Dr. Sumit Subudhi explains why prostate cancer patients should consider participating in clinical trials, the role they play in treatment options for prostate cancer and resources available to find trials.
Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
What would you say to patients who are nervous about participating in a clinical trial?
Yeah. This is a common question that I deal with in clinic, because we tend to have a lot of trials at MD Anderson. And the first thing, for me, is to understand why they’re nervous, because there’s different reasons why people are nervous.
Some people have heard of placebo trials, where the experimental drug that they’re hoping to get is only given to a portion of the patients and not all. And so, patients are worried what if they get on the placebo arm. And so, what I tell patients in that case is that please note that you’re going to be monitored very closely – more than usual, and so I’ll be seeing you in clinic more often. And if there’s any signs of progression, I will take you off the study. But I also always have a back-up plan. So, I tell them this is the next drug I’m going to give you if you progress, so don’t worry, I’ve got a plan for you. So, that’s one thing.
The other thing that people get concerned about are experimental drugs – just the fact that they are experimental. And I have to remind them that all these standard therapies that we have for prostate cancer were all experimental at one point. And it was the courage of the other patients that went through clinical trials that helped bring it as standard of care. And then sometimes some people have issues with travel, and those are more logistical issues. And especially now with the COVID era, we have to think about that. And so, we’re also trying to find and use networks to see if there’s other trials that are more amenable for patients so they don’t have to travel far.
How can patients find out about clinical trials that may be right for them?
Yeah. So, one way is using clinicaltrials.gov. And that’s a website that allows you to search for specific trials either by drug name or by disease type – so, for example, prostate cancer. So, that’s one resource. And the others are cancer societies like the American Cancer Society or ASCO or Prostate Cancer Foundation. They also have links to clinical trials that are exciting.