CANCER PATIENTS MISCONCEPTIONS Deter Research Progress

USA TODAY, February 2001 | Go to article overview

CANCER PATIENTS MISCONCEPTIONS Deter Research Progress


An alarming number of cancer patients say they were never told or didn't know about the possibility of enrolling in a clinical trial for their treatment, a survey of nearly 6,000 cancer patients conducted via the Internet found. According to the Harris Poll, about 85% of those surveyed were either unaware or unsure that participation in a clinical trial was an option, though about 75% said they would have been willing to enroll had they known it was a possibility.

"Most patients simply do not know about clinical trials that could help them," notes Robert Comis, president of the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups, which conducts clinical trials for the National Cancer Institute. "Clinical trials represent the very best care we have to clinical trial really is."

Of the 16% of cancer patients who were aware of the clinical trial option. three in four actually turned it down, citing one or more of the following reasons: They thought the medical treatment they would receive in a clinical trial would be less effective than standard care; they might get a placebo; they would be treated like a "guinea pig"; and their insurance company would not cover costs.

The vast majority of those surveyed who did participate in a clinical trial said their overall experience was positive. Ninety-seven percent felt they were treated with dignity and respect and that the quality of care they received was "excellent" or "good." More than 80% indicated that they did not receive more tests than they felt were necessary, and 86% had their treatment covered by insurance.

Typically during a clinical trial, patients are randomly assigned to either a control group where standard therapy is given or the test group, where the new treatment is used. …

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