CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginians could get better access to advanced advance medical treatment through an emerging statewide cancer clinical trials network in the state.
The trials network, launching this spring, could keep patients closer to home and generate an estimated $11 million in new economic activity and hundreds of new jobs in its first year, according to a West Virginia College of Business and Economics study conducted for the Claude W. Benedum Foundation.
"There's unlimited opportunity to network across the state," said Scot Remick, director at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown. "When you start looking at the economic impact it becomes very significant."
Remick, who will serve as the West Virginia Cancer Clinical Trials Network's director, and the West Virginia Oncology Society have headed the effort to organize the network since 2010.
West Virginia has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the country, Remick said. The state also has the second-highest tobacco consumption in the U.S. and the third-highest rate of obesity, he saod.
The study found that more than 10,000 West Virginians are diagnosed with cancer each year, and that of those new cancer patients, one in five leave the state to receive care.
Developing a statewide network would broaden access for local people to cancer related clinical trials and unite government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups and healthcare organizations in a concentrated effort, Remick said.
With 20 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients seeking treatment beyond the state's borders, the study estimates that about $360 million is spent in other states for cancer care of West Virginia residents. The spending creates just less than 3,000 outside jobs.
Remick said four of the surrounding five states has two of more National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers providing patients access to clinical trials.
"The fact of the matter is having access to clinical trials is part of cancer care. It's state-of-the-art care," Remick said. "A lot of patients in West Virginia have other (health) issues, you're losing additional revenue."
Initial support for the network netted nearly $1 million from Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Dallas, the Komen state affiliate in Charleston and the Benedum Foundation.