CANCER CURE & PREVENTION SERIES – Clinical Trials: Offering New Hope


For the majority of patients diagnosed with cancer, standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments often prove to be very successful in shrinking or killing cancer cells. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. For patients who need an alternative to standard therapies, physicians often recommend participation in a clinical trial.

According to the American Cancer Society, only 5 percent of adults diagnosed with cancer each year participate in a clinical trial. Not all trials are about alternatives to standard therapy. Another reason to participate in a trial is to help physicians determine which of two proven treatments may be better. Finally, studies have shown that doctors and institutions that participate in research often provide a higher level of care overall.
In the following article, Texas Oncology’s Dr. Gury Doshi discusses clinical research trials as a whole – as well as those currently offered in your community.
– Vivek S. Kavadi, M.D.

By Gury Doshi

Clinical research is critical in identifying the most effective treatments for cancer patients. By examining how patients respond to different medical approaches for various types of cancer, clinical research studies address scientific challenges and identify better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer-related diseases. Ultimately, the results of previously conducted trials drive how we take care of patients today.
Are clinical trials available for all patients with cancer?

Clinical trials are available for all types and stages of cancer. Eligibility is determined by the parameters of individual clinical trials, and the requirements vary based on the treatment being tested. Eligibility for participation may include age, gender, cancer stage and type, medical history, and previous treatments.

How are clinical trials typically conducted?
Clinical trials are conducted over a series of steps, each designed to answer a specific question:

  • Phase I – determine safety of a drug in humans, identify the safe dose range and identify possible side effects
  • Phase II – involve a larger group of patients, and determine drug effectiveness and safety
  • Phase III – include a larger group of patients, confirm drug effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare drug to current available therapy, and collect additional safety data
  • Phase IV – after drug has gone to market, continue to collect/observe safety data in the patient population and monitor side effects
  • Where is the research conducted?

Clinical trials are conducted at both large academic institutions and community-based cancer centers. Texas Oncology is a community-based oncology practice with 150 locations throughout the state, and on average, has more than 100 open national clinical trials within 129 locations. Through our affiliation with US Oncology Research, Texas Oncology has played a role in 50 FDA-approved cancer therapies, nearly one-third of all cancer therapies approved by the FDA to date.

How do clinical trials benefit the patient?
Clinical research participation allows patients access to therapy that is otherwise not available. For example, in lung cancer, the standard treatment options include two or three possible chemotherapy regimens. A clinical research trial offering a new targeted therapy for lung cancer provides an option that is not yet available, or in this case, a fourth option. The trial may yield a positive result in terms of delaying disease progression, providing a therapy that is better tolerated or even improving quality of life.

Patients who participate in clinical trials are truly on the front lines of cancer research, helping to discover new treatments for cancer that could mean the difference between life and death for future patients. While not all clinical trial patients see their personal health improve, all patients ultimately provide a tremendous service to others. With every clinical trial, the medical community learns more about the best ways to treat cancer.

More Information
For more information about available clinical trials at Texas Oncology, visit:
Dr. Gury Doshi is a medical oncologist and principal investigator of kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer research trials at Texas Oncology–Houston Memorial City at 925 Gessner, Suite 550 in Houston, Texas.