Cancer Research Backgrounder

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					                     Cancer Research Backgrounder
 More Patients Participating in Clinical Trials Can Speed the Search for a Cure


Cancer Research: Our Hope for the Future
Cancer is a disease that touches nearly everyone. More than 1.3 million
Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year – 63 percent will survive more
than five years after treatment.1

Advances in cancer treatment that have increased survival rates over the years
are made through clinical trials, which test new drugs or different methods of
giving old drugs to help doctors better understand how to use the latest
therapies. Yet, of those 1.3 million adults annually who receive a cancer
diagnosis, fewer than five percent take part in a clinical trial. 2

Poor Patient Participation Creates a Crisis
To better understand why people do not enroll in cancer trials, several initiatives,
including the Summit Series on Cancer Clinical Trials and C-Change, have been
formed to help address this crisis in cancer care. 3

A survey was conducted in 1999 by the Summit Series on Cancer Clinical Trials
to gain information and insight from patients with cancer about clinical trials. The
survey included cancer patients who participated in clinical research and those
who had not. The results were surprising and showed a great number of cancer
patients—85 percent of patients surveyed—don’t even know that clinical trials
are a treatment option. Yet, even more startling is that among patients who knew
about trials, more than 70 percent decided not to participate.

Reasons given showed that there are widespread misunderstandings about
cancer research (See accompanying: Cancer Clinical Trials: Myth vs. Reality).
However, anyone considering a clinical trial should know that 97 percent of
cancer patients surveyed who participated in a clinical trial said they received
excellent or good quality care and were treated with dignity and respect, 93
percent had an overall positive experience, and 76 percent recommend a trial to
others.4

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Childhood Cancer Treatment Sets the Example
One of the most heartening statistics in cancer research is the cure rate for
children. In the past three decades, the cure rate has improved dramatically from
less than 10 to 75 percent.5 This is because of medical advances made by
clinical research. Today, over 60 percent of pediatric patients with cancer are
enrolled in clinical trials,6 demonstrating the continued positive impact of research
and the importance of expanding the participation rate for all other types of
cancer. If more adults with cancer began to participate in research studies, we
might see a similar increase in cure rates for them.

Treatments Waiting to Be Studied
Clinical trials were once thought of as a last resort for people who had no further
treatment options, but today in some cases, they can even be the first treatments
for people with cancer.7 There are hundreds of potential new advances in
prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer waiting to be studied. 8
Yet, the search for a cure is being slowed due to the small number of adults who
know that cancer clinical trials are an option and participate in them.

How to Find a Clinical Trial
Sometimes participating in a clinical trial requires going the extra mile. Most
doctors are not familiar with every ongoing clinical study, so patients may need to
conduct their own research to find the trial right for them. There are several
resources that provide listings of ongoing trials, along with the eligibility
requirements:


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    •    Clinicaltrials.gov—National Cancer Institute site and good starting point to
         find additional information about clinical trials and begin a search for
         studies.

    •    Cancer Information Service—1-800-4CANCER (422-6237) (1–800–332–
         8615 TTY). The Cancer Information Service (CIS) is a program of the
         National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Nation's lead agency for cancer
         research.

    •    CancerTrialsHelp.org—Sponsored by the Coalition of National Cancer
         Cooperative Groups. The site contains TrialCheck®, a searchable
         database of cancer clinical trials, as well as education and information
         about clinical trials, treatments, patient advocates, and cancer research.

    •    NewMedicines.org—Lists new drugs in development for major cancer
         types and shows their development status. This site is sponsored by the
         Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

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1
  Cancer Facts and Figures, ACS. 2004. p. 1
2
  www.cancertrialshelp.org
3
  www.cancertrialshelp.org
4
  “A Quantitative Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Cancer Clinical Trials,” Harris Interactive, Inc., 2000.
5
  www.childhoodcancerawareness.org/cure.asp
6
  www.cancertrialshelp.org
7
  “Taking Part in Clinical Trials: What Cancer Patients Need To Know,” NIH/NCI, p. 3.
8
  Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer's Association of America, Washington, DC, 2001. Survey: New Medicines
in Development for Cancer

				
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