Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Rudy de Leon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Sue Bailey, and Director of the National Cancer Institute Dr. Richard D Klausner announced today at the Pentagon an expanded interagency agreement that enables military beneficiaries to participate in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer prevention trials as a TRICARE benefit.
The Department of Defense has become a wellness pioneer by offering leading-edge cancer prevention programs to its beneficiaries, through the expanded agreement that became effective June 21, 1999. Describing the benefit, Bailey stated, "This agreement will give our at-risk beneficiaries access to some of the most promising advances in cancer research through NCI-sponsored clinical trials throughout the country."
Joining de Leon, Bailey, and Klausner at today's announcement in the Pentagon will be several cancer survivors and members of cancer survivor support groups. Also attending will be representatives from both NCI and DoD.
According to Klausner, "This is the first time a health plan has agreed formally to provide coverage for patients to participate in cancer prevention trials. This agreement will become a model for providing access to the best available health care while ensuring that cancer research can continue to make progress."
"To underscore our commitment to wellness and prevention, we feel we must provide reimbursement for clinical trials that offer some of the most promising advances in cancer prevention and treatment research," stated Bailey. "For some TRICARE beneficiaries with an increased risk of developing cancer, the experimental DoD/NCI Clinical Trials Demonstration Project offers new choices to minimize chances of developing cancer. It is another way to help keep our troops and their families healthy."
The DoD and NCI first combined forces in 1996 with an agreement known as the DoD/NCI Cancer Clinical Trials Demonstration Project, that allowed military beneficiaries with cancer diagnoses to participate in Phase II and Phase III treatment studies sponsored by NCI. Nearly 12,000 military health system beneficiaries are diagnosed with cancer each year, and to date more than 200 family members have participated in these clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and health care. In cancer prevention trials, participants take medicines or supplements, or take part in certain activities that doctors believe may lower their risk of developing cancer. Prevention trials are designed to keep cancer from developing in people who have a family history of cancer but do not have cancer, and to prevent a new type of cancer from developing in people who have had cancer. There are also early detection trials to find cancer, especially in the early stages where treatment is most effective. Finally, these prevention trials include studies to evaluate ways of modifying cancer-causing behaviors, such as tobacco use, poor dietary and exercise habits.
To obtain additional information about cancer prevention, early detection, or treatment trials covered by the DoD/NCI demonstration, interested persons may contact the NCI Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), or the Demonstration Coordinator, 1-800-779-3060. Related websites are located at: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/cancertrials/ or http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov. Today's event in Pentagon Room 3B1062 is open to the media.