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Clinical Trials nurses answer questions about participating in clinical trials

June 23, 2017
You may have heard about clinical trials for new cancer treatments in the news, but what’s really involved in a clinical trial? If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, a clinical trial may open the door to new treatments. Judy Bosley, Oncology Research Nurse Manager, and Pamela Nikoles, Oncology Research Nurse, who both work with patients in clinical trials at GBMC’s Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, talked with ABC2News Good Morning Maryland host Ashley James and answered viewers’ questions about the topic.

A question on many viewers’ minds was how to find and become part of a clinical trial. Explained Judy and Pamela, “Your doctor can open the gate to clinical trials that are appropriate for you. If you’re interested in considering a clinical trial, do some homework before you meet with your doctor so you’re ready to ask questions about available trials if your doctor doesn’t bring up the subject.” How do you know what trials are available? There are several websites that list this information, including ClinicalTrials.gov, TrialCheck, and the clinical trials section of GBMC’s website. Depending on the site, you can search by type of cancer, drug name, or available trial locations.

Some concerns that viewers raised include the cost of participating in a trial (most costs are covered by insurance, with any additional costs covered by the organization sponsoring the trial), whether you can decide to leave a trial, and whether you might receive a placebo, a treatment that doesn’t contain any active ingredients, rather than an actual medication. “Using a placebo isn’t considered ethical in a cancer treatment trial,” said Judy. “You either receive the standard treatment or the standard treatment plus the trial medication. The goal of the trial is to find out if the added medication improves the outcome of the standard treatment.”

The benefits of taking part in a clinical trial are many. You have access to new treatments, often years before they’re available to the general public, and you’re closely followed by a specialized medical team that monitors your health and is available to answer any questions. Added Pamela, “Clinical trials not only help the people who participate, they also help patients in the future by advancing the science of cancer treatment.”

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