Clinical Trials: It is Not a Last Resort

Clinical trials may offer participating patients options and access to investigational treatments that they would not have otherwise. As scientists search for improved therapies, patients who participate in these trials offer a chance for future patients to benefit from this groundbreaking work. However, patients may hesitate to investigate trial options for various reasons.

There are many myths that surround clinical trials. One of the most common misconceptions is that trials are only for people who have exhausted all other standard treatment options. It is true that clinical trials may be suggested in cases where standard of care treatment options have not been successful, but this is not the only time that they are available. In fact, there are trials available where a drug is added to standard of care chemotherapy to improve the efficacy of the chemotherapy.

What benefits are there to investigating clinical trials as soon as possible? Finding trials that match your needs takes time. There are often requirements to the trials, such as progression on at least two lines of standard of care treatment, or that a participant has had a specific drug in their treatment regimen. Clinical trials typically also require that patients are capable of all self-care and are able to be up and out of bed for at least 50% of waking hours. Patients who wait until all other treatment options have failed may find that they no longer qualify to participate in a clinical trial. Researching options does not mean that you are required to participate. It merely affords you the potential for additional options.

Clinical trials do not exclude patients being treated outside of where the trials are being conducted. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in a clinical trial.  Your doctor can help facilitate by suggesting trials, determining whether you qualify, and/or providing the necessary medical records.

Dr. Tom Marsilje was an oncology research scientist and was a featured survivor in the 2016 Colondar 2.0 (now On The Rise).  Tom would share his knowledge on Colon Talk by explaining the complexities of drug research in ways that people could understand.  He also curated his own list of late-stage MSS clinical trials, but he felt it was unfair for him to keep that to himself when others could benefit from it, so he began to share it with others in the colorectal cancer community.  Tom’s vision for a widely accessible tool has been made a reality:  Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder.