Veterans will have more cancer treatment options thanks to new partnership

Matt Saintsing
July 10, 2018 - 12:41 pm



Veterans living with cancer could have greater access to experimental trials and state-of-the-art treatments with a new partnership announced Tuesday, between the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Cancer Institute. 

Known as NAVIGATE, the partnership will be rolled out at 12 VA sites across the country that aims to share information on best practices and take part in cutting-edge clinical trials at NCI. 

VA officials stressed that the agreement is a win for both veterans, and cancer research in general.

“By increasing enrollment in these trials, VA and Veterans will contribute to important cancer research,” said acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke, who added “this will not only help our Veterans but also advance cancer care for all Americans and people around the world."

Part of the newer trials could involve experimental treatments, like precision-medicine therapies based on patients’ genetic profile, for example, or leverage their own immune systems to find cures. 

Officials say the VA system already provides cancer treatments to veterans and has a robust research program at more than 100 sites nationwide, but that they face obstacles in initiating and completing trials. This arrangement seeks to streamline that process and remove those barriers. 

The five most frequently diagnosed cancers among VA patients were prostate, lung and bronchial, colorectal, urinary and bladder cancers, and skin melanomas. That list is similar to that for American men in the general U.S. population. 

The VA also noted that more attention is being given to minority veterans, who have less access to newer treatments and experience less representation in clinical trials nationwide. 

According to the United Health Foundation, veterans are 13 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. recently found an increased risk for skin cancer among veterans. 

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