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Convince Me: Why Should I Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Publication: Healthy Magazine

Meriam Eakin is alive because of a clinical trial. She is in remission from chronic lymphocytic leukemia thanks to a drug first tested by other cancer patients. She participated in a clinical trial to help prolong her own life, but ended up helping future cancer patients too.

For Meriam and other cancer survivors, new breakthrough treatments are saving lives, while often improving quality of life. Medical advances often follow clinical trials – research studies that require patient participants to examine how cancer responds to different medical approaches. This is how oncologists discover better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer. So why should you join a clinical trial? Here are seven reasons to consider:

01 A trial that fits you.

Texas cancer patients have access to hundreds of clinical trials that vary in purpose and scope. Research studies can focus on preventing or detecting cancer, or testing new treatments, such as drugs, surgical procedures, vaccines, or radiation therapy. Trials vary from 15 participants to several thousand patients depending upon the trial phase. Research phases determine drug dosage safety and best delivery methods, potential side effects, and treatment effectiveness. Chances are there’s a trial that addresses what matters to you.

02 An all-volunteer cancer-fighting army.

Choosing to participate in research studies is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your physician, including a thorough discussion of benefits and risks. Eligibility factors include age, gender, cancer type, stage, previous treatments, and overall medical history. Deciding to enter – or exit – a trial is entirely up to the patient, but always with plenty of guidance from the medical team.

03 Yes, in my backyard.

Clinical trials in Texas are conducted at large academic institutions and in community-based cancer centers in dozens of locations – cities, suburbs, and small towns. Studies show patients who travel shorter distances to receive treatment are more likely to complete a treatment regimen. Participating in nearby research studies reduces stress, disruption, and costs of travel, and allows loved ones to play an active role in your healthcare.

04 Keeping close watch.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is actively involved in every phase of research. Physicians closely monitor patients to see how they respond to new treatments compared to standard treatments. Cancer clinical trial patients receive a form of treatment. It is rare for patients to receive a placebo without any other treatment.

05 Cost matters.

Texas State law requires individual and group health plans, HMOs, state Medicaid health organizations, and state employee health benefit plans to cover the cost of care associated with clinical trials as they would for patients receiving standard treatment. Insurance providers cannot legally cancel or refuse to renew coverage due to a patient’s clinical trial participation. Also, costs not covered through insurance are sometimes covered by the clinical trial sponsor.

06 Cancer research needs you.

Only 3 percent of eligible adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials. That low participation rate slows research development substantially and means that many eligible cancer patients may be missing out on more effective treatments. To continue major progress in improvements in cancer care, researchers need more patients to participate.

07 Help yourself.

Clinical trials allow patients to be actively involved in their healthcare through new treatments and expert medical care. Patients who participate in trials are on the frontlines of cancer research, helping to discover new prevention and treatment options that could mean the difference between life and death for future patients.

Cancer survivor Meriam knows firsthand that ongoing progress in cancer care depends on patients willing to test new drugs and treatments for themselves – and for future generations.

Alvaro Restrepo, M.D., is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–McAllen, 1901 South 2nd Street, in McAllen, Texas. To learn more about exciting advancements in cancer treatment, visit www.TexasOncology.com or call 1-888-864-I CAN (4226).

Read the full story at Healthy Magazine.

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