In 2007, member Margarita Vacanti of Lakewood, Colorado, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. At Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Franklin Medical Offices, her oncologist selected a clinical trial and chemotherapy regimen best suited for this invasive type of cancer. “That was incredibly reassuring, Margarita says. “I didn’t feel like I needed to do any of the research.”
A commitment to leading-edge research and clinical trial access
All options considered
Designing a program to help beat cancer means finding the very best treatment choices and options. Sometimes this involves going beyond traditional treatment programs. Although not suitable for all cancer patients, doctors may recommend relevant, proven clinical trials to tackle cancer. Kaiser Permanente oncologists often choose later-phase trials of treatments that have already shown both patient safety and benefit in earlier phases. Patient participation is always voluntary, thoroughly discussed, and consented to in advance.
Our patients have a unique advantage: The integrated electronic medical record maps a patient’s treatment history with relevant, ongoing internal and external trials that may offer better results.1 An example of this is our KPStudySearch:
- In 2012, we created the KPStudySearch website to help inform patients, caregivers, and investigators about ongoing clinical research opportunities being conducted through Kaiser Permanente.
Clinical trials matter to us. We belong to three of the largest cancer clinical trial cooperative groups in the United States (Southwest Oncology Group, National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project, and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group). We’ve been formally recognized for being one of the United States’ leading patient-enrolling sites for these groups in recent years.
- Learn more about national cancer clinical trials that Kaiser Permanente is involved with.
Leading the charge
“If you look at who the leaders in research are and who the folks are that have been doing research to improve care, it’s a very short list. And Kaiser Permanente is clearly at the top of that list.”
- Jeffrey Harris, MD, national research director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Washington, D.C.
Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (KFRI) is a national program established in 1958 by the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals Board of Directors to administer and support our research. Our findings have a direct effect on health care in this country by influencing the way physicians care for patients. Most of our regions conduct active research that benefits both our members and the community.
At our eight regional research centers and one national research center, more than 1,200 staff are working on epidemiological and health services studies that had funding of nearly $170 million in 2012. Also in 2012, Kaiser Permanente researchers published 121 articles on cancer-related topics.
The genetic connection
The Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health (RPGEH) at Kaiser Permanente Northern California is one of the largest research projects in the United States working to gain a deeper understanding of how genetic and environmental factors affect health and disease — all in the hope of developing better treatments and cures.
RPGEH is building a repository of biospecimens donated by Kaiser Permanente members to discover which genes and environmental factors — the air we breathe, the water we drink, as well as lifestyles and habits — are linked to specific diseases. When completed, the repository will link together comprehensive electronic medical records, data on relevant behavioral and environmental factors, and biobank data (genetic information from saliva and blood) from 500,000 consenting health plan members. Thus far, more than 200,000 members have participated by enrolling in the RPGEH project online.
This new knowledge has the potential to improve health and health care delivery by leading to new and improved diagnosis and treatment of disease and even prevention of some disease. Although virtually every aspect of human health is influenced by genetics and environment, doctors and scientists still know very little about which factors are involved and how they play a role in specific health conditions and response to medications. With greater understanding of them, we can improve both the health of our members and that of the world at large, along with the way health care is delivered.
For more detailed information about cancer care, visit kp.org/cancer.
- 1 Some features discussed on this website are available only to members receiving care at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities.