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Patients are Key to Paving the Way for New Cancer Breakthroughs

May 29, 2019

In recognition of May’s National Cancer Research Month, we asked Linda Dunklin, Texas Oncology’s research director, to share the latest on Texas Oncology’s involvement in cancer research and clinical trials, her role, and surprising facts patients may not know.

Tell us about Texas Oncology’s overall research program and your role as director of research.

Texas Oncology’s clinical research program offers our patients an opportunity to participate in some of the most advanced clinical trials available. Clinical trials can provide patients more opportunities for a better outcome, while playing a vital role in the fight against cancer. Today’s investigational therapies are tomorrow’s standard of care. We bring clinical trials to patients right in their local community where they have the support of family and friends, rather than having to travel to a major academic medical center.

In my role as director of the program, I have the privilege of supporting the effort to bring trial opportunities to Texas Oncology, as well as supporting all our research sites and physicians across the state.

When it comes to Texas Oncology’s involvement in research and clinical trials, what are key milestones?

Texas Oncology currently has 56 research locations across the state. We average 150 open clinical trials at any given time, enroll about 2,500 patients annually, and helped develop 75 new FDA approved cancer-fighting therapies – about one-third of all cancer therapies approved to date.

Clinical trials often compare two different treatment options, one the current standard of care and the other a new drug or drug combination; placebos are not generally used.”

More than 2,500 patients participate in clinical trials annually, but what are the top reasons to participate?

Often, participation in a clinical trial can provide an individual patient an opportunity for a better outcome. Participation always provides an opportunity to contribute to knowledge needed to advance cancer care for future generations.

What surprising things do patients not know about cancer research and clinical trials?

Only about 3 percent of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials. This is most likely due to myths and misconceptions regarding participation and eligibility criteria. For example, clinical trials often compare two different treatment options, one the  current standard of care and the other a new drug or drug combination; placebos are not generally used. To be eligible for some trials, certain treatment protocols must have been used first, or in some cases not used. If you think you’d be interested in a trial at some point, it’s always good to express that to your physician up front so they can plan accordingly.

With the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting kicking off soon, tell us about Texas Oncology’s involvement in clinical conferences and the physicians who speak at them.

The ASCO meeting is the largest annual gathering of oncologists in the country and where Texas Oncology physicians go for the latest ground-breaking science, insight into the latest treatment strategies, and the latest in cancer care to bring back home to our patients. Our Texas Oncology physicians often are selected to share their expertise and research findings.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.