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Beebe cancer doctor helping local patients access national clinical trials

Dr. Nisarg Desai recognized for his commitment
May 15, 2018

Beebe Healthcare medical oncologist Nisarg Desai, MD, has been recognized for his commitment to offering his patients opportunities to participate in cancer clinical trials. He will receive the Research Excellence Top Affiliate Participation Award from Christiana Care Health System's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute in Newark at an awards ceremony Thursday, May 17.

The Graham Cancer Center participates in the National Cancer Institute's Community Oncology Research Program, a federally funded effort to make cancer trials accessible to patients in their communities.

Desai is one of several cancer specialists in Delaware who enroll their patients in clinical cancer trials through NCORP. He is receiving the award because he helped enroll the highest number of patients into clinical trials among the Graham Cancer Center's other partners statewide.

"Patients at Tunnell Cancer Center can access new treatment options for cancer that may help them live longer or enjoy an improved quality of life, all without traveling far from home," Desai said. "These trials also improve care for the whole society, as the progress we've made in treating cancer has largely come from clinical trials."

Around 10 percent of Tunnell Cancer Center patients are enrolled in clinical trials, which is far above the national average of 3 percent to 5 percent. Beebe began enrolling cancer patients in clinical trials in 1991 under the direction of Dr. Srihari Peri.

These trials span a wide variety of new treatments for various types of cancers, from experimental medicines to ways to improve quality of life and decrease side effects of chemotherapy. One such study in which Desai and his colleagues are enrolling patients explores the use of targeted therapy to treat lung cancer based on the genetic profile of the patients' specific tumor.

Barry Hamp, executive director of Beebe's Tunnell Cancer Center, said Desai's award is a reminder that Beebe offers access to the latest clinical trials while allowing patients to stay close to home.

"Just because we live in rural Delaware doesn't mean we don't have access to effective medicine that is on par with medicine being provided at larger institutions in metropolitan areas," he said.

Nicholas J. Petrelli, MD, Bank of America Endowed Medical Director at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, said most of the progress in treating cancer in recent decades has been made by these studies.

"Between the progress made in cancer care and patients getting better care, it's a no-brainer to talk to your patients about the advantages of clinical trials," Petrelli said. "Dr. Desai should be congratulated, and Tunnell Cancer Center is an extremely important affiliate with the Graham Cancer Center and Christiana Care's NCORP site."

For more information on services offered through Beebe, go to www.beebehealthcare.org. To find out how Beebe Healthcare is creating the next generation of care for the community, go to www.nextgenerationofcare.org.