Our clinical trials program at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute is one of the largest in the state. The reputation of the Cancer Institute, its doctors and the greater availability of new treatments attract patients from a tri-state area.
What is a clinical trial and why should you participate?
A clinical trial is a research study. People who participate receive either treatments not yet available to the general public, or available treatments used in new ways or in new combinations.
Clinical trials can offer the most up-to-date treatment for your cancer, and can represent a significant improvement in your care, especially if your first-line therapy has not been successful.
Participation means that you will receive the additional support of a research nurse. Your research nurse will be your advocate and will see to it that your treatment regimen follows strict clinical trial instructions. At the end of your treatment, your research nurse will continue to call you or your doctor to follow up on your condition.
Clinical trials are the most effective way to improve cancer survival rates. Your participation in a clinical trial will benefit future cancer patients.
What clinical trials are available?
The many cancer trials open for patient enrollment focus on the prevention, treatment or palliation of different types of cancer. Most come with a quality of life component.
Because of MedStar Franklin Square’s reputation for quality of care, trials are sometimes available here when they are unavailable elsewhere. For more information about our clinical trials, call 443-777-7364.
What safeguards are in place before a clinical trial is offered?
Before a clinical trial is made available, it is reviewed by our hospital’s institutional review board (IRB). The IRB is a group of doctors, nurses, researchers and community representatives who decide whether the clinical trial is safe and effective and whether it is based on the best interests of the people who will participate in it. Guidelines regulating these decisions are set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Patients must also meet the specific criteria of the trial (i.e., stage of disease) and they must sign an informed consent that states they have been advised of all the medical aspects of the clinical trial. The doctor and the research nurse individually educate the patient about the regimen of treatment to be received.
The patient also has the right to stop participation in the trial at any time.
Who sponsors clinical trials?
Our cancer trials are sponsored by multi-institutional research groups supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), pharmaceutical companies and independent investigators.
The Maryland Melanoma Center is involved in basic science research and in immunological trials. Participants are high-risk melanoma patients who are immunized against the recurrence of their disease; they receive what is known as a personal vaccine, meaning their vaccines are made from their own melanoma cells.
Our NCI-sponsored affiliations include the Gynecologic Oncology Group, National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, and Cancer and Leukemia Group B.
Can I Discontinue Treatment if I Change My Mind?
Yes. You are free to discontinue treatment at any time. This will not affect your relationship with your doctor. Your doctor and cancer program staff will provide other available care. In fact, if your doctor believes that the treatment you receive in the clinical trial is not helping, or that its side effects are too harmful, he or she will take you out of the study.
How Will I be Billed for My Treatment?
Billing is the same for clinical trial participants and non-participants. Treatments are charged to your insurance company. Other sources of funding may cover additional costs of the clinical trial.
National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project
The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) is a cooperative group of researchers with a 40-year history of designing and conducting clinical trials. Results of NSABP studies altered the standard surgical treatment of breast cancer from radical mastectomy to lumpectomy plus radiation. NSABP was also the first to show that adjuvant therapy, therapy used in addition to and following primary treatment, could increase survival rates.
All of our American College of Surgeons (ACOS)-accredited cancer programs participate in NSABP clinical trials. Currently, our doctors are recruiting volunteers for a number of NSABP protocols.
For more information about our clinical trials, call 443-777-7364.