Wichita-based Clinical Community Oncology Program Joins National Clinical Trials Network

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
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The clinical community oncology program led by Ascension Via Christi has joined the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology — part of the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network, or NCTN. It also has a new name: Cancer Research of Kansas.


Over the past 35 years, more than 18,000 patients have been served by Wichita’s clinical community oncology program team.

For the thousands of patients across Kansas participating in leading-edge cancer research trials, the transition from a grant-funded national community oncology research program to a main member of NCI’s NCTN was seamless.

“Through Cancer Research of Kansas, patients continue to have close-to-home access to quality cancer care that rivals that being provided anywhere else in the nation — and even greater opportunities for cancer research trial participation in the future,” says oncologist Shaker Dakhil, MD, of Cancer Center of Kansas, Medical Director for Oncology Services at Ascension Via Christi and principal investigator for a vast number of the cancer research trials.

But for Ascension Via Christi and its community partners, who collectively operate 19 participating sites throughout Kansas, the move makes for a more efficient and effective use of its resources — and increased flexibility in determining which trials would be of greatest benefit to those they serve.

“Instead of working with six smaller research bases, we are now working directly with one large research base that encompasses all those same groups,” says Keisha Humphries, RN, Administrator for Oncology Services for Ascension Via Christi. “Our new direct affiliation allows us to continue to flourish as one of the nation’s leading community clinical oncology research programs.”


“Through Cancer Research of Kansas, patients continue to have close-to-home access to quality cancer care that rivals that being provided anywhere else in the nation — and even greater opportunities for cancer research trial participation in the future,” says oncologist Shaker Dakhil, MD, shown here with Ascension Via Christi’s Claudio Ferraro and Keisha Humphries.

Last year, Wichita’s clinical community oncology program was one of only 10 programs nationwide to receive platinum recognition for patient enrollment in NCI treatment and cancer control trials.

The NCI award was based on the number of patient participants between August 2017 through June 2018. During that period, 345 patients enrolled in clinical trials, bringing total enrollment in clinical trials through the Wichita NCORP and its predecessor, the Wichita CCOP, to more than 18,250 over the past 35 years.

“Clinical community oncology programs were created to bring cancer clinical trials to the communities so that patients wouldn’t have to travel to large urban centers to receive the most promising treatments for their disease,” says Tracey Organ, the registered nurse who manages the program. “It’s gratifying to see us positioned to further advance the work we do here in Wichita and throughout the state.”

Humphries agrees.

“By listening to the needs of patients and their families, physicians, along with bedside and outpatient caregivers, we’ve established a supportive cancer care network that’s among the nation’s best,” says Humphries. “As Cancer Research of Kansas, we continue to grow that network and bring the nation’s best practices to Kansas.”

Humphries Named to National Cancer Research Community Forum

Keisha Humphries, RN, Ascension Via Christi’s Oncology Services Administrator, has joined the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Research Community Forum Steering Group.

“I was honored to have been asked to participate in this group because it aligns with my passion: cancer research,” says Humphries, who chose oncology nursing as her profession after observing nurses use their technical skills and understanding of the disease process to help a family member battling cancer.


Keisha Humphries, Administrator, Ascension Via Christi Oncology Services

“I wanted to make the journey better for those who are diagnosed with the disease,” Humphries says in a 2016 profile published by the Wichita Business Journal when she was recognized as one of its Health Care Heroes. “Cancer research is a passion that continues to drive our team to bigger and better programs to make the journey better.”

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of Oncology Services, Humphries also serves as the administrator for Cancer Research of Kansas, the Ascension Via Christi-led clinical community oncology program that has allowed more than 18,000 patients to access leading-edge care close to home over the past 35 years.

“Keisha uses her education, training and experience to ensure that patients receive the support and services they need in the compassionate manner that we would all want for ourselves and our own family,” says Claudio Ferraro, the Ascension Medical Group Via Christi leader responsible for Oncology Services. “She will be a wonderful addition to ASCO’s Research Community Forum Steering Group.