Clinical Trials

Seeking Men and Women Who Have Had Colon Cancer
 for a National Colon Cancer Prevention Trial

Click HERE for more details 

Click HERE for a list of current clinical trials available at the Schwab Family Cancer Center

Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care.  Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. 

The Schwab Family Cancer Center is a member of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) under the affiliation of the University of Pittsburgh.

Pictured are the WMHS Schwab Family Cancer Center Clinical Trials team members Mickey Seletyn, RN (left), and Barbara Wood, RN (right).

Among the benefits to patients who are eligible and accepted to participate in clinical trials are the following: patients can play an active role in their own healthcare; gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.

Advances in cancer treatment have occurred largely because of the knowledge gained in large clinical trials that test new and better ways to treat cancer patients.  Some clinical trials test new treatments; investigate new ways of preventing cancer; screen patients for earlier diagnosis; and monitor the quality of life and/or psychological impact of cancer, while others detect cancer in its earliest stages.

Membership in the ECOG provides not only more opportunities for our patients at the Schwab Family Cancer Center to participate in clinical trials but allows them to stay in Cumberland while participating.

Why are there clinical trials?
A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process.  Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective.

What are the different types of clinical trials?
• Treatment trials test new treatments (like a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments, or new methods such as gene therapy).
• Prevention trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements that doctors believe may lower the risk of a certain type of cancer.  These trials look for the best way to prevent cancer in people who have never had cancer or to prevent cancer from coming back or a new cancer from occurring in people who have already had cancer.
• Screening trials test the best way to find cancer, especially in its early stages.
• Quality of Life trials (also called Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients.

What are the phases of clinical trials?
Most clinical research that involves the testing of a new drug progresses in an orderly series of steps, called phases.  This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information about the drug and protects the patients.  Most clinical trials are classified into one of three phases:

• Phase I trials: These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often, and what dose is safe.  A phase I trial usually enrolls only a small number of patients, sometimes as few as a dozen.
• Phase II trials: A phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug and begins to evaluate how well the new drug works.  Phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.
• Phase III trials: These studies test a new drug, a new combination of drugs, or a new surgical procedure in comparison to the current standard.  A participant will usually be assigned to the standard group or the new group at random (called randomization).  Phase III trials often enroll large numbers of people and may be conducted at many doctors' offices, clinics, and cancer centers nationwide.

Source: website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/)

Click HERE for Clinical Trials testimonial from one of our patients.