Cancer treatment depends on testing drugs and therapies to understand how they help patients live longer with a better quality of life. Cancer drugs used today were first tested and delivered to patients through clinical trials.
Clinical trials can be hard to understand. It can be even more difficult to know if a clinical trial is right for you or a loved one with cancer.
Here is how clinical trials affect every patient with cancer.
Clinical trials answer important questions about the safety and effectiveness of new therapies. Early study phases consider dosage levels that are safe for patients. Later phases test whether or not the therapy is effective with acceptable side effects.
When a drug is ready for FDA approval, studies compare the new treatment to the standard therapy to find out if it works better. The last phase of a clinical trial collects information about how an approved therapy affects quality of life over the long term.
Each clinical trial phase builds on evidence that the new treatment may work for patients. In some cases, the new therapy may work as well as FDA-approved treatments, yet have fewer side effects. A drug may work for patients who no longer respond to current treatment.
You may be among the first to benefit from treatment that works well in a clinical trial. Your participation in a study gives you early access to groundbreaking therapies not available at most cancer centers. You also help shape the cancer treatments of tomorrow for patients.
It is important to understand that clinical trials offer you therapies that are currently approved for your cancer as well as non-approved therapies. That means you receive treatment that is considered the highest standard of care for your type of cancer, even if you do not get the new drug or therapy during a trial.
Cancer treatments affect each patient differently. This is true with standard treatment and therapies under study in a clinical trial. If you enter a clinical trial, you always have an option to leave the study at any time. You also can choose to stop treatment if it no longer fits your preferences for how you live.
Fewer than 8 percent of adults with cancer enroll in cancer clinical trials, according to studies by the National Cancer Institute. One reason – more than half of patients in the studies had no access to trials at their cancer treatment centers.
Goshen Center for Cancer Care offers clinical trials close to home. The first clinical trial opened in 2001. Today, the Cancer Center has 40 open clinical studies; 24 studies are currently enrolling patients.
Studies have given patients early access to breakthrough therapies that other treatment centers cannot offer. Patients have received experimental drugs to treat different types of cancers, from lymphomas and breast cancers to melanoma and lung cancer.
Ask your doctor if you are the right fit for a clinical trial. You also can read about clinical trials at Goshen Center for Cancer Care that are currently accepting patients. Go to ClinicalTrials.gov for a complete list of current clinical trials around the world.
Ebenezer Kio, MD, is a board certified medical oncologist and hematologist at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. He also is the principal investigator and clinical research coordinator at the Cancer Center. Dr. Kio oversees a portfolio of studies that offer patients early access to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration.