Clinical Trials Offer New Hope to Cancer Patients
Clinical trials are an important part of finding cures and treatments for a variety of diseases and ailments. Most treatments in use today are the result of past clinical trials. Also called a research or clinical study, here are a few facts about these clinical trials.
- They allow doctors and scientists to learn something new about how to treat patients
- They are designed to answer a specific health question
- They may test a new drug, device or treatment option
- They determine a new way to prevent, diagnose or treat a disease or illness
Why Clinical Trials Are Important
The FDA requires that all medications and medical devices go through clinical trials before being put on the market. If a new treatment proves effective and safe in a study, it may become a new standard treatment. The medicines that people take every day are all based on the results of clinical trials. Without people volunteering to participate in clinical trials, new drugs and devices would never be approved for use.
Current Cancer Treatment Research
We are witnessing significant momentum in cancer research, including trials in immunotherapy and precision medicine. Immunotherapy is a type of new cancer treatment that wakes a patient’s immune system or the so-called "inner healing power" to fight cancer. For many cancers, such as melanoma, lung cancer, kidney or bladder cancers, immunotherapy is the first choice. Precision oncology or precision medicine is a new approach to cancer treatment that is different from general chemotherapy, which is given based on types of cancer, such as lung cancer and breast cancer. It ensures each patient treatment is specifically designed and targeted to the unique gene mutation or alterations of metabolism, rather than cancer types. By using data from next-generation sequencing (a technology that analyzes DNA), we can select the best treatment for a patient.
Researchers have gained great amounts of knowledge in these areas of scientific inquiry in recent years, many of these gains culminating into innovative treatments for cancer patients.
Traditionally, a cancer is diagnosed by tissue biopsy. The new alternative liquid biopsies are non-invasive compared to tissue biopsies. Liquid biopsies allow doctors to discover a range of information about a tumor through a simple blood sample. A liquid biopsy can provide valuable insight into how to best fight cancer and they are increasingly used to guide cancer treatment decisions. Liquid biopsies are particularly helpful for patients who cannot undergo a surgical biopsy or whose tumor sample has been exhausted. The biggest challenge of next-generation cancer treatments are studies that include liquid biopsy-based treatment. These treatments are being tested in clinical trials at Ochsner Health.
Participation In A Clinical Trial
Clinical trial participants are the first to have access to new treatments that are not yet available to the public. Clinical trials and research allow physicians and researchers to understand a patient's tumor quickly, discovering what's driving the cancer and finding targeted therapies to treat it. Participants have an opportunity to help others by contributing to medical research aimed at finding better cancer treatments.
If you’d like to participate in a clinical trial, please contact our research office and research nurse. All of this will be explained to you before you make your decision to join the study.