Cancer Patients In Research Studies Key To Finding New Cures
Plainview Herald, Plainview
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
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
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
Leonardo Forero is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology-
Amarillo Cancer Center 1000 S. Coulter St., Amarillo