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Conemaugh and Fox Chase Cancer Center Announce Fox Chase Network Partnership

PHILADELPHIA (October 13, 1999) -- Conemaugh Health System of Johnstown, Pa., will enhance its oncology program to include access to cutting-edge cancer research by affiliating with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, hospital officials announced today at a news conference held at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Johnstown.

The affiliation creating the Conemaugh Center for Cancer Care, a joint program of Conemaugh and Fox Chase Cancer Center, establishes Conemaugh as a member of Fox Chase Network. Fox Chase Network is a select group of 21 community hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey working cooperatively with Fox Chase Cancer Center to provide the latest in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to people in their own communities.

"Conemaugh has a tradition of providing excellent cancer care to people in Cambria and surrounding counties, said Steven Tucker, president of Conemaugh's Memorial and Good Samaritan MedicalCenters.

"The affiliation with Fox Chase Cancer Center, a comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute and its internationally renowned scientists and physicians, will enable us to offer patients throughout the area access to leading edge research in how to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer," he added.

According to Dr. Paul F. Engstrom of Ambler, Pa., medical director of Fox Chase Network and senior vice president for population science at Fox Chase Cancer Center, clinical research is essential for making advances in cancer treatment.

"By participating in these joint clinical studies, Conemaugh and other Fox Chase Network hospitals can help Fox Chase physicians build on the foundation of cancer research and translate our findings more quickly into treatment advances that benefit patients," he said.

"Fox Chase Network was formed 13 years ago so that Fox Chase Cancer Center could expand beyond Philadelphia to offer state-of-the-art treatment trials to people in their own communities" Engstrom explained. "Since then, our Network colleagues have put more than 2,500 patients on clinical trials throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey."

According to Dr. Ibrahim H. Sbeitan, medical director of the Conemaugh Center for Cancer Care, patients often face a disturbing dilemma as cancer treatment becomes more complex. The most advanced therapies may be available only at comprehensive cancer centers far from home.

"Through Fox Chase Cancer Center, Conemaugh physicians can offer their patients access to more than 100 investigational treatment protocols," he said.

Clinical trials, also known as research protocols, are state-of-the-art studies using drugs, radiation, surgery or other therapies. There are many kinds of trials, ranging from ways to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer to studying the psychological impact of having cancer.

"Clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute are available only through certain approved research centers like Fox Chase and their affiliates, lke Conemaugh," Sbeitan said. "These include exciting chemoprevention studies."

"Chemoprevention is the use of natural or synthetic agents to prevent specific kinds of cancer, much as medicine and diet can control high blood pressure," explained Sbeitan.

"Although cancer specialists will never be able to guarantee that `a pill a day will keep cancer away,' chemopreventive medicine may help reduce a particular cancer or at least delay its onset among people at high risk of it," he continued.

Engstrom added that Conemaugh also will have ties to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network through its affiliation with Fox Chase, an NCCN founding member.

NCCN is a national alliance of 17 of the nation's leading cancer centers, including Fox Chase, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York to develop and institute standards, guidelines and systems assuring high-quality, cost-effective cancer care.

Continuing education is another benefit of the Fox Chase Network relationship. Nework physicians are invited to Fox Chase for medical conferences, continuing medical education lunches and tumor boards. Fox Chase Cancer Center doctors are available for second opinions and often consult by telephone with Fox Chase Network physicians. Oncology nurses, social workers and other medical support staff also come to Fox Chase for continuing education courses.

As one of 36 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers, Fox Chase Cancer Center's activities include basic and clinical research; prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach programs. Also based at Fox Chase is the regional office of NCI's Cancer Information Service, a toll-free telephone service providing cancer information and counseling to people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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