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Buddy Check9: Cancer research and clinical trials

Research plays an important role in fighting back against cancer. Research can help identify new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer.
Credit: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images
Dr. Christian Hinrichs, assistant clinical investigator at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute, works in his lab where he helped develop advanced, cutting-edge procedures to cure 2 women of a rare form of cervical cancer

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, second only to heart disease.

Thanks to prevention, awareness, early detection and research, progress is being made and the cancer death rate has declined, translating to 2.3 million fewer cancer deaths from 1991 to 2015.

Research plays an important role in fighting back against cancer. Research can help identify new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer.

Clinical trials are research studies that provide a closer look into new treatments and procedures with the support of volunteers. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2ruf7rg.

Information for this story has been provided by Colorado Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE, and the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Research in Colorado

Colorado is home to many researchers who are having an impact on the fight against cancer. American Cancer Society grantee Jill Litt, PhD at the University of Colorado-Boulder, is researching how community gardening impacts fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, social support, weight and sedentary time. Improvements in health behaviors will be monitored, recognizing that the changes will reduce risk of cancer. If successful, this research will provide evidence for an intervention that supports and sustains healthy and active lifestyles.

Isabel Schlaepfer, PhD, an American Cancer Society grantee from the University of Colorado-Denver, Anschutz Media Campus, is studying prostate cancer cells and how they use fat (lipids). She discovered that lipids help support prostate cancer growth, and when the burning capacity of the lipids is targeted, the cancer cells eventually die. The grant will help her continue to research long-term effective therapies for treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

What are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are research studies done with volunteers that get a closer look at new treatments and procedures. These studies may test a new treatment or new ways to prevent or find a disease. Clinical trials have led to new ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer. For details visit: https://bit.ly/2wr3mWc.

Who oversees clinical trials?

Clinical trials must follow strict rules set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and each trial must be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) group of both medical and non-medical community members responsible for protecting the study participants and making sure that the study complies with the law.

Why should I enroll in a clinical trial?

Being in a clinical trial gives you the opportunity to receive therapy that may be more effective or better tolerated than therapies that are currently on the market. Another benefit to enrolling in a clinical trial is that it gives you the opportunity to help future generations with the same disease. Every treatment and drug that is currently used had its beginnings with clinical trials, with patients who were willing to help science find new and better ways to treat disease.

Can I leave the trial any time I want to?

You can withdraw at any time. All you need to do is notify your physician you no longer wish to continue.

First-in-man, Phase I, Phase II, what do all those terms mean?

Clinical trials involve several phases. These include:

  • Phase I: testing the safety of the drug in humans
  • Phase II: testing the effectiveness of the drug, including dosage and timing of treatments
  • Phase III: comparing the new treatment to the one currently in use
  • Phase IV: following the drug after it is licensed and approved by the FDA, to track its safety and gain more information about its risks, benefits and optimal use

First-in-man means that it is the first time the drug has been tested in humans and that, up to this point, the drug has only undergone pre-clinical and animal testing.

What else should I know about clinical trials?

Before you enroll in a study, you will receive an Informed Consent Form that provides the following information:

  • A detailed description of the study
  • Any possible risks and benefits of participating
  • Information about any financial obligations you may incur by participating

Your physician and research staff will make sure you are completely educated before the trial begins and answer any questions you may have before and during the trial.

How can I find out if I'm a candidate for a clinical trial?

Ask your physician

7 Reasons Why Clinical Trials are Right For You

Seven reasons why clinical trial participation is right for you from Sarah Cannon:

  1. The smartest minds in medicine designed this for you
  2. You trust your physician
  3. Institutional Review Boards that protect your rights
  4. Clinical trials staff who closely monitor you
  5. Science needs this
  6. Kids are doing it
  7. Information is power

Interesting Facts and Resources

The American Cancer Society is currently funding 16 multi-year cancer research grants in Colorado totaling $8,091,000. For more information on cancer research, visit: https://bit.ly/2ruf7rg.

Thank you to the Colorado Cancer Coalition for information that was used in this article. The Colorado Cancer Coalition is a statewide collaborative working to eliminate the burden of cancer in Colorado. Our task forces and members work together to improve the life of all Coloradans touched by cancer. To learn more go to http://www.coloradocancercoalition.org. The Colorado Cancer Coalition is a sponsored project of the Trailhead Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the public's health and the environment in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.

Thank you to the American Cancer Society for contributing information that was used in this article. For cancer information and resources, contact the American Cancer Society 24 hours a day at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. The Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.

Thank you to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE for contributing information that was used in this article. askSARAH – Have cancer questions? Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE is pleased to offer access to askSARAH- a dedicated helpline designed to help answer your cancer-related questions. Whether you have been recently diagnosed with cancer or have questions about screening, signs or symptoms, a registered askSARAH nurse can help. Committed to ensuring you have the right resources close to home, our nurses are available 24/7. Calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at 303.253.3225 to connect directly to a nurse to help guide you.

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