There’s lots of news this month coming out of the NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). First, we got our notice of award from the NCI about our NCORP Research Base application, which we submitted one year ago.

It’s good news. We were fortunate enough to receive an increase in our new six-year grant, additional funding that will continue to fuel innovation in our NCORP portfolio. This portfolio is a big one, covering prevention, cancer care delivery, quality of life, supportive care, symptom management, surveillance, palliative care, and survivorship. NCORP also encourages studies designed to address cancer disparities, an area of focus since the network itself stretches outside of academic medical centers and into the community, with an emphasis on rural and minority and underserved areas.

Also, last week I attended the annual NCORP meeting in Washington, D.C. Dr. Dawn Hershman, SWOG’s vice chair for NCORP, was there along with several other SWOG leaders and members. Statistics shared at the meeting show the power of NCORP:

- NCORP sites enrolled approximately 30,000 patients to SWOG and other NCI trials between 2014 and 2018
- NCORP sites enroll a substantial number of minority patients - about 25 percent
- NCORP covers more than 1,000 hospitals, clinics, and cancer centers across the U.S., including 25 states with large rural populations, from Alabama to Wyoming
- Over 9,000 U.S. physicians, nurses, and research staff take part in NCORP research

The program continues to grow, and it is growing fast.

In just the last two years, NCORP added six states to its network – Utah, Arizona, Mississippi, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Soon, it will add Maryland and New Hampshire. This will bring the total number of NCORP states to 46, as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam. This means that residents have local access to all NCI clinical trials and cancer care delivery studies. People with cancer don’t have to travel out of state to get state-of-the-art care.

We also recently heard an important announcement. Plans are for the biobank to support specimen collection for NCORP studies. That funding will help us understand the mechanisms of treatment toxicity, as well as use biomarkers in prevention studies. Finally, we heard that there is complete implementation of the Central Institutional Review Board (CIRB) for all U.S. sites launching new NCORP and NCTN trials.

A year ago, I wrote here on Front Line about SWOG’s strides with NCORP in the last grant cycle. In this next cycle, I'm eager to see how much further the program can go.

If you want to learn more about NCORP, and see a bunch of SWOG members talking about their NCORP work, check out the NCI’s latest video on the program.