Research studies conducted at the Missouri Baptist Cancer Center are changing cancer practice standards across the healthcare industry.
Thanks to clinical trials conducted in part at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, patients with certain colon cancers receive only three months of chemotherapy instead of six while gaining the same cancer-reducing effects and reducing drug side effects such as neuropathy (numbness or weakness often in the hands or feet). Another study helped find that a drug previously proven effective in treating ovarian cancer is also effective at treating breast cancer in women with the BRCA gene.
Continually improving cancer treatment and survival rates is dependent upon these types of clinical trials – research studies that rely on participation from people in all walks of life living everywhere from urban to rural communities.
"The only way we get better at doing this is to study new ways of caring for our patients," said Bryan Faller, MD, medical director of cancer research at Missouri Baptist. "We have many patients participating in clinical trials, but there are more opportunities available."
The Cancer Center is currently participating in more than 75 National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials and six pharmaceutical trials managed through Missouri Baptist. The Missouri Baptist Cancer Center is a member of Heartland National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP).
In addition to contributing to cancer research, patients participating in clinical trials are among the first to benefit from new advances in cancer treatment.
Safety is Number One
Patient safety is the number one selection criteria when researchers look for clinical trial participants. Due to strict selection criteria, and close clinical observation, patients participating in clinical trials are as safe as possible, according to Dr. Faller.
One of the biggest misconceptions about clinical trials is that those in a research study control group only receive a placebo and don't receive actual treatment for their cancer. This is never the case. In fact, in most trials, patients all receive the same standard of care. Those in an experimental group receive the standard of care plus the drug or treatment being tested.
"We don't want to expose any patient to an unnecessary risk. Any major adverse event anywhere is shared with all study sponsors to see any problems emerging," Dr. Faller said.
If your doctor asks you to participate in a clinical trial, consider it. What is learned could extend your life, or save another.
"Everything we do in the clinic today is based on someone who participated in a trial," said Jean Longinette, cancer research program manager. "Research cures cancer."