TRICARE Beneficiaries Can Enter Clinical Trials for Cancer Prevention and Treatment Through a Department of Defense and National Cancer Institute Agreement

Overview

  • The agreement allows TRICARE beneficiaries to participate in certain cancer prevention and treatment clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
  • Costs for screening tests to determine clinical trial eligibility and costs related to participating in the trial are covered under this agreement.
  • More information about participating in clinical trials is available from NCI’s Cancer Information Service, NCI’s Web site, and the regional Department of Defense cancer trials demonstration project coordinator.


An interagency agreement between the Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute gives TRICARE* beneficiaries more options for cancer care and greater access to the latest advances in cancer prevention and treatment through clinical trials. Known as the DoD/NCI Cancer Clinical Trials Demonstration Project, this agreement was signed in June 1999. It represents the first time that a national health plan has agreed to provide coverage for patients to participate in cancer prevention trials.

The DoD/NCI clinical trials agreement allows cancer patients who are beneficiaries of TRICARE, the medical program of the DoD, to participate in phase II and phase III NCI-sponsored cancer prevention clinical trials and treatment clinical trials and have the associated medical costs reimbursed. Phase II trials study the safety and effectiveness of an agent or intervention, and evaluate how it affects the human body. Phase III trials compare a new agent or intervention with the current standard therapy. More than 25,000 cancer patients enroll in NCI treatment clinical trials each year.

During a cancer clinical trial, patients are cared for in the same facilities where standard care is provided. These facilities include more than 2,000 sites throughout the United States, including military hospitals, clinics, cancer centers, community hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Costs for screening tests to determine clinical trial eligibility, and the associated costs of participation in cancer clinical trials are covered for qualified TRICARE members. Family members of active duty personnel, as well as TRICARE-eligible retired service members and their families, may participate in trials at military treatment facilities or in civilian health care settings. Active duty members may participate in NCI-sponsored clinical trials at military treatment facilities.

DoD’s primary medical mission is to provide medical services and support to the Armed Forces during military operations. DoD also offers health services during peacetime to members of the Armed Forces, their family members, and others entitled to DoD medical care. The DoD administers health benefits to about 8.7 million beneficiaries through its direct care system at military hospitals and clinics, as well as care purchased from civilian providers who are reimbursed by DoD.

* TRICARE provides medical coverage for active duty members, qualified family members, CHAMPUS-eligible retirees and their family members, and survivors of all uniformed service members.


Questions and Answers
About the DoD/NCI Clinical Trials Agreement

  1. What are clinical trials?
  2. Clinical trials are research studies conducted with people to find better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat diseases such as cancer. The DoD/NCI clinical trials agreement allows TRICARE beneficiaries to participate in NCI-sponsored phase II and phase III cancer prevention and treatment trials. Under this agreement, cancer prevention clinical trials will include not only studies designed to prevent cancer but also studies to screen for cancer and to find cancer in its early stages.

  3. What happens in phase II and phase III cancer prevention clinical trials?
  4. What happens in phase II and phase III cancer treatment clinical trials?
  5. Why participate in a cancer prevention clinical trial?
  6. People who do not have cancer can take part in cancer prevention clinical trials to try to prevent the disease from occurring. Some people who have had cancer can participate in prevention trials to try to reduce the chance of either developing a new type of cancer or to prevent the cancer from recurring. Prevention clinical trials are important because through research, scientists hope to determine what steps are effective in preventing cancer or finding cancer early.

    There are two kinds of cancer prevention clinical trials. Action studies focus on finding out whether actions people take, such as exercising more or quitting smoking, can prevent cancer. Agent studies focus on examining whether taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals, or food supplements can prevent cancer.

  7. Why participate in a cancer treatment clinical trial?
  8. Patients take part in cancer treatment clinical trials in hopes for a cure, a longer time to live, or a way to feel better. Often, patients feel that taking part in clinical trials benefits others by improving future cancer treatment options. Cancer treatment studies lead to advances in cancer treatment, which may become the future standard care. Many clinical trial participants may be the first to receive new treatments before they are widely available. No cancer patient goes without treatment or receives a placebo when there is a standard cancer therapy available.

  9. Where do patients receive care?
  10. When participating in a DoD/NCI clinical trial, patients are closely monitored and cared for in the same facilities where standard care is provided. These facilities include more than 2,000 sites throughout the United States, such as military hospitals, clinics, cancer centers, community hospitals, and doctors’ offices.

  11. Who is eligible to participate in the DoD/NCI clinical trials agreement?
  12. TRICARE beneficiaries, including retired service members and their families, and family members of active duty personnel are eligible. Medical care costs are covered when participating in both phase II and phase III NCI-sponsored clinical trials in civilian health care facilities and in military treatment facilities. Active duty members can participate in clinical trials at military treatment facilities.

  13. What is covered?
  14. Costs for screening tests to determine clinical trial eligibility, as well as the related costs of participating in the trial, are covered under this demonstration project. All usual TRICARE rules, cost shares, and deductibles apply, and eligible patients may receive care out of the TRICARE network.

  15. How can patients and health care providers learn more?
  16. Patients and providers can learn more about patient participation in the DoD/NCI clinical trials demonstration project through the resources listed below.

 

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