Medical Oncologist Receives Grant to Study Lymphoma Care at VA Hospitals

Kenneth Carson, MD

May 24, 2011 – Siteman Cancer Center medical oncologist Kenneth Carson, MD, has been awarded one of five grants from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Foundation as part of the foundation’s Young Investigator Awards Program. The awards focus on assessing and improving outcomes of cancer care and provide $150,000 over a two-year period.

Through private philanthropy and grants, the NCCN Foundation supports the mission of the NCCN to improve the quality and effectiveness of care for patients with cancer. The $150,000 grants are the first made through the newly formed Young Investigator Awards Program. Funding will begin Aug. 1.

The grant to Carson, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, will be used to determine whether adherence to NCCN guidelines for the treatment of the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma – diffuse large B-cell lymphoma – has an effect on patient survival. The NCCN has developed clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of lymphoma and other cancers that recommend standard courses of care based on the best available evidence. Guidelines are written by expert panels made up of clinicians and researchers from 21 NCCN member institutions and their affiliates.

This is the first study of its kind in non-Hodgkin lymphoma to look at the importance of guideline-approved therapy in a real-world patient population. Carson and his colleagues will review records from a group of patients treated in Veterans Health Administration hospitals.

“I focused on this topic because I primarily see lymphoma patients in practice,” Carson says. “And I have worked with data at the VA medical center previously, so I understood the potential to evaluate this topic on a national level.”

In addition to examining the connection between NCCN guideline adherence and survival, Carson will compare outcomes in patients who received guideline-recommended care and those who did not to determine what factors may have influenced treatment delivery. He hopes to identify and recommend programs that foster guideline adherence.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to perform this study,” Carson says. “The funding provided by NCCN will allow us to not only answer the questions in the study but also fully explore the capabilities of VA national databases to understand critical questions in oncology care. I also want to help ensure that veterans in St. Louis and other parts of the country receive the best possible care.”

The Siteman Cancer Center has been a member of the NCCN since 2006.