When you’re diagnosed with cancer, one of your first concerns might be where you can go to gain access to the latest medical and surgical treatments for your type of cancer. As a research-oriented cancer center, JACC takes part in a variety of clinical trials, which is one way cancer centers can provide the most advanced treatments. Because pharmaceutical and surgical developers need results from many patients in a variety of settings, they conduct their trials in several treatment centers. They often choose JACC because of our medical expertise, large patient base, and commitment to providing accurate data. Therefore, we often have the same treatment options as cancer centers in larger markets.
While clinical trials are experimental in nature, they often provide patients with pharmaceutical and surgical treatments that go on to become the new standard of cancer care. In addition, they allow patients to contribute to the advancement of treatments for future patients. Currently, about 40 such trials are open to enrollment for eligible patients. Patients can participate in clinical trials with the authorization of their physicians and upon acceptance based on a number of various criteria for each trial.
Phase 1 clinical trials
The earliest stage of development for a treatment, a Phase 1 trial is the first introduction of the treatment to humans. The goal is to discover side effects, maximum dosage, and initial results. These trials are available to patients who have no more standard-of-care options available.
Phase 2 clinical trials
Once a treatment shows positive results in a number of patients with the same type of cancer, the research may be sent to Phase 2 clinical trials for that type of cancer. The goal is to discover results for a larger population of patients, to further determine proper dosage, and to look more closely at side effects. More patients will be accepted than for Phase 1 trials.
Phase 3 clinical trials
Once a treatment has been shown to have some positive effects, it may be entered into a Phase 3 trial to compare it to the standard of care, either by itself or in combination with the current standard of care. The goal may be to see if adding the new treatment to the current standard will improve results. Often, newly diagnosed patients will be eligible to take part in these trials to receive what could potentially become a better standard of care.
Phase 4 clinical trials
After approval by the Federal Drug Administration, a treatment may go into a Phase 4 trial with the goal of discovering benefits, risks, and side effects in a larger population over a longer period of time. While the patients who participate might otherwise have access to the same treatments, they can help medical experts determine best possible outcomes for future patients.