Cancer Research & Clinical Trial Participation 101

By James L. Wade III, MDJustin D. Floyd, DO


Why do we offer clinical trials to our patients?

Because our patients get the best care when they participate!

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are simply an organized way for cancer researchers to learn better ways to fight cancer with the help of our patients.

In order to accurately compare different treatments or supportive regimens, many patients and cancer physicians from across the country work together in a research cooperative group. These research programs are called clinical trials and include teams of cancer researchers along with an oversight board to ensure that patients are both safe and fully informed.

An example of a question asked by a clinical trial would be, does ginger help keep patients receiving cancer fighting medicines (chemotherapy) from feeling sick at their stomach? The answer….yes as found in a completed clinical trial.

Cancer clinical trials can investigate several aspects of a patient’s cancer experience. Some studies will measure the benefit and the side effects of a new cancer drug or radiation technique.

At all times the welfare of the patient is kept foremost, and care is taken to make sure that the patient’s particular treatment plan is as good as, or potentially better than, the current standard of care for that situation.

Other studies will investigate strategies to improve the patient’s quality of life, either through a new intervention to reduce symptoms or through new techniques to prevent symptoms or side effects from occurring. In addition, some of these studies will help physicians learn how to better communicate with patients and families or better adjust a treatment to match an individual patient’s frailties.

Finally, a new type of clinical trial has recently emerged that will help all of us learn how to better deliver cancer care over a broad range of different clinical circumstances.

How do patients benefit?

Cancer clinical trials participation envelops the patient in an ongoing complete evaluation of their cancer experience.

A specialized member of the cancer team, known as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA), works directly with the patient and cancer physician in order to be certain that the patient’s plan of care is carried out as planned, to make sure that all side effects are recognized and managed, and to confirm that the outcome goals of the study are achieved. This extra level of care is provided at no additional cost to the patient.

Studies have shown that whether or not a patient receives a new research drug, all patients benefit from clinical trial participation.

How do our doctors participate in clinical trials?

Cancer Care Specialists of Illinois (CCSI) has a long tradition of providing world-class cancer care to our patients. Our deep involvement in national cancer research brings to our patients the opportunity to not only benefit from the highest quality of care, but also become a partner with us as we work to discover the next generation of cancer therapies.

CCSI is nationally recognized as a regional oncology practice that is dedicated to the highest quality of cancer care.

CCSI has twice received from the American Society of Clinical Oncology its award for excellence in community research; the Clinical Trial Participation Award. In addition, CCSI has also been recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for excellence in cancer research by its receiving the NCI Harry Hynes Award for research.

The physicians of CCSI have also been individually recognized by the NCI by being awarded 17 certificates of recognition for outstanding research in the community.

Our dedication to improving cancer care through research helped us earn the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) designation from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which is the highest recognition for quality cancer care in the community in the United States.

Cancer Care Specialists is proud of being the only oncology practice in the Metro East Region that provides NCI and University of Chicago sponsored cancer clinical trials. Because of CCSI’s national research relationships, we can offer to almost every patient we see the opportunity to get involved. Our participation in past studies has led to important advances in the treatment of many common cancers such as lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, just to name a few.

How can you participate?

We encourage you to ask your CCSI doctor “Hey Doc, am I eligible to be in one of the CCSI research programs?” We look forward to your questions and the opportunity to better serve you and your family.