Expert Advice for Lung Cancer Patients Considering a Clinical Trial
Expert Advice for Lung Cancer Patients Considering a Clinical Trial from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
What do lung cancer patients need to know about clinical trials? Dr. Lecia Sequist shares her perspective about the benefits of clinical trials, common misconceptions about trials, and advice to patients considering clinical trials.
Dr. Sequist is program director of Cancer Early Detection & Diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital and also The Landry Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“…ask your doctor if you should go to another center, maybe in a bigger town or city, to ask about clinical trials there? And that’s a great reason to have a second opinion. Sometimes the latest, most active treatments are only available on a clinical trial.”
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Dr. Sequist, why is clinical trial participation so important in lung cancer, and what advice do you have for patients who are considering a clinical trial, and especially as they’re thinking about access to that clinical trial, how can they access those trials?
Dr. Lecia Sequist:
Clinical trials can come in all flavors, in different shapes and sizes. And so it is…I think clinical trials are very important for the field of cancer, they’re how we move the field forward. When scientists invent a new treatment, it can’t come to your door step unless there are clinical trials that are done to show that it works in cancer, that it’s safe, that it’s better than the older treatments. And so clinical trials are critical to cancer treatment and the progress of cancer treatment. I think a lot of people understand that, but they also think, Well, they’re really important, but someone else can do them. I don’t want to participate in a clinical trial, I don’t want to be experimented on, I don’t want to be a lab rat. And I can definitely understand that fear. But clinical trials, again, like I said, they come in all shapes and sizes, some of them are more experimental where maybe you’re getting a drug that hasn’t been tried in that many people before, some of them are less experimental where maybe there’s a drug that’s approved and works really, really well in breast cancer. It hasn’t come to lung cancer yet because it needs a clinical trial. And you can access that treatment before everyone else if you participate in the clinical trial.
Clinical trials are not for everyone, but I think that in my opinion, most patients who are diagnosed with cancer should hear about clinical trials, should learn a little bit more about what they really mean, and then they can decide for themselves if it is something that they would like to take part in. Clinical trials aren’t available at every hospital or every clinic, that’s the other thing, is that they may not offer clinical trials where you’re being treated, but you can…
I think my activation tips around clinical trials are, one, to learn more about it because most of us don’t know that much about clinical trials. And you can start by asking your doctor, but it’s possible your doctor doesn’t know that much about clinical trials either if clinical trials aren’t done or offered at your hospital or your clinic. And so you can ask your doctor if you should go to another center, maybe in a bigger town or city, to ask about clinical trials there? And that’s a great reason to have a second opinion. Sometimes the latest, most active treatments are only available on a clinical trial. So I think another misconception people have is that, well, that’s for when everything else has been tried, it’s like the last-ditch effort. That’s definitely not true. Sometimes the best treatments that we would love to give a patient first when they’re first diagnosed, because we think it has the highest chance of working, but it’s only available on a clinical trial. So it’s not something to think about only after you’ve tried five or six other things. Clinical trials should be considered, I think for every cancer patient from day one. They may not be a good fit for every patient, but they should at least be talked about and thought about, so we can really find the best plan for you.