8 out of 10 people living with cancer would take part in trial to help future cancer patients

Cancer Trials Ireland rolls out Just Ask Your Doctor! Campaign - calling on people living with cancer to ask their doctor if there is a relevant cancer trial that they can join to increase their treatment options

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Tipperary people affected by cancer invited to attend Irish Cancer Society's free conference

Just Ask Your Doctor! campaign, encourages people to ask about clinical trials.

A nationwide survey of people living with cancer which identifies the factors that influenced their decision to participate in a cancer trial has shown that 8 in 10 respondments want the chance to advance research into their illness.

The results show that helping future patients by advancing research is as important a factor as potentially living longer and feeling better. 

When asked to list the most important factors in deciding to take part in a cancer trial, living longer/feeling better (82%), the chance to advance research (81%) and getting a recommendation by their cancer doctor (76%) were the top three most important factorsi.

Led by Dr Catherine Kelly, Consultant Oncologist at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, and Associate Professor at UCD, Dublin, the research found that most people living with cancer are receptive to going on a trial, with most who were offered the opportunity to participate in a trial accepting it. 

Commenting on the altruism of people taking part in cancer trials, Prof Bryan Hennessy, Clinical Lead with Cancer Trial Ireland, said, “This research clearly illustrates the generosity of people living with cancer. While cancer trials can give people access to promising new treatments, not yet available through the mainstream health service, it’s humbling to see that one of the most important factors for their participation is to advance cancer research to help future generations.

“Approximately 100 cancer trials, which seek to find the answers to cancer, are currently recruiting people living with cancer in 16 hospitals around the country. At any one time there are in the region of 6,000 people taking part in cancer trials[ii]. As a community we owe these people a great debt of gratitude,” he said.

Commenting on the research Dr Kelly said, “We want to better understand how we can further support people living with cancer and this research will help us do that. While most people living with cancer said they fully understand the term cancer clinical trials, the research also highlighted a myth about what participating in a cancer trial really means.  Many patients consider cancer trials to be a last resort treatment option[iii], with 22% of people surveyed believing that cancer trials were only used when standard treatments had not worked.

“On the contrary, cancer trials can offer hope to all patients with cancer, not just those for whom standard treatment has not been successful. Cancer trials test new and potentially more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. Most of our trials involve testing new drugs which show promise or new combinations of existing drugs which may offer better outcomes than treatments currently used,” Dr Kelly said.

Just Ask Your Doctor! campaign

Speaking at the launch of the Just Ask Your Doctor! campaign, Eibhlín Mulroe, CEO of Cancer Trials Ireland said, “The findings of this research show us that less than one in ten (9%) patients living with cancer asked about participating in a cancer trial. This points to the need to improve the community’s understanding of cancer trials. The Cancer Trials Ireland Just Ask Your Doctor! campaign aims to empower people with cancer to trigger information rich conversations with their doctor and support teams. We’re calling on all people living with cancer to just ask their doctor if there is a relevant cancer trial that they can join to enhance their treatment options. All cancer trials are listed on our website; www.cancertrials.ie

Since Cancer Trials Ireland was established in 1996, more than 15,000 patients have participated in over 350 cancer trials. 

Trials are highly regulated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and patients are intensively monitored by their consultant and research teams at all stages. Any patient can withdraw from a trial at any time, without penalty or loss of benefits to which he or she is otherwise entitled, if they wish to do so.

For further information on cancer trials in Ireland visit cancertrials.ie or follow the conversation on Twitter @cancertrials_ie