The latest news on clinical trials is a trending topic these days. Here at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, home to one of the most active clinical trial programs in the world, we provide new hope for our patients every day.
Through clinical trials, our patients gain access to promising new treatments. Every advance in cancer treatment has
resulted from clinical trials. For example, bone marrow transplantation, which is considered the most important advance in cancer treatment of the last quarter century, started right here.
While there is so much talk around clinical trials, we’ve rounded up a few of headlines—and frequently asked questions—on the subject.
Answers to common questions, first.
How do SCCA clinical trials benefit patients?
It’s always up to the patient on whether to take part in a clinical trial. One potential benefit is that patients who enroll in clinical trials gain access to promising new drugs and treatment that are not FDA-approved. Because of SCCA’s commitment to developing advances in treatment and our reputation as a hub for research, we attract the best and most experienced doctors, who can offer patients access to the latest treatment options. SCCA also attracts patients who are more likely to be savvy health care consumers: patients who are interested in treatment options beyond those offered in the community setting and who expect—and receive—a high standard of care.
SCCA’s partners, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine form the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Northwest.
“I was surprised because I had a misconception that clinical trials were for people on their third or fourth treatment option, but they’re not. I had an opportunity with a clinical trial. … It made me feel like I was using all the tools in the shed,” said Ali Spain, who shared her story with SCCA. “It also made me feel like I was giving back to a community I was thrown into. If I can help even one person that will go through this in the future, it will give my cancer a purpose.”
Why do clinical trials matter?
Clinical trials are essential to disease research and are a key component of SCCA’s mission to translate scientific discoveries into prevention, treatment, and cure for cancer and all the diseases we treat.
Without clinical trials, new interventions could not be approved. Every advance in cancer treatment in recent years has come out of clinical trials. Take just one important example: Bone marrow transplantation, among the most significant medical advances of the 20th century, was developed by researchers at Fred Hutch. Now used to treat many kinds of cancers and noncancerous blood disorders, this life-saving treatment would not exist without patients who were willing to participate in clinical trials.
“Celebrating new [FDA] approvals, especially for therapies we have participated in, is great, but it’s important to continue to search for better options,” says Nichole Real Pelz, a clinical trial manager at SCCA. “Our end goal is to help provide therapies that extend lives while also improving quality of life until we reach the point of finding cures.”
Stories from The New York Times creating the latest buzz:
- “In Cancer Trials, Minorities Face Extra Hurdles.”
- “How to Find Clinical Trials for Experimental Cancer Treatments.”