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How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for a Clinical Trial?

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Published on March 15, 2016

Clinical trials are research studies that can be designed to test whether different treatments are safe and how well different treatments work. At the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition, Dr Susan O'Brien, Professor in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer, explains a risk-based approach for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) when considering participating in a clinical trial.

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Transcript | How do I know if I am eligible for a clinical trial?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Dr. O'Brien:

It might be a new drug. Remember, standard care can cure a fraction of people with acute leukaemia; for sure, some people are cured. But there are other people who are not. And so the idea behind the clinical trials is can we do something slightly different from the standard. Or can we add another drug to what is our standard treatment, which is usually two drugs. Or can we take a whole different approach with two different drugs. So it’s usually asking the question, can we approve upon our usual outcomes.

So the patient might think, well, how do I know I wouldn’t do pretty well with the standard of care. Well, actually there are several things that the doctor can look at to put the patient into a risk category. In other words, is this what we would call a low risk AML? Low risk not meaning that you have no risk for treatment complications, low risk meaning if we can get this disease into remission, it’s highly likely to be cured. You can have moderate risk and then you can have high risk, where you would say, these are such high risk features that maybe we not only need to get the person into remission, but we need to send them for a stem cell transplant.

So those things are predicated on… Are looking at the chromosomes, for example, leukemic cells looking… Some chromosome abnormalities actually confer a good prognosis, surprisingly, because you, kind of, wouldn’t think that intuitively. But some chromosome abnormalities suggest that this leukaemia is going to be very aggressive. And there’s other proteins and things that can be looked at to get a feel for how risky, you know, this disease is in that patient.

And certainly if it’s a high-risk patient, it’s probably really beneficial to you to go into a clinical trial, because what that’s saying is, you know, your likelihood of cure with our standard therapy is low, whereas with a low-risk patient, maybe they… Then they’re completely comfortable getting the standard treatment and there’s less compelling reason to go into a clinical trial. So figuring out how high or low risk the leukaemia is, based on features of the leukaemia, can help you decide whether you’re going to go into a clinical trial.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.