AJMC Series Finds Positive Spin-offs for Cancer Care From New Jersey's Higher Education Overhaul

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Status in the States, the series in The American Journal of Managed Care's news publication, Evidence-Based Oncology, took a look at cancer care in New Jersey two years after a high-profile reorganization of the state's higher education system. The overhaul has improved collaboration within research units and with nearby pharmaceutical giants, and a new medical school reports a bumper crop of applicants.

AJMC Series Finds Positive Spin-offs for Cancer Care From New Jersey’s Higher Education Overhaul

PLAINSBORO, N.J. — Both cancer and cancer care have undergone a revolution in New Jersey in the decades since the state led the nation in incidence of the disease, and a 2012 higher education overhaul is aiding research collaborations, leaders from New Jersey’s top academic cancer centers told Evidence-Based Oncology, a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. Key points in the story include:

  • New Jersey still ranks high nationally in cancer incidence, but it is no longer in top five states. While lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer still account for 52 percent of all cancers and 49 percent of cancer deaths, melanoma is an emerging threat, especially at the Jersey Shore. New Jersey also has higher-than-average rates of thyroid cancer.

  • Investments in the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, now part of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., as well as a new four-year medical school that is part of Rowan University in Camden, N.J., have given residents more options to take part in clinical trials without leaving the state. Officials from CINJ and MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper both report that patients from outside New Jersey are now coming into New Jersey for care. Patient counts are rising rapidly at MD Anderson at Cooper, which opened a $100 million facility in October 2013 after launching its affiliation with the world-famous center in Houston.

  • Data from the New Jersey Cancer Registry show why a major cancer center was needed in South Jersey. Both cancer incidence and mortality are higher in the counties in southern New Jersey, which Dr. Generosa Grana, director of MD Anderson at Cooper, attributed to higher numbers of seniors and higher rates of smoking.

  • The recent “Call to Action” on melanoma from Acting Surgeon Boris D. Lusniak, MD, featured the work of CINJ behavioral scientist Eliot Coups, PhD, and of Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS, associate director of clinical science. In melanoma and beyond, CINJ is a leader in clinical trials and is expanding its use of precision medicine to deliver cutting edge therapies.

  • Dr. Kaufman reports that CINJ’s relationships with the pharmaceutical sector in its own backyard are more systematic and fruitful than ever. The same is true of CINJ’s ability to transfer the basic science going on at nearby Princeton University into clinical settings.

  • John McGeehan, MD, associate dean for student affairs and admissions at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, reports that some 5200 applicants vied for just 72 spots in the class of 2018, and 53 members of the incoming class are from New Jersey.

Amid all the positive momentum, the biggest threat to ongoing investment in cancer research and care is the state’s ongoing budget crisis. This spring, Gov. Chris Christie initially proposed a $10 million cut to CINJ and cuts to the N.J. Commission on Cancer Research, citing the fiscal challenges presented by the state’s unfunded obligations to public sector retirement funds. The Legislature restored the cuts in the FY 2015 budget, and Gov. Christie has convened a bipartisan commission to address the shortfalls in the retirement funds.

About the Journal

The American Journal of Managed Care, now in its 20th year of publication, is the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care. Other titles in the AJMC family of publications are The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, which provides pharmacy and formulary decision makers with information to improve the efficiency and health outcomes in managing pharmaceutical care. In December 2013, AJMC introduced The American Journal of Accountable Care, which publishes research and commentary devoted to understanding changes to the healthcare system due to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. AJMC’s news publications, the Evidence-Based series, bring together stakeholder views from payers, providers, policymakers and pharmaceutical leaders in the areas of oncology, diabetes management, and immunology and infectious disease. To order reprints of articles appearing in AJMC publications, please call (609) 716-7777, x 131.

CONTACT: Mary Caffrey (609) 716-7777 x 144