Importance of participation in clinical trials

Incredible breakthroughs in the treatment of many diseases, including cancer, are the result of people participating in clinical trials.

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Incredible breakthroughs in the treatment of many diseases, including cancer, are the result of people participating in clinical trials.

When Ana Santana was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, she went through chemo, radiation and surgery, which are all standard of care approaches.

But she decided to go one step further and participate in a clinical trial.

“When they told me that there’s a trial, I said, ‘Why not?’” Santana said.

She joined one of several studies underway at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We’re talking about 300 scientists working together just in breast cancer, clinicians and scientists, 33 breast cancer trials open right now, and the research we apply today are thanks to the research that happened years before,” said breast medical oncologist Dr. Carmen Calfa.

Calfa said, unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about participating in clinical trials.

“The biggest fear, I think, is that people think that they’re going to get placebo, but the way the clinical trial is built is what’s the standard of care now, and then can we build a better version that scientifically sounds promising,” she said.

Calfa said the advances made in breast cancer research in the last two years have been the most probably ever made in such a short span of time.

“And the drop by 40 percent of mortality rate in the last three decades is huge, and it’s all because of research, and of course better screening and improved awareness, but the treatments themselves are thanks to clinical research,” Calfa said.

Santana said she wouldn’t hesitate to participate in further trials.

“If there’s any other things, I would definitely go for it because you never know, if it doesn’t help me, it could help somebody else,” she said.

Because of advancements in therapies, thanks to clinical trials, some patients no longer need toxic treatments like chemotherapy.

But, in spite of the benefits, about 80 percent of clinical trials are delayed or even closed due to lack of participation.


About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.