Aug 17, 2016

Are Cancer Clinical Trials becoming more successful?

First you’ll need to define ‘SUCCESS.’
According to numerous studies and reports, Cancer Clinical Trials have a very low success rate—somewhere in the 5% to 7% range of all trials that are proposed. This is from Phase 1 (or pre-phase 1) to eventual FDA approval. This is not so good except that without even that modest success rate many of us Cancer Survivors would not be surviving.

Success is often defined in terms of producing an actual positive impact in treating and managing cancer and increasing cancer survival. Check out the National Cancer Institute site for more details. 

So are Cancer Clinical Trials Getting More SUCCESSFUL? YES or NO? 

If SUCCESS means more experimental results leading to new and effective drugs—Then NO. (Success rates have not improved in recent years­­­­­­—they have actually decreased)

If SUCCESS means more people are volunteering to participate in trials—Also NO. (Some potentially successful trials never even get started due to lack of participants)

If SUCCESS means the trial stages and FDA approval procedures are progressing more quickly—Definitely NO. (Final FDA approval can take many years)

If SUCCESS means ‘affordable’ prescriptions for cancer patients—Still NO, you’ve got to be kidding (Some well-insured patients are not even able to afford the co-pays)

If SUCCESS means weeding out the least promising drugs in the early stages—Mostly YES. (Ineffective or dangerous drugs can be replaced with new, more promising experimental drugs)

If SUCCESS means there will be some effective new drugs approved for patients—YES, but at a rather slow pace.

Over the years we have encouraged our readers to volunteer for clinical trials when given the opportunity. Your participation could help you, others, and add to the cancer information base. Many different types of information can prove to be useful in the study of cancer.

For example, this author, now with Metastatic-late stage prostate cancer and in a Chemotherapy regimen, is still participating in several clinical trials including a study of  the effect of pain in cancer patients, how cancer affects quality of life, relationships, etc.

Cancer Clinical Trials information and data can be useful even when a particular trial is not successful in curing, treating, or managing cancer. For example, side-effects you experience may provide information to help others avoid or manage the same side-effects, allowing a promising trial to continue. 

Progress in the whole Cancer Clinical Trials world depends on multiple factors. You have the chance to influence some of these factors by participating in trials and surveys, sharing medical records, sharing your cancer experiences, and encouraging and supporting others. Keep on keeping on and never lose your sense of humor.

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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