When diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, your patient owes it to himself or herself to know all of their treatment options. Even if you provide one option for your patient, he or she should ask for a second opinion at RPCI.
There are several benefits for choosing care at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. These include new therapies that may not otherwise be available; a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach to care – from diagnosis to rehabilitation and including assistance to returning to an active social life; and built-in resources to help the patient and his or her family with all their questions, whether simple or complex.
Clinical Trials on Trial
Each year, over 20,000 cancer patients in the United States participate in a National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical investigation of a promising new therapy.
Did You Know?
- Since 1971, when the Cancer Act was signed by President Richard Nixon, clinical research has contributed a full 20 percentage points – from 30% to 50% – to every American’s chance of surviving cancer for five years.
- Clinical trials are the best, most direct method to ensure long-term quality of care and life for patients. According to the 1998 President’s Cancer Panel report on “Cancer Care Issues in the United States: Quality of Care, Quality of Life,” research findings are the mainspring of advances in preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, supportive and palliative interventions. Unless it is completely curative or provides effective control, standard care is never good enough.” This has not changed.
- Research, and the application of that research to clinical testing, has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Consider what’s happened over the last 30 years: Cure rates for previously untreatable advanced testicular cancer rose to 90%. Five-year survival rates for advanced Hodgkin’s disease soared from 15% to 70%. Survival rates for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, childhood leukemia, neuroblastoma and prostate cancer improved dramatically. Curative chemotherapies have been developed for skin cancer. Radical mastectomy is no longer the best or preferred treatment for breast cancer.
- Clinical trials are not conducted overnight. After it is thoroughly tested in the laboratory – which can take up to 10 years – a new treatment moves into the clinic for testing. It currently takes physicians at least three to five years to accrue adequate numbers of patients to clinical trials, and another five to 10 years to assess the value of the cancer treatment.
- In designing clinical trials, physicians have two concerns: that all patients who participate receive the highest quality medical care, and that rigorous scientific principles are followed to allow meaningful conclusions to be drawn.
At Roswell Park Cancer Institute, over 35% of patients have voluntarily entered clinical trials, testing promising new treatments against the best available standard therapies. Well over 50% of our patient population are eligible for these trials.
There is little room for error in clinical testing. Notes former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner: “To protect patients from harm, the bar for quality is set high. The detection of problems results in corrective plans which strengthen patient protection and is part of our process of continuous quality improvement.”
Participants in clinical trials are fully prepared for what lies ahead and are asked to sign a consent form, which describes in detail every known and foreseeable aspect of the clinical trial, including its potential risks and benefits. At RPCI, both the physician and nurse go over the informed consent line by line with patients.