, oncology social worker at Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center. “We talk to patients about proper medication storage and suggest they ask their pharmacist to blister pack their prescriptions so unused medication may be donated to other cancer patients.”

Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center accepts, stores, dispenses, and administers donated drugs and supplies according to Montana Board of Pharmacy rules. Decisions about who may receive donated drugs are made by a team consisting of Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center physicians, financial case managers, and oncology social workers. “The Cancer Drug Donation Program helps ensure patients have access to the best available therapies, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Jack Hensold, MD.

Cancer Clinical Trial Bill Signed

Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center patients have access to clinical trials through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Network and experimental drug costs are funded by the group conducting the clinical trials, however, in many instances insurers don’t cover routine cancer treatment for participating patients. Jack Hensold, MD, oncologist/ hematologist at Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center recently testified in Helena, Mont., to support a bill to advance cancer treatment and research in the state. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer signed the bill in Bozeman with Dr. Hensold and several cancer patients in attendance.

This new bill requires the State Insurance Commissioner of Montana to convene a working group to address insurer denial of routine cancer treatment for patients participating in cancer clinical trials. “The working group study will identify and hopefully overcome the current barriers to participating in clinical trials,” says Dr. Hensold.

Physician Profile: David Koeplin, MD

Radiation Oncologist, Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center

David Koeplin, MD, board certified radiation oncologist, received his medical degree from the University of California Los Angeles and completed his specialty training in radiation oncology at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Koeplin was in private practice in Idaho for 10 years before joining the medical staff at Bozeman Deaconess in 2006. He is proficient in a variety of specialized radiation techniques including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), radioactive seed implantation for the treatment of prostate cancer (he started Idaho’s first prostate seed program in 1998), and high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy.

Twenty years ago, the closest radiation therapy services were in Butte, Montana. Butte offered a van service that collected patients from Bozeman and Helena and transported them to Butte and back. Since that time, Bozeman Deaconess has developed a modern radiation treatment facility and approved three major upgrades for the radiation oncology service: the Pinnacle Treatment Planning System, which is a planning system that offers a more robust dose calculation algorithm for more accurate radiation plans; IMPAC Localization Software, an important feature for IGRT capability for prostate cancer treatment; and HDR brachytherapy that delivers radioactive material robotically with a higher dose rate cutting the treatment time from daily treatments for six-and-a-half weeks to one week.