And the Important Role of Clinic Trials in Cancer Research
There is still no cure for cancer. The good news is that according to the National Cancer Institute more patients are surviving cancer, living healthier and longer lives. How has this happened? New and innovative treatment options have become available to cancer patients through the joint efforts of thousands of volunteers and medical facilities conducting cancer clinical trials.
The clinical trial process is used to develop new ways to diagnose, prevent, treat, and, hopefully, cure cancers. Each clinical trial is designed to explore effectiveness of a new drug, look at a new use for an existing drug, or to verify that a new drug is as good, or better than the current treatment. Patients who volunteer to participate in a clinical trial are able to receive the newest treatments being discovered and have the benefit of the additional support of an entire team of specially trained research staff.
Clinical trials can include medications, vitamins, supplements, acupuncture, equipment, massage, and education. All clinical trials must be approved by an ethics committee, which ensures that the investigational procedure or drug will not cause undo harm to the individuals involved. Polk County has several local Institutional Review Boards made up of volunteers from within the community with a special interest in patient safety.
Cancer care is not just about chemotherapy anymore. The mapping of the human genome has provided insights into the many intricate proteins that make up each individual cell. This has helped researchers to identify that cancers are unique and that “one size fits all” cancer therapies are no longer appropriate.
Thanks to computers, the world is only a click away and patients and physicians looking for clinical trials can find them at the speed of the Internet. Patients who volunteer to participate in a clinical trial become part of an extended family of physicians, nurses, and support staff whose primary interest is to provide the best cancer treatment possible. Research Nurses in our community have all received additional research training and some are certified in either oncology, research, or both. Dedicated research staff are paired with each patient, acting as their guide, educator, and support throughout their treatment and beyond. Most patients remain part of the research family for life and some participate in more than one clinical trial.
Finding the cure for cancer is a long and winding road. By bringing innovative cancer clinical trials to the community, healthcare providers show continued dedication to the relentless pursuit of a cure. After all, the cure for cancer will be found in a clinical trial.
story by Robin Stewart RN, PhD, OCN, CCRC, Manager of Cancer Research and Clinical Trials at Lakeland Regional Cancer Center