Many patients with cancer are not aware
that they have access to experimental treatments through clinical trials,
results of a new Harris Interactive survey suggest.
"An alarming number of cancer patients say that they were never told or
didn't know about the possibility of enrolling in a clinical trial for
their treatment," Peter Risher, of Harris Interactive, told Reuters Health
in an interview.
Interviews with nearly 6,000 patients with a variety of cancers revealed
that approximately 85% were either unaware or unsure that they could
participate in a clinical trial. Three out of four of these individuals
said they "would have been willing to enroll had they known it was possible."
Among the 16% who knew about the trials but declined to participate, 30%
believed that the therapy used in the trial would be less effective than
"the standard treatment" and 31% feared that they might receive an inactive
placebo rather than the treatment being studied. Placebos are never used in
trials on drugs that may be used to treat cancer.
Another 20% feared the cost would not be covered by their insurance.
Meantime, 22% feared being treated "like a guinea pig" despite the finding
that 82% of respondents who reported participating in a clinical trial said
they did not feel they had been treated like a guinea pig. In fact, 93%
said that their overall experience was positive and 76% said they "would
recommend participation to someone else with cancer."
Thanks to Reuters Health for this story.
Ann's NOTE: I am actually one of the people polled by Harris. I had to respond truthfully that at the time of my diagnosis I was not offered any trials. I got interested in the use of MRI for diagnosing lobular carcinoma of the breast but found out about AFTER I had surgery. I certainly would have loved to be part of that trial. Luckily my insurance covered the procedure I had done on my own. (I did not qualify for the trial since I had already done a lumpectomy).
The Lancet, and the ACS article
J Clinical Oncology, 12/01
Federal Health Inspectors
Press Release, 5/02
UC Davis School of Medicine
Center Watch Survey, 5/02
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