Friday, December 10, 2010

Breaking Down the Myths of Clinical Trials

by Judy Bosley RN, BSN, Oncology Research Nurse Manager
The Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute

Hearing the diagnosis of cancer can be a life changing event. The diagnosis can create many different feelings, anger, disbelief, sadness and shock.

Once a person shifts through these feelings, they have to decide how they are going to go about fighting the cancer. An option that many do not consider is participation in a clinical trial.
There are many fears and misconceptions associated with clinical trials. In reality, clinical trials offer patients access to the most current cancer care available while helping researchers find better ways to treat and prevent disease.

Let’s look at a few of the common misconceptions of clinical trials.
  • MYTH: “I don’t want to be treated like a guinea pig.”
When a patient is enrolled in a clinical trial he or she will receive the best treatment currently available (also known as the standard of care), or a new and potentially more effective treatment. An added benefit: as a trial participant, patients have access to treatments that are not available to the general public. These treatments may be beneficial but are not yet officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • MYTH: “If I enroll in a clinical trial I may receive a “sugar pill” and get no treatment at all for my disease.”
I hear this statement quite often when talking with patients about clinical trials. Placebos or “sugar pills” are never used in place of treatment when an existing standard therapy is available.
  • MYTH: “My insurance company/Medicare won’t cover the cost of trial participation.”
Medicare has been covering the cost of cancer clinical trials since June of 2000. Many health insurers cover the normal cost of treatment on clinical trials and many states, including Maryland, have mandatory coverage laws.
  • MYTH: “I thought clinical trails were a last resort."
Clinical trials are available to patients at the start of their treatment and for all stages of their disease. In addition to treatment trials, clinical trials are available to treat the side effects related to cancer and its treatment as well as trials for the prevention of cancer.

If you or a loved one think that you might be eligible for a clinical trail at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

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