Local cancer patients now will have access to more clinical trials as Lehigh Valley Health Network has joined the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance.
The partnership means that the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cancer Institute will adopt the everyday practices and standards of care of Memorial Sloan Kettering, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center.
The MSK Cancer Alliance was formed to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community health care settings.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is home to more than 14,000 physicians, scientists, nurses and staff and combines 130 years of research and clinical leadership.
Following a six-month collaborative review, on Tuesday afternoon representatives of New York City-based MSK and LVHN announced the partnership. The LVHN Cancer Institute becomes the second member of the alliance.
“At LVHN, our commitment to providing quality care has meant that we’ve long given people access to the latest cancer treatments and clinical trials,” said LVHN president and CEO Dr. Brian Nester. “We also know that when facing a foe like cancer, you can always do more.
“Memorial Sloan Kettering, a world leader in cancer research, is helping us take our fight against cancer to a new level.”
The LVHN Cancer Institute’s membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance will enhance research capabilities at LVHN, allowing the health network to deliver research-based treatments directly to patients.
With the review process complete, there are three key ways patients of LVHN will benefit:
• Adoption of MSK standards of care into everyday practice. By keeping up to date with the latest innovations, LVHN cancer specialists make treatment decisions for their patients based on the best and most current evidence available.
• Integrated learning. Oncologists from both organizations are regularly meeting to discuss challenging patient cases to help identify the best treatment course for patients. Membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance also provides LVHN physicians with educational opportunities at MSK.
• Access to key MSK clinical trials. Cancer clinical trials can give patients the opportunity to receive drugs or therapies years before they’re available anywhere else. Plans are underway to open dozens of MSK trials at LVHN in the coming years. Opening these MSK trials at LVHN helps to speed the data-collection process so investigational therapies can be approved faster and become available to even more patients.
“We are proud and excited to see this new model of collaboration take shape,” said Dr. Craig Thompson, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Connecticut’s Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute was first to join the alliance, last year. This month, Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida announced its intention to become the third Alliance member.
Dr. Suresh Nair, medical director of the LVHN Cancer Institute, said the process to become a member of MSK Cancer Alliance has been quite intense.
“Since the partnership was first announced in August, teams of cancer specialists from both organizations have spent hundreds of hours conducting a rigorous audit of the LVHN Cancer Institute,” she said. “We had to ensure our standards of care were aligned with the highest standards established by MSK. We’ve reached that milestone and are excited to collaborate with our colleagues at MSK.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network’s cancer program is the only one in the region to be selected a National Cancer Center Community Cancer Centers Program and was responsible for the care of more than 3,400 newly diagnosed patients with cancer in 2014.
LVHN includes five hospital campuses – three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem and one in Hazleton; 13 health centers in five counties; and many primary and specialty care physician practices throughout the region.