Cancer Patients: Sign Me Up

Cancer patients are willing to undergo multiple tests to further research

(RxWiki News) As cancer affects millions of Americans every year, researchers are trying to find the most effective treatments and cures. Doing so often requires patients to undergo many intrusive tests for clinical studies.

In a recent study, cancer patients said they were willing to receive multiple tests for clinical trials in order to get advanced experimental treatment.

Researchers need information provided by a variety of tests in order to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular characteristics of cancer. To study how a drug affects the body and how the body affects a drug, researchers need tumor samples and images from computed tomography (CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and other similar tests.

In the first study of its kind to ask patients about their willingness to undergo certain tests while participating in clinical studies for cancer, lead author Raoul Tibes, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues found that patients are generally prepared to go through multiple tests.

For their study, Tibes and colleagues surveyed 61 cancer patients. In addition to asking patients about their willingness to undergo certain tests, the researchers also asked how invasive they regarded such tests.

The researchers found that patients were most willing to go through urine, blood, ultrasound, x-rays, echocardiogram, PET, and CAT scan studies. Cancer patients were least willing to endure tumor biopsies, skin biopsies and MRIs. Although patients said they were less willing to undergo tumor biopsies, they also said they would give one tumor biopsy sample per study. Sometimes patients indicated they even would give two such samples.

The willingness of cancer patients to undergo multiple tests is promising for the future of personalized medicine. If researchers know the genetic makeup of patients' tumors, they can provide specific treatments designed around that makeup.

According to senior author Mitesh J. Borad, M.D., Associate Director of Phase I Drug Development at the Mayo Clinic, the information gained from this study is important. It lets researchers know that they can design studies that ask patients to give more than one tumor biopsy.

According to a report from the American Cancer Society, more than 1.5 million new cases of cancer were expected to be diagnosed in 2010. Over 569,000 Americans were expected to die of cancer. That is more than 1,500 cancer-related deaths per day.

The Mayo Clinic study will appear in the July 15, 2011 issue of the journal Cancer.

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Review Date: 
March 7, 2011