Registered nurse Mayra Lee addresses and debunks common patient fears about clinical trials and explains the ins and outs of the research process. Mayra Lee, RN, is an outpatient clinic nurse at Moffitt Cancer Center. More about the expert.
Patients often think that clinical trials are an experiment where you’re in a white room and you’re wearing a white gown and you’re strapped down to a stretcher. Clinical trials are not that at all. Clinical trials are, often times, they’re medications that have been approved for other diagnoses for the types of cancer that are being now trialed in human subjects. So, we are testing them out but we’re not using you as a guinea pig. These are treatments that have been used in other forms of cancer. The majority of the clinical trials that we currently have available are trials of medications that are being used in other diagnoses and that are now being used in AML because it shows activity in our diagnosis.
It’s shown that it has curative options in other diagnoses. I think in the past, it was a lot like that. It was a lot like we don’t know what this is and we don’t know what this is going to do to you. We do know what this is and we do know what this is going to do to you because science has evolved in the last 20 years, even in the last 10 years to that degree. It’s no longer an experiment on you. We’re not using you as a guinea pig to try something out. We are giving you hope. We are giving you a chance to fight that wasn’t available before or that is not available with conventional medications. Other than in the setting of a clinical trial, you wouldn’t have the option to have that medication. The other thing also about clinical trials that I myself fail to say to patients is if this medication does not ever get FDA approved but it worked for you, we’re not going to pull you off of that medication.
The manufacturer has the obligation, the moral obligation, to continue to provide that medication for you because it is working for you until it stops working for you. You may be the only person in the world that medication works for. They have to continue to provide that medication for you. So, it’s unethical for them to give you a treatment that worked for you but it didn’t get FDA approved. You will be on that treatment until it stops working for you.