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Patients can participate in national cancer trials in the Fredericksburg office of Dr. Frederick Tucker
Dr. Frederick Tucker is now offering clinical trials sanctioned by the National Cancer Institute.
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BY JIM HALL
As part of their chemotherapy treatments, many colon cancer patients receive a cocktail of three drugs: leucovorin, oxaliplatin and 5-FU.
But what if a fourth drug, bevacizumab, was added to the mix?
Bevacizumab stops tumor growth by preventing the formation of new blood vessels. Would it help colon cancer patients?
That question is being asked and answered now in hospitals and doctors' offices across the country, including one in Fredericksburg. Dr. Frederick C. Tucker Jr. has joined a National Cancer Institute study that adds bevacizumab to the traditional regimen for colon cancer patients.
The study is part of a program that moves clinical studies from large academic centers into smaller community settings. Tucker, an oncologist, is hosting 22 NCI-sponsored clinical trials. He is one of more than 3,300 doctors nationwide taking part in the federal agency's Community-Clinical Oncology Program.
Tucker joined the 24-year-old program in May, believing that local patients want to participate in major cancer trials and prefer to stay close to home to do it.
"Now patients don't have to travel to Baltimore or Charlottesville to get access to those trials," Tucker said.
So far about 15 patients have enrolled in the trials. Delores Arrington was one of them.
Arrington, a 45-year-old resident of Fredericksburg, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and had a double mastectomy at Mary Washington Hospital in July.
From September through November she received chemotherapy in Tucker's office as a subject in one of the NCI studies. She will begin radiation treatments soon.
Arrington's chemo trial is called CALGB-4101. It divides women with breast cancer into two groups. Both groups receive cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin. One of the groups also receives a third drug, paclitaxel.
"That's very typical of these trials: the standard and the standard plus some modification." Tucker said.
The women receive the drugs for up to three months and are checked regularly to see how they do.
Arrington was a nursing assistant at Mary Washington Hospital until she was diagnosed with cancer.
She said she participated in the clinical trial in hopes of receiving state-of-the-art treatment, but also to advance medical knowledge.
"We have daughters, and we have sons," she said. "I have brothers and sisters and so does my husband. Working in the medical field, why wouldn't you want to help the future."