Clinical Trials: Myths and Facts

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What are clinical trials, and should you participate in them? Patient Power’s host Andrew Schorr entered a clinical trial in 1996 for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). He has now been in remission for many years, and doctors now use the methods tested on him to treat others. Joining Andrew for this program are Dr. Marc Stuart from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and his patient, Roger. You’ll learn how clinical trials can lengthen and strengthen your life.

Roger has sarcoma, a rare form in which there are only 150 to 200 cases diagnosed each year. He worked with his team of doctors at the Seattle Care Alliance and they helped him decide which clinical trials to participate in. He has been in three trials, including surgery and medicines. Because there is no magic bullet for Roger’s sarcoma, he went to the University of Washington Medical Center to shrink the tumor for surgery. All of Roger’s trials were covered by health insurance, and Roger suggests contacting the insurance company to find out if one you’re interested is.

Dr. Marc Stuart discusses the importance of clinical trials for the advancement of medicine. He explains the ethics of the trials and the protocols put in place to ensure they are safe. For those who don’t have access to a network of doctors offering clinical trials, or for people like Roger who have rare disorders that don’t offer many trials, there are now many resources on the internet including Clinicaltrials.gov. Trials are available to all kinds of groups, included the elderly, and patients can drop out of clinical trial any time they choose.

In this very informative program, Andrew explains the importance of being proactive as a patient. He advocates that patients play a role in initiating a discussion about experimental drugs for your illness that your doctor may not even be aware of. If your looking for hope, this program is sure to inspire you.

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Transcript

Andrew Schorr:

We are live on AM570 KVI, Andrew Schorr here with another Patient Power coming up. Today we will be discussing clinical trials. You hear radio ads for them, maybe you know someone who is in one. Maybe it has been mentioned to you before. If you have a serious illness, what are the myths and facts about clinical trials? Can if offer you tomorrow’s medicine today? We have a gentleman in the studio with me who has been in a clinical trial. We will hear a lot about that. We have a leading medical expert from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. It is all coming up next live on AM570 KVI.

Hello wherever you may be listening to the sound of my lovely strong voice today on a beautiful sunny day here in Seattle. You may be far away. My dear wife Esther is in Africa, and hats off to Microsoft. Esther works for Microsoft, and they are helping Esther and some other folks from Microsoft work with the Centers of Disease Control down in Zambia. They are working on smart card technology where people can come in from, I don’t know if you would call it the jungle, maybe not the outback, but way in the hinterland. Many of the people have AIDS, and all their treatments and diagnostics that have been done before are on a little card. I’ll tell you, unless they do that they have got just more headaches to get people the care that they need, so they are working on that. So, Esther we miss you. There are no cell phones, no texting, no Internet. She is way out there, but she’ll be back. That’s our commitment as a family, to help people with health concerns.

Today we are going to talk about different one, clinical trials. I’ll explain that in a minute, but I want to thank our sponsors who make this possible: University of Washington Medical Center; Swedish Medical Center; Harborview Medical Center, they have been our sponsors for a long time, they help make this happen; the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and we have an expert from the SCCA here with us today; and also the good folks at the Senior Guidebook. Thank you so much.

You know Patient Power is the only program on radio or the Internet anywhere where we talk in depth about very significant health issues. It’s all on the Internet on www.patientpower.info, and of course broadcast live today also on www.kvi.com. So if you have it memorized now, the intro to our program now Carlene Johnson says, ‘And Andrew entered a clinical trial’. I forget the exact content; I should have it memorized, but anyway I did. Eleven years ago I entered a clinical trial for my leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We’ll talk during the show about why I did that, but the point is today, and I have a check-up coming up, I believe there still remains no sign of leukemia. I was a lucky guy. The treatment I received seven years ago is what most people today receive, not only around the country but also around the world. I was in a phase II clinical trial. We will find out what these phases mean.

Now there you are driving down the road with us today, or another day, and you hear radio ads. Summit Research here in Seattle does a lot. There are all sorts of them. The University of Washington has a trial for this and a trial for that. Are you depressed, do you have a history of heart disease, etc? Of course there are trials on cancer a lot. What is the point of all that? The point is unless there are clinical trials and data, does it help? Is it safe and effective? How effective is it? The FDA is not going to say, ‘Develop the drug, market it and go ahead; it can be prescribed’, and no doctors are going to use it or mention it to you. So we are in it together.

Now as the population ages, more of us are more likely to have cancer, somebody is going to have heart disease, or somebody is going to develop diabetes, adult onset diabetes. There are a whole host of conditions that go with just us getting older. I’m a baby boomer, and maybe you are too. So guess what, this is going to happen to us or somebody we know. What treatments are going to be available for us? Is it just that we hear it advertised, or the doctor says it, or do we participate in the development of that? That is what we are talking about today. I am going to tell you that we are all in it together.

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