Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To clinical trial or not to clinical trial

So much for a nice easy appointment with the oncologist. (First of all was the idiot OMWAH in the parking garage who apparently by their license plate had made it to Lahey from Rhode Island but was having difficulty navigating the parking garage.) The the oncologist, instead of saying the nice easy 'I recommend this treatment', I get the "would you like to participate in a clinical trial?". We have papers to read, research to do, and then make a decision. "Oh but no rush, if we don't hear from you in a couple of days, we will call you. And can you start in two weeks?"

So, do I want to participate in the trial? I don't know. Its randomized so if I participate, either I get one drug combination or a second one every two weeks and I get treatment for either 8 weeks or 12 weeks. We have no say in the matter. Basically one drug has been around longer but can cause significant heart problems so they are testing a second drug combination to see if its better. The trial has been going on for five years and has been relatively successful and they are expanding the enrollment.

On the other hand, I can say no and just get another set of treatments. The thing about clinical trials is that that is how they find better ways to treat people. Maybe it would give me a better chance and maybe it would help others as well.

So how do they determine a clinical trial is successful? The primary goals are disease free survival and comparison of the survival rates of the four groups but the secondary goal is overall survival and other issues. So if cancer doesn't come back and no one dies its successful? I guess I can't argue with that one. If someone dies, its clearly not a success.

Well off to think, read, research and decide.

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