A new cross-government program is underway to improve veterans’ access to clinical cancer trials.

Together with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment launched in 12 VA facilities in summer 2018.

NCI will run the clinical aspects associated with recruitment, practice, and research, and VA is tasked with addressing the administrative work associated with the clinical trials. 

“This program is an opportunity for VA and NCI to partner at the national level to make clinical trials more accessible to veterans,” NCI Deputy Director for Clinical and Translational Research James H. Doroshow, MD, said. “This agreement will not only provide veterans greater access to NCI clinical trials, it will enhance accrual to the National Clinical Trials Network and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program trials, resulting in more timely completion of these studies. This interagency collaboration will also work to help veterans overcome barriers they’ve faced trying to access clinical trials as part of their cancer care.”

Despite VA’s current internal clinical research programs, the agency faces challenges when initiating and completing externally funded clinical trials. Its new collaboration with NCI will help VA overcome those barriers, allowing patients to enroll in crucial trials that could improve outcomes. Currently, the program is scheduled to last for three years, at which point VA is expected to have implemented a system for enrolling patients in NCI-sponsored clinical trials.