January is Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month. Clinical trials are important for delivering innovative and potentially life-saving new treatment options to patients. They may investigate new combinations of currently available drugs or study new treatments that have worked in other cancers. Through clinical trials, researchers can determine if a new treatment is more effective than current standard treatments, test ways to find a disease early, prevent a health problem, or improve the lives of people living with life-threatening or chronic diseases.
So, what should patients know about clinical trials? Here are some things to consider:
- What is a clinical trial? A clinical trial is medical research involving people to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a potential drug, procedure or medical device before it can be made available to the public. A strict set of rules set by the U.S. FDA ensures study participants are treated as safely as possible. There are many different types of clinical trials that may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or combinations of these, that patients with all stages of pancreatic cancer may be eligible to participate in.
- Why are clinical trials important? Many major medical breakthroughs could not happen without clinical trial participants. Whether volunteering to improve one’s own health or the health of others, participants impact the future of medicine for the better. Today, people are living longer from successful pancreatic cancer treatments, as a direct result of past clinical trials.
- Does Lustgarten fund clinical trials? Through the Pancreatic Cancer Collective (PCC), an initiative of the Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), we have conducted nearly 30 clinical trials to date. In fact, we funded 15 teams in 2019 performing clinical research, with most having open trials.
- What role do clinical trials play in pancreatic cancer treatment, and when should patients consider joining a clinical trial? Currently, less than five percent of patients with pancreatic cancer nationally enroll in clinical trials. Patients can join a clinical trial at multiple points in their care, including from the time of first initiating therapy. Many clinical trials are testing the addition of new drugs to standard chemotherapies, so enrolling in a clinical trial does not necessarily mean patients won’t also receive standard treatments. Clinical trials can play a role through the full continuum of treatment from first-line therapies to second-line treatments and beyond. Patients should discuss clinical trials with their care team at their initial visit and then periodically during their therapy.
- Where can patients find information about clinical trials? Patients and their loved ones can get information through clinical trial finders, including the Lustgarten/Let’s Win Clinical Trial Matching Service, which offers free and unlimited access to current, verified clinical trial information. Information on existing clinical trials is also available at ClinicalTrials.gov and through the Pancreatic Cancer Collective.
To learn more about pancreatic cancer, research updates, or clinical trials, visit Lustgarten.org.