Increased access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care delivery will soon be available to more patients across Minnesota.

"It's important to get this care in the rural areas and not just in the big cities," Mayo Clinic Health Systems Mankato Hematology And Oncologist Specialist, Dr. Stephan Thome said.

The launch of the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network was driven by a recent state–funded partnership between the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, the Hormel Institute and other major health systems in the state.

"There is a divide a little bit between rural healthcare and centralized healthcare. And with the Mayo Health System and the clinical trial network we're trying to level the playing field," Dr. Thome said.

With 18 Minnesota locations participating in the program, the partnership not only achieves equal high level access, but increased pharmacy and research support.

"Engage in clinical trials, that's the only way in which we make progress in medicine, and now we can do more of that here," he said.

Dr. Thome says that data will be crucial when it comes to trials in treatment and prevention.

"Say you see five patients a year that fit on that, times by 18, that's 90. All of a sudden you can help a crew to trial the need of several hundred patients. Versus if you only have it open in one spot and you only have those five patients, you're never getting the other 85," Dr. Thome said.

Gov. Mark Dayton expressed support for the new partnership, saying, "Early cancer screening and world–class care saved my life."

Dayton announced being diagnosed with prostate cancer in January of 2017.

Mankato, Albert Lea, Worthington and Austin are among the 18 participating locations. 

--KEYC News 12