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Tuesday February 9th, 2016 5:37PM

Hospital participating in cancer drug research study

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GAINESVILLE - Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) is offering patients access to a nationwide research study to test whether two drugs can help prevent second cancers and new precancerous polyps in patients who have already battled colon cancer.

There are more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States today and that number is growing.

"Even after these patients complete treatment and are cancer-free, their risk of developing precancerous polyps or a second cancer is notably higher than the risk faced by the general population," says Dr. Charles Nash III, a medical oncologist with The Longstreet Clinic and medical director of the Cancer Center at NGMC.

The Preventing Adenomas of the Colon with Eflornithine and Sulindac (PACES) clinical trial, with support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will enroll about 1,500 patients nationwide who recently completed their treatment for colon cancer. Volunteers will take either eflornithine, sulindac, both drugs or a placebo on a daily basis for three years. They will then have a colonoscopy to check for precancerous polyps, known as adenomas.

"A phase III trial found that this combination of drugs had substantial preventive effects in patients who had been treated for colorectal adenomas," says Jason A. Zell of the University of California, Irvine, who is the PACES study coordinator. "PACES should tell us whether those observed benefits also extend to colon cancer survivors."

The two drugs being tested are not new, though neither has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for colon cancer prevention. Both drugs work separately to lower the body's levels of a group of naturally-formed molecules called polyamines. Excess polyamines have a role in the development of colorectal cancer.

"We are proud to offer this national trial to our patients right here in Gainesville," says Todd Sigmon, executive director of Oncology Services at NGMC. "Northeast Georgia Medical Center averages 60 ongoing clinical trials representing all major cancer sites, so our patients don't have to travel far to receive the latest cancer treatment options."

Those who have had surgery for colon cancer within the previous nine to 15 months, have since completed any chemotherapy and are now considered cancer-free may be eligible to take part in the PACES trial.

The PACES study is conducted by SWOG, formerly known as Southwest Oncology Group, in collaboration with other NCI cooperative groups. SWOG is a cancer research cooperative group within the NCI's National Clinical Trials Network. NGMC is a member of SWOG, which designs and conducts multidisciplinary clinical trials to improve the practice of medicine forpreventing, detecting and treating cancer and to enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors.

For more information about the PACES trial at NGMC, contact the Oncology Research Department at 770-219-8820, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or visit www.nghs.com/clinical-trials.
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