In our first two blog posts on the subject of cancer clinical trials, we’ve given an outline of what a clinical trial is and the phases involved. If you have decided that you would like to investigate a little further, this blog post focuses on how you can find clinical trials that are suitable for you.
Of course, your doctor/oncologist is a great resource for trials, so they are the place to start. But if you also want to look for yourself, it’s pretty straightforward. Although there isn’t a single resource list of every clinical trial, you can use two primary options for finding one: a clinical trial list and a clinical trial matching service, both of which are described in this blog post.
Finding clinical trials using a clinical trial list
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsors the majority of government-funded cancer clinical trials. The NCI website lists active studies that are currently enrolling patients: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/search or you can phone 1-800-4-CANCER. This is an easy to use service and below I’ll show you how it works. Another list worth looking at is https://clinicaltrials.gov/, which includes all the same trials that are in the cancer.gov site but is more comprehensive and it also includes trials sponsored by pharmaceutical and biotech companies. However, it isn’t quite as user friendly as the cancer.gov site – but once you’ve got into the swing of searching, I’d definitely try the clinicaltrials.gov site.
Below is a snapshot from the cancer.gov page, showing the information that they require, including type and subtype of cancer, preferred location of study, stage of cancer, what phase of trial you want, etc.
If there is a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can just skip it.
When you have completed this as best you can, a list of possible trials is displayed either as a summary or with full details. There might be a lot of them, so initially it’s good to look at the summary and then you can narrow your search criteria and get more detailed information.
While these two sites are probably all you need, there are a couple of other options:
Centerwatch – which includes trials for all different diseases, not just cancer – http://www.centerwatch.com/
BreastCancerTrials – https://www.breastcancertrials.org/bct_nation/home.seam
UK cancer trials http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/find-a-clinical-trial
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and cancer advocacy groups might also be an option, as they often list trials on their individual websites.
Finding clinical trials using a trial matching service
Several organizations offer services that can help find a trial for you, to save you the time and effort. Typically you have to register on their site or you can call them and do it over the phone. While this service is usually free, some matching service organizations get paid for enrolling people in specific trials; since this might affect how they present the trials to you, it is worth bearing in mind if you use such a service. You can always ask them if they rank their trial results in a particular order and if that order is based on the fees they get. Here are a couple of matching services:
American Cancer Society Clinical Trials Matching Service http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/clinicaltrials/app/clinical-trials-matching-service 1-800-303-5691
EmergingMed http://www.emergingmed.com/ 1-877-601-8601
BreastCancerTrials (mentioned above) offers both a clinical trial list and also a matching service. https://www.breastcancertrials.org/BCTIncludes/FindATrial/GetStarted.html
Remember to print off a copy of any trial that you think might be of interest to you.
When you have identified some trials that you think might be applicable to you, the next stage is to discuss them with your doctor/oncologist. You shouldn’t expect them to know every trial that is running as there are thousands, but they do know your health condition well and can offer a valuable opinion on a trial’s suitability for you. Don’t rush through this discussion; you should set aside a reasonable amount of time to talk through it with your doctor, who might also be able to help you find results from the treatment’s earlier phase trials.
If one or two trials look to be worth further consideration, your doctor can then refer you to the study coordinators/navigators who have experience in the trial and they can answer more questions.
In our next blog post on clinical trials, we’ll talk about the sort of questions you might want to ask your doctors and the study coordinators/navigators, including who covers the cost of trials.
Let me know if you have any questions on this and I’ll be happy to help.