Aug 31, 2014

Americans avoid clinical trials—why?

On this blog site we have written several articles about experimental medicine, new drug approval by the FDA, and the low adult participation rate in cancer clinical trials—in the 3% to 5% range. A recent online survey of more than 1000 adult volunteers produced some interesting answers to questions about clinical trials—attitudes, beliefs, fears, costs, and individual needs. 

The poll was commissioned by Research America, the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, the Clinical Research Forum, the Friends of the National Library of Medicine and the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative. The results were published by

How the 1006 online volunteers responded:
  • 72% said they would likely participate if their doctor recommended it (26% very likely, 46% somewhat likely)
  • 70% said their physicians had never discussed medical research with them
  • The Internet was the most common source of clinical trial information (53%)
  • 51% cited a lack of trust in the process for not participating
  • 53% said a lack of information kept them from pursuing clinical trials
  • 35% were concerned with compensation for participation
  • 27% cited privacy concerns
  • 69% would consider the reputation of the doctor or medical center conducting the trial
  • 37% admire others who participate
  • 73% want to advance medical research

What does all of this mean? A recurring theme is that people don’t have enough information and particularly don’t get enough information from their doctors. There are probably other factors that lead to final decisions. Remember, whatever the numbers in this survey, still only 3% to 5% of adults with cancer ever participate in a clinical trial.

Want to see the Research America Clinical Research Poll questions and results for yourself? How would you respond?
Post Text Here
To put a smile on your face see Larry's latest cartoon.
To learn more about clinical trials, take a look at our book.

(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker

Aug 18, 2014

Back to basics

Since starting this Cancer Clinical Trials blog in 2011, we have covered a lot of materials, provided links, and talked about the latest experimental drugs. We believe that every once-in-a-while it is a good idea to go back and review clinical trial basics.

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are highly organized and complex experiments to test and compare new therapies in human volunteers who may or may not have cancer. Promising treatments go through a series of tests to make sure they are safe, effective, and have minimal side effects. Testing in humans is the only way to find this information. All the Standard Cancer Therapies currently in use were developed and proven effective in clinical trials. Then they were approved for general use by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

Why would you want to participate in a clinical trial?
You may consider joining a clinical trial if no appropriate standard therapy is available; the current standard treatment leaves room for improvement; or because you don’t need treatment right away because your cancer is slow-growing and you would like to try something new.

Many new ideas are being evaluated in clinical trials today--for a broad variety of cancers. Cancer treatment has advanced and improved rapidly in recent years.There are more cancer survivors than ever before. But many experimental cancer drugs and treatments have not yet been tested in humans because there are not enough clinical trial volunteers.

We will continue to provide a variety of information to increase your understanding and maybe even help you make personal health decisions. We welcome your questions and comments. 

To put a smile on your face see Larry's latest cartoon.
To learn more about clinical trials, take a look at our book.

(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker