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Physicians Update


Physicians Update

Summer 2007 Oncology

Clinical Trials Offer Options

UCLA Physician Update Summer 2007 issue: OncologyClinical trials can provide attractive options for patients who don't have good standard treatments available to them, either because there isn't one for their disease or because their cancer failed to respond or the treatment ceased being effective. "Patients receive nothing less than the best standard-of-care treatments, while also having the option of going on new drugs that would not be available in the community," says Nancy A. Ryba, R.N., administrative director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center's Clinical Research Unit. "They are monitored much more closely by physicians and clinical research nurses than they would be outside of a clinical trial for the impact of the treatment on their cancer and for side effects. And they receive much more information than they otherwise would about the treatment they're receiving, including a written explanation of every possible side effect and a schedule and rationale for every step of the treatment."

UCLA is selective about the clinical trials it chooses to offer. "They have to be scientifically rigorous and rational, and they have to move the field forward," says John Glaspy, M.D., Clinical Research Unit director. "We're looking for the studies that can change the way medicine is practiced."

The volume of oncology clinical trials is far greater today than it has been historically. "We're in themiddle of a scientific revolution in cancer," says Dr. Glaspy. The rapid pace of discovery involves amovement toward a deeper understanding of cancer and its various subtypes, with the subsequent development of approaches that aremore rational and less toxic. In one sense, this acceleration has presented a challenge: It often becomes impossible to test every possible drug combination. But, Dr. Glaspy notes, the advancing science alsomakes it easier to choose the combinations that aremost likely to work. "The chances of a clinical trial being positive aremuch greater than they've ever been," he says, "because we're playing with loaded dice."

For more information on cancer clinical trials at UCLA and the UCLA Community Oncology Network, call (888) 798-0719 or visit www.cancer.mednet.ucla.edu.

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