Life Saving Therapies
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Creating better treatments through clinical trials
When a person hears they have cancer, they want the best available treatment and want it to begin as quickly as possible. Patients who undergo treatment may also be able to help those who face a cancer diagnosis in the future by entering a clinical trial.
Through the Clinical Trials Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center, patients have access to over 200 therapeutic clinical trials, most of which are not available at other local hospitals. Phase 1 trials focus on promising new drugs that have not yet been tested on humans. If a drug is proven effective as it moves through different trial phases, it could receive FDA approval for standard treatment.
“We conduct clinical trials to discover better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer,” says Helen Peck, director of the Clinical Trials Office. “Because cancer is all we do, Karmanos offers patients a very comprehensive clinical trial portfolio.”
Patricia LoRusso, D.O., director of the Phase I program and Center for Experimental Therapeutics and professor of Medicine at Karmanos and Wayne State University School of Medicine, noted that patients on Phase 1 investigation agents can do as well, if not better, than if they had continued on the current approved agents available to them. Plus, information gathered in Phase 1 trials help researchers create newer and better therapies.
“Without patient participation in Phase 1 clinical trials, we would not be able to make progress on improving treatment options for cancer patients with new drug approvals,” she said.
Patients who are enrolled on a clinical trial are very closely monitored by their physician and they are able to opt out of the trial at any time.
“By entering a clinical trial patients not only have access to potentially better cancer treatments, they are also contributing to medical advances,” Peck says. “Clinical trials are the only way we can improve cancer care.”
Helping Future Patients Heal
After undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to destroy additional cancerous nodules in her neck, Ellen VanOss of Grand Rapids thought she had finally beaten cancer. When a follow-up scan showed the disease had returned, the news was devastating.
“I’m a wife and mother of a six-year-old and a four-year-old,” says Ellen, 31. “I was running out of options. I don’t want to leave my family behind.”
Ellen chose to enroll in a clinical trial at Karmanos last year. She says she’s fighting cancer not just for herself and her family, but also for future patients.
“I want to make this treatment successful for myself and make a path available for other young mothers,” she says. “I want to ensure that the work of Karmanos researchers makes a huge difference.”
Explore Your Options-Consider entering a clinical trial
The goal at Karmanos is to offer every patient the opportunity to enter a clinical trial. Ask a Karmanos physician about your treatment options and if an appropriate clinical trial is available. We also have financial counseling staff that can work with you on your individual circumstances regarding insurance coverage. For more information about clinical trials at Karmanos, call 1-800-KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266).