Clinical Trials Need Cancer Patients

“Clinical Trials Need Cancer Patients,” by Stan Collender, The New York Times.

I HAVE a very rare and aggressive type of skin cancer — Merkel cell carcinoma — for which there is no approved cure, and I’m participating in a clinical trial to deal with it. If successful, the trial will show that the drug I’m being given at least manages what is now an often fatal disease. Unfortunately, participation in clinical trials by cancer patients is, like my disease, extremely rare. Only roughly 3 percent of all cancer patients in the United States ever agree to join a trial. Among women and many minorities, the participation rates are even lower.

Merkel explains that clinical trials are vital for drug testing and development. But without enough participants, trials take much longer to complete, gain approval, and make their way to patients who may benefit from them. There are many reasons participation is so low.

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