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How Do Clinical Trials Contribute to Research?

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Published on February 6, 2018

Clinical trials are are an opportunity for access to cutting-edge prostate cancer care, and without them cancer treatment methods wouldn’t change. How do trials challenge the standard of care? When should patients consider participating in a trial? Watch now and learn more about clinical trials and the growing field of prostate cancer research from renowned expert, Dr. Tomasz Beer, from the Oregon Health & Science University.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We thank Astellas and Sanofi for their support.

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Transcript | How Do Clinical Trials Contribute to Clinical Research?

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. 

Jeff Folloder:

Our participants online and around a world have a question; I don’t even need to see it show up on my screen. “If I participate in a clinical trial, I’m just a guinea pig, right?”

Dr. Beer:                

No, that—that’s absolutely not right, and I’m glad you asked that question, because I think it’s important for people to know that clinical trials are not just what you do when there are no other options. If you think about it, clinical trials are experimental programs that seek to improve cancer care across the full spectrum of cancer care. They are carefully designed and heavily overseen. One of the toughest parts of Tia’s and my job is dealing with all the oversight that we have.

Jeff Folloder:     

Three-and-a-half inches of informed-consent documentation.

Dr. Beer:                

Yeah, and layers and layers of inspectors.

So, without clinical trials, we wouldn’t be able to change any therapy and move it forward. Now, brand-new agents that have never been tested in humans generally are offered to patients who don’t have other good options, but current standards are also being challenged with new ideas along the way.

So, for example, we talked earlier about the concept of hormone therapy and the early addition of chemotherapy. That was a clinical trial. In that clinical trial, all patients got hormonal therapy, so no one was giving up their standard of care, but half the patients also got chemotherapy, and that clinical trial was able to demonstrate that in that particular situation, two drugs were better than one, and the standard of care changed.

So I think at every stage of prostate cancer, it would be appropriate for a patient to ask the question, “Are there clinical trials? What is my standard of care? What clinical trials are there?” and then consider whether that’s a good fit for their particular situation and a reasonable option for treatment. But, in our practice, clinical trials are just another treatment option for patients. 

Jeff Folloder:     

Would it be fair to say that the goal of a clinical trial is to achieve a better outcome that lasts longer with less abuse on the patient? Is that fair? 

Dr. Beer:                

I think that’s the broad goal. Now, each clinical trial might have slightly different objectives. So, when you’re testing a brand-new drug, you may be really looking to establish a safe dose, for example. And so, in the immediate sense, the goals are a little narrower. But, if you look at the overall goals of what we do for a living and what the research community is trying to do, then absolutely—we’re trying to improve outcomes, make responses more durable, quality of life and duration of life better.

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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