By Jake B. Guinto, PhD, Manager, Oncology Drugs & Biologics
Today, patients are better prepared to discuss treatment options for their cancer as a result of the increased accessibility of information. This information can be misleading, however, so it is up to the health care provider to provide guidance so patients can make an informed decision.
To better understand treatment options among oncology stakeholders, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) conducted an NCCN Trends™ Survey from March 14-17, 2012 at the NCCN 17th Annual Conference in Hollywood, FL. Questions focused on clinical trials as an option, and survey respondents included a variety of oncology stakeholders (n=59), such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others.
When survey respondents were asked how often they mention a clinical trial/s as a potential treatment option to their patients, 36% answered "sometimes," 32% answered "often," and 19% answered "always" (Figure 1). Two percent never mention a clinical trial/s as a potential treatment option to their patients and 12% of the respondents answered "not applicable."
To gain insight into how clinical trials are presented to patients, we asked survey respondents when they mention the option to their patients relative to Standard of Care (SoC) therapy. As shown in Figure 2, the majority of respondents (41%) said the clinical trial/s option was presented sometimes before or sometimes after the SoC option, 29% percent answered after the SoC option, while 10% answered before the SoC option. Twenty percent of the survey respondents answered "not applicable."
Although the survey consisted of a small sample size, the data indicate that only a little more than half of the respondents mention a clinical trial often to always. Patients need to be aware of all the available options to make an informed decision regarding their therapy; therefore, if a clinical trial is available, that option should be presented. Only then can the clinician and patient work together to determine the best possible course of therapy.
For more information on clinical trials for patients with cancer, please visit NCCN.org.