When Jon Pose learned he had prostate cancer last year, he did some research and read about a medication that might reduce any nerve damage caused by surgery.
But he had to go to New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center -- about 100 miles away -- to get the drug, which was being offered by a pharmaceutical company in a clinical trial.
"It certainly would have been nice if something like that would be available in my home state," said Pose, a Bristol, Conn., fire chief. "That type of treatment should be more readily available to everyone."
Connecticut cancer experts agree. The Connecticut Cancer Partnership -- a coalition of hospitals, physicians, public health officials and cancer organizations -- is seeking $1 million from the General Assembly to help establish a statewide clinical trials network.
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania also have initiatives under way to promote participation in national trials or state trials.
"If a certain state can really increase its level of involvement and participation, it may have an impact on how quickly studies can get done," said Robert Comis, M.D., president of the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups in Philadelphia. "But it may also show a way for other states to do it."
The Connecticut partnership hopes to increase participation in trials and promote cancer research at state institutions, including Yale University and the University of Connecticut Health Center.
Organizers also hope that by putting together an organized network of hospitals and oncology clinics, more pharmaceutical companies will be encouraged to bring clinical trials of new cancer drugs to Connecticut.
"This is something we want to provide to citizens in our state. It benefits the scientists in our state, it benefits the patients in our state," said Jerold Mande, associate director for policy at Yale Cancer Center in New Haven.
Andrew Salner, M.D., chairman of the Connecticut Cancer Partnership and director of the cancer program at Hartford (Conn.) Hospital, said the effort marks a first for the state's hospitals and cancer centers.
"We've never done anything together collectively as a state and come up with some of our own innovations," he said. "We've never done anything that is available and offered to every hospital and oncologist in the state."
Funding from the General Assembly would create the network and hire research nurses and data managers to oversee from three to 20 clinical trials programs at hospitals and oncology centers across the state.
The partnership is also applying for grant funds from C-Change, a Washington-based coalition of the nation's key cancer leaders from government, business and not-for-profit sectors. The group hopes to encourage states to develop innovative clinical trial networks to boost the number of participants in research trials and ultimately promote cancer research.
Many of today's standard treatments for cancer began in clinical trials, such as lumpectomy for breast cancer and the combination of chemotherapy and radiation for advanced cervical cancer.