Experts puzzled over low turnout in cancer trials

There is no doubt that deciding to take part in a clinical trial can be a serious decision for patients to make, with serious questions involved. Will this drug help me get better or only make me feel worse? What kind of side effects are there? Will my medical insurance provider even allow me to join one?

But at the same time, the payoff of having a drug work in a clinical trial can far outweigh the risks. Still, despite offering the opportunity for cancer patients, it seems that not enough of them are taking advantage of clinical trials. According to the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), while around 75% of cancer patients say they would volunteer to take part in one if the opportunity arises, less than 5% wind up doing so.

There isn't anything concrete to explain those figures, though, contrary to some myths about insurance coverage or age limitations playing a factor. There is no link to a patient incurring higher treatment costs by joining a trial, and there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that older patients are unable to stand more powerful cancer treatments, according to oncologist Stephen D. Nimer, of the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

"There are some barriers to participating in clinical trials despite the possibilities. Insurance doesn't always cover involvement in trials, and some physicians advise older patients against participating," he said in a release. "But a great deal of medical research refutes both of those objections."

Finding a clinical trial shouldn't be difficult. Most pharma websites post items all the time, and thanks to a partnership between AACR and Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR-SU2C Clinical Trials Finder allows a patient to find the best clinical trial for them.

People can dwell all they want on why turnout is low. But any encouragement to partake in one is needed, because without trial participation, new developments in cancer research and treatments will go undiscovered.

(Image courtesy of NewsUSA)

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