SCCA Network News

SCCA Network News, Issue 5 Winter 2010

In this issue:

SCCA’s Phase I Cancer Clinical Trials Program

The only academic Phase I clinical trials program in the Northwest is located at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Lead by researchers from SCCA, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and UW Medicine, a dedicated unit within the SCCA clinic houses patients participating in first-in-human studies of investigational cancer therapeutic agents.

“Because conventional therapy is often ineffective for patients with advanced disease, the Phase I program offers innovation and hope,” says John A. Thompson, MD, director of the Phase I Cancer Clinical Trials Program, also a member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and professor in the University of Washington Medical Oncology Division.

Phase I trials are critical to future patients and the health-care industry. Potentially speeding the development of new therapies, these trials require a high level of unique technical and scientific competencies.

Located in the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) at SCCA, this program’s researchers have access to leading research facilities at the Hutchinson Center (the source of multiple medical breakthroughs and home to Nobel Prize winning researchers) and University of Washington Medicine, where advanced technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and other essential tools support thorough scientific undertakings.
Phase I studies are no longer just concerned with drug safety. Today, many of these drugs are effective in the first patients who are treated. Examples of Phase I cancer studies at SCCA include new therapies for solid tumors, transplant therapies for leukemia and lymphoma, vaccine therapy for breast and ovarian cancer, immunotherapy, novel strategies for treating brain tumors in children, T cell therapy, immune therapy for melanoma, and antibody therapy for lymphoma.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Phase I Program, you can email or call (206) 288-6272.

SCCA Physician Profile: John Thompson, MD

Medical Director, Phase I Clinical Trials Program

Dr. Thompson is the medical director of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Phase I Clinical Trials program. The program conducts first-in-human trials of promising agents for both hematological malignancies and solid tumors. He is co-chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Melanoma Committee and member of the Medical Advisory Board for the Kidney Cancer Association.

He received his medical degree from the University of Alabama and received fellowship training in medical oncology at University of Washington Medical Center. His clinical research interests focus on the immunotherapy of cancer with cytokines and activated lymphocytes.

In his career, he has written and co-authored hundreds of scientific articles, book chapters, and medical reviews regarding cancer treatment.

Breast Cancer Specialty Center: A Multidisciplinary Approach

One of the greatest inventions for American culture was the concept of one-stop shopping. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance we apply that same concept to almost every disease we treat. What that means for patients is that each person is cared for by a full team of medical specialists.

In the Breast Cancer Specialty Center at SCCA for example, a team of breast specialists participates in the treatment of each patient. The team includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, and pathologists who work with each other and the patient to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. In some cases, the patient will meet with their entire team in one day at the clinic, which alleviates the nightmare of having to schedule individual appointments with each specialist.

Most women with breast cancer will be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, or some combination of these. SCCA was formed in part to bring promising new research to patients faster. For the breast cancer patient, this means more treatment options, and the most current options available. As an SCCA Network member, your care team will likely have participated in some of the research that has lead to, and will continue to lead to, the newest treatment options.

If you’re interested in referring a patient to SCCA’s Breast Cancer Specialty Center, call (206) 288-7222.

New for Patients: SCCA House

SCCA House is a new 80-unit “home away from home” for cancer patients, their families, and caregivers. Located in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, just a few blocks from the SCCA clinic, this short-term housing facility is open to general oncology clinics and post-stem cell transplant patients.

“This beautiful new facility will help fill a significant demand for lodging for patients and their caregivers during various forms of cancer treatment, which can last as long as several weeks,” said Norm Hubbard, SCCA executive vice president.

Local hotels have been the only other choice for out-of-town patients aside from the 70-unit Pete Gross House, which primarily serves bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients at SCCA, and has a large waiting list because the transplant program draws patients nationally and internationally.

“It’s the community of like people that I think will provide the most draw,” says Claire Beck-Keeler, SCCA marketing director.

There are 80 private suites with kitchenettes at SCCA House. The rooms vary in size to accommodate two, three, or five people. Communal areas and shared facilities include a 2,300-square-foot kitchen, dining room, laundry facility, wellness and exercise rooms, indoor recreation room, and common-use rooms for counseling, computer use, classes, and a resource center. A second-floor terrace patio and rooftop garden provide outdoor spaces. A free shuttle is available for patients to travel to clinic appointments and to local grocery stores. Free wireless Internet access is included, as well as secure garage parking and a carefully monitored, clean air system that was designed for patients who have a degree of immunosuppression.
For reservations or more information, visit call (206) 204-3700 or visit the web at

Providence Alaska Medical Center

Providence Alaska Medical Center provides oncology care in its 45,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cancer center in Anchorage.

The Providence Cancer Center is the only facility in Alaska that provides TomoTherapy and High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. Along with other radiation treatments, services include chemotherapy, genetic counseling, appearance support, healing arts, and oncology rehabilitation. Patients also have access to a variety of clinical trials.

Located within the integrated cancer facility is a resource center providing free cancer education to the Alaska community. Additionally, patient navigators work with patients and families to guide them through the web of information that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

Today, the Providence Cancer Center continues to expand prevention programs and clinical and support services to assist patients and families from the time of diagnosis, throughout their treatment and survivorship, or with death and bereavement.

Physician Profile: John Halligan, MD

Medical Director for Radiation Oncology, Providence Alaska Medical Center

Dr. John Halligan is the medical director for Radiation Oncology at the Providence Cancer Center in Anchorage, Ala. Dr. Halligan has more than 13 years of experience in treating all types of cancer with radiation therapy. Before coming to the cancer center, he worked for the past 10 years at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., where for four years he was chief of Radiation Oncology. He was also on staff at the University of Washington Medical Center and a clinical assistant professor at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash.

Prior to this, he worked for three years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and for two years as a brigade surgeon and flight surgeon for the U.S. Army, Berlin Brigade, in Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Halligan received his medical training from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda. He completed his residency in Radiation Oncology from the University of Washington Medical Center. Dr. Halligan is board certified by the American Board of Radiology.

Network in the Community

The 7th Annual Harvest of Hope Winemaker’s Dinner Gala was held on October 10th at the SunLand Golf and Country Club in Sequim. This annual event was hosted by Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in conjunction with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and raised $112,000 to support patients treated in the Thomas Family Cancer Center at OMC through services, programs and equipment. The event was themed, “An Evening in Barcelona,” and drew nearly 200 guests who dined on a 4-course Spanish feast by Chef Doug Seaver and sipped wines imported from Spain. Attendees bid during the live auction that included tickets to American Idol and the 2009 World Series game of choice.