Should endometrial cancer patients consider a clinical trial as a treatment option? Expert Dr. Emily Ko reviews the potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial.
Well, you just mentioned clinical trials, and I think it’s a good topic to cover a little bit. Why is it important for patients to actually consider enrolling? What are the benefits for them?
Sure. So, while we certainly have a good armamentarium of standard-of-care therapies already, and I should mention that does include our classic chemotherapy drugs like paclitaxel (Abraxane), carboplatin (Paraplatin), and even doxorubicin (Adriamycin), if you will, or doxorubicin Hcl (Doxil), there are the immunotherapy drugs now that have become standard of care as well, like pembrolizumab (Keytruda), but sometimes, despite using those best available drugs, the cancer unfortunately either continues to grow or you had a good response, but somehow it shows up again – the cancer shows up again – and so, then, we’re looking for additional opportunities, additional therapies.
And so, some of the best opportunities are actually to consider these clinical trials. The way that clinical trials are designed is that they always are going to provide you at least a backbone of a standard available therapy, so you’re never going to get less than what would be considered standard of care.
But, what they’re doing is they’re usually partnering another drug – a more novel therapy – or they’re basically testing a more novel therapy that could be more targeted, that could potentially have better efficacy than what’s already available standardly. And so, the value of that is that you could have an opportunity to have a therapy that could work even better.
When you’ve tried something already, unfortunately, the cancer has grown, there is still opportunity, and while you’re on a clinical trial, I think one of the huge benefits is it’s very regulated. You are monitored so closely because at the base of all of this is safety. There is never going to be a drug or therapy that’s going to be administered to a patient without ensuring that there’s absolute safety for that patient, and so, that’s a way that you really have opportunity to get more treatment that could really help your cancer condition and do it in a very, very safe, formal fashion.
And ultimately help others as well, in the future.
Exactly, absolutely, because as you’re participating in this process – and, of course, it’s a voluntary process to participate on a clinical trial, so we so appreciate all the patients who, in the past, have participated and are willing to participate in the future, but allows us also to really gather a lot of information to really inform cancer treatment for all the patients coming down the road, and those could be anyone. They could be our neighbors, our friends, our own family members, and that could really be so helpful to everyone that’s going through this type of thing.
Absolutely, yeah. I’d like to back up a bit and talk about what endometrial cancer is. It’s often referred to as uterine cancer. So, are they the same thing? Are these terms interchangeable?
Sure, it’s a great question. So, endometrial cancer refers to cancer that starts in what I call the lining of the uterine cavity. So, inside the uterus, there’s a uterine cavity, and there’s a tissue that coats that cavity, and that’s called the endometrium. So, endometrial cancer is basically when cancer cells start growing from that tissue. And, of course, since that exists in the uterus, of course, it’s considered uterine cancer, and we’re just being a little bit more specific when we say endometrial cancer. But, of course, endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer by far, so in some ways, it’s almost – it’s synonymous.