Local News

Cancer Patients In Research Studies Key To Finding New Cures

Plainview Herald, Plainview
08/27/2011

 When Amarillo resident Donald Turner was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in December 2007, we at Texas Oncology-Amarillo Cancer Center were honest with him that his prognosis was not good. Even with treatment, it was likely that he would not live longer than two years. Donald had a large tumor on his lung, and the cancer had also spread to his ribcage. 

Rather than focusing only on traditional treatment for his cancer, we suggested that Donald consider participating in a clinical trial through Texas Oncology that was testing a new combination of chemotherapy drugs, which could possibly help shrink his tumor and extend his life expectancy. While Donald could hardly hold out hope that the trial would help him, considering the advanced stage of his cancer, he chose to enroll in the trial because he thought that he might have a chance to help others who would ultimately benefit from this treatment if it were to be approved for widespread use.

Now, 3 1/2 years later, Donald and his wife Theresa are celebrating the success of the clinical trial, which shrunk his tumor and has allowed him to go back to living a near-normal life, complete with trips to their ranch and precious time with their children and grandchildren.

When I found out that I qualified for the clinical trial, I was eager to participate because I hoped the study would help others,” said Donald. “I really didn’t think it could help me, but I’m grateful that it did.”

Hundreds of patients like Donald voluntarily participate in Texas Oncology’s clinical trials every year. A clinical trial is a research study that examines how patients respond to different medical approaches for various types of cancers. Studies address scientific challenges and identify better ways to treat, diagnose and prevent cancer-related diseases.

The patients who participate in these studies are truly on the frontlines of cancer research, helping to discover new cures for cancer that could mean the difference between life and death for other patients

in the future. While not all clinical trial patients see their personal health improve like Donald did, all patients are ultimately providing a tremendous service to others because with every clinical trial the medical community learns more about the best ways to treat cancer.

Currently, less than 5 percent of adults diagnosed with cancer each year participate in a clinical trial, according to the American Cancer Society. As more people choose to participate, that will help accelerate the development of new treatments.

A pioneer in community based cancer care; Texas Oncology is at the forefront of some of the most exciting clinical trials in the country. Many people think that clinical trials occur only in large institutions, but cancer patients in the Panhandle have access to the most promising therapies without leaving the area.

Last year, Texas Oncology-Amarillo Cancer Center patients were enrolled in nearly 30 studies for bladder, breast, head and neck, lung, melanoma, prostate, and renal cancers, as well as the hematology disorders multiple myeloma and chronic myeloid leukemia. Research taking place locally is making a difference in the future of cancer care and ensures that more patients have a chance to participate.

Participating in a clinical trial is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with a physician to discuss the benefits and risks. Patients may experience mild or serious side effects, treatment may

or may not be effective and the trial may require more time than standard treatment. However, in all cases, clinical trials allow patients to be actively involved in their healthcare, to access new treatments and expert medical care, and to help further medical research.

Patients interested in participating in a clinical trial can research current available trials to determine which one may be right for them, and then discuss the possibilities with their oncologist. To view a list of clinical trials offered by Texas Oncology, visit http://texasoncology.com/ClinicalTrials.aspx.

Leonardo Forero is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology- Amarillo Cancer Center 1000 S. Coulter St., Amarillo

Texas Oncology-Amarillo Cancer Center
Texas Oncology Services