How are myeloma clinical trials aided by nurses and other patient advocates? Experts Dr. Beth Faiman from Taussig Cancer Institute and RuthAnn Gordon from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center share how others help with patients considering clinical trials and those in clinical trials.
Dr. Nicole Rochester:
Dr. Faiman, we know that patients with myeloma are living longer, and they’re dealing with a different set of challenges than perhaps they previously encountered. So can you speak to the critical role of nurses specifically in the myeloma trial setting today?
Dr. Beth Faiman:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I must first start by saying that the successes in the treatment of multiple myeloma can be owed to the brave participation of the patients and the caregivers. So let’s not forget about the caregivers to support the patients with clinical trials. And I started as a clinical trials nurse in the 1990s managing these patients, and a nurse practitioner in 2002. And now my role is different also as a researcher.
And so I have seen firsthand all these drug developments. And so the difference from before when we had very few available therapies to now we have an armamentarium of drugs, and so deciding whether or not to participate in a clinical trial is super important. And how can we support our patients who are now living a longer life span with all these cumulative physical and financial issues? How can the nurses support the patients to get the access to the drugs and access to the financial resources they need so that they continue living a good quality of life? I know we have a very robust program to talk about later on, but I think nurses can fill that critical gap of finding resources for patients to allow them to participate in clinical trials to live a better life.
Dr. Nicole Rochester:
Thank you. Ms. Gordon, we know that diversity in clinical trials is lacking. Certainly there have been lots of reports about that. It’s gotten increasing attention over the last few years. There’s now regulations related to that. And while things are changing, we have a long way to go. And it’s also important that we celebrate the wins that we’ve achieved along the way. So my question for you is, do research nurses play a role in increasing diversity in clinical trials and also in trial innovation?
Absolutely. I think that one of the things that is important is community outreach, right? And so we have a lot of opportunities for research nurses. Well, as in large academic settings, a focus needs to be on exploring ways to have partnerships with our community organizations. And once those connections are established, the research nurses can play an extremely pivotal role in ensuring that we’re not only at point-of-consent educating, but way before that, getting involved in pre-screening activities in order to ensure that we’re looking at a diverse population.
And also to help with providers that are in the community that may have more advanced questions, and having the nurse being partners with those clinicians in order to help them get through the questions that they might have in a more timely manner. And so the research nurses that are attached to those academic centers have a pivotal role in ensuring that the community centers have support.
And in doing the pre-screening, I think is an important feature of having the research nurse also be involved in that process. And so I think that…we know that the community has needs, and we know that we need to increase that access. So looking at opportunities to partner with those settings, to me, with the research nurse, is really critical, and I think is an important way that we can do that.
Educating is, I’ll keep going back to that, when you get hands on that patient, making sure that they understand what they can expect. And any misconceptions. Clearing up misconceptions about being on clinical trials is really important so that when you have a patient that is eligible, that they feel comfortable and confident in joining that study.