More clinical trials bring Valley cancer patients fresh hope

Aug 18, 2015, 12:04 PM | Updated: Aug 19, 2015, 3:25 pm
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More than 16 million people visit Arizona each year to relax and escape cold weather. But starting August 24, The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center will give people even more reason to love the Valley of the Sun.

The date marks the opening of the new University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The collaboration between the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center will bring significantly more clinical trials to Phoenix-area cancer sufferers and survivors.

Clinical trials can grant access to new and possibly life-saving treatments from leading medical experts, especially for patients who have recurrent disease or rare tumor types

“The only way that we improve the success rates is by doing clinical trials,” says Peter Lance, MD, medical director of The University of Arizona Clinical Research Unit and interim deputy director of The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s.

Dignity-Health If you are considering a clinical trial, here are some questions you must ask your Medical Team to get started:

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • What other options or choices do I have if I decide not to participate?
  • What tests and treatments does the study involve?
  • What are the short- and long-term side effects, risks and benefits of this trial?
  • How do these compare to my current treatments?
  • What type of long-term follow up care is part of the study?
  • Who will pay for the treatment and all other expenses related to the study?
  • How can I end my participation in the study if I change my mind?
  • Whom do I contact for questions and information about the study?

The National Cancer Institute’s goal is to enroll at least 10 percent of all newly diagnosed patients in a clinical trial. For the new cancer center in Phoenix, the goal is that every cancer patient is a candidate for clinical trials.

The National Cancer Institute says, “Trials are available for all stages of cancer. It is a myth that they are only for people who have advanced cancer that is not responding to treatment.”

Advanced stage lung cancer is one example of trials available.

“In advanced lung cancer the new generation of studies focuses on precision medicine – the development of medications based on the genetic composition of the individual’s tumor – and on immunotherapy,” says Panos Fidias, MD, section leader of the thoracic program at the center. “The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s will have trials available in both of these new areas.”

Breast and lung cancer are just a few of the trials made available. The Tucson site currently has well over 100 trials open to new patients, addressing all the major cancers.

It is important to be fully informed on all aspects of the clinical trial process. Understanding the process and speaking with a Nurse Navigator is an important part of the overall health and long term adherence to the program.

Dignity HealthFor more information about the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, please visit dignityhealth.org/UACC

Dignity Health

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More clinical trials bring Valley cancer patients fresh hope