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Television Program to Highlight Cancer Clinical Trials

People who receive a diagnosis of cancer often do not know where to turn, and this is particularly true for those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other rare form of cancer. Because so little is still known about the disease and so few people are diagnosed with it every year (roughly 3,500 in the United States) researchers do not have a large pool of patients from who to analyze statistical data on a drug or therapy’s effectiveness. For some, the most positive thing that they can do is to enter a clinical trial; there is always hope that the trial will yield a benefit to the patient, but also the knowledge that through participation you may be making a difference for patients in the future.

Though many people think of clinical trials as being experimental, the truth is that most drugs and treatments do not reach the clinical trial stage with human subjects until a good deal is already known about them. Much of this will be explained in an upcoming six-hour series that will be aired on public television on March 30, March 31 and April 1. The show is titled “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” and it is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” written by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who is an oncologist. The show will be produced by Ken Burns.

Burns explains that only about five percent of adults enter clinical trials. “That’s not nearly enough to move cancer medicine forward. No matter what you do in the lab or in basic science the ultimate proof of which cancer medicines work comes from clinical trials.” He says that people don’t realize that clinical trials often give them the best chances of success or extended survival, and that there are now many ways to find trials that are suitable for specific patients and specific cancers. For mesothelioma patients, most oncologists will be able to refer them or they can find a registry through the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Information is also available through the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the Stand Up to Cancer website.

According to Dr. Mukherjee, the best time to consider participation in a clinical trial is before any other treatments are started, as many trials cannot accept patients who have already undergone chemotherapy or radiation.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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