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INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS ANNOUNCES PARTICIPATION IN NATIONAL BREAST CANCER TREATMENT STUDY

 INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS ANNOUNCES PARTICIPATION
 IN NATIONAL BREAST CANCER TREATMENT STUDY
 PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross will participate in a national demonstration project on breast cancer treatment sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), it was announced today.
 The demonstration project will support randomized, controlled, clinical
trials of women in the early stages of breast cancer. The study will compare the effectiveness of standard breast cancer therapy to high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplant (HDC/ABMT).
 "Independence Blue Cross is proud to be associated with this study," said G. Fred DiBona Jr., president and chief executive officer, Independence Blue Cross. "This research may provide valuable insights which will help identify the most effective treatment for women with breast cancer."
 The demonstration project is a collaborative effort of 16 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, the NCI and participating medical institutions.
 Hahnemann University Hospital, Temple University Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are the local institutions participating in the study.
 The NCI and cancer research organizations will design and conduct the trials, as well as analyze the results. The participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans will provide financial support for the majority of the patient care costs. The medical institutions will provide the inpatient services and also share in the cost.
 About 1,200 women nationally will take part in the randomized, controlled clinical trials, which will study the effectiveness of HDC/ABMT compared to standard chemotherapy. Of those women, 600 will receive HDC/ABMT, and the other 600 women will be treated using standard chemotherapy.
 The NCI separates breast cancer into five stages, with stage IV having the worst prognosis. The first two trials, for women with Stages II and III breast cancer, are underway. Clinical trials for women with stage IV disease are also planned. These trials will take approximately three to four years to determine if the HDC/ABMT treatment for breast cancer is as effective, more effective, or less effective than conventional treatment.
 Participating plans have agreed to fund the patient care costs of HDC/ABMT or up to 600 eligible Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan customers during these trials, at an estimated expense of between $30 million and $40 million.
 HDC/ABMT is a procedure in which the patient receives higher than usual doses of chemotherapy that may kill the breast cancer cells, but also can damage the bone marrow severely, leaving the patient prone to lethal infections or bleeding. Bone marrow therefore is removed from the patient before the chemotherapy and returned to the patient after chemotherapy to restore the patient's capacity to produce blood cells.
 Independence Blue Cross is the largest health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania, covering about 2 million subscribers.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/16/91
 /CONTACT: Jim Panyard, 215-241-3101, or Chris Rathke, 215-241-3110, both of Independence Blue Cross/ CO: Independence Blue Cross; National Cancer Institute ST: Pennsylvania IN: INS HEA SU:


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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 16, 1991
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