The OTHER OPTION for Cancer Treatment: Clinical Trials

The Stanford Cancer Institute will hold its fifth annual Clinical Trials Awareness Week from April 18 – 22, 2016 in the Stanford Cancer Center Palo Alto. This event aims to foster awareness care among patients, caregivers and the community-at-large, about cancer clinical trials and how they advance cancer care.

Why are cancer clinical trials important? Clinical trials improve cancer survival rates, because they help progress new ways to detect cancer, reduce cancer risks and treat cancer with novel therapies. To make novel therapies more quickly available as a standard of care for patients, more people need to partake in clinical research. The American Cancer Society reports that “the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed in 2004 – 2010 was 68 percent, up from 49 percent in 1975 – 1977” (2015).

Why do we need to promote awareness? A poll from the Harris Interactive Survey in 2001 showed that 85 percent of cancer patient respondents “…were either unaware or unsure that participation in a clinical trial was an option at the time of diagnosis” (National Cancer Institute, 2016). The lack of awareness is evident in current trial enrollment rates, in which less than 5 percent of adult cancer patients participate in a clinical treatment trial (Meropol et al., 2015). Furthermore, enrollment rates at five National Cancer Institute–designated cancer centers revealed significantly lower percentages of racial/ethnic minority participation in treatment studies (Hawk et al., 2014). Diverse participation is essential for gaining knowledge on how cancer treatments work on different populations.

Stanford’s Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Week will have an information desk and research poster exhibit display available throughout the week. This year’s program will feature oncology research talks by Stanford faculty members and Q&A research poster sessions with research staff. Participants will be eligible for a raffle prize drawing at the talks and giveaway item at the poster sessions. The Stanford Cancer Institute offers more than 250 clinical trials and can assist patients with finding trials at Stanford. For more details about the program, please visit online or call 650.498.7061.