Iowa Cancer Specialists is committed to bringing our patients the best treatment options possible. This is why we partner with the Genesis Health System to offer many clinical trials available for patients in our community. Through Genesis, ICS has access to approximately 25 clinical trials offered locally.
Clinical trial are studies designed by researchers to offer new ways to either treat cancer, find and diagnose cancer, prevent cancer, and/or manage the symptoms and side effects of treatment.
Before a trial is offered to patients researchers spend years in the laboratory evaluating the trial at the cellular level and on laboratory animals.
Patients on clinical trials help researchers determine the safe dosage of treatment, record side effects, and evaluate how the trial compares to current forms of treatment.
ICS has the support of Genesis with research nurse Kim Turner, RN MSN to make sure all trials are approved and monitored by the Genesis Health System Institutional Review Board (IRB) as there are many guidelines to follow. These study guidelines are called protocols. The protocol dictates who is eligible for the study, how often drugs and treatment are to be given, and how often tests like laboratory workup and imaging need to be performed.
As mentioned, each clinical trial’s protocol directs who can participate. The criteria often includes, but is not limited to–
- the type and stage of the patient’s cancer,
- patient’s age group
- patient’s genetic history,
- patient’s health status.
Like all treatments, there is a cost involved. Hopefully insurances will cover the patient care costs which include doctor visits, standard cancer treatment, drugs to reduce side effects, and laboratory and imaging studies.
However, often with a study extra doctor visits along with extra laboratory and imaging workup is required to evaluate the study’s efficacy. These costs may be paid for by the sponsor of the study.
A patient is never enrolled in a study without their knowledge. Patient rights are protected and each patient must sign an informed consent. If you are considering taking part in a clinical trial, we encourage you to ask questions such as–
- What is the purpose of the study?
- What are the goals?
- What are the potential risks and side effects?
- How long will be I be on the study?
- What is the protocol?
- What costs am I responsible for?
- Whatever questions and concerns you may have.
If there is not a trial available to you locally and you wish to explore this option, a search can be done for treatment elsewhere.
By choosing to take part in a clinical trial, you are taking an active part in your treatment which may, in effect, help others in their cancer journey.
However, a trial is a trial–it is not a guarantee that the treatment is better than the current standard of care. But, it may be better than the standard of care. As with any type of treatment, some treatments that are effective with one person may not be effective for another.
And please know, you may leave the study at any time.
Before you agree to a study, research all your treatment options. An informed patient is a powerful one.