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Finding the Right Match: Advice for Patients Who Qualify for Multiple Clinical Trials

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Published on October 15, 2018

When clinical trials are offered at several medical centers, or if you qualify for multiple trials, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one? Which trial is the best option for you? Dr. Mike Thompson, from Aurora Research Institute, and patient advocate Jim Omel, discuss factors to consider when weighing your options, and share tips for patients trying to prioritize different trials to find one that’s best suited to your needs. Dr. Thompson also discusses the purpose and design of different clinical trial phases, and how more targeted therapies are influencing clinical research. 

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 | Finding the Right Match: Advice for Patients Who Qualify for Multiple Clinical Trials

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:

So what do you say to patients if they become receptive to being in a trial and there's more than one trial that they qualify for?   

But to answer your question it really comes down to each patient needs to ask themselves, what is it I'm looking for in a trial?  Do I want something that makes my burden lighter?  Do I want something that's going to extend my life?  How much am I willing it accept as far as potential problems versus the standard of care that I know what the problems exist with if I don't go on a trial?  

It costs a lot of money to do Phase III trials so fewer are being done now, and we're kind of finding that in this era of precision medicine people are going on trials, and there's no one rule, but I look at it as if it's a study involving a lot of different groups of patients, a lot of—you know, it's not individualized to you, I don't know, but I think it will have less of a benefit probably than if it's something like a study designed for BRAF melanoma back when that was a study and you have BRAF.  Well, it's targeted for you.  It doesn't mean it will work, but even if it's an early phase, a Phase I or II trial, it's really aimed at your disease.  

And we're finding this with venetoclax (Venclexta), with T1114, and there's other markers, FLT3 in AML, all these things, and sometimes we find that the drug doesn't work like we think it's going to work.  The ALK and ROS story in lung cancer, it may benefit other people that we didn't recognize before, and that's part of—we're trying to find people besides T1114 that respond to venetoclax in myeloma because it looks like some people will.  

But I think as we're getting more targeted therapy it doesn't mean there's no toxicity, but it at least has the suggestion that we're targeted more at your specific cancer. And some of these pills can have as much toxicity as IV chemo s, but our aim is to decrease toxicity and increase efficacy.  And I think, like Jim said, you've got to look at different trials and hopefully with a physician who has time to sit down and run through several scenarios.  

And some people will take the most aggressive therapy because that's what they're after, and some people will try something that's easier and closer to home.  So everyone's values are a little bit different, and you have to try to individualize as a patients.  

Dr. Thompson:

One thing about trial matching is besides clinicaltrials.gov, there's myeloma and other groups that are doing these matching, so you can put in characteristics of your cancer and you can try to filter out and get a closer approximation, including at clinicaltrials.gov you can click on the states in the surrounding area or how many miles you're willing to travel.  

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.

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