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Are Clinical Trial Designs Becoming More Patient-Friendly?

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Published on April 4, 2019

As researchers strive to answer scientific questions, how is the process for clinical trials written with patients in mind? What is happening in clinical trial research to make it easier for patients to participate? Noted clinical trials expert Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, explains why additional testing may be necessary during a clinical trial, and how this can benefit patients as researchers explore new frontiers in cancer treatment. Patient advocate Mel Mann and his wife and care partner Cecelia Mann also join the conversation to discuss the patient’s role in contributing to clinical research, and how minorities are becoming more receptive to trial participation. Tune in now to hear their expert perspectives.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank AbbVie, Inc., Astellas, Celgene Corporation, and Novartis for their support.

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Transcript | Are Clinical Trial Designs Becoming More Patient-Friendly?

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.

Andrew Schorr:

What's happening in trial design so that, A, we talked about eligibility, you can get into the trial, but the things you're asking of me may have logistical hurdles as well that you're kind the lightening up on it to get to the key scientific question without all these other bells and whistles that make it tough on me. 

Now, that said, because clinical trials are research and because there's always new frontiers to explore, sometimes testing in a clinical trial extends beyond what the standard of care is.  Sometimes patients are asked to give extra specimens of their blood, of their normal tissues, of their tumor tissues.  Extra biopsies might be required, things of that sort.  Patients need to understand why they're being asked to do that, what those specimens are going to be used for, how is it going to advance research. 

And, frankly, they're very important to expanding the scope of the research.  So, for example, oftentimes those specimens are used.  If the treatment doesn't work in a patient, having those specimens can help the scientists understand why the treatment didn't work, and that opens up a whole new horizon to explore to potentially make the treatment better in other patients.   

And so the more we can get those examples out there in the community of successful clinical trial patients, it really helps and goes a long way toward helping people of color relax and come aboard.  And I just say, please, do your research, educate yourself and ask questions and please stay open and don't dismiss clinical trials out of hand.  

So it's the clinical trial participants who, sure, they're in it for themselves.  We understand that.  They're looking for a new treatment, a better outcome, but they are the heroes of oncology because they are paving the way, trying the course and ultimately making a better future for every cancer patient who follows them.  

If we partner with you, Dr. Schilsky, and the many thousands of oncologists and researchers that you represent, can we get to the goal line faster?  In other words, are you hopeful that if we really consider trials and participate in trials and stay in trials and the different groups that we can get closer to cancer cures?  

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.