What are Clinical Trials?

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Patients who volunteer for clinical trials often have access to therapies not widely available to the public. What are the benefits of participating, and what questions should you ask before beginning a trial? In this program, sponsored by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Maurie Markman joins Andrew to answer these questions and discuss the importance of clinical trials. Hear about Andrew's own experience at M. D. Anderson and how he was able to get "tomorrow's medicine today" when he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 1996.

John, an M. D. Anderson patient, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1987. Since that time he has been in six clinical trials and today maintains a very good quality of life. John speaks highly of his experiences in clinical trials at M. D. Anderson. Like Andrew, John is a strong advocate for participating in clinical trials as a means to advancing medicine for him and others diagnosed with his disease.

M. D. Anderson offers over 1,000 clinical trials. As Vice President of Clinical Research at M. D. Anderson, Dr. Markman stresses the importance of raising awareness about clinical trials as a better way to prevent, diagnose or treat a disease. He explains how trials work, what the different phases mean and why these trials are not only safe but bring about progress in medicine. By participating, patients have access to treatment not yet broadly available. If you are curious about clinical trials, this program is sure to answer any questions you may have.

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Andrew Schorr:

I'm delighted to be with you once again, Andrew Schorr. And as she said in the intro, I was in an M. D. Anderson clinical trial, and here I am, seven years in remission. Right now there's no sign of leukemia. I don't think I'm cured, but I know it knocked it back. The treatment I had in a phase II clinical trial, and tonight you're going to learn all about phase I, phase II, phase III, but that was only at M. D. Anderson. That's the treatment most people get worldwide today, and so I was really fortunate to get that a long time ago.

I want you to meet someone who also knows about fighting cancer and benefitting from numerous clinical trials. And clinical trials, that's what we're going to discuss today. Many people don't understand what they are, are hesitant about it but I think you have to be in the know. It might give you the option of tomorrow's medicine today, so certainly you want to learn about it when you're fighting cancer.

I want to read you something from the M. D. Anderson CancerWise series. This was written not by me but by Dawn Dorsey. I'm just going to read this paragraph because I think it says it all. She says, "Like a prizefighter facing down an obstinate foe, John McKemie refuses to quit. For 20 years cancer has taken its best shots, knocking McKemie down but never out. Each time he jumps back into the ring for another round in the fight for his life."

I'd like you to meet John McKemie. He's a banker, 58 years old in Houston, and he is also a retired US Army Colonel. He was trained in the rangers in the Army. As you can imagine, very tough stuff.

John, you were diagnosed back in 1987 with chronic myelogenous or myeloid leukemia. And you and I were counting this up on the phone. I think you've been in more than six clinical trials. They've certainly made a big difference for you, haven't they?

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