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Cancer patients need to be educated of trial opportunities

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As few as 1 in 10 cancer survivors are aware of trial opportunities, according to a national survey.

“Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness and Attitudes in Cancer Survivors,” a survey conducted by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and Northwestern University, found that only 10 percent of the 1,788 cancer survivors screened knew participation in a cancer clinical trial was an option.

Of those who learned about trials, 73 percent cited their physician as the source of information.

“One of the most important steps a patient can take to regain some control when faced with a cancer diagnosis is to be as informed as possible about his or her disease,” said Dr. Jon D. Miller, professor and director of the Center for Biomedical Communications at the Feinburg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. “It was encouraging to find that most patients would be inclined to participate if enrollment in a clinical trial was presented as a treatment option.”

“We are at a real turning point in the development of new cancer treatments with the large number of clinical trials currently under way, but too few patients are aware that these trials even exist,” said Dr. Robert L. Comis, president and chairman of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups. “Serious lag times will continue to occur in completing these studies unless there is an improved dialogue between the physician and patient about trial opportunities.”

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