What is the value of non-melanoma skin cancer clinical trials? Expert Dr. Silvina Pugliese from explains why clinical trial participation is important and shares advice for patients.
Silvina Pugliese, M.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Attending Physician at the Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center and Stanford Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Pugliese.
“…if you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, in advancing medical knowledge, and you feel comfortable doing so, please ask your dermatologist or your oncologist, whether they’re aware of any clinical trials that are available for your particular type of skin cancer.”
Why is clinical trial participation so important in non-melanoma skin cancers, and what advice do you have for patients considering a clinical trial?
Dr. Silvina Pugliese:
This is a great question. So it is much more common to have early stage localized disease for basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. So the overall case number that we see for advanced or unresectable or metastatic disease for squamous cell cancer and especially for basal cell cancer is much lower than the usual numbers we hear of 4 million cases annually of basal cell cancer in the U.S., and 2 million of squamous cell cancer. And the reason this is important is because when we have a lower pool to evaluate or study, when we think about these more advanced skin cancers, we have less patients to recruit for some of these studies. This is especially important when we think about advanced or metastatic basal cell cancer, which is very rare.
Also very important we think about less common skin cancers like Merkel cell carcinoma or DFSP. And when we think about how uncommon these skin cancers can be in skin of color, we realize we’re really drawing from a very small pool of patients. So my point here is that you can make a true impact by enrolling in a clinical trial, especially as we’re looking at what are some of the best treatment options for these more advanced skin cancers or metastatic skin cancers? Because we do need the right patients to be enrolled in order to study these research questions.
So my activation tip is, if you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, in advancing medical knowledge, and you feel comfortable doing so, please ask your dermatologist or your oncologist, whether they’re aware of any clinical trials that are available for your particular type of skin cancer. Of course, never feel any pressure to do this, it’s completely optional, but often it can provide more, a novel treatment option for your cancer or allow you to have certain treatment that’s not available through insurance, for example, at the moment. And also in doing so, advance the knowledge that we have in our field and help patients in the future who have your same skin cancer and are in your same position.